Adoption Talk

3/04/2011 07:36:00 PM Edit This 6 Comments »
(Sorry - long rambling post ahead)
Since adopting Lexie I've always talked about where she was born and the fact that she was adopted. I've never preached about it or made it like she was different only that she's special - to me. We celebrate her official adoption day (aka Gottcha Day) which is July 4th so naturally she thinks all the fireworks and parties are for her! If you ask her were she was born she'll tell you "Aktau Kazakhstan" and just recently she's added "half way around the world." But she's never really asked a lot of questions about how she was adopted until we returned from Thanksgiving at my sisters house and she spent time with the twins (who were 3 months old.) Prior to their birth, I keep waiting for her to ask me about the babies in Boo-Boo's tummy (Boo-Boo is my sister Angie) and some how associate it with herself. At some point prior to the twins birth she was playing in the living room and called out to me "Mommy, I wasn't in your tummy was I?" I said "No Lexie you weren't" and I expected more questions and an in depth conversation. Nope, my little sweet pea said "okay" and went back to playing. I was more than surprised about this observation since I've never said to her that adoption meant she wasn't born of my body. I have a feeling someone at her school might have told her. Who knows? She is after all a very smart 4 3/4 year old (yes we have added her FULL age recently as well.) I've always believe that young kids will ask you what they needed to know or are ready to know so I've never felt like I should expand on a subject she's brought up unless she asks more questions (or has clearly gotten it wrong.)
A few days after our return from Thanksgiving Lexie said "Mommy, tell me the Mommy Lexie story."
"What do you mean?" I asked. "You know - like the flower story you tell me but without the flower."
That was an interesting surprise since prior to that I wasn't sure how much she was getting that this was our story. See Lexie was given a hooded bath towel from "Aunt" Amy, Angie's best friend, shortly after we came home and even today Lexie still insists that she must use this towel after every bath. Lexie has had skin issues since returning home with scabies (fun times) so I am religious about putting Aveeno lotion on her every time she takes a bath. It's actually a wonderful ritual where we talk about her day or when she was younger I would sing to her or tell her stories. It was one of those lovely times a year or so ago that I made up a story about a lady looking for the perfect flower for her garden. The lady looked at tulips in La Conner Washington. They were very nice but just not the right flower for her. Next she went down to Texas to look at the blue bonnets. Again, really pretty flowers but still they didn't seem to be the flower meant for the lady. Then she heard about the perfect little pink rose all the way in Kazakhstan and she just had to go see this rose. So the lady flew all the way to the other side of the world to Kazakhstan. When she finally saw the rose...the sweetest tiniest pink rose well she just knew her search was over. She'd found the perfect flower for her. So she gently removed the rose from the hot desert sand of Aktau Kazakhstan and flew all the way back home to carefully plant that dainty pink rose in her window sill. There the rose got lots of light and the lady gave her just the right amount of water and sprinkled a little plant food on her soil. And most important of all she loved that little rose more than anything. Sure enough, that baby rose grew and grew and her pedals slowly opened and it was hard to believe but she became even more beautiful with all the lady's love and attention. The lady also felt the love coming from the beautiful rose which made the lady so very glad she went in search of the perfect little flower for her. And they lived happily ever after.
Lexie would ask for the flower story a lot of times when she'd get out of the bath. She'd even pretend to be a seed by covering up with her blanket then slowly "blooming" as I would slather lotion on her legs and arms. Smart, funny little girl. So when she asked me for the Mommy Lexie story without the flower in November I knew she was asking to learn more about her adoption. So I changed the lady to mommy and the rose to Lexie and added some details that night. She listened very closely but didn't ask any questions and seemed happy to go to sleep. Then almost every night after that she'd ask for the Mommy Lexie story and with each telling she'd ask a few more questions or if I didn't tell a certain detail she'd make sure to throw it in there. Then she started saying things like "then I would pat your face and giggle" like she could some how remember it. If what she said she could remember was outrageous I would gently remind her that she was a baby so she can't really remember that time or she couldn't talk or walk - whatever she was trying to add to the story. Then I decided to use her "baby books" with the telling of our story. They are these two amazing homemade paper bag scrapbooks that came in a little decorated suitcase a friend of ours made for Lexie & I upon our return home. They are basically beautifully displayed pictures of our first days together so I can tell the story as she looks at the pictures and talks about them and the story.
All this has been very natural and she really seems to enjoy talking about how we became a family and how much we love each other. But in all the telling of the story and questions she's asked since November (or anytime in the last couple of years) she's never asked about her birth mother. Even knowing the babies came from BooBoo's tummy she's never said "well who's tummy did I come out of?" I guess she's simply not ready to hear the answer. I really don't think I should "force" her to hear the answer or talk about it by bringing it up myself but I don't want her be 10 and come home from school saying why didn't you tell me I have a birth mother either. Clearly it's not a real concern now but it does kind of play out my theory that kids ask what they are already to know. She is smart enough to make the leap of if babies come from a mommy's tummy like BooBoo but she didn't come from my tummy than she had to come from someone's tummy.
-One evening after my telling Lexie the Mommy Lexie Story she said "I want to tell you a story.... Once upon a time there was a baby girl born in New Mexico named Lou Ann. Here mommy and daddy came down to adopt her and" I stopped her to say "No Lexie, Mommy was born in New Mexico from GaGa's tummy and PaPa was there with her when I was born. I wasn't adopted." Lexie said "Okay, then the girl Lou Ann was born in New Mexico with GaGa & Papa. Then that baby Lou Ann grew up to be a lady that wanted a baby a whole lot. So she dreamed and prayed for a baby and she got me from Kazakhstan. And they lived happily ever after. The end!" Well that summed up my life in a nut shell!
- When we were putting out the Nativity Scene this year I told Lexie that Joseph is baby Jesus' adopted daddy. And of course she said "so Jesus was adopted like me?" You bet. After that, if she saw a statue of Joseph at church she'd say proudly that Joseph is baby Jesus' adopted daddy. Then out of the blue today after I picked her up from pre-school, she was talking about this and that when Lexie said "you remember Joseph - Jesus' adopted daddy?" (like I would forget him) "yes Lexie" And she said "so Jesus called Joseph Adopted Daddy because Jesus is adopted too." I said "Well, while here on earth I think Jesus called him Daddy just like you call me Mommy even though I'm your adopted mommy." I hear "okay" from the back of the car and she was off on another subject. I just wonder why these random thoughts keep popping in her head. Maybe someone in her class said I'm her adopted mommy not her real mommy? I didn't want to put ideas in her head but it does make me wonder.
-Today on a new TV show called Bubble Guppies (which I really like so far) the whole show was about adopting a pet. After about 5 minutes of  hearing adopt every other sentence in reference to animals I finally said "honey you do know that it is different to adopt an animal than it is a child?" I heard "yes Mommy"...without her taking her eyes off the TV. She seemed not to be concerned about it at all. I guess it was me. So later I said "if a person is adopting an animal or a child adoption is really about love and family and home." Which made me feel a little better but I don't know if she really cared. But when I asked her what books she wanted me to read tonight she said her "baby books" and the Mommy Lexie Story. So maybe she was making a connection with pet adoption and her adoption? I just can't decide if that's a good thing or bad thing.

Sorry for the rambling post but as you can see adoption talk is happening a lot around the house. It's all good. I'm just wondering when other adopted children really started talking about it and if there is anything else I can do or say to make her feel more comfortable with who we are as a family.


minime0910 said...

I LOVE YOUR STORY!!! turn that into a book!! i would buy it :-) you are such a good mom, I am going to bookmark this post to come back to when Hannie gets old enough to start asking questions. she's already started in on the whys... love you girls! Erin

Diane said...

Hey Lou-Ann, I think that is around the age Ciera started to put it all together as well. Like Lexie it came out a bit at a time and like you I'd answer the question and wait for more. I have though talked about Ciera's birthmom (that fact that she has a birth mom and a mom), she knows her name and was very sad she didn't get to meet her when we were in Kaz. Ciera sometimes confuses birth mother with grandmother, which some days confuses me as I don't know what she is talking about! Funnys he also used to ask me who my birth mother was and I'd have to keep telling her nana. Then I'd say nana is my mom and my birth mother. It's always interesting how these questions just come out of the blue one day and then poof they are ok with it. I just keep thinking that as long as they always know and we are matter of fact about it then they will feel ok with it too!! She did say something one day in passing about "my real mom" but I let that go as I figured she had just overheard someone talking (I wish I knew who) and I didn't want to make a big deal of it. Lots more talk coming your way for sure now that the gate has opened.

4texans said...

I think you are doing a great job making sure she knows her story!

Lisa said...

Hi Lou-Ann,

Beautiful post and the fact that Lexie is open and engaged in the dialogue of her story, tells me you are doing a lovely job of supporting her as she processes the "how & whys" of your familys' journey.

Thank you also for the kind words to my blog; it WAS a hard decision :) but also the right one for now. You are correct though too when you added that a blog can be whatever we choose and I love that you shared that! Honestly it was just time and I will turn my attentions toward other creative outlets! Like maybe updating those scrapbooks! :)

Hugs to you both!!

sarahthefantastic said...

Hi, Lou-Anne! I just wrote you a long coment and blogger lost it, so I will just say hello and thanks for the great stories. We have many things in common and I will tell you them another day! Sarah from Canada

McMary said...

Lou Ann, I am so far behind in reading your blog so am reading and reading tonight. I just couldn't pass this post without commenting. I love your rose story and think Lexie is amazingly smart and intuitive to relate it to you and her. It is beautiful how you turned it into the Mommy and Lexie story at her request. I am always inspired by your posts and this one is one of the best.

Hannah and I have had some adoption talk--I am like you in that I feel she will ask what she wants to know so I wait for the questions and anwer them as simply as possible. I did post of couple of our conversations. she remembers her time in Russia so the hardest question is "why did it take you so long to find me" So far, she has been content with hearing that I came as soon as I found her. She also remembers getting a new mommy and a new name. She has told me "You are my best mommy" and "I don't want to get another mommy--just you" so explaining that I am her only mommy for now and forever has been part of our talks to.

Rather than commenting on every single post I am reading tonight, I will just tell you that Lexie is such a beautiful girl--I love her smile, her brightness, and her hair, especially in braids. Cool camping trip in our living room and everything else looks so fun too. You are one happy Mommy and daughter--it is so fun to read all about it.