Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Introducing Emma to Adoption

From the very beginning, before Emma ever existed to us, Danny and I decided that we always wanted our child to know where he/she came from. We didn’t ever want that information to come as a shock to him/her. We didn’t want our child to grow up feeling ashamed of his/her roots. We feel that keeping that a secret from the child at any point would give that impression. That being said, it’s not something we plan on dwelling upon, either. A child’s birth into a family, no matter how that happens, is an important part of that child’s history, but it is certainly not the only thing. The challenge is to give the right amount of information at the right time in the best way for your child.

Shortly after Emma’s third birthday I decided it was time to start talking with her specifically about her adoption. She’s getting to an age now where she is curious about the differences between boys and girls, being a mommy and even about death. She uses her baby doll, Kelsey, to work through much more complex issues than I would have expected at such an early age. If she is exploring the concept of death, I felt that she was ready to learn more about what adoption is and how she became part of our family.

One afternoon she started talking about how babies grow in a mommy’s tummy and then eat from the mommy’s breasts. She continued to say that Allison grew in my tummy and that she did, too. I decided that was the right moment. I told her that she grew in E’s tummy. She said, “No I didn’t. I grew in your tummy.” I told her that I wished that she did grow in my tummy and then reminded her of the pictures we have of her when she was growing in E’s tummy. She started to get upset so I changed the subject. It didn’t bother her for long. As soon as the subject changed, she was running around like normal. I hoped that I had done the right thing.

A couple of weeks ago I had another opportunity to talk with Emma about her adoption. At the library, we ran into J, our social worker during the adoption process. We chatted for a little while and Emma asked who she was. I told her that J was our big helper when we adopted her. We continued to talk with J for a little while and that was it. I don’t know if she understood or not. She didn’t say anything about it and eventually ran over to the video section.

Last night, on the way home from work, Emma was full of conversation. I can’t remember now just how the conversation turned toward talk of adoption, but it did. Emma said, “Allison grew in your tummy and I grew in E’s tummy. I wish that I grew in your tummy.” I said, “I wish that you grew in my tummy, too. But, the most important thing is that we are together now.” I reached back and started to tickle her leg. We both laughed and the conversation moved on to other news from her day. Although she seemed upset by the thought a few months ago, she had been listening and she’s starting to understand. I was happy with the way that I responded to her. I want our talks about her beginnings to be natural. I’m sure that there will be many serious discussions about it as she gets older, but I want the gravity of those discussions to be initiated by her.

When I told Danny about it last night I got a little chocked up. I so much want Emma to grow up confident in who she is and where she came from. I want her to know that she was adopted in love on both sides of her family. Her birth family loves her so much and they chose adoption because they wanted her to have a mommy and a daddy who loved her and cared for her in ways that they couldn’t at the time she was born. Her adoptive family is just so thrilled and excited to have her in our lives. Our family would never be complete without her. Most of all, I want her to know that Danny and I couldn’t love her one bit more if she did grow in my tummy. She is just as much of a miracle to us as Allison. Each member of our family is unique and has a special story about how they entered our family. The most special thing is that we are a family. I hope that both of my girls grow up knowing that.

1 comment:

Trista said...

Wow! You handled that so well! We haven't reached the age where Abby knows where babies come from, or questions things like that. I will remember your inspiring story when we get there!