Back in mid September, we receive a note from the before / after school program that Alex attends on his school days (he is still every other day) that they wanted the children to bring in family photos for a family tree that they were going to be working on. So of course – my head started spinning. As an adoptive parent, you know the issue of family lineage will come up and it can be difficult to provide answers – especially in international adoption. So I tried to spark up a conversation with Alex about where his birth family came from – but like he does with most conversations that do not revolve around hockey or superheros, he decided to ignore me. He knows he was born in South Korea, and will tell you that if he is asked. Once in a blue moon he may ask where his foster mom lives or maybe ask something about his birth mother or father – but for the most party, he doesn’t seem to want to talk about it yet, at least not when we initiate the conversation.
So back to the family tree issue at the school. I posted my concerns about it on Facebook – especially since i was surprised to have this come up in Senior Kindergarten – I expected I had at least until grade 1 or 2 to prepare Alex (and myself!). My concern was not that there may be questions, but it was more that with Alex’s speech being delayed, and the fact that he can be shy in front of groups, he may be more hesitant about answering any questions his classmates may have.
I ended up giving our family picture to his before school program coordinator, and mentioned to her that Alex may not be able to answer questions that his classmates may have and that I did not expect him to if he wasn’t comfortable with it. I did mention that he was born in South Korea in case that question came up, but I felt it was best to leave things more vague.
The coordinator was very supportive. I guess the reason for the Family Tree “assignment” was that some kids were feeling sad because they missed their moms and dads since many were at school for the first time (and some arrive as early at 7am). So in reality, the family tree is just a tree on the wall with the pictures of the families stuck to it and I really didn’t have to worry about much.
As an aside… when I was picking Alex up from school one day, I thought I recognized one of the little boys who he had been playing with, but I couldn’t place him. When we went outside I saw a lady getting out of her car – and it clicked. I’m not going to say her name… but I may have mentioned her in this post. She had adopted him from Russia (I believe – thank you to the lady at the Thai food restaurant who was filling me in on some local gossip) and he looks very Asian. So I told Alex that the boy he had been playing with was adopted too. He didn’t say much… but then asked about his friend “D” who is also Korean – he asked where Dylan was adopted from. I told him he wasn’t adopted but that he was born in Canada and lives with his birth mommy and daddy. He seemed confused and said, “but Dylan has black hair like me”. It broke my heart a bit and also made me chuckle at he same time. I guess everyone he knows that is adopted has been adopted from Russia or Korea, and the Russian children all have dark hair and have a slight Asian look to them. So I reminded him that his friend “K” in his class, who is blond and blue eyes was adopted and she doesn’t have black hair. I don’t know if that set him straight or confused him more.