Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Adoption talk

As a parent it is my job to teach Liam about all sorts of things. And most of this teaching is done through repetition ~ Look both ways before you cross the street, don't pick your nose, remember to say please and thank you. Other topics get repeated, just not daily ~ babies grow in their mummy's uterus, everyone dies eventually, light sabers aren't actually real.

For most topics I don't think twice about how often I repeat them. We are a car-less family who walks everywhere, so rules on how to cross the street safely may get repeated 20 times a day. When we are in a big Star Wars kick, the topic of light sabers comes up a lot. Seeing friends who are pregnant offers to the opportunity for a chat on the birds and the bees.

The struggle I have is when to bring up the topic of adoption, or more specifically, Liam's adoption. I don't want to push the topic on him if he doesn't want or need to talk about it, but I also want him to know that it's an okay topic to talk about. I will casually mention adoption in general whenever an opportunity comes up, usually using my own adoption as a conversation opener. I let Liam know that I think about my first mother, wonder how she's doing, or that I'm planning to call her because I miss her.

The opportunity to bring up his own adoption doesn't present itself very often. Our friend Sandy is pregnant and due in February, so that offers a vaulting point into conversations about how Liam grew in "K"s belly.

So last night I decided that I would bring up the topic of his adoption specifically. And tub time seemed like a good time to do it. The 2 of us alone with minimal distractions. I asked him if he thought about being adopted, or if kids at school ever asked him questions about it. He didn't have much to say about it, but did say that no one at school has ever asked him about it. The conversation morphed into having 2 Mums and not having a Dad, but how he still has a father who helped make him with "K". We've never really covered the topic of a father before, so I wanted to ensure that he didn't think he was miraculously conceived! We don't have much info on his father, but he didn't seem that interested in finding out anything at this time anyway.

He asked about his birth which led to me correcting his understanding of the process as a whole! His idea? "How do they crack the women open to get the baby out?" I cleared that one up, but did tell him that he was born by c-section. He was worried that it had hurt "K" and was relieved to hear that it didn't because she had medicine, just like he did when he had his tonsils out (I figure this was close enough, I didn't feel like explaining epidurals on top of every thing else!) During all of this I mentioned, as I've mentioned countless times before, the "K" loved him very much.

This time he asked the BIG question. If she loved him why did she give him away? (of note, we have NEVER used "give away" when we talk about adoption, so he's come to that conclusion on his own) I explained what I knew - it was not the right time for her to be a Mummy to 2 little boys (she was already raising her son "C"), she couldn't look after Liam the way she wanted to so she made an adoption plan and asked us to be his parents. After a moment of silence he declared "I don't want to talk about this anymore it's making me too sad." I acknowledge that it can be sad to think about and we moved on.

I still don't know the magic formula of how often we should talk about adoption. Do I wait for him to bring it up next? What if he doesn't? I think I will continue my approach of mentioning it casually whenever I can (but not excessively) and hope that he knows that it's an okay subject to bring up wheneve he wants.
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