These days with a teen, I just never know what is going to be said. One painstaking one was, “I didn’t choose to be born.” Choices. We all have them. Some more than others.
In my teenage days, my stab came in the form of “I wish you had never adopted me.” I’ve been turning all these sayings over in my head, and I regret that last one, just as my son apologized for his.
This week, I was also reminded of my time in Rwanda in the 1990s. Choices in Rwanda were more fundamental. Choices were built on survival. Do you fetch water or go without? Do you trap animals in the forest or go hungry? Western eyes would enter and assess with Western views. Fundamental survival is not a Western worry.
I see parallels in the adoption community. Some adoption agencies and potential adoptive families look at adoption as a way of saving the adoptee. Saving a child from the culture of have nots. But what is it they do not have? A plethora of dining choices? Filtered, bottled water? The newest technology? A chance at fleeting fame?
Much has been said about international adoptees’ lack of gratitude. If a teenage adoptee is not the model teenager (though what teen is), there is the option of rehoming. But what person is grateful when he or she have no choices or too many?
Child adoptees have no choices. They do not choose their parents. They do not choose their futures in families. So what can we do as a society that cares for our children and the future of our world? Listen. The voices of adult adoptees should not be hushed or asked to take a more thankful tone. Adult adoptees are actively looking out for the futures of the young. Choices in the lives of child adoptees need to be mindful and adapted based on past mistakes and successes.
As a parent, I have parented with a level of choices for my children. When they were small, I realized that my children really did not have the ability to make educated choices, so I often gave them two accepted choices. Now that they are older, I struggle to offer the choices that will ultimately determine whether or not they will make the choice I would. My son is old enough now to see my cracks and flaws and point them out. He sees my choice may not be the best one.
So, his question yesterday ended with “ … I don’t want another phone unless it is an iPhone.” Imagine my frustration. He saw it, then said, “Really, Mom. You love your iPhone and cannot do without it.” Point taken.
In the 1970s, when Nike became THE shoe, I had a similar conversation with my father. “I don’t want my buddies, I want Nikes!” My parents did not have the means to buy these expensive shoes, so I heard this little ditty as I walked the halls, “Buddies, they cost a dollar-99. Buddies, they make your feet feel fine … ”
My father responded by drawing the Nike symbol on a piece a paper and asked if I might hand him my buddies so that he could draw that coveted symbol on them. Okay, Dad, after all these years. Point taken.