I love this storytelling theme; it’s like the blog topic that never ends! As you know I've been thinking about widening my story. Letting life be bigger or more complicated, more ugly or more beautiful. But it's not just me anymore so I've been thinking about Elian's story. One of your jobs as a parent is helping your child see themselves. You accompany them on their journey to learn who they are. You encourage their talents and re-direct their missteps. You teach them they are loved and worthy of love. When they are little you are the mirror they look into to find themselves.
So I've been thinking a lot about Elian's story. Watching him to see who he is... wondering what kind of person he'll become, and par for the course of my personality I'm worried...
I feel sometimes like already the world is trying to impose a story on him. More than one person has told me how lucky he is to have us as parents. On one level I agree because Arnold and I rock! Perhaps somedays as parents we are an epic fail but on other days we kick ass! I appreciate the sentiment but there is something about these these comments that leaves me unsettled. I worry that the world will force him to have a “poor little orphan” story. "What a lucky little boy! “rescued” to come to America with such a lovely family."
Blech. I hate that.
Elian rescued us as much as we rescued him. Nobody walks up to a newborn biological child and coos “Oh you are so lucky your parents created you”. Why should my son feel lucky to have parents that love him? Loving parents should be a child’s right not a privilege for those born in the right place under the right circumstances.
His adoption is part of his story but I don’t want it to be the defining factor in his life. I want him to be able to be who he wants to be. To have his own dreams and identity. I want him to be proud of his roots but not confined by them. When I was little people constantly said, “Filipino people do this and White people do that.” Where was I supposed to live in that world? On standardized tests I would literally have to choose which box to check and none of them represented me. I felt like I was constantly fighting to be myself.
Elian is a Colombian who was adopted into a Colombian-American-White-Filipino Family. His story is big. I don’t want people telling him what he should or shouldn't be or who he is or isn’t. I don't want them to tell him what he should feel about his adoption or how Colombian kids or American kids should act.
But it’s hard, right? As a parent you have dreams and desires for your kid too.
If Arnold and I had our way Elian will turn out to be either a professional dancer or the winner of Top Chef. He will marry a lovely woman and give us adorable grandchildren to spoil. Of course he will be polite, thoughtful, considerate and go to church every Sunday. It goes without saying we hope he will go to college on a full scholarship, preferably in a city that we would enjoy visiting. I hear Columbia University in NYC is quite nice.
But you know, I might have to accept that he’ll want to be a professional football player and major in Economics or something similarly uninteresting to me. He might never get married and decide that he wants to be Buddhist monk.
So what do we do? How do we help him find his way without dictating his story? I honestly have no idea… but I guess asking the question is the first step.