Mama, was I in your tummy?
What do I say?
Approaching the “difficult” questions…
As a mother who did not have the privilege of carrying my children, this seemed to be a looming question in the early years of our adoption. There were lots of important topics that we'd eventually need to discuss with our daughter. But, my dazzling blue-eyed baby would never ask her Daddy this question. No, this emotional hurdle was undeniably left to me alone.
I wrestled with what to say or how to say it. I remembered from our adoption classes the golden rule regarding children's questions: Only answer what is asked - nothing more. Although I wasn't sure about many aspects of this eventual conversation, I knew one thing for sure. I wanted to be certain that I did not apologize for it. "There are lots of different ways to be a family" as Todd Parr wrote in The Family Book. "Your family is special, no matter what kind it is." Ultimately this way of thinking began with me.
When it finally happened, it was so unexpected and innocent and early. We were curled up together in the wee hours of the morning and she was trying to snuggle under my shirt. She popped her head through the neck opening and nose to nose she said:
"Mama, was I in your tummy?"
The pit of my stomach clenched reflexively.
"No, honey, you weren't." I replied simply and honestly without regret or time to analyze what was transpiring.
"Then was I an egg?" She inquired with a head tilt and bopped my nose with hers.
"Nooo" I said rather drawn out - not sure where this was going, yet unable to hide a smile.
Then with a roar she began a dinosaur hatching reenactment. She started to giggle and we both laughed uncontrollably. And just like that, the moment had passed. I breathed a sigh of relief for I had survived. And that was the first time she asked...
My daughter's adoption story is her story. It's not mine to tell. But what I can share with you are the things I’ve discovered that have become my guiding principles when discussing our adoption journey:
answer only what is asked
keep responses age appropriate
don’t lead the conversation - follow where it goes (you may end up laughing)
be honest - always
trust that it will be okay
Lastly, and quite importantly, the question will come again, and again. And that is the beauty of this whole process. Because each time a child asks, you can rest assured that they are ready to know more.