All about who? He’s amazing and it has (almost) nothing to do with me!

Grand Slammy!

Sam is at bat. Two outs. Two strikes. Three balls. Bases loaded. Sam’s team is losing 2-0. It is the bottom of the 2nd to last inning.

For this potentially final pitch I scrambled off the bleachers, and hid behind the storage shed.  I couldn’t watch.

Just writing about it makes my heart rate climb.

The crack of the bat, followed by the rapturous screams (and not the dreaded sighs) signaled that it was OK to look, to race around the corner and see his powerful hit bounce squarely in the outfield. To watch him clear first, second and miraculously arrive at third was exhilarating. My son had hit a triple.

His team was now winning 3-2.  The next player hit him home.

The game was over ten minutes later.

They won their first game of the season.

My son. My son was the hero.

But my genetics were not involved. And something about that makes it all the more glorious. Seeing a child you have raised, you have nurtured, you love deeply whack the crap-a-lap-a-ding-dong out of a ball is a moment of concentrated joy-pride-glory. When that child is not your biological offspring that moment, I would argue, might be even closer to pure magnificence-because your own ego is one tiny step removed from the event. He didn’t “get that arm from Grandpa Joe” or at least not my Grandpa Joe.  He just did it, and it is ALL HIM.

That is another amazing gift of adoption–you are creating opportunities for a child to realize their potential unencumbered (in a general way) by familial expectations for specifically chosen traits of excellence. (Or the opposite! There is also no worry that he’ll “turn out just like Grandpa Joe did after his arm gave out.”) I do know that Sam’s birth father played basketball really well.  But I have no idea if anyone played baseball. He might discover that story someday, or he might never know.

He will always know that feeling of marvel at his OWN skills, strength and glory that he achieved at the plate this week.  Perhaps it is just another way to look at the story of adoption, open or not. That there maybe something very freeing, on occasion, for a child to discover their talents by accident? Of course biological offspring do this all the time too. I am just suggesting that as a biological parent of Marcel, I know that I really think he should be good at, and love soccer like me. Sammy is OK at soccer, and not nearly as interested in it as I was. Of course I understand that by taking him to baseball, soccer, and basketball practices, and teams etc, I am helping to select which parts of his genetic story is being awakened and nurtured. He is also teaching himself the ukulele. I couldn’t even spell the word until three weeks ago. I have less musical inclination than s butter knife. Sam is clearly gifted there too. Marcel has shown little inclination at this point.

As adoptive parents, or adoptees, or birth parents–what is your take on this piece? How connected is pride and joy  for your kids connected or not connected to biology? As adoptees did you ever have that experience of success as unencumbered joy, or did it often have a “I wonder if my biological mom also loves to dance too.” component?  As birth parents/ first parents in an open adoption–what is it like to witness your child discovering a skill or talent you both share verses one you have no connection to what so ever? As always I look forward to your thoughts!


  1. You hit the nail right on the head for me. As an adoptive mom of two wonderful kids, I have always really appreciated that I could just treasure and nurture the amazing qualities and strengths that they embody all on their own. I don’t have to burden them with the expectations of being “like” me or my husband. As a result, I think I have been able to value my kids more objectively and stay very open to identifying all their passions and gifts. I have tried to explain this at various points to different people, but you are the first person I have heard it from. Thanks!

    • As for Sam’s achievement, it’s all you mom. You get him practice and to his games. Fed. In his clean uniform. And excited to play. Win or lose, you are there for him.

  2. My family, is an uncoordinated bunch. We have never had an “athlete” of any kind. Now, Mack did play softball for a few seasons, and she did play volleyball in high school, but she was never a stand-out player. She did okay, but for her it was more about doing things her friends were doing. Now, she is an artist, this she has had and been interested in since she was a little girl. My sister is quite artistic, and so is my Dad. I can’t draw a straight line, so although we have the biology, it skipped me and went straight to her. Also, very cool to see develope under my nose.

    Seeing Mea during gymnastics, or softball is so amazing to my husband and I, now he and his brothers have always been very athletic, and even though we have four older daughters, none of them have been athletic at all. Mea is competitve, she wants to “do it right, Momma!”

    Very interesting thoughts, great post!

  3. I recently wrote a post about the sublime pleasure I had this baseball season of embracing baseball-mom-dom – something I never ever saw myself doing. My family was never involved in competitive sports – active, but competitive team sports were not our thing, and now I have two kids, who happen to be adopted, and also happen to be ridiculously coordinated and athletic (and also have found passion in baseball – a sport I NEVER would have chosen). I agree that discovering right along with them where their natural talents and passions lie without any preconceived notions is truly an amazing adventure.

  4. I totally agree about the joy of witnessing their talents unfold naturally, free from our own expectations. for that reason, I’m always telling my daughter that she should be proud of herself, rather than how proud I am of her. I wonder how she will view her own talents though, through the lens of adoption.

    I have to say though, parenting does play an important role. not just carpooling and logistical support, etc. but love and encouragement, helping him build self esteem and confidence — that’s all you, mama.

  5. I totally agree that parenting play an important role–yes yes and yes. I just think it’s important to be able to step back after all the parenting work and see them in this light too. That is too simplistic–and not quite what I’m trying to get at. But I think as a bio and an adoptive mama I have a lens that allows me this unique view too.

  6. There’s also the chance – as Dakota remarks about “embracing baseball-mom-dom” – to discover an unexpected side of yourself.

    My family of origin was not particularly sports-minded. Each of my three siblings and I did a little bit over the years – baseball, track, soccer, basketball – but nobody was ever very good at any of it.

    I was totally unprepared for my reaction when our daughter (adopted from Korea) went up to bat in T-ball, hit the damn thing and got to first base! I leaped into the air, pumping my fist, and *bellowed*, “That’s my daughter! That’s my daughter!” I had never before encountered this aspect of myself.

    Baseball, and sports in general, didn’t turn out to be her thing, but that was a great moment.

    • As always I appreciate your truth! Indeed my “baseball mom” side was beyond my own expectations. I wake up on game days excited and nervous. Thank you Dakota and Annie for those insights.

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