Before I start–for those who are just dying to know (and I know you’re out there since my blog stats have noticeably increased since my due date)–I kept my word and did Zumba last night. It definitely brought on contractions (especially some of the belly dancing moves), but they stopped as soon as I did. I guess I’ll just have to dance through my day today!
Now for what I really want to talk about…
N~ totally caught Sean and I off guard at dinner last night. My laptop was sitting next to our dining room table, and was scrolling through all of my pictures as we were eating. The kids were watching and saying things like “There’s baby N~…there’s (insert name of one of a bazillion cousins)…that’s W~.” Then, a picture came up from our first visit with T~, N’s birthmother. Since T~ initially didn’t think she wanted any contact, we didn’t have a visit until I suggested it for his first birthday. In this picture, N~ is standing in a little stream running through T’s parent’s yard, with T~ standing next to him. N~ looked at that picture and said “There’s my mom.”
I just said, “Yes, that’s T~.”
Sean almost fell out of his chair.
I don’t know if I’ve really talked about it but, at almost five-years-old, N~ definitely has a concept of the whole pregnancy thing. Especially since I have the Discovery channel on a lot, so he has been subjected to the baby-birthing programs. Anywhoo…So, awhile back, N~ made a comment about being in my belly. I took the opportunity to explain to him (again–this is not new territory) about the fact that he was adopted, and that he grew in his birthmother’s belly. For the first time that I can remember, N~ asked me who his birthmother was (once again, this wasn’t entirely new territory–we have taken the initiative on a few occassions to put it together for him, but we really haven’t tried to force the issue since we didn’t want to push him if he wasn’t ready). So anyhow, I told him that T~ was his birthmother. That was pretty much it. He didn’t act like he was really even processing it, and we moved on to another topic.
That’s why it surprised us so much when he referred to her as his mom last night. I just didn’t realize that he was to the point that he “got it.” And while it did catch Sean and I both completely off guard, we’re certainly not bothered by it. I actually totally agree with the point my sister made when I told her about it. It is pretty cool that it is such a non-issue for him that I hadn’t even realized that he got it. No big, uncomfortable talks that he will remember for the rest of his life (which was always the goal). It was just normal to him.
Now, in talking about this, I don’t claim to have it all figured out. Quite honestly (although I didn’t realize it at the time), I think that he is starting to put some other things together, too. The evening before last, we had a pretty similar experience. Accept this time, it was a picture of T’s oldest daughter that came up on the screen. When W~ asked who it was, I told him that it was T”s daughter, A~ (who they have met several times). N~ said, “That’s my cousin.” That time, honestly, I just said, “Um, something like that.”
Don’t misunderstand–if he asks more specific questions, I will explain it to him. But I want to be sure that he really is ready and wants to know before I delve into that one. Honestly, that conversation won’t go how I had initially thought it would. T~ had very specific reasons for making her adoption plan. She wanted her children to have two parents, she wanted to be older and more stable, she wanted to finish school, and (brutal, honest reality) she worried about raising him in her town, where interracial relationships were extremely taboo. Adoption is easy to explain in those terms. But the fact is, most of those things haven’t changed in her life, and she is about to have her third child since N~. I won’t be able to tell N~ that she decided to parent her other kids because she was more prepared to. Honestly, the only answer I have is that she decided to parent the others because placing him for adoption was just too painful (and, quite frankly, I think that pain was absolutely related to the conception of the other children). So, yeah, not a conversation I’m going to jump into unless I’m sure he really does want to have it.
These are the types of situations that I think potential adoptive parents should look at realistically before they adopt. As I have said before, how I love my children (adopted and biological) is not different–I love them all the same. The circumstances around raising them are different. I don’t have to worry about conversations like this with anyone but N~. I’m fortunate to have a sister who also has both adopted and biological children–it definitely makes it all seem more normal for them.
Sometimes, we have a fine line to walk. I absolutely do not agree with people who try to make a child’s life all about their status as an adopted person. Certainly, you can’t ignore the fact that an adoption occurred and affects the child, but you also shouldn’t expect it to be the overriding thing that shapes who they are. It is a very fine line, but you don’t have to tip-toe across it every day.