First and foremost, I have to say that I love Jacob's kindergarten teachers. I am not sure that there are actually any better teachers on the entire planet! They have made kindergarten so much fun for him. They have challenged him, supported him, helped him grow, and built his self esteem. This post is about my feelings. It is about my emotional response to our life situation, not their assignment, which as an educator I completely understand.
Jacob's final family project this year is a timeline assignment. He has to put together a time line of his life in pictures. Unfortunately, Jacob's timeline is complex. Jacob was first adopted by another family and he lived with them for 2 months. My boys are all very well aware of their family stories as I have always told them their life stories. That said, there is no way for me to explain to Jacob why his first family decided to put him back up for adoption.
Jacob's initial bloodwork came back that he might have sickle cell anemia and the first adoptive family was not sure that they could handle all that could go along with having a child with sickle cell anemia. When I heard that a family was being sought for a little boy with the possibility of having sickle cell anemia, I did a little research and decided that he was the little guy that was meant to be added to my family. I knew that whether the additional bloodwork showed that he had sickle cell or it showed that he didn't, either way we would be ok, and he was meant to be with us.
Matthew was 5 and a half when I adopted Jacob and he and David came with me to meet David. He met Jacob's first adoptive mom and over the years has asked questions about her. Like all adopted children, Jacob, Matthew and David ask if they grew in my tummy. They then ask me to tell them about the story of their adoption and who's tummy they grew in. As I was telling the story to Jacob earlier this year, Matthew asked if he grew in the lady's tummy that he met. I have decided to be truthful at all cost about their story, and so I explained that no, Jacob did not grow in her tummy and that he grew in a mommy's tummy in Indiana.
At this point, Jacob wanted to see pictures of the 2 "moms" and he wanted more clarification. Thankfully, his first adoptive mom had shared pictures with me of when they met him in the hospital and over his first 2 months of life, so I had pictures to share and show him.
Now, my dilemna is this....the question posed is to create a timeline of your life. The first picture is to be the day you arrived.....is this the day Jacob was born? Is it the day I met him? Is it the pictures from his first adoptive family? Is it the first picture of the 4 of us?
Do I ask Jacob what picture he wants to use? Do I give him a choice of the pictures from before he was even in our family? For Matthew and David, there were very few days between when they were born and when I adopted them. For the two of them, I know which pictures we would use. For Jacob though, there are two months to account for. Two months when he was in this world and I didn't know him. Two months without me. Two months to account for in his lifeline.
I will likely just show him a baby picture and that is what we will use, unless he asks for a picture of him as a newborn baby. He is the kind of child who may ask for a picture from his "first mom" when we read the assignment together. I will follow his lead on this assignment. I will allow him to be the guide.
The stories of my boys are their stories, I am here to be the guide and to fill in the missing pieces, but the stories are theirs. He will share this story from his timeline with his class. I want him to share the story he is comfortable with. His teachers this year have supported him as he told his class about his brother's disabilities. They have supported him as he felt different because he is black in a mostly white class. They have supported him as he celebrated Chanukah and most of the class celebrates Christmas. They will support him as he does his timeline project.
For some reason tonight, this assignment hurt my heart. I know there will be more assignments like this in our future. My hope is that we will have these assignments to do for other equally loving, dedicated, caring teachers. With an awesome teaching team, Jacob will be proud of his entire story. And as we tell his story, and he gets comfortable, I too will continue to feel comfortable with his life story.....after all, had he not been adopted by the first couple, he would never have found his way to me!
- I am a single mom of three amazing boys! All three of my sons entered my family through adoption. All three of my boys have developmental disabilities. My oldest son, Matthew has been diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder. David, my middle son, has a genetic condition, he has a duplication on his 15th chromosome which leads to autism like symptoms, seizures and learning challenges. My youngest son, Jacob has learning disabilities. Each of my children bring unique challengs to our family and also bring their own personality and joys to our everyday life!