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!