The warm lazy days of summer have become the scorching and busy days for us in the last week. We had visits from our cousins (my nieces and nephews) and we had a reunion with our “Vietnam Cousins” — the name we’ve chosen for the group that spent nearly a month together in Hanoi with our adopted six-month-olds.
For Gorilla Girl and Monkey Man, spending time with family and kindred cousins has been an important part of the summer. Family ties are more complex when adoption is part of the picture, so finding out how we are connected by our personalities and our likes and dislikes, makes us feel like kin, even when there are no blood ties. My brother is particularly good at finding ways to make us all feel like kin. He notices the little things that our children share in common, and normalizes the family relationship.
The five children adopted from Vietnam at the same age and time are all growing, changing, and making progress. They are developing rich personalities, and making connections to each other. They also share a bond that hopefully will sustain them when times are challenging or when they are searching for someone who understands their particular questions, challenges, and differences.
Gorilla Girl and Monkey Man also spent time with yet another family who we met through a local group of adoptive families with children from Vietnam. Our play group meets about once a month, and we’ve enjoyed getting to know the families in that group. For the first time, we had a “marathon” play date with one family (we invited all, but summer being summer, only one family could make the trip), and got to know them even more through our children.
Ed has always said that our friends will be the parents of our kids’ friends, and I have been skeptical, especially since that wasn’t my experience as a kid. However, perhaps in the world of play dates and because we have made an effort to make connections with families who have adopted children, our circle of friends will grow to include people who we might otherwise never have a chance to know.
Sometimes people outside adoption mention how lucky our adopted children are. We’ve never seen it that way, and in fact, our approach has been that we, the adoptive parents, are the lucky ones. Once again, adoption has enriched our lives in ways we didn’t expect. Our circle of friends and “family” is larger, more diverse, more complex and rich because we have an opportunity to connect with other adoptive parents. The connection with the children in the groups enriches our children’s lives but also brings us the comfort of knowing that Gorilla Girl and Monkey Man are not alone or isolated.
And it sure is fun having extended play dates, beach reunions, and sleep overs even when you are forty-something.