More stories of our adoption

Our son (I still grin when I say that!) used to say that he wanted to marry us. Eventually we asked the right question and he told us he meant “I want to stay with you forever” — or as he said one precious day when he was four, “I want to stay here for FIF-TEEN DAYS.” That was the biggest number he knew.

So we explained that when children and adults make a family forever, that’s called “adopting.” Last week we not only adopted him, he definitely adopted us. “You’re mine forever!” he tells us.

I’m still reeling with the implications of that. Not the scary ones, the little ones. Like: I didn’t have to ask anyone’s permission to take him to Pittsfield, MA, last Shabbat morning for the service and Kiddush luncheon celebrating my (grandma’s) cousins’ 70th wedding anniversary. If you want to take a foster child out of state for any reason, even if you live so close to the border that you routinely shop in Vermont (which we don’t but some foster parents we know do), you have to get permission from the birth parents. Which usually means getting ahold of your (overworked) caseworker, who then tries to get ahold of the parent(s) and call you back. Which means planning ahead, not always my forte. We could just get in the car and drive! Or I could waffle for as long as I wanted, then just decide and go.

And I spoke to him during the service about his bar mitzvah. Somehow, before he was truly ours and we his, I wasn’t ready to say “when” you celebrate. (I hope that we have a good enough working relationship that I can teach him myself when it’s time!) But now I pointed out prayers that he would learn, and Torah that he would chant, and tried to clarify that there’s a difference between being a “Jewish grown-up” and just plain being a grown-up.

And it really felt different to accept two new children into the household, to stretch our hearts and our space and our time because they need a safe place, and to have our own son too. To not need to “glom” on to every child who comes into our house, to wish and hope and imagine that they might be ours someday.

Then the morning after the adoption, Younger Son said that he wanted to be adopted too. “You will have an Always Family,” I told him. “We just don’t know who it will be: your tummy mommy, or us.”

He bewailed the unfairness of it all: “[He] always gets ‘dopted and I never get ‘dopted!” And he got it right, because with adoption, “once” does in fact equal “always”!