When Erin Nasmyth asked me to write a blog post for ASA, I was happy to oblige! But what to share? Let me start with a little about myself and my family. My name is Rex Backes, and I am the current Chair of the Board of Directors for ASA. My wife Traci and I have a 20 year old daughter (Madeline) who is biologically ours, but adoption is so dear to my heart because we made the decision in 2007 to adopt internationally from Guatemala. Our son Kenan joined our family when he was almost 1 year old.
Like any adoptive parent, I worried about all the same things any adoptive parent thinks about: Will it be the same? Will he fit in? How would others view him? All of these thoughts were of no issue though, because Kenan fit our family PERFECTLY. And EVERYONE loved Kenan. He was a rock
star at our church, and more people seemed to know him than me as they passed us in the hallway.
When Kenan was 3 years old, we enrolled him in a Mother’s Morning Out program at our church to allow Traci a break from parenting a couple times a week, and also to give Kenan some time with other kids. One of those mornings, Traci and I were dropping him off together. We passed a boy who we kn
ew well in the hall. This boy was a little older, kindergarten-aged, and he wanted to show off to his friends that he knew Kenan. He ran up to Kenan, and said “Kenan!!! Hey there buddy! Did you know you are adopted???”
Traci and I found it endearing that this youngster knew enough to know that Kenan was adopted and what that meant. And then his conversation continued. “Do you know WHY you are adopted??? It’s because your mother and father didn’t LOVE you!” Now, mind you, I was ready to go into full protective DAD mode. This was not said in any malicious or hurtful way at all. It was just the mind of a 5 year old identifying the only possible reason that Kenan wouldn’t be with his biological parents. Regardless, I experienced a lot of overwhelming emotions that made it very difficult to not respond impulsively as I tried to protect my family.
Fortunately, God in his infinite wisdom gave Traci the right words at the right time. She gently knelt down beside the young boy and said, “Actually it’s the other way around! Kenan is adopted because his parents loved him SO MUCH that they wanted him to have a better life with a family that could give him everything he needed! And that’s why he is here with us now!” This young boy took what my wife said, let it soak in, and then with a big grin said, “Ohhhh, I get it!” and went on his way.
It was at that moment that I realized that no matter how smoothly things had gone to that point, there were going to be things I wasn’t prepared for as a parent.
Along with all the joy and excitement, adoption also brings with it a unique set of challenges that can pop up when you least expect it. We’ve had other challenges along the way as our son has grown to be an absolutely awesome teenager, and usually we didn’t even see them coming. That’s why I’m so passionate about Adoption Support Alliance. Traci and I thought we were fully prepared, but every adoptive family will run into things they don’t know how to address. I know that ASA won’t prevent all these issues from occurring, but it is tremendous to know that there is a network out there who have dealt with similar issues and can provide support as we attempt to navigate our unique parenting journey. Whether it is helping other parents feel prepared the next time they get into a deep conversation with a precocious kindergartner or standing beside others through the teenage years and beyond, we are grateful to be members of ASA.