My baby girl will be three years old in just a few short weeks. She is smart, she is beautiful, and as she grows bigger . . . so does her awareness of the world around her. Soon we will need to have the big "adoption discussion" with her. Now, please know that we always speak openly about the fact that she is adopted. It's nothing that we're trying to hide. But she does not yet understand the mechanics of babies and wombs and how it all works. Her daycare teacher is pregnant, so in a way her pregnancy may help aid in these discussions. In order for A to understand that she didn't develop in my stupid faulty uterus, she first needs to understand that she did develop in somebody's. So as her daycare teacher continues to expand, I know A will have questions and maybe things will actually unfold in a way that is natural and comfortable and not at all awkward. Hey, a girl can dream.
We have been building up to this in a gradual way. At night I sometimes lie in bed with A and we tell each other stories. I tell her a story about how her dad and I met a long time ago. I go on to say that we fell in love and then wondered where we could get a baby girl. She always smiles and says, "Here I am!" So eventually I will add the next layer, which is that she has a birthmother, J, who was not able to care for a baby at that time in her life. A birthmother who loves her very much and wanted more for her than she could give. Someday I will tell her so much more. I will tell her how, at the hearing for termination of parental rights, J cried so hard that her shirt was wet from shoulder to shoulder. I will tell her how smart, funny, and pretty her birthmother is. I will tell her whatever she wants to know, the most important of which is that no one ever gave her up or gave up on her (the term "gave up for adoption" always makes me cringe a little). She has been loved by so many, right from the start.
The story of her birthfather, a young African-American man, will be more challenging. He denied paternity and his rights were terminated involuntarily (meaning that he was served a notice to appear in court and did not attend). He is currently in prison. The official charge is: 2nd degree sexual assault of a child (two counts). I am far from a legal expert but I think this is something along the lines of "sex with a minor." (I should clarify that J is not the victim in the case - it was a different young woman.) A's birthmother said he seemed like a nice guy at first and I know she felt badly about misjudging his character. Who among us has not dated a jerk at some point? As far what I'll tell my daughter, I posed that question (well, in a rhetorical way) to her birthmother a couple years ago, and she suggested that I simply say that he was too young and too unprepared for parenthood. And for now, I suspect that that is as thorough an explanation as a three-year-old probably requires.
I must admit I am approaching this chapter with a fair amount of trepidation. My natural inclination is to preserve her innocence for as long as possible, but . . . hiding important truths would surely be much more damaging in the long run. My goal is to provide her with as much information as she needs, doing so in a way that is age-appropriate for her.
Last night, A and I were watching TV in my bed and I turned to look at her (mostly because she cannot stop talking for two seconds and I couldn't hear anything on the TV). She put her hand on my cheek and softly said, "Mama." Sometimes I just cannot get over that kid and her mop of curls and her cherubic little face. I walk past her bedroom and am still in awe that she's ours. After so much pain and loss over the years, how do you ever get over the fact that, just this once, you got really, really lucky?
When I read about her birthmom being there for the termination I nearly cried myself. I know I probably hog your blog when it comes to adoption but I too have seen these birthmoms say goodbye at my house. Some birth moms chose to visit (when babies went to foster homes before the court hearing)and some quite often but they usually came to say goodbye shortly before the court hearing. I almost dreaded it because honestly it's so hard, I mean how can it not be. But... at the same time these birthmoms know what they are doing, are well counseled and are not sorry for their decision. In fact, under the tears they find joy, this baby they have placed for adoption will have so much, so many things they want them to have. How brave and courageous and loving to say for whatever reason they want something for their baby they cannot give. By the way.... I think you will do fine in the adoption explanation, I think it's sort of like explaining about the birds and the bees, opportunities will arise.;) Oh ya... while I'm at it I will put a plug in for all adoptive parents too. I honestly do think it takes an exceptional person to adopt, I know people who will only raise their blood only, kind of senseless don't you think? If someone truly wants a child and cannot and chooses not to adopt they are truly missing out. OK, I'm talking from what I've seen and heard but if I didn't have my own I would have looked elsewhere! Sorry, I had a lot of wind tonight!
Soon we'll be having conversations about what a "donor" is. We should chat more in depth sometime :)