This is Anya Rashi in her Easter outfit.
Anya Rashi and I found a good picture book for adopted children at the library this morning. It's called Star of the Week by Darlene Friedman. If you have pre-schoolers or kindergarteners, you've probably experienced "Star of the Week" -- a chance for children to have a special week at school. Typically, they bring in a poster about their family, tell the class about themselves, and share a treat.
Occasions like this can be complicated for a child who is adopted (as we learned in our pre-adoption classes!), and the author does a great job helping kids navigate the emotional terrain. While celebrating her adoption story, the main character also asks questions about her birthparents and their circumstances. It is a wonderful first look at issues that Anya Rashi isn't quite ready for . . . but will be someday.
While I was talking about the book with Anya Rashi, and telling her that the girl in the story was born in another country (China), a voice behind us said, "I was born in Ireland." A man in his early 30s smiled down at Anya Rashi and asked where she was born.
He told us that he was adopted when he was 7 years old, and still has dual citizenship. He's now married and has three daughters, ages 8, 4, and 1. When I asked him if he could remember much about his earlier years, his eyes clouded over and he said, "I can, but I don't like to." I quickly assured him that I didn't mean to pry, and that it was his story to share or not.
He talked a little more with Anya Rashi about how lots of people are born in one country, then fly in airplanes to come home with their mommies and daddies to another country. I thanked him profusely for joining our conversation. He was so sweet, and told Anya Rashi, "You sure have a great mommy."
This conversation was so restorative -- especially this week, with the news of Artyem, the Russian boy who was abandoned by his adoptive mother. The parallels were striking -- this man was also an older child when he was adopted, and had seemingly been in some harmful, sad circumstances. I wonder if he was a "difficult" boy when he arrived home too, due to the wounds he'd incurred before he was adopted.
The devotion, loving care, and permanence of adoptive parents is so vital to kids who've learned not to trust adults to meet their needs. My heart aches that Arytem did not have parents who were able to commit to helping him, no matter what. And my heart also aches that the media are sharing this story so widely, when the vast majority of adoptions are success stories of loving parents and beloved children.
I never even asked the Library Guy his name -- but I'm so happy that he is living proof of how wonderful adoption is. And I'm grateful that he took time to share his story with Anya Rashi and me.