It wasn’t too long ago that I overheard this conversation between my girls in the kitchen:
“Mommy has a baby in her tummy. And soon she is going to have to push it out!” My oldest said.
“Oh. Hmmm. Like how she pushed you out?” Said my youngest.
“No. But you grew in mommy’s tummy and came from there.” My oldest said.
“I know. But you are silly cause you came from there too.” Said my youngest giggling.
“No I didn’t. I grew in someone else’s tummy.” My oldest said.
“No you didn’t. That’s your mommy and my mommy too.” Said my youngest adamantly.
“I know. But I’m adopted so I have mommy and I have a birthmommy. I grew in my birthmommy’s tummy. That’s how adoption works.” My oldest said patiently.
“What? Mommy is mommy.” Said my youngest.
“Yes, mommy is mommy. She’s my mommy and your mommy just the same. But I had a different birthmommy. Your birthmommy and your mommy are the same. Mine are different because I was adopted.” My oldest said.
“Oh. I wish I were adopted.” Said my youngest.
Maybe you have heard a similar conversation in your kitchen. Or perhaps this conversation strikes you as funny or odd. But this was the first conversation my daughters had about adoption. Upon overhearing these words I was so proud of my oldest for adequately explaining adoption to her sibling. It was a simplified, will do, explanation that satisfied her sister’s curiosity and added a new layer to their friendship and sisterhood.
When I heard the conversation begin I stood up in the other room prepared to waltz into the kitchen and explain to my youngest daughter the ins and outs of mommies and birthmommies. Mentally though, I put the brakes on, sat back down and listened intently. At the end of their conversation I was glad I had waited. I was proud that my oldest could articulate her story to her sister. That the years of books, discussions, prayers, and having an open stance regarding her adoption had prepared her for that moment was so rewarding to be present for, even if I had eavesdropped.
What was odd to me was what my youngest daughter had said at the end of the conversation. That she wished she was adopted too. That was the first time I heard her articulate that desire, but since that moment, two years ago, I have heard her say it many times. I think it’s a basic desire to emulate her sister – in every way. But I have also heard her say those exact words during celebrations like Adoption Day or Gotcha/Chosen Day. It’s a funny complication that I honestly did not expect. At those moments I take the time to affirm her biological birth story and talk about our wait for her and how she came to be in our family in a very special way too.
In the past two years, this accidentally overheard conversation continues to remind me that I must take the time and effort to instill in each of my children the value of their birth story. Each of my children came to our family in very different ways and if I focus too much on one story, the potential of devaluing another story is raised. So now in our family we celebrate and tell our children’s birth stories whenever and however the occasion arises. We can’t talk about their birth stories enough as we often hear the request, “Mommy, tell me the story of when I was born.”
A Blended family presents many challenges, but the joys and triumphs are many too. My youngest daughter – some two years after the conversation above – can now articulate and explain not only her own birth story but her big sister’s too. For me, that’s joy and pride all rolled into one happy little bundle.