My friend Sue saw this picture of Deaglan in our front hall and said
“Oh look how cute you were when you were little!”
I had to hold back my urge to kiss her. On the mouth. It would have complicated things between us. And I’m not sure she’d want to visit again.
And I’m embarrassed to tell you that my heart leapt in delight. It took a great deal of self-control to refrain from sitting her down to obtain a feature-by-feature comparison, demanding she outline in detail, exactly where she felt the similarities lay.
I don’t have any pictures of myself before the age of seven. I’ve written about all that before: being adopted from Bangladesh, the orphanage, my birth mother. But the thing is, when you have no point of reference like a baby photo or more importantly, someone who knew you as a baby to say, yes, your children do in fact resemble you, well having someone suggest this, is nothing short of finding a fifty dollar bill in an old jacket pocket.
This not having my birth parents around to affirm my likeness to my kids isn’t the only part of being adopted that weighs on me as a parent. I wonder all the time how and when to tell my boys about the other half of their ancestry. Shaune brings with him a clan of beautiful family to make his birthright come alive for our boys. Gramma and Grampa are a steady part of Deaglan and Naveen’s lives so that they will naturally learn about their paternal roots. I’m so grateful for that. And of course my parents, Mimi and Papa, can fill them in on my life after the age of seven.
But I lived in Bangladesh for long enough that it’s more than the place I was born. I knew my biological parents, spent the most formative years of my childhood being influenced by severe poverty, a deeply entrenched Muslim faith, and even a completely different language. I want the kids to appreciate that, learn from it, and as a result, become conscious of the rest of the world. I hope they someday realize how lucky they were, being born into abundance, hope it enriches them in a way that will see them grow up to become kind, humble and tolerant men.
I don’t have the right answer. I certainly don't want to see the day when I hear them say “yeah, yeah, yeah, we get it; you walked five miles to school, in the snow with no shoes.”
I’m pouring my heart out with Shell.