We arrived at Greg's hockey tournament Wednesday night. Thrilled to see my giant, independent son!
He was beautiful but oh the stench! I am pretty sure he had been wearing the same clothes for a week. He SMELLED like he had been wearing the same clothes for a year!
We were introduced to Greg's friend, "Nate". We met Nate's dad. Happy, friendly introductions were made all around. Exchange of stories. Exchange of information about mutual friends.
We parents have much in common. The adoption world is not that big. We share friends. We share social workers.
Our boys also have much in common.
Excellent Hockey Players.
An hour after we met him, Nate was kicked out of the hockey program.
He was arrested.
He was charged.
Nate was gone. No warning, no goodbyes. The police came and searched the boys' room. The kids were all sat down and told what had happened.
Drug paraphernalia found in his bag. It fell out on the ground in front of the counsellor when he reached into his backpack to grab his cell phone. A search found 3 knives and more drugs.
Shocking and traumatic, as you can imagine, for ALL the boys. Horrifying for the parents.
And then the added burden for Greg. The added burden that unless you have walked in our shoes you don't even think about. Because in Nate, he sees reflection of self. And WORSE, others see a reflection of self.
Excellent Hockey Player.
Greg is the OTHER adopted child on the team. The OTHER black player on the team. The OTHER. The child who sticks out. The child the other parents would associate with Nate.
I sat in the stands of the arena and heard the parents discuss the situation.
"Well you know he was adopted, right?"
"He's probably trouble from way back."
"Why do they let kids with problems COME anyways?"
I understood their frustration. I didn't send my 13 year old child away to an elite level athletic program and expect them to be exposed to drugs or weapons either.
But I also ached for my child. For every adopted child and adult.
Every time a negative adoption news story comes out. Every time an adopted teenager makes a mistake or screws up royally. Every time someone looks at my child and see how he excels. How he succeeds. How he stumbles. How he chooses to live his life. Adopted is the label. Adopted is in the mirror of his reflection of self.
"Well he was adopted you know"
"That's Jen, she adopted those boys from the states"
I have no answers. No quick fix. I can only tell my son that I understand its complicated. That its more complicated than it should be. That I understand when Nate got taken away in a police car, that for GREG it was a big deal. A big deal because no matter what, there is no escape from the adoptee reality.