Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Chosen Baby

Before I start, I must say a heartfelt thank you to all who welcomed me so warmly into the blogging world. I was incredibly moved by your comments and emails. This really is an extraordinary place filled with extraordinary people. I am overwhelmed and grateful.

When I was a child, my parents used to read me this book entitled The Chosen Baby. It was incredibly old-fashioned, which is ironic, since I think the version they read to me was updated in the 50’s to replace the original one from the 30’s. Still, it was outdated in the mid 1960’s, which is when it was first read to me, and seems impossibly so now.

It was a happy little tale about Mr. & Mrs. Brown, who lived so very happily, except that they had no babies of their own. So they adopted – a boy first, and then a few years later, a girl. The Browns loved these babies, and introduced them to their extended family, including grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Mrs. Brown took care of the children (one assumes Mr. Brown was out earning a living) and everyone lived so very happily.

Okay, it sounds lame, I know. Even to me. Still, it was a very important book in my life, and I want to tell you why.

The Chosen Baby was only one of dozens of books in our bookcases at home. We had just about every kind of children’s book suitable for infants on up to the ‘chapter books’ I couldn’t wait to be allowed to read (I was an early reader, and my mother questioned whether Nancy Drew contained too ‘adult’ material for my tender age!). My mom was a teacher, and she would rather spend money on books than food any day.

Anyway, every night my brother or I chose a couple of books from the bookcase and Mom or Dad read to us (more often Mom – Dad liked to ‘rest his eyes’ while she was reading). The Chosen Baby got picked every so often, but so did Peter Rabbit and Thumbelina. No extra emphasis was ever placed on the message in that story. And that’s the important part.

As a child, I never felt that being adopted was weird or bad, or something to be ashamed about. To me, it just was. Like having brown hair and blue eyes. Or being part of a family where one parent was musically gifted and the other one couldn’t carry a tune to save his life. I don’t remember being told I was adopted, or that my brother was. It was always just known – no secrets, but no extra emphasis either. I tell my friends with adopted kids who ask what age their child should be when they tell them: if you have to sit them down and ‘break the news’ you’ve waited too long. It should just be part of your family story, like how your aunt was in labor for 3 days with your cousin, and Uncle Jack was born during a hurricane... or that you were adopted and so was your brother.

We all should be part of the family story that unfolds every day while you’re doing laundry, or playing cards, or driving to school, or reading a bedtime story.

This was a precious gift my parents gave me. Thanks, Mom and Dad.


Wonderful World of Weiners said...

John always had a framed saying from his parents that said:



He too always knew that he was adopted. And wanted. And loved more than they could possibly imagine.

He was lucky that way.

And years later, having found his birth mom, he was lucky to find out htat she loved him always too.


Laura ~Peach~ said...

I always knew too... I am grateful that I was not one of those people who stumbled across their adoption papers or overheard someone whispering in the back room...My adopted family went through a bit of a time when I decided to search...not my parents ... well not my dad my mother agreed with the searching but was angry and would not understand the need to know which is rather ironic considering she was adopted too... but it was her Aunt who adopted her so maybe she did not have the same hole... but my dads family wow out of the blue I was told we chose you first and things like that which in a bizzare way made me feel good.

My biological mother pretended for 8 years that she wanted me and loved me and my family then when my father (my bio mother married my bio father 11 years after i was born) died she ended all contact with no explaination ... my sister (17 years younger than me) tried to have a relationship with us but our mother pretty much made her pick her or us and I agreed with Lori when she chose her mother. my biological mother despises me (her own words) and I feel sorry for her at times because none of us ever did a thing to her yet it was not just me she rejected (after 8 years) but my husband and our kids who adored her.
I can deal with he rejection of me... but when you mess with my babies who never did a darn thing but love you... well you enter my shit list and its a very short list but chances are you will never get off it.
hugs Laura

corrine turner said...

MaryEllen, Thank you for this blog. As Andy and I are on the road to adoption, I will tentatively listen to your experience. This will give our "Matthew" the best start at understanding His/our circumstance. Thank you!!

AirmanMom said... have shared such a beautiful story. You are a gifted writer and are able to touch the hearts of so many!
Thank you!

~AirmanMom returning to her blog...

MaBunny said...

Oh wow, I like Hallies poem at the beginning of her comment. Anyway I love the passion with which you wrote that entry. It sounds wonderful, and I hope you carried that love of reaidng into your adult life. If you have and can reccomend any great books let me know, I'm always on the lookout!

justlori2day said...

My daughter also has that framed saying - which came from a book whose title I cannot remember.

Our family dynamic has always included Alex, but not in the obvious ways. In respect to day to day living, she is my cousin, but in one on one times she is my daughter and I her birthmother. When the family is all together, words are not spoken of the obvious, its just natural.

But for 20 years, adoption has been a part of our lives, and yes, it fits just the same as any other family story.

We have many friends who have adopted. Two of our closest friends in our small town adopted little girls from China. But you dont look at those families and say "oh, they must be adopted", you look at those families and say "wow, what a happy and loving family".

Shellie said...

My husband had the exact opposite experience, but our son is having one much like your own. I'm glad it worked so well for you, and so far, it's been perfect that way for us too. I totally agree with your opinion.