For the last few years, I’ve anticipated the questions I might be asked by my birth son, or questions he might ask his adoptive family about me. We have an open adoption and a good relationship, so I’m sure he knows he can ask me whatever he wants, whenever he wants. These questions may be as simple as what my favorite color is or what foods I don’t like, but he may also ask things like, why am I not the same color as you if you’re my birth mom? Why didn’t you place my half-sister? Or even, why did you place me for adoption?

I am a huge advocate of honesty and talking to everyone–including kids–like people. I do believe in tailoring details to proper age groups, but I won’t sugar coat anything, or romanticize the facts. I won’t try to make myself look like a hero while putting his birth father in a bad light. I will be fair. I will be open. And I will help him understand in every way I can. To do this, I think the best way to go about it is to peel back layers as questions are asked. I don’t ever want my son to feel overburdened by the information I give him just because I want him to know the truth. However, I also don’t want to withhold information when he asks just because I don’t think he’s intelligent enough to understand.

I would specifically like to talk about the inevitable day when my son starts asking why I placed him for adoption. Here is how I imagine the conversation going:

Son: Lindsey, why did you place me for adoption?

Me: I placed you because I love you. I wanted you to be happy, so I gave you to your parents.

Son: Why wouldn’t you make me happy?

Me: I would try my best, but I didn’t make enough money, I would have had to work more, so we couldn’t have spent a lot of time together, and you wouldn’t have had a dad around you?

Son: I don’t have a dad?

Me: You have a birth dad, but he didn’t want to be with us. We were both very scared to have a baby, so he went away.

Son: Why didn’t he want to be with us? Why were you scared?

Me: Having a baby can be scary because it’s a lot of effort and work. He didn’t want to work hard to take care of us, so he went away.

Son: Why didn’t you keep me by yourself?

Me: I would have loved to be your parent, but I think all kids should be in a family where they can be taken care of. I wouldn’t have been able to always take care of you, but your mom and dad could, so I placed you with them.

Son: You wouldn’t always care about me?

Me: I have always and will always care about you. Even though I’m not your parent, you will always be my son, and I will always love you. Okay?

Son: Okay.

Though this may sound way too idealistic, the point is, I want him to know that I didn’t place him because I didn’t want him, but because it’s what was best for him. And by answering his questions openly and honestly, I’m not just telling him this, I’m showing him. We’ve all heard the saying “actions speak louder than words,” so I will do what I can to make sure he knows how much he is loved by my words and deeds.