Being a marriage and family counseling major, I have taken many a class where I had to show I could take a parent’s point of view and tell children why I think they should or shouldn’t do this, that, or the other thing, without causing contention. Doing this would not only help us find different ways to assist clients talking to their children about difficult subjects, but it would help those of us who choose to be parents.
Being LDS and attending an LDS university, we practiced dialogs we could potentially use for teaching kids things like why we believe they shouldn’t drink, why they shouldn’t smoke, why they should treat their bodies as temple, why families should sit at the dinner table every night, and of course, why they shouldn’t have sex before marriage. Since you’re reading an article from Adoption.com in the birth mother category, I’m sure you can guess that my point of view on the latter topic is a little different than that of the stereotypical Mormon.
When all my other classmates (and no, that’s not an overgeneralization) practiced explaining how premarital sex could affect them, I practiced explaining how it is affecting me. Though it was a bit awkward the first several times, these faux dialogs have been more beneficial to me than I could have ever imagined. By explaining my situation to people who don’t know what it’s like to have gone against those beliefs, it gave me time to practice explaining myself to child-like (not to be confused childish) adults.
Things will inevitably be different when the time actually comes (heaven knows you can’t predict anything when it comes to kids), but I foresee myself explaining adoption in more depth to my child(ren) when they start asking questions. My son and my daughter have already met. My son knows I’m his birth mother and that I have a daughter that lives with me, and my daughter sees pictures of her brother around our house.
My best guess is that my daughter will kick off the conversation by asking why her brother doesn’t live with us. Anything remotely similar will give me the chance to explain.
“Before I was with your daddy and had you, I did some things I knew I wasn’t supposed to. Because of the poor choices I made, I was going to have your brother as a direct consequence of those actions. Since your brother’s daddy and I didn’t think it was best to be together, I couldn’t give him everything I believed he should have. So, I placed him with Marcus and Jenny so they could take care of him; I placed him for adoption. I loved your brother so much that I made sure to pick the best family for him. But when I placed him with the Greens, I knew I couldn’t take him back. Your brother was going to have a new mama and daddy, and they were going to love him just as much as I did, but they would provide for him some things that I couldn’t at the time.
A few years after that, I married your daddy, and about two years later, we had you. Since your daddy and I wanted to be together and were able to provide what we knew you deserved, we didn’t place you with another family. That’s the consequence of our good actions; we get to be your parents! I still love your brother just as much as I love you, but consequences, good and bad, don’t always go away. Adoption was how I took responsibility for my actions.
The same thing happened to your daddy. Grandma Rudy was pregnant and couldn’t give daddy everything she thought he needed, so she placed him with grandma and grandpa. Grandma Rudy didn’t get to take your daddy back, but she still gets to see daddy. That’s why we get to see your brother, but he doesn’t live with us.”
Then the question floodgate will be opened and follow up questions will ensue. But, our family is fortunate to have many adoption stories that show just how positive adoption can be. We have adoptees, adoptive families, and birth families to be examples and to give insight. Though, it’s not an easy topic for everyone. If my daughter gets upset about our family’s situation, she has plenty of people to confide in who can empathize with her. Giving our daughter resources can only help her understand.
I know this may seem a bit juvenile and overly simplified, but it’s always best to give explanations that are age appropriate and that keep you honest. I’m certain my daughter will ask about her brother long before I should be explaining the semantics of those pesky birds and bees. If you play a role in adoption, never be afraid to tell your children the truth, but don’t burden them with the gory details until they can truly understand them. Everyone’s part in the triad is difficult at times, but whether by blood or by adoption, we are dealing with family, and family deserves nothing but the best.