As a parent there are things that you know are coming. Maybe it's a blow out diaper in public, pointing out someone in a crowd and loudly saying something inappropriate about them, the first day of school, the last day of school, the first girlfriend, or the walk down the aisle. Some of the things bring fear into our hearts, many bring tears, and all bring a new understanding of our child and a new level in our relationship with them. When you add the blessing of adoption to that equation it creates several more of these moments.
At some point adopted children become curious about their beginnings and their birth families. From the moment you sign your name on the application you begin to anticipate these moments and wonder how you will handle them. Sometimes you dread the conversations that you know will have to happen when your children come from a tough situation (I've got a few of those that I am not looking forward to). For me, it happened yesterday. The first of the questions got asked.
Our church is about 40 minutes from our house and Reese likes to ambush me every Sunday morning with a barrage of questions. Usually I can answer his questions and feel somewhat confident in my answers. Other times he asks questions that are far beyond what you would expect from a five year old. Yesterday was one of those days. He began the Q & A time with asking if there would be fun things in heaven. I assured him that heaven would be the most fun place ever to which he responded, "will Jesus take me to Frankie's Fun Park?" Hoping this would be the end of our theology lesson for the morning he moved on to discussing if the snake in Adam and Eve would be in heaven.
I tried my best to frame my responses in a way that was clear to him and accurate. As if that weren't hard enough, then he sprang a big one on me out of the blue. "Mommy, was I in your tummy when I was a baby?" What?! Seriously, you are asking this question now? He totally ruined the beautiful scene I had in my head of this moment. He was supposed to ask this question during my pregnancy and as a family we would all curl up on the couch together and read a beautiful story book about how adopted children join their families. This can't be happening now! I can't even look him in the face as we discuss this. What was I supposed to do?
If there is anything that I have learned in my nearly six years of parenting (especially through the last two years) it's that kids are unpredictable and do things in their own time and way. The best thing that I can do is be flexible and roll with it. Thankfully, this was one of those moments that we as a family had laid a foundation for so that we could be successful.
We have talked about adoption since the day Reese came home. Our goal has always been to be open and honest with him. Yes, there are things about his birth story that he is too young to understand, but we are honest with the things that are developmental appropriate. If you ask Reese what it means to be adopted he will tell you that children are adopted when their first mommy and daddy can't take care of them or keep them safe. They are adopted by a new mommy and daddy that can take care of them and keep them safe. So when the question came the first thing I did was ask him a question. I asked him what it means to be adopted. After he answered I told him that he was in the first mommy's tummy not mine. He was quite happy with that answer and reiterated what adoption means and moved on to the next topic.
Not exactly the way I pictured the discussion in my head, but just what he needed. I know this is a sign that these talks will probably start happening more frequently, but I think I'm ready. I may not have the perfect answers, or any answers for that matter, but the Lord will give me what Reese needs at that moment.
If you are an adoptive parent, I would encourage you to talk about the concept of adoption with your child regularly. That understanding will make responding in these moments so much easier!