Sunday, June 19, 2016

Finding Dory: An Adoptive Parent's Perspective

Since today was Father's Day, my kids asked me how I wanted to celebrate it. Being the manly man that I am, my answer was immediately, "Finding Dory!" As someone who loves great stories, I am always up for going to see whatever Pixar releases and I am seldom disappointed (Okay, I'm looking at you Cars 2 right now!).  Last Father's Day, I chose Inside Out (see my review here Inside Out In The Adoptive Child) and this year it's Finding Dory. Neither film disappointed me.

What is interesting is how both have connected with me on a whole deeper level because of Cava. Being a parent changes you as a person. Being an adoptive parent changes you even more because it asks even more of you. It also makes you see things differently and this film was no different. 

While I'm not going into a lot of the story of this film, I will only say that the main plot line deals with Dory's desire to find her parents. 

As an adoptive parent, this is a storyline that hits close to home. Not because we are at that point right now, but there will be a day that this will happen. There will come a time when Cava will approach us and begin to ask us questions about his biological parents. This is normal and we will treat his questions and his desire to know as such. But it's also not easy. 

All adoptive children grow up with a sense of loss that they will carry their whole lives. There will always be questions and pains that the rest of us cannot understand completely. How hard will it be for Cava as an adult to fill our a health history questionnaire at a doctor's office and not have the answers to his past?  Will it sadden or anger him when it comes?  

At what age will he begin to ask questions? Right now, I don't know. He is still in the stage where he wants to forget his past and his history. It's all still too fresh and too painful. But one day he will and we want to embrace his desire to know. Who knows what will inspire his curiosity to want to know. We will not be frightened by this or fear that this is in any way a rejection of us. We want to make his desire to know more about his biological parents and his past a part of our own identity, as his adoptive family. 

Such searching can be a confusing time, filled with mixed emotions, and unsurety.

As Cava's parents, we want to make this as safe and protected process as we possibly can. To let him know that we love him no matter what, that we are his parents no matter what, and that his history is part of our history. We will help him in any way that we can and reassure and love him as much as we can. We will let him know that we are always there for him.

Like Dory, the adoptive child suffers from trauma and loss. So much of their memories are repressed and when they come out, it can be frightening and overwhelming to them. As adoptive parents, its our role to provide stability, peace, reassurance, patience, love and to let them know that their identity is one of great worth and preciousness. 

We deeply love Cava and will help him to navigate his past, his present and his future with him no matter what's to come. He is our son. In fact, when I showed him Finding Nemo for the first time, I told him, "You were our Nemo. Our family went all the way to the other side of the world to find you and bring you home." But as we see in Finding Dory, we must also be there to guide him in finding the home he never had in Ukraine. To try to answer the questions that we can get answered, so that hopefully, he will have something to not only write down on the medical history, but so that some of the unanswered questions he carries with him will be answered. 

How many of those questions will be backed by fear? A fear of further rejection and loss? 

I can't answer that. 

I can't say what answers a bio search will bring, I only know that his Mom and I will be there for him through all of it. 

And to remind him that a family isn't always the one you were born into. 

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