Our post-adoption journey with Stinkerbelle has been fairly atypical, if I compare it to other parents I have met or read or followed.
Because she was so tiny when referred to us, and when we brought her home, we have foregone many of the issues other parents deal with. And because of her language delays, we have yet to deal with any of the questions or issues of her self-discovery as an adoptee, or with regard to racial identity. Like, none.
Because she’s behind in both her receptive and expressive language, we haven’t had any big discussions about any of that stuff. But we haven’t avoided talking about things, either, and adoption is just another word in our everyday family-related lexicon, that carries no extra weight or import. Brown is a skin colour that is as beautiful as the blacks and tans and pinks and freckles and other colours we see every day, and brown eyes are the majority in this house so no biggie there either.
But I am learning that just because she’s not ASKING, it does not mean that she does not KNOW. She’s just sitting there, taking it all in.
The other day, randomly and thanks to Sesame Street, Stinkerbelle matter-of-factly compared our skin colours. “I have pretty dark skin. And you have pretty light skin.” This blew my mind, although I confess not because she noticed the difference, but because she used the complex and finely-nuanced descriptors of “light” and “dark” instead of, say, colours. DUDE. LIGHT. And DARK. I didn’t even know she knew those words except for talking about daytime and nighttime.
But today, today is when she blew my mind.
We were looking through pictures on the fabulous Chris’s blog of their family’s recent adoption, and I was talking about the pictures very simply. What the boy is doing. Who the older lady is. What game they are playing. Basic stuff.
But at the end, at a photo on a plane, I said that they had just flown home from Ethiopia where they had adopted their son just a few days ago. My emphasis was on “A FEW DAYS AGO” because we’ve been talking a lot about time, and that it was very exciting because it was new.
Stinkerbelle asked “Is the boy in Eth-ee-po-pi-ya?”
I blinked. “No honey, he is in Canada now! He was born in Ethiopia but they adopted him, and so now he lives in Canada.”
She pointed a thumb at her chest, all puffed out, and said “Just! Like! ME!”
I was a little stunned. I mean, I know we’ve talked about Ethiopia and adoption, but naively I didn’t think she actually INTERNALIZED it at all.
So, as my eyes began to well up, I grabbed her and hugged her and said, “Yep, but you came home YEARS ago!” And I tickled her to let her know this was a happy thing.
And then she squirmed away from me.”Mommy?”
“Yes?” I said, bracing for The Big Questions.
“Can we go outside and blow bubbles now?”