Friday, April 22, 2005

Returning the favor

I received a comment on this site yesterday from a woman named Rachel [thank you Rachel, I appreciate your compassion]. Rachel wrote that she understood the difficulty of trying to keep a family together, especially when it was the one you were born into and not the one you created. Although I understood what she was saying, that was something else for me to read. Because I was not born into this family, I was adopted into it. Being adopted is at the very top of the list of things that I am grateful for, and have been for manymanymany years. And I have felt that I am the luckiest girl in the world to be adopted by the two amazing people I call Mom and Dad. It's a huge topic, adoption is, but for me and my experience, I can say that it's a bit like a marriage. There are two-way promises. I've always looked at the "in sickness and in health" part of marriage vows as vows that also are between adoptive parent and child. Once you make it, you do not break it.

Lord knows that I put my parents through some interesting, if not extremely troublesome times. I shaved my head, and dyed orange what hair was left remaining - and still insisted on joining them at the head table at the oh-so-conservative country club. I lied not only to avoid any repercussions I might receive from telling the truth, but also when it was simply convenient. I wrecked cars, stole their credit cards, hid less than stellar report cards as well as the bills of the credit cards I stole. I experimented with my sexuality. I experimented with drugs when their entire (and very expensive) plan for me was one that they hoped would avoid just that. And that's glossing over it. Trust me, I really was trouble. For years. We had our fights, be sure of that, but they loved me and guided me through the time. And over time I mended my ways and I grew up. They did a good job.

So now Mom's being trouble, so to speak. She's not shaving her head or hiding bills but she could wreck her car, and she is not being responsible. The role of parent and child have reversed a bit. It's challenging, and the specifics are different, but it's really no different, is it? It's a lifetime promise. Every day I think about it and I realize that the details are unique, but the challenge to be there is not. I believe that it is my turn. I do believe that. Mom and Dad must have been so sick of me, so exasperated. They had to have wanted to quit. Had to have. But they did not. And neither will I. I hope and pray that I do as good a job with Mom as my parents did with me. That I can be wise and patient, loving, guiding, tolerant, understanding. If ever there was a time in my life (so far) that I needed to benefit from my father's teachings and their life-long patience with me, it is now.

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