Make new friends, but keep the old…

 

When John and I started our adoption journey, our social workers at Catholic Charities told us we should try to connect with other adoptive parents. It would be important, they said, to form relationships with families whose children shared our child’s heritage. It would also be beneficial for our child to know other children who had entered their families through the miracle of adoption.

John and I nodded obediently. We weren’t looking to expand our social circle, but we could see why it would be positive for our child. What we didn’t realize was that we would make some amazing friendships of our own.

Some families we have met in person. Others we met online through blogs and online adoption forums. And then others we encountered while in China, watching our children grieve and then smile in the arms of their new and forever parents for the first time. The bonds we have with those families are so very special.

A few of our adoption friends are local, but many live around the country. So it isn’t always easy to connect in person.

Yesterday I took the day off and drove two hours each way with the boys to visit a friend and her son, also adopted from China in 2009, and just about a year older than our Leo. We met online—through the adoption blogging world—when we were waiting together to meet our sons. Yesterday the boys played and the moms talked. Then we all went to Chocolate World in Hershey, Pa., just minutes from our friends’ home.

When I told Leo and Daniel that it was time to leave, they were both disappointed to see the day end. So was I.

Then this evening we entertained friends who live in Texas. John and I met this couple—and their second son—almost a year ago in China. Tonight our younger sons were taller and speaking more English, but the rapport among their parents was the same. Our four boys became friends and superheroes—or maybe they were racecar drivers—and sped through our house and yard waving swords and flyswatters.

The boys didn’t talk about China or adoption, and we wouldn’t expect them to. They just argued about whose turn it was to hold the sword and tried to figure out which way to steer the Lightning McQueen tent.

When they are older, maybe they will talk about something deeper. Or maybe they won’t. But the hope is that they will feel less alone, just because they know other children who were adopted. Our sons actually have many friends who were adopted not just from China but from other countries. If anything, I worry that they don’t understand that children can be born into families who raise them.

Still, I believe those social workers were right. These relationships are important for our children. But what they didn’t tell us was how much fun it would be for us to make these new friends, to connect with people from around the country who would share this adoption journey with us.

We had planned to carry in Chinese food for dinner tonight, but John suggested that pizza would be simpler. And somehow it seemed appropriate. After all, we ate pizza with these friends nearly a year ago when we ordered Papa John’s for an evening dragon boat ride in Guangzhou.

I remember gliding along the river admiring the vibrant light display of Guangzhou, holding Daniel close and whispering a promise to bring him back to China again someday. And we hope we can.

Maybe some of our boys’—and our—friends will want to join us.

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.