Today I took Blue Bear for his swimming lesson at lunchtime and got in the big pool for my swim. He is so well behaved and listens to his teacher (unlike Brown Bear) so I can get on with a leisurely swim without having to check up on him every few minutes. It was pretty quiet in the pool and I spotted a lady I see all the time and who I always speak to. I mentioned that we have an adoption day in the summer and she asked if I was adopted and I said no, Blue Bear is. She stopped putting on her goggles and told me she was adopted at a few months old. We spoke for around 15 minutes about her family, how she found out she was adopted and her feelings about adoption in general. She told me she has always felt out of step in her life, out of place. I've not heard this sentiment expressed before and I found it fascinating. She thought her parents were great and had no desire to find her birth parents - her brother did seek his birth family with mixed results. This was in the days before adopters were encouraged to talk openly to children about adoption. She found out aged seven when a teacher asked the class to find out where and when they were born and her mother had the conversation with her.
I'm not sure how many people she's told all this to, but for me it was the most intense and personal conversation I've had with someone I don't really know. As we stood in the pool (me with one eye on the clock as my precious swimming time ticked away) I listened and offered small interjections from my experience on the other side. As the conversation came to a natural end she said,
"Bless you. You're a better person than me."
I told her,
"I'm really not."
"No, you really are."
"Well you're a much better swimmer than me."
We both laughed. And with that we put on our goggles and kicked off the side to swim.