Monday, July 11, 2011


Over the 4th of July weekend, we watched many movies as a family. The steaming temperatures combined with plenty of storms made for a long weekend, so we made the most of the time.

I decided to rent Tangled for the family. I enjoyed Rapunzel's ability to sometimes be the hero (unlike most cartoon princesses), the humor (her chameleon was hilarious!), and the music. And thankfully, the movie didn't feature demonic characters---good for a 2.5 year old.

However, one aspect of the movie greatly impacted me. If you haven't seen it, Rapunzel is captured by a woman (and thus, taken from her biological mom and dad, the King and Queen) and locked in a tower. This woman is known as "Mother" to Rapunzel. The woman protects Rapunzel, but mostly out of selfish gain, to keep the powers of Rapunzel's magic hair to herself. Meanwhile, the audience sees Rapunzel's biological parents mourning the loss of their daughter, especially each year on Rapunzel's birthday when the King, Queen, and everyone in their kingdom releases floating lanterns into the air.

Eventually, Rapunzel finds out who her true parents are, and she, obviously, is infuriated with her "Mother" who has been concealing the truth for eighteen years.

Call me crazy, but I saw an adoption theme in this movie.

First, I do not think all adoptive parents are evil, nor do they intend to hurt their child or the child's biological families. BUT, I think sometimes adoptive parents get too wrapped up in "protection" mode to where it isn't at all about the child's well-being, but about the emotional chains of the adoptive parents.

Recently, a friend of mine asked, "How did you choose open adoption?" She mentioned how hard it would be---facing one's own jealousy. I told her that we knew it was best for our girls to know their biological family members. Furthermore, we wanted our girls to have racial role models, something we obviously can't personally provide.

Truthfully, as adoptive parents, we so often have to just get over ourselves. Just like any parent, we need to do what is best for our family as a whole (kids included!) and not just what is best for us as the parents. It's about maturing and thinking beyond ourselves, which is truly, very hard to do in current culture.

I remember seeing a gas station sign a few years ago that said "Self-Serve 24 Hours." I thought, wow, isn't that true of life?

It's easy to go into self-service mode when an adoption agency gives an adoptive family so many options. With our first adoption, we had a five page checklist of what adoption situations we were open to. FIVE PAGES. They were five pages of pure torture. I mean, I knew we were ultimately talking about a child, not a checklist.

Race? Sex? Age? Disability or disease? Drug use in mom? Mental history of birth father's family? Openness? How open? How often? For how long?

(There are over 100 questions. I won't bore you by listing them all).

Adoption is so incredibly messy. Complicated. Tangled.

We have to sit down, reflect, acess, and analyze...often. Are we doing the right things for our entire family? How can we improve? When we make a choice, is it for the benefit of all or is it made to temporarily provide ourselves some emotional relief?

I often hear adoptive parents say, WE ARE THE "REAL" PARENTS!!! But the truth is that both my girls have two sets of "real" parents...they just play different roles in their lives. I'm not daring to lay claim on my daughters like they are a prize to be won.

Yes, they are mine. Yes, I am their parent. Yes, sometimes I get a little jealous or selfish or prideful. But I have to suck it up, put on my big girl panties, and be the mother I was CHOSEN to be by some very special individuals.

It means taking as step back, getting untangled, and remembering that ultimately, my children belong to God, are on loan to me, and I'd better be sure I'm honoring everyone involved, not just making myself momentarily feel better.


  1. Hi Rachel. I can't say I disagree with anything in your post, and I like a lot of the insights you've offered.

    For what it's worth, though, as an adoptive dad, I guess when I've heard the "We ARE the real parents!" comment over the years, I've inferred something a bit different in it. Most of the time when I hear an a-parent say that, they do not seem to be suggesting that the bio-parents are not "real," nor that the bio-parents are not "parents." Instead, I usually hear a ring of exasperation in the comment--i.e., it's a response to what someone completely outside of the adoption triad said at the grocery store this morning or at school the other day, as in, "What do you know about his REAL parents?," a comment that seems to suggest that the a-parent is something OTHER THAN a real parent to his or her child. Often, people who who don't know much about adoption toss around terms like "real parents" or "natural parents" when they actually mean birth parents, biological family, first parents. The unfortunate implication in that careless use of language is that the a-parents are not real, in that nothing short of a blood connection can make a family (a crazy concept!) or that "nature" did not intend for them to be parents.

    I find myself sometimes using the term "everyday parents" and "your birth family in Vietnam" when my son and I are discussing family history and it starts getting complicated as to who is being discussed at the moment. Both groups--the people who live in our home, and the people who brought my child into the world--are important and deserving of respect as part of our family tree.

    Just my two cents. Glad for your blog; you bring up some good issues!

  2. I personally do not want my kids to use their birthparents as role models. You have been very fortunate if your childrens' birthparents are law abiding, non drug using folks.


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