Unexpected Education

Maybe he’s better at connecting the dots than I have given him credit for.

Today, I just wasn’t feeling like doing the standard morning of phonics, math, history and language arts. So, instead of sitting in front of a computer screen and books, I packed the kids up and headed to our local children’s museum. That’s right, we had a field trip day (and, yes, I did count it as school time, although we did do a phonics lesson later in the day).

As we started our drive home, Wyatt started talking about having step-parents. I explained to  him that he didn’t have any step-parents, just a regular mom and dad. He honestly seemed disappointed that he was missing out on something (some of his cousins have step-parents). I explained to him (once again) why that was really not a bad thing.

Predictably, as I finished my explanation on step-parents, Noah said, “I have a birthmother.” We have a completely open adoption and have been very honest with him about his relationship to T~.

“Yes, T~ is your birthmom,” I responded.

“I also have a sister,” he said.


At that moment, I was broadsided by the realization that he may be making connections that I had never really discussed.

Honestly, at first I really wasn’t sure if it was some off-handed comment that didn’t really mean anything, or if he really knew what he was saying. But, then he continued.

“Actually, I have two sisters. And I think there is another one. Is that one a boy?”

He has met T’s two daughters a few times, but only seen her son once. If he is saying random things, he is doing one heck of a good job of guessing everything exactly right.


“Yes, you have two biological sisters and one biological brother,” I told him.

“What does that mean?” he wanted to know.

“Well, it means that you and T’s kids all came out of T’s tummy, just like Wyatt, Caleb and Eli all came out of my tummy.”

None of this shocked him. He didn’t disagree with any of it (like he did when we told him he also has a birthfather).

Really, I’m floored that he knew this. You see, while we have always been very open about his relationship to T~, we’ve never really expanded beyond that. We’ve never hidden the rest, and never would. We just wanted to be sure that he was ready for it. I know that there are people who disagree with this, and they can feel free to criticize me (as long as they are raising an adopted child with biological siblings in an open adoption and siblings in his family who are all biologically related to each other—walk a mile first…). We’ve had our reasons.

The birthfather discussion was just a few days ago (I checked with Sean, and the siblings didn’t figure into that conversation at all). We have held off on bringing that one up because his birthfather has never been involved, and never will be.

And the siblings? Honestly, I had always thought that when that conversation finally needed to be had, I would be telling him how T~ had chosen to place him because she wasn’t ready to parent, but she was in a different position when she had the parented siblings. Except, that didn’t end up being the case. She was only in a slightly better position to parent when the other kids were born. The big difference was that, at that point, she knew what placing a child feels like. She couldn’t handle doing it again.

But he’s spent time with them (heck, they even spent a day together at that same museum once) and he knows that they are T’s kids. I’ve just never sat him down and connected the dots. The potential for painful reality was enough to make me wait until he brought it up.

So, now, he’s brought it up. He hasn’t asked the “why?” questions that I dread having to answer, but he has asked to talk to her. I had been planning to call to talk to her some about Noah’s birthfather, anyhow, so I’ll probably try in the next few days. I feel bad, though, that I’ll be hitting her with a lot at once. I remember how surprised she was when he first started asking specific questions about her. I’m afraid this might be a difficult topic for her.

But I’ll still call. And I’ll let him talk as much as he needs.

It is amazing how much can end up being learned when you take a day off of school.



Filed under adoption, Kids, open adoption, Parenting

3 responses to “Unexpected Education

  1. Pingback: I’m Ready to Impose a Vow of Silence « Mixed Nuts

  2. This is soooo super interested to me to read. Thanks for sharing something so personal. It really helps. I haven’t walked in your shoes. I have different shoes. But I have a lot of the same struggles and questions and difficulties with our family dynamic where Addison is concerned (a sister and two brothers who live in MI and whom she’s only seen a handful of times) and I’ve been curious how to deal with this stuff since I know we are already in the thick of it (not quite as thick as you).

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