Granddad is Telling My Life Story Again
By Guest Blogger Leslie Mitchell
My daughter was born in Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan, Russian Federation in 2003. I adopted her as a single mother in 2004. She was slightly more than one year old and the only life she knows is the life she has with me and her family. She has known she is adopted from her earliest memories. When I began the adoption process I spoke with friends who were adopted or had adopted children. Each person told me their life story and gave me valuable insight that I was able to use with my daughter. I read books and articles and, like with your biological children, each adopted child’s story is different. So is how they handle telling people they are adopted. My daughter has had no issues dealing with being adopted but if there is one thing she cannot stand is her Grandfather telling strangers her “life story.”
My mother and I traveled to Kazan in July 2004. Kazan was 1000 years old in 2004 and has a rich history. It is a city of over several million people, home to universities, a chemical industry, a walled old city with Kremlin and it’s people are extremely proud of their “Tartar” heritage. I have tried to instill that pride in my daughter and she will proudly tell you that she was born in Kazan or in Russia (current politics and past rivalries between the various republics mean nothing to an 8 year old.) The one thing I have made clear to her as she got older was that it was her choice to tell people that she was adopted and if she chose not to tell someone, her family would honor her decision. That is, everyone except her Grandfather.
We were not back in Connecticut from Kazan and Moscow for two weeks in 2004 before my father told the computer man installing a new computer his “version” of her life story. I was furious with him. I was not ashamed of her adoption but felt it was my choice to tell someone, not his right. We argued about it, he claimed he was so proud of her and I accepted that but, asked that he refrain from telling people unless I brought it up. Since that day in August 2004 it has been a battle with him.
My daughter is not only adopted but she was adopted by a single mother. She has no father. I have explained to her that mommy is not married and she doesn’t have a Dad but she has a Granddad that loves her very much. It has never been an issue for her until the last year. When we lived in Connecticut a girl in her class asked her why she didn’t have a father. She told her, “I just don’t, my mom’s not married.” To her it was the end of the story and I used the situation to talk to her more about her adoption. After a few minutes, she got bored and was onto something else. This year, in her new school in Florida, it has come up again. She just rolls with it and says the same as she said in Connecticut. I honestly can say that she appears totally adjusted about it because we have discussed it since she was two years old, telling her how Grandma and Mommy flew to get her, she flew home on a big plane and everyone was there to see her with presents. I’ve told her that she was born early (she was two months premature) and was in the hospital and then waiting in the Baby Home for Mommy to get her; how her birth mother loved her so much that she wanted her to have the best life and knew Mommy would love her so much that she gave her to me. She is very confident in herself and the love she has been surrounded by in our family.