Saturday, June 30, 2012

May I have the manual now, please?

As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, my daughter recently wrote a letter to her birthmom and was awaiting a response. I had exchanged a few emails with her birthmom and I knew that she was planning to respond. She has a new baby and I'm sure life has been a little crazy for her. She also struggles with depression and I know that's a challenge for her, too.

The letter arrived yesterday. I knew that J had planned to send a couple of photos and I could tell that they were in the envelope along with the letter. I took my daughter down the hall and into her bedroom and told her I wanted to show her something.

"You got a letter from your birthmom!" I said.  I handed her the letter.  She read it to herself. J answered the questions from the letter she had received (for the record, she has two dogs, six chickens, and used to play two instruments). Oh, and she confirmed that it is definitely hot in Texas.

Next I handed my daughter the two photos. In one photo, J is sitting on a couch with her three sons. The other photo is very similar but also includes her husband. I watched A's face as she looked at them.

"Do you know that it takes two people to make a baby?" I asked.  She nodded but did not ask for specifics.  "Well, you also have a birthfather," I told her.  I explained that I do not know much about him and do not know where he is (technically, I do know where he is but this is not the right time to explain that). She asked me his name and I told her.

I pointed to the boys in the photo. "These handsome boys are your half-brothers," I said.

She looked at the picture and looked at me. "I have brothers?" I attempted to explain what a half-sibling is, not that it makes much of a difference in the scheme of things. I also explained that her birthfather and birthmother broke up before she was born and that was one reason why J chose to make an adoption plan. She did not have a lot of stability in her life at that time.

We sat on her bed and chatted for a bit longer. I told her how great it is to have so many people who love her - both our family and her birth family. She asked me a couple of questions about when she was a baby. She sometimes seems frustrated or disappointed that she does not remember seeing her birthmom and often asks me questions like, "Did I used to have a different name?"  I have assured her that her dad and I have been with her since the day she was born and that her name has always been the same. I told her that I even ran the name past her birthmom before formally choosing it.

I thought she would have more questions after reading the letter and studying the photos. She climbed into my lap as I sat cross-legged on her bed. She clutched her overpriced Hello Kitty from Build-a-Bear against her chest. "Do you have any questions?" I asked.

She shook her head. "Can I play math games on the computer now?"  I nodded.

I am sure she will have more questions later on. I can only hope I am handling these things in the "right" way. I continue to feel that an open adoption is what's best for her, and I appreciate that her birthmom is willing to keep in touch.

Now I guess I'll just hold my breath until Short Stuff lobs the ol' "how are babies made" question at me.


Anonymous said...

I may be a bit biased on things, but I do think Open is the best path. While you do not have a closeness with A's bmom, you have the ability to reach out and clear up a lot of questions early on. Open adoption at least from this birthmom's perspective, is the most comforting way for all involved. Yeah i dont see my bson hardly at all, but he knows where I am now to ask whatever questions he wishes. He never had the ghost of the "better parent" lingering. HA! If anything they could use it as a threat!

A will absorb, you will have questions as her mind wraps around it. At some point, her bmom may become a fairy tale princess of a mom who would do no wrong. Be prepared for that. But with the openness, A is also learning from a new perspective with adoption. It isnt shameful. It is something done out of love for the betterment of the child. It is a selfless act done by the bmom.

As A grows, she will stop telling the world her story. Right now it is bragging rights to be unique. By 10 it will be all gone and she will be tired of telling the story. ;)

I will state to this day, there are people who have no clue about my bson. I keep that fairly quiet. I have friends I socialize with regularly that have no clue. For bmoms, there is a shame still to it. I stopped talking about it a while ago because to be honest, there is less stigma to say I aborted than I placed a child for adoption. I hope the openness that was unheard of when I placed my bson 21 years ago will change that. I hope that it will make it easier on the bmoms in the future.

Sammy said...

I really respect how you're handling it all. My sister's kids were adopted, but it was an international adoption and they have no chance of ever knowing their birth parents. I wonder what this will be like for them as they get older. But they've always known they're from Kazakhstan, that they were adopted, etc. My husband and I would like to adopt a child in a few years and I can only hope that I handle our child's questions with the same honesty and grace that you seem to.

And remember, the teenage years are going to be rough for us all, adopted children or not! :-)


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