Sometimes I fear that I'll run out of words to write on open adoption. And I don't want to run out of words because I feel a great burden to talk about it and talk about it and share how great it can be and keep on sharing because there are too many people who don't see it as an option--adults who want a family but can't do it naturally and kids.....who find themselves pregnant and don't know what to do. This country is just starting to talk about it regularly; really talk about it. But we've no where near exhausted the topic. And even so......I start to worry that maybe I sound like a broken record.
But then I realize......I've never really concerned myself with that; it's not a family trait and at the same time I have a conversation with Georgia, who is three and half mind you, about where babies come from, how babies get out of a mommy's tummy, and why some babies, like her, have a birth-mommy and a regular mommy, and some babies don't. I'm a firm believer in being age-appropriate with your kids about this stuff when they ask on their own. And lying, making stuff up, pretending to drop a pan on your foot, or deferring the conversation to someone else or another time is never age appropriate.
Your kids are seeking you out. They're demonstrating trust in you and showing you that they want your opinion first, before someone else's. Indulge that. You have no idea when they'll decide that they've been put off by you long enough and look to someone else for the answer. And don't think that deferring them once won't be deemed "long enough." Plus, by the time they've figured out the words to use to ask you the question, they've been thinking about it awhile. You may never have the chance to tell them the truth again. So embrace being age-appropriate with them even if it's uncomfortable. Even if you are hit with questions about babies and where they come from, or whatever it may be, way earlier than you think it will come.
And three and a half was earlier than I was expecting. But there we were last night eating dinner, just the two of us, of fish sticks and french fries, and Georgia puts out there, "You know how Tarah is my birth mommy?"
"How did I get out of her tummy?"
A little pause. I'm not about to scare the snot out of her. She's three and half and that whole age appropriate thing right?
"The doctor's helped take you out honey. Remember, we told you that Tarah had a really nice doctor who took those pictures of you inside her tummy and then that same doctor also helped take you out of her tummy."
"Did I come out through her belly button?"
"Well. When a lady is ready to have a baby, the doctor's help her to pull the baby out." Please let that be good for now. Don't ask where they pull it out of. Please just be kind of baffled by the process that you don't even know to ask those questions. You're three. Remember?
"Oh. I'm glad Tarah is my birth-mommy."
"Me too honey."
"Do you think Tarah swam in her pool when I was still in her tummy?"
"Probably--you know how much fun her pool is."
And just like that we moved on to swimming and why we don't have a pool like Tarah's. A conversation we've had many times and one I'm sure we'll have for years to come. And really--who can blame her? They have a sweet pool.
I started thinking after that conversation. If she didn't have Tarah to connect to the idea that she was inside someone else's tummy and not mommy's, I believe there would have been more questions--not necessarily easy ones. We would have been talking in vague terms, about a woman neither of us really knew or had a relationship with. It would have felt foreign--this concept of being in a tummy. It may have led to questions about why we didn't know her birth mom, where she lived, who she was, what she was like, and on and on.
But for Georgia. Some of those questions will never be questions. She'll have known the answers forever. To ask them, would be as odd a question as her asking what gender she was. It's just part of who she is, so inherent that the questions don't really exist.
Will there be other questions as she gets older. Yes. Will they be hard and difficult. I'm assuming so. But open adoption has crossed off a handful of questions on the proverbial list of "Questions Adopted Kids Ask." And for that, I'm so thankful.
I'm thankful that when Georgia thinks about who she looks like, why her hair is as awesome as it is, where she was born, what happened right after she was born, and what her birth-mom and birth-grandma are like she'll know the answers right away. They are not secrets, but things and people we talk about a lot and have pictures of, and create memories with, and weave into everyday conversation when it's appropriate.
I know that not all adopted kids have this luxury. If we were to adopt again, it might not look the same.
But I hope so. Boy do I hope so.
Because just when I think I really know why I'm thankful for our open adoption, a conversation over fish sticks and french fries gives me yet another reason.
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Thank you, Thank you!