Our biological daughter, Meredith, will be nine years old in February. She began to talk of having a sibling to play with about two years ago. “Please let’s have a baby, Mom!” My husband, Steve, and I began to toss around the idea of a second child.
Truth be told, I had a burning desire to parent another child, and Steve desperately wanted a son. After a short round of six months or so of playing “biological bingo” (excuse the expression), we felt called to adopt. I was approaching 35 and have congential scoliosis. Being pregnant again would certainly include more risks this time.
After we announced our decision and began the paperwork process, Meredith began to communicate some doubts about another child in the house. We tried to gently prepare her along the way by talking about what it’s like to have a baby in the house; the fun things and the not so fun things. Her fears were hidden in statements like “What if the baby comes and Fritz (our dog) doesn’t love me anymore?” Translation: “What if the baby comes and YOU don’t love me anymore?”
This was heavy. How would we convince her? We tried to comfort her by saying things like, “Meredith, you are our only precious daughter, no one can ever take the place of you, you have so many special gifts.” And, “I will be your mother and take care of you forever. You will be my firstborn love forever.” That didn’t seem to make her feel much more confident.
One day, I got an idea. What if I gave Meredith a slice of time when she could ask me anything at all about the adoption or anything else. I decided to call our set aside time “Chocolate Talks.” I took her upstairs to my walk-in closet with no windows. I lit a candle and gave her a piece of chocolate and I had a piece for myself (just to be social, of course!). I told her this was our time together for her to ask me anything she wanted about the adoption or anything else.
She was really excited—especially by the chocolate and candlelight. Her first question was “Umm…What is your favorite color?” I said “purple.” She said, “Mine, too.” Gradually, she began to ask questions about the practical issues of having a baby in the house. “What will you do if the baby cries a lot at night when I am trying to sleep?” She raised some good questions that I hadn’t thought of myself. We talked about how we might handle that issue and others like it. Meredith came away from our first “Chocolate Talk” with a certain peace.
We’ve had several “Chocolate Talks” since then, some of them initiated by me, some by her. During one particular talk, we planned that she would have the privilege of carrying the diaper bag to the airport when we pick up our baby. She was very excited about that.
I know there will still be questions and adjustments for Meredith. But for now, in this precious place in time, a Hershey kiss, a candle, and my listening ears are enough to prepare her and soothe her. And for me, it will be a life moment I will never forget.