Thursday, June 25, 2009

The questions begin in earnest... UPDATED 6/26

Since the very beginning, we have had a certain background dialogue running about adoption for both of our children. During those VERY early moments when we first adopted them, the one sided dialogue was mostly for our own sake. It is a lot easier to discuss the tough things in life with a little practice under your belt, if for no other reason than it helps make it sound more natural the more you talk about it. They both know that they are adopted and that they are from China. Katie went with us at 2 1/2 years old to adopt Ethan, so that made the idea a bit more concrete for her. As far as they both know though, all babies come from China, are adopted and come home on an airplane. Of course, they are still too young to talk about the really tough stuff like abandonment, birth parents, orphanages, foster families as well as the circumstances in China or other such possibilities, but I can see that is coming down the pike just a bit more quickly than this mama would like it to. It breaks my heart to think about busting my children's bubbles or to see the look on their little faces when it clicks that there was another woman who carried them and gave them life but that woman is not their mama. Katie and Ethan's stories are very different but the end result is the same. They both needed parents and we wanted children.
Katie will be the first to get the story. She is pretty far ahead of Ethan in terms of cognitive development and she is beginning to ask lots of questions. The questions that she asks though are still full of wonderment and without a means to an end. She has no frame of reference to know where she is going with her line of questioning. She is just at the stage where questioning is her main vocation in life and she does it quite well.

These are the questions of late...

"Who came to get me when I was adopted in China?"

"What did you do the day that you adopted me?"

"Did I cry like a baby?"

"Did you love me when you adopted me?"

"Did you hold me like a baby?"

"How big was I when you adopted me?"

"Did you rock me in a rocking chair in China?"

"When I came home where did we live, this house or our old house?"

"Why wasn't I with you when you married Daddy?" They both are totally into the fact that Mommy and daddy are married and love to watch our wedding video but are quite upset that they were not there but Justin was.

"Was Justin your baby too?"

"Was Justin born in China?" This is where it starts getting a bit tough.....when I tell her that Justin was born here in the United States she asks....

"Was Justin in your tummy?" She bursts out laughing and tells Ethan how funny that thought is. She never asks me if she was in my tummy. I am not sure if really deep down she figures out that if she comes from China and Justin does not, then maybe she was not in my tummy. Probably a long shot on that one and more about the fact that she has not gotten developmentally from point A to point B.

That last question has brought about daily discussion of those themes over and over. She likes repeating back to us that we are a family and we are forever in each others hearts.....She also expresses her love to us quite often; sometimes I wonder if that is partially to reinforce in her own mind that we love her as much as she loves us.

Our FCC Chapter recently had a children and family counselor speak about these adoption issues as well as development issues of all children. Her basic advice resonated with me. Do not offer any information that is not requested. If you lay the groundwork then they WILL ask the tough questions when they are ready to receive the information. If they do not ask then they are not really ready. Don't give them information that they are not ready for. I can see how true that really is.

Katie is the most sensitive of souls and I yearn to protect her and her brother. As each day moves into the next, I welcome the evolving nature of their childhood and at the same time dread that same process that will strip them of their innocence as they learn the real reasons that our family is forever. In order for that to happen they first had to suffer the loss of their birth family and subsequently, the country of their birth. I pray daily that we live up to the huge responsibility that has been set before us and that our children know peace in their hearts as they begin this journey of realization that they are embarking upon.

Update 6/26:

Today the questions went a bit further…gulp.

My mom came over today and Katie told my mom what I had said about the fact that Justin was in my tummy. "That’s not true..right?", she asked her Nana. I piped in that it is true that Justin was in my tummy and that babies live in tummy’s before they are ready to come into the world. Mom, of course agreed with me. She then said..

”How can that be Mommy…there is no door to get out!?!”

She started immediately talking about something else so we just moved on as well with me and my mom shooting looks at each other across the table...sheesh! Lord knows, I really do not think she wants to know about that door yet!!


Anonymous said...

I deffinelty agree with the counselor and that you are doing the right thing by not telling them too much too soon. i am adopted too, but my situatution was much different, my grandparents were the ones who adopted me and they told me way too much way too early. things i should have not known at such a young age. they thought they were doing the right thing by laying it all out in the open and not "hidging" anything. But in the end it caused more physcilogical problems for me. i think what you and your husband have given these 2 babies is so great, adoption is such a wonderful thing.

Anonymous said...

As I read this entry I have tears in my eyes b/c I am experiencing the same thing with my daughter who will be 4 in Sept. You are a great wordsmith and hit the nail on the head. I couldn't have described this turning point any better. You definately nailed it!

Thank you for giving your thoughts about NOT giving too much info - this is real food for thought for me. I was going to sit my daughter down and tell her that I am not her birth mother (which I am sure she knows) but not will wait and talk about everything when she gives the cues.

I love this entry and please give any more insights and thoughts about this subject. I have followed your blog since pretty much the beginning and find you so open and honest.

Doug and Terrye said...

Lori, So many of us are right there with you, and struggling with the pain that may come to each of our children's hearts. When my DIL had her second child, Grace said, "Look Mommy the baby is in her tummy just like I was in yours." When I explained that she did not grow in my tummy she had a look of dejection on her face. I spent many hours loving her through that one! As I pray for us on this journey, I also pray for my Panda Sisters.

Terrye in FL

Love Letters To China said...

I often wonder how I will handle myself when these types of questions arise. Sometimes they come from the biological one. It's very hard to come up with an answer. I'm so glad to have you in my life so I can turn to you in time of need. You are a true friend...


Candy said...

Oh my!

I'm not ready for these questions to be answered. Rachel also knows that she was born in China, but does she really understand what that means?

As you go through this, I hope you will continue to post your responses so we can all learn from you, since you are ahead of us on this subject.

I wish you strength to answer these questions. It's not an easy subject, but one that does need to be talked about at the right time.

Diana said...

Justin was in your tummy..Katie and Ethan were in your heart.
Mine are older then your two so we have been over older ask youngest does!!! He will ask the hardest question when you really have to think of a anwer in the worse places (McDonalds drive thru).
Good Luck!!!

Minouche said...

It seems you're handling the questions really well!! :O)) And I am sure that you will find a way to make Ethan and Katie proud of their life history! :o) Please keep blogging about these tough topics as I am looking forward to learn from your experience. Thank you once again for your candor! :O)

Wishing you lots of clarity and wisdom to deal with the tough questions along the way...:o)



Tammie said...

Letting our children guide us through this murky topic is one of the best gifts we can give each other. There is an acronym (I think that's the correct word.) KISS. Keep It Simple & Short. Answer only the question that is asked. Offer no more. This is one point that I agreed upon with the lecturer.

I have often wondered why Erin hasn't asked these questions. I am now realizing that it may because she is "an only." There is no one else around to help her think of these questions. No one to foster these kinds of thoughts if you get what I mean.

I can only hope that I rise to the ocassion with as much grace as you & Marc.


RamblingMother said...

G and I have had some tough but sometimes funny conversations about adoption as well. I got the "I was in your tummy right?" question. I also got the "Good thing I was never abandoned, right mama?" when we were discussing abandonment and finding day. There is a really good work book about being adopted from China. G loves it. Actually she LOVES it. If you would like e-mail me and I will tell you where I got it and how to get one. Malinda at Adoption Talk recommended it once and I ordered it. Somethings in it aren't ready for completion as G isn't yet old enough to understand the questions but it is a life long workbook.

My nephew never understood why he wasn't at his parents wedding either, heh.

Monica said...

Oh boy, this gets tough doesn't it? We have adoption books mixed with all the other books on Katie's shelves. She has been tough to read to because of so many other things going on however, recently she pulled out I Love You Like Crazycakes. When I started to read it she stopped at the 1st page & said "look all the babies waiting for Mommies." I replied that yes they were waiting for Mommies & Katie said "2 Mommies" You could have knocked me over with a feather, I wasn't expecting it. I just told her that yes some babies have 2 Mommies & she said Yes!...then sang the Barney song, which I think re-enforces our family to her.

Mommy, Baba(daddy in Manderine), Shane, Kyle arriving home after adopting precious little baby Mae Li from China . said...

Lori, you are doing such a great job handling this. Like others have commented, I'm so thankful we have you. I'm sorry you have to be the pioneer, but as providence will have it, we needed the first to be the best and able to balance the love, discernment and compassion just right for the sake of their tender little hearts. You are so loving, patient, and attentive. I am confident that the same power behind the maternal love that fought to bring Katie and Ethan into your loving arms is the same power that will carry you through this "stage" of the adoption journey and your children will grow with understanding, security and a sense of awe if not gratitude about the entire miracle of it all. With you, nothing will be wasted. If there is pain, I know you will find a way to guide them through and they will be stronger people for it in the long run. I'm so glad they have you.