Is It Because He’s Adopted?


Last Tuesday was a hard day.

It started with (yet another) email from Brae’s kindergarten teacher. He was acting out in school. Again. Throwing things. Being “mean” to other kids. Acting silly. Obnoxious.

Tygh and I were discussing appropriate consequences just as Brae was walking through the door. I opened his backpack to discover (yet another) note from Brae’s extended kindergarten day teacher about more unacceptable behavior.

I about lost it.

Not angry.

Sad. Disappointed. Embarrassed.

We don’t model this behavior for him. We don’t teach it. We don’t preach it.

So why is he acting out?

Nothing has changed at home.

I went for a walk to clear my head.

That’s when the small nagging voice that creeps up in moments like this began to get louder.

Is it because he is adopted?

I cried.

No, I reasoned. That’s not what this is about.


In my non-teary-eyed, logical state, I know, intellectually, that it is absurd to think that Brae’s kindergarten behavior is because he is adopted. Brae knows he is adopted. We’ve never kept that a secret. He sees his biological family once a year and we stay in regular communication with them. It’s a beautiful, open relationship.

So I know that the “is it because he’s adopted” inquiry is not grounded in reality. Instead, it is rooted in insecurity.

My own insecurity that I’m not doing a good job at being his mom. That, somehow, the fact that it is not my blood that runs through his veins is the cause of any misbehavior. That, somehow, because I did not give birth to him will be the direct cause of him failing in life.




But, still, it’s a thought that creeps up in my moments of weakness.

When I got back from my walk, Tygh came up to me. He had news. He and Brae had a talk. Tygh was trying to get to the bottom of his behavior. Why was he acting out at school?

As a 6-year-old, Brae didn’t have a lot of answers. He couldn’t really explain his behavior.

As a parting question, Tygh asked if there was anything he could do to help him – with anything.

Brae looked up at him with big, doe-eyes, and said, “Daddy, I can’t read. Other kids in my class are reading big-kid books. I can’t.”

My heart sank all over again.

I knew he had been struggling to read. I didn’t know that he felt an inferiority because of it.

Insecurities flooded me all over again. But, this time, I knew this couldn’t be explained because he was adopted.

It’s explained by him being just a little boy. A kid. A competitive kid. In a high-performing school. Coming face-to-face for the first time with a feeling of peer inadequacy.

I cried all over again. Because, as his mom, adoptive mom or not, I cannot protect him from this feeling, or feeling it again.

This is life.

And it’s hard.


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