|Isaac (Left) and Dakotah Courtesy of Dawn Nolting|
Other boy says: "That's my mom's name."
Yes, truth can be as strange as fiction. This happened last summer at a local swimming pool in Washington, Missouri, but only recently was made public. Isaac Pettet-Nolting went home that night he first met his brother without knowing it, and asked his mother, Dawn, if he were adopted. Dawn, 42, a manager at a dry-cleaning company, asked, "What makes you think that?
And he said, ‘Because I think I found my brother.’" Dawn immediately fessed up and they both burst into tears.
WHEN TO TELL YOUR CHILD HE IS ADOPTED
“I just cried and cried and cried,” Isaac says. “I was so happy that I had a brother. I always asked for one.” Dawn says she knew she had to tell her son but wasn't sure how to do it, and had even spoken to her pastor and friends asking, when is the right time?
Later is better than never, but earlier would have been better. If a child is told at an early age, at the time he first asks, Where did I come from? then the pressure does not keep mounting to find the "right" time. The right time is never to have the adoption be a hidden factor in the parent/child relationship. The right time is earlier rather than later. My own daughter heard it early on, so young she misunderstood what was being said, and thought her parents were telling her she was "a doctor." Of course she figured it out, and had no resentment that they kept this important information from her. We've heard many stories of how a child find out--from cousins and friends because their parents talked about it at home, from a teacher who's been told and assumes the child knows. Late Discovery Adoptees (adults) are in a tougher position, because they say, upon learning the truth of their origins late in life, that they feel as if they had been lied to all their lives--up until the day they found out. But enough about that. Let's get back to the boys. I don't feel like preaching today, even though this question is often asked by people doing a Google search who end up at First Mother Foum.
A HAPPENSTANCE OCCURRENCE TURNS INTO AN ADOPTION
Dawn Nolting took Isaac into her home thinking it was only for a brief time. When Dawn met his 16-year-old mother soon after Isaac was born, she was clearly overwhelmed as she already had a son (Dakotah) at home. Dawn, a divorced mother, had an 11-year-old daughter at the time, but offered to take care of the infant while the young mother got back on her feet. She agreed, and months passed. While she visited often, she never asked to take Isaac back home. Soon after, she was pregnant again. Within two years, Dawn formally adopted Isaac.
Both of the biological parents of the children have died, and the older son, Dakotah, and his younger sister, Ashley, are being raised by their maternal grandmother, Debi Bay. "I'm just glad they got to meet," she says. They are so similar that she says, "It's like they were never separated."
Yes. We know that reunion does not heal all wounds, and nothing is ever normal again, but I said the same yesterday--there were times with my daughter when I felt as if we had never been separated. Her other mother told me how shocked she was when we met because "our" daughter resembled me in so many ways--size, coloring, mannerisms, mannerisms you would not suspect. For instance, her father was always telling my daughter, Jane, that her step as she went up the stairs was too hard; I wonder if they observed my heavy step when I visited them that first time--and they ought to hear one of my nieces! I slept in my daughter's room, up the stairs, and they might have noticed my step. We liked the same style of clothes. When she visited she was always borrowing something of mine. And I (as well as her biological father) were writers, and Jane, our daughter, was already writing poetry. Obviously adoptive parents know such similarities are likely to exist, but to have it confirmed in the flesh must be somewhat shocking and difficult for those who are not prepared emotionally. Our similarities should not, in fact, have been a surprise because my daughter's adoptive parents also had two biological children who followed after two adopted, and those boys resembled them in so many ways. But still. To have all that confirmed.
WHO KNEW 'THAT' WAS INHERITED?
Nature/nurture: We are the sum of both, but certain things--physical traits, some characteristics--neither time nor distance nor environment can alter. I wonder, first mothers, how was it when you first saw your child? The scene in the film, The Other Son, gets it so right. And to those adopted individuals, how did it feel to finally look at someone who looked like you, or shared common traits? One granddaughter of mine, adopted herself, was disappointed that we did not share physical traits that were readily obvious, but in the short time we had together, I related to many psychological similarities, as well as general attitude. Yes, for me, it was sweet. I also discerned ways in which my granddaughter was like her mother, but by then, her mother, my daughter, was dead. I'd love to hear about unusual traits that are shared with natural parents or children, and the feelings they evoke.--lorraine
Sources: 'So happy I had a brother': Boys meet as friends, discover they are siblings
The young boys who met by chance and discovered they were brothers
Earlier FMF blog: The Other Son asks questions of identity
How It Feels to Be Adopted: 19 boys and girls, from age 8 - 16 and from every social background, confide their feelings about this crucial fact. Lorraine's daughter's story is told in her own words on Page 79. Jane was 16 at the time. The photograph of them was taken on their third meeting. Jill Krementz, the photographer who collected the stories and took pictures of the children, some with their parents, biological and adoptive, is an adoptive mother. She handles the children's essays with sensitivity. This would be a good gift to any young adoptee, and would give adoptive parents a jumping off point to begin one of the most important discussions they will ever have with their children. I suspect most adoptive parents will read the stories first.
"The sooner my child is comfortable discussing her fears and concerns about adoption with me, the easier it will be for me to put her fears to rest. "