The other night my 4-year-old daughter was getting on her teenage brother’s nerves. My son made the comment… “can’t we just give her away and let someone else adopt her?” He was completely serious as if it was a viable and available option.
It reminded me of a discussion that he and I had a few years earlier when he asked me if someone else could adopt him. He was worried that if I didn’t want him that I could just give him to someone else. His comment and question really made me think of the numerous questions my children have with regards to placement, adoption, biological parents and their own situation.
I tried my best to explain to my son that, no; I wasn’t going to allow anyone else to adopt him and that he was my son forever. This was a hard question to answer because of course he wondered how he could be placed in our family and adopted and that it couldn’t happen again. He knew his older brother was placed and then taken back and then placed again… such a confusing time!
I think about all these questions and I realize that when my children were young and I was dealing with the day to day struggles of parenting, placement, home studies, etc., I had no idea how/if/when I would have to deal with these inquiries.
I am grateful that we have been very open with our children with regards to their birth parents, their placement in our home and their own individual stories, it has made these discussions easier, but there are still questions that are hard to answer. It is almost weekly that we have talks about their birth mother, their birth father(s) and even their biological uncles, aunts and grandparents. I don’t have all the answers, but quite honestly, what parent does?
I don’t know any other families who are in an open adoption, much less any who have teenagers right now, so here are a few things that have helped me over the last decade:
(If any one has any suggestions/ideas that have worked for them, please feel free to share!)
Validate the question(s), it is okay to have questions.
Reaffirm your love for them as an individual and as your child - Sometimes my children were hesitant to ask me questions about their birth mother because they didn’t want to “hurt my feelings” if they were talking about their “other mom.” I will admit that when my boys were first placed with us, I did feel jealous of their mother, I felt I was being compared on every level with her. I don’t feel that way now; I feel that she and I both have significant and independent roles to play in their lives.
Be honest – I try to answer their questions to the best of my ability, but sometimes I don’t have an answer to their question(s). If they ask a question and want an answer right away, I do my best, but sometimes after I have time to think about their question and my answer, I may go back and tell them that I didn’t answer their question properly. I have told my older boys, “I don’t have a parental instruction manual, I am learning just like they are and I am not always right!”
Love them unconditionally.
So blessed to be a mom!