The littlest cherubs were eating a treat from the "garbage" truck. (We have at least four ice cream trucks that drive through our neighborhood each and every day!) I rarely purchase anything off the truck, but tonight seemed like a good night for a surprise.
As they sat at the table alone, they had conversations as only 5-6 year olds can. I'm not sure how it came up, but the topic turned to adoption. Cherub 2 made a comment that really made me stop in my tracks. It seems I got the big surprise of the evening. He said, "You guys all look alike. I don't. It makes me sad."
First, I'm thrilled he could put words to his feelings. He's only six years old and he was adopted at birth! But...wow! We've always discussed his adoption so he would know. And I think he looks a good deal like our family. But he went on to explain, "You guys all have those things on your face. You know. When you go out in the sun." As he pointed at his cheek I realized he meant freckles.
I crammed as many positive comments about adoption into the next five minutes as I could.
• Some kids do feel sad about being adopted. This is normal.
• Some kids are happy too because they love their family. This is normal.
• It is possible to be happy and sad all at the same time. We call it conflicted. It too is normal.
• You can love your first mom and me all at the same time.
(At this point he tugged at my heart strings! He said, "I love my first mom. I love my second mom. And my second mom is my best mom.")
• You can love your first dad and Daddy all at the same time.
• I also assured him that he can take pride in how he looks - even though it's not just like "us". (I must say though, I hate the "you guys" and "us" part of this whole conversation. I just don't know my way around it yet.)
Adoption conversations get complicated sometimes. Cherub 3 is a biological child. In the past, he has wondered why he's not adopted. He feels left out of something special. Other times, when Cherub 2 seems sad about it, he doesn't understand why we talk about it at all. In fact, tonight he suggested that because being conflicted is such a hard feeling to deal with, maybe we should never talk about being adopted again and Cherub 2 will forget that he is.
Again, I tried to cram as much as I could that was age appropriate in as possible.
• Sometimes people have been told to keep adoption a secret. But the kids usually find out. And when they do it makes them even sadder. They think that there is something wrong with being adopted and that's why it had to be kept a secret. This isn't OK.
• Cherub 2 didn't do anything wrong when he was born. It's not his fault he was adopted.
• And then, because we're getting ready to foster, I had to quickly explain that Cherub 2's first parents made an adoption plan. They hadn't done anything wrong. It's not the same as fostering.
By now, the two little guys were up to their ears in all this talk. They just wanted to eat their ice cream in peace. I dished out lots of hugs and love and then left them alone with their dessert. Quickly the conversation turned to flying dragons, battles and such.
Hopefully, I planted the right seeds. I look at this adoption thing a lot like how I look at Christianity. I can't make anyone a Christian. That's not my role. I'm just supposed to live my life in a way that glorifies God. That, and plant the seeds of truth. Stretching the similarities a little, I hope that I can plant the seeds of adoption truth with Cherub 2. I hope he knows that even when he's older and conversations like this happen fewer and farther between, he can still talk about whatever is bothering him. Even if he's conflicted.