I was asked yesterday when we would tell our two year old daughter that she was adopted. It’s a question we get from time to time, and I know that it’s typically intended as an innocent question from someone curious about adoption. So I told her what I tell everyone who asks that particular question: The Dictator already knows.
Then I elaborated: Her adoption isn’t a secret in our house or amongst our family and friends. We visit frequently with her birthparents. We talk openly (gasp!) about adoption – right in front of her (double gasp!). We read her children’s adoption books, which are occasionally gag-worthy, but usually just well-intentioned and sweet.
We will never have The Conversation That Adoptive Parents Dread.
That prompted The Face.
There are variations of The Face, and I’m sure you’ve encountered some version at some point in your life. This was The Judgmental Face, clearly in disagreement with our decision to be open about Dictator’s adoption right from the start.
I was vaguely offended by The Face, but being, shall we say, mildly outspoken, I see it often enough that rarely bothers me anymore. Most of the time.
But then? Then The Face opened. Its. Mouth:
“But she looks just like you. You don’t have to tell her that she was adopted.”
No, no I don’t. But why would I keep a part of her history, her life story, a secret from her? Because you just know it would come out one day. And then we’d have to have The Conversation.
We’ve made a very conscious decision to take the capital letters off The Conversation. Instead, we’ve had and will continue to have a series of tiny chats, casual references, minor mentions woven into the story of our family’s life. It’s no longer The Conversation. It’s just a part of us.
And just as I wouldn’t want to keep our daughter’s adoption a secret, I understand that some families prefer not to share that part of the story with their children until they’re “old enough” to understand (and in some cases, simply not at all). I respectfully disagree with that position, but I know that we all make choices with what we believe to be the best interests of our children at heart. Just like we have. So when I hear a differing point of view, or learn that someone has decided not to share that particular part of their child’s history, I manage my Face so that I don’t show them any disrespect for the choice that they’ve made.
So go ahead and disagree with our decisions. Let’s even debate it a little. Just have the courtesy to manage your Face while we do.
- Dictator: Cooking muffins?
- Me: Actually, they’re baking.
- Dictator: Cooking bacon muffins? [delighted face]
- Me: No bacon, just muffins.
- Dictator: Where bacon?
- Me: There is no bacon.
- Dictator: No bacon? [sad face]
- Me: No bacon.
- Dictator: No bacon... [sadder face]
- [Several minutes go by]
- Dictator: WHY no bacon muffins??
My sister-in-law thought I should start a blog.
She swears that she’s not tired of my long, rambly emails and the unfortunate view they gave her of the inside of my head, but I suspect she simply wants to share the
misery wealth with others.
In any case, the blame for this falls squarely on my sister-in-law. Feel free to address the mental hate mail to her.