Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Talk, Part 1

Last night we had a long talk with Bobcat about adoption.

We were a more than a little nervous about this. I suggested it a few weeks ago, because Bobcat had mentioned some things about his foster mom in casual conversations with us and with his brothers. He remembered riding in her red van, and some of the things they did together. We wondered if that signaled any kind of trouble or sadness, or if it was just random odds and ends. We felt that we should take it seriously, for a number of reasons.

Believe it or not, Bobcat will be seven in November. And I distinctly remember that age. I was very upset about my parents’ divorce and I missed my dad every day. I knew that if he was having emotions, he needed to deal with them. MamaLlama was somewhat afraid that his thoughts of foster mom might indicate rejection of us, especially her. (I’ve always had an easier time with the boys. Foster mom was single, so having a Daddy was cool and fun. They’ve admired and looked up to me since the very beginning. It took them longer to accept a new mommy.) But we agreed it would be best to deal with this head on, because Bobcat is old enough to understand where he came from, and he needs to feel comfortable talking to us about anything.

It’s been almost three years. His memories may have changed. Bubba and Snookie sometimes forget that they didn’t come from MamaLlama’s tummy, when we talk about other families we know who are having babies. Tempting as it is to pretend nothing is different about us, it’s kind of hard to ignore. Perhaps it’s a real blessing that they look so different from us. On one hand, there may be times that other adopted children like being able to stay “undercover” and not have to talk about it all the time. Most of my friends didn’t even know my parents were divorced as a kid, and it was nice to not have to explain myself all the time. On the other hand, it may not be healthy to ignore reality, and the boys will, for better or worse, have to grow up with the obvious fact that they look different from their parents, and they will probably have to field a lot of questions. Maybe it’s better that way.

We decided to talk to Bobcat alone, without the other boys. This was decided because the other boys were much younger than Bobcat when all this happened to them. Bobcat has very strong memories of foster mom, and may have some vague recollection of his birth parents. But Bubba was just 12 months old when they went into foster care, and around 2 years old the last time they visited birth parents. And Snookie of course a year younger than that. Chances are Bobcat’s experience was much different and more vivid and confusing than the boys’. We would test the waters with Bobcat. If we opened up a can of worms and needed professional counseling or assistance, we would limit the impact to just Bobcat.

The other reasons for bringing it up now are that we wanted him to learn the vocabulary for his adoption story. We defined the words birth parents, foster home, adoption, forever family, etc.

We also wanted to make sure Bobcat knew the appropriate version of events. We've read some things about adoptees who romanticize their past, and dream that their birth parents must have been rich and famous and exotic. We don't want to disparage the birth parents and get into the nitty gritty details with him yet, but we do want him to know that he was sent to foster care for a reason. We didn’t take or “kidnap” them from a happy home. As much as a child can understand, he needs to know that something was wrong in the beginning, and we’re all here now because he needed a new home.

So we took a few days to think and pray and prepare ourselves. Last night we said a prayer and dove in.

This post is getting long, so I’ll leave a cliffhanger here and finish up later… Oooh, the suspense! If you want the rest, I need to see some desperate comments begging for satisfaction!


4andcounting said...

Count this as one desperate comment. I'm very interested in the story. Thanks for sharing it with all of us.

Matilda said...

Count my pout, please. You are just mean. Don't leave me hangin'!

underthewillow said...

When is later?! In the morning? Tomorrow afternoon? Next week?!! You posted this this morning at 11:48 this morning and in my dictionary it is now "later". Please keep your promise and finish. ;)

underthewillow said...

p.s. I love the term "forever family".

Bob said...

Our adopted daughter, Sara, is black and we are white. She will be four in November. We are always being asked about our family, since it so large and diverse. Sara has many times heard us tell people we adopted her, and we talk a lot about skin colors. She knows we think she is beautiful.