Notes from The Backseat Driver – Adoption

From toddlers to teens there is something about a car ride that is conducive to intimate conversation.

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 boy. 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 said. 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 said.

He then told her that she passed the karate studio and 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, former director of adoptive counseling at Spence Chapin, who 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.”  Diamond added 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 and Jayne Schooler

"Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self," by David Brodzinsky

Patricia Ryan Lampl is a magazine columnist, author and award-winning television producer. Her latest book, LOVE FOR GROWN-UPS: The Garter Brides’ Guide to Marrying For Life When You’ve Already Got A Life, published by Harlequin Non-Fiction. Pat is the author of four books for children, and she lives with her husband and daughter in Port.

Visit her at Facebook.com/TheGarterBrides and Twitter.com/TheGarterBrides

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Robert J. Pape, Jr. April 27, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Great insight Lesley. God Bless you and your 3 wonderful blessings!
Patricia Ryan Lampl April 27, 2012 at 02:59 PM
That's wonderful Lesley - your children's story should be told the same way any child is told about theirs! Jamie Lee Curtis' book "Tell Me Again About the Night I was Born" is a great example of sharing your child's story of how you all became a family - this is not info that should be 'sprung' on a child, but, something woven into the fabric of your life together-something to celebrate-whether biological or adopted all our children are the miracle of our life that we embrace!
Pam Robinson April 27, 2012 at 07:12 PM
As an adoptive parent, I always liked the book, "On the Day You Were Born," with its message of love and welcome to a child who may feel unwanted because of the nature of adoption. "Welcome to the spinning world," the people sang. "Welcome to the green Earth...As as they held you close, they whispered into your open, curving ear, We are so glad you've come!" Makes me weepy.
Peg Meerkatz April 28, 2012 at 11:16 AM
This was handled beautifully. I too am adopted but not a "usual" adoption. My birth mother is my "moms" sister. Got that the woman I call mom is my biological aunt. I always knew I was adopted but was not told the story of my birth until I was 18. I believe I was given too many details which shattered my already fragile sense of self & impacts me to today. Just briefly bio dad died 9 m before I was born he & bio mom had 3 small children (my sister is 13 m older than me). Bio mom knew she couldn't care for another child she planned to leave me in the hospital & let the state take care of me. When her sister heard this she & her husband decided to adopt me. I DID NOT have the ideal childhood, I never wanted for material things but many "necessites" were lacking. After learning of my true parentage my siblings & bio mom never accepted me & we are now estranged (my choice). It is important for adopted kids (adults) to know they are adopted but negative things about the adoption or leading up to the adoption should be obmitted as they can shape the course of the childs (adults) life.
Jenny May 05, 2012 at 01:40 AM
this was a lovely piece. i am not an adoptive parent, but you obviuosly touched something among those who are.


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