Notes From A Backseat Driver

   From toddlers to teens there is something about a car ride that is conducive to intimate conversation.  It always figures that the one time you want to listen to the radio or just plain get somewhere the ‘backseat driver’ starts talking.  Really talking – talking about the subjects that you beg for them to talk about at dinner.  Figures, right?  You really can’t blame them – the car is a neutral zone.  It’s one of the only times that you’re literally not in their faces – the joy of no eye contact with your parent.

   A friend of mine is the adoptive parent of a now 7-year-old son.  She is responsible and caring, making every effort to keep the conversational door open to an adoption talk.  He rarely bites, and seemingly, shows little to no curiosity.  She shared this recent conversation with me that he initiated with her on the way to karate class.

 “Mom, why did you want a kid?”

 “Huh?,” she asked.  (She thought he said, “Were you a kid?”)

 “Sure, I was a kid…just like you.”

 “Noooo,  I said why did you WANT a kid?”

 “Well, because I really wanted to be a mom.”


 “Because there was a place in my heart that nothing else could fill — not even chocolate!” she replied.

 “But, why did you want ME?”

 I asked her at this point if she drove off the road.  She didn’t.  But she did take a big breath and tried to remember the answer that she had rehearsed in her head.  Instead, she answered spontaneously, tearfully and honestly.

 “I really wanted to be a Mom and I really wanted a baby.  Daddy and I knew that there was a baby somewhere in the world who really needed us, too.  Remember the people you met last summer?  They helped us find each other so that we could be a family.  And we are.  And that’s better than chocolate.”

 “It was ME ME ME!!”

 “You bet it was,” she replied.

 He then alerted her that she had just passed the karate studio; he rolled his eyes at his nutty mom.

 She told me that when she dropped him off, she went and got a donut.  “Only one?”  I asked.

 I shared this conversation with Ronny Diamond, Spence Chapin’s director of Adoptive Counseling, and she felt that my friend was right on track.  “She answered the questions directly without saying too much, or getting off the topic.  She told him that she and his father wanted to be parents, that he needed parents, and someone put them together.  When you think about it, that’s what adoption is all about.”  She adds that, at another time, “She can fill in more details about why he needed parents.”



Raising Adopted Children

By Lois Ruskai Melina

Telling the Truth to Your Adopted or Foster Child:  Making Sense of the Past

By Betsy Keefer & Jayne Schooler

Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self

By David Brodzinsky





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