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Adoption Blog: Our Family Grows With Love

The Other Half of the Conversation

The other day my three-year old son, Max, was standing on a chair next to the kitchen sink "helping" me wash dishes when he noticed a picture laying on the shelf above the sink. It was the baby picture of my brother, my sister, and I that I had recently seen for the first time. It is tucked away up on that shelf because I haven't really decided what to do with it yet. I know I won't display it in my house, but I am not yet ready to file it away. I want to be able to easily pull it out should I want to look at it.

As Max pulled the picture off the shelf, I caught a glimpse of the now familiar scene. There we were, all three of us, sitting on Santa's lap. My inquisitive "little helper" became distracted from the task at hand and asked, "Who these kids are?" I pointed to the picture, saying this is Mommy, this is Mommy's brother, and this is Mommy's sister, your uncle and aunt." He took that at face value, and then said, "You with Santa?" I responded, "Yes, Honey, we were with Santa." And then, as he pointed to the picture, he asked, "Why you guys sad, Mommy?" I responded with something along the lines of the picture was taken a long time ago, and I can't remember why we were sad. The answer seemed to satisfy him, and he again focused on washing the dishes.

I know this conversation had presented me with a really great opportunity to have an adoption related conversation with my son. And I also know that I blew it. I had nothing short of an epic mom fail, actually, and let the opportunity pass. Even in the moment, I knew I was blowing it. I knew I should talk with my son about adoption, plant another seed in his mind, so to speak. But rather than have that conversation, I let the moment slip away.

I have spent countless hours thinking about how I will continue to explain my son's adoption story to him. For now, the conversations are "big picture," but I know that they will continue to become more involved and detailed. In my mind I continually rehearse the words I will use, creating a mental checklist of any questions I think he may have, and trying to prepare the best possible responses. I feel confident in my ability to answer his questions and offer him all the information I have about his birth family. Yep, this momma has done her homework and is prepared. That is, of course, aside from the fact that I never once thought about how I will explain my own adoption story to my son.

Every time I think about talking to my son about adoption, the conversation is framed by his knowing that I too, am an adoptee. Yet, I have never thought about the actual telling of my adoption story to my son. As he looked at that picture and asked, "Why you guys sad, Mommy?" I was overcome with the thought that I am going to have to tell him my story. I am going to have to say more than just, "Mommy is adopted, just like you." As much as I pride myself on being comfortable in talking about adoption, the thought of having to tell my son my own adoption story leaves me with feelings of uncertainty.

I'm not really sure where these feelings of uncertainty come from. Lately I have been wondering if it's the fact that there are some less-than-desirable details that lead up to an adoption plan being put into place for my siblings and I. Details that I don't often think about, that I have neatly tucked away in the back of my mind. These details are difficult to remember, difficult to process, and, in some ways, it's difficult to believe that they were ever a part of my life. Telling my son my own adoption story is going to force me to pull those details out of the back of my mind, and dust them off. It will force me to remember them, and process them. And saying them out loud, to another person, will make them a very real part of my story. I realized I need to begin rehearsing the details of my adoption story. I need to begin creating a mental checklist of potential questions, and rehearsing the words I will use. I have a lot of homework to do, and I better get to it!

So, regardless of my uncertainty, I am committed to having these conversations with my son. I am committed to openly discussing my adoption story with my son. I am committed to putting him at ease to ask any questions he may have. I know that some of the answers will be difficult for me to give, and, likely, difficult for him to hear, but I am committed to being honest. I am committed to making sure that adoption conversations don't feel difficult, or scary, or off limits. And hopefully, in turn, my son will be comfortable in telling his own adoption story.

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Well, we all have those moments, although most of us aren’t as eloquent about it.  It isn’t really a “mom failure” so much as a “mom epiphany”; you couldn’t have had the conversation that needs to happen because you were not ready for it.  Now, you will be ready for next time, even if you have to make next time happen. 

Thanks for sharing, I love to read your blog!!

By jszmom on Monday, January 21, 2013 at 6:46 pm.

Thank you so much for your words of encouragement! I do feel more prepared for the conversation now that I have put some thought into it. I am so glad you enjoy reading my blog. Writing really helps me process a lot of emotions that arise when conversations such as this come up.

By Maximilian's Mommy on Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 1:04 am.

thanks for sharing.As an adoptive mom, It is so valuable and important for me to be able to read what adult adoptees have to say. thanks again!

By drayn on Sunday, September 01, 2013 at 5:36 pm.

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Maximilian's Mommy

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