September 20th, 2011
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iStock_000014990202XSmallSometimes international adoption can throw a curve ball when you least expect it.

When Elle was in the lower grades of elementary school, she brought home an assignment.  They had been studying the 50 states in school and how the states related to the students.  The worksheet was a map of the United States with \instructions to color in the state where they were born.

This presented a problem for Elle.  She wasn’t born in the US.  She was born in Russia.  She could have colored in the state I lived in when I adopted her, or she could have colored in the state that had recognized her foreign adoption, but neither of those choices seemed right.

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My husband and I stared at each other, pondering Elle’s dilemma.  Hmm…what do we do?

Finally a spark of brilliance flashed in my head.  Maybe we should print a map of Russia and have Elle color the region of Russia where she was born.  My husband quickly printed off a map while I gathered the crayons.  We looked up the region and located it on Elle’s map.  She colored the tiny region in red; we labeled it, and then stapled it to the back of her homework.

This assignment had created the perfect opportunity for us to discuss with Elle who she was and where she came from, a conversation we’ve had many times with her.

The next day she trotted off to school with her homework assignment in her backpack.  When she came home from school, we were eager to hear about her class discussion about birth states.

She told us that almost everyone in her class had been born in Kansas or Missouri.  That made sense since the state line was only two blocks away from our house.  She said one boy had been born in California, but she was the only one born outside the United States.  She was excited to be the only one in her class with an extra map stapled to her assignment.

To this day she still talks about that map.  She is very proud of who she is and where she comes from.

Now that Bunny has reached the lower grades of elementary school, we should start searching for a Guatemalan map to print.  At least this time we will be ahead of the learning curve.

Photo Credit.

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