questions

Since our big revelation, we’ve been faced with a number of questions. Not just “how could you not know?” or “isn’t that so common!?” No, these questions get more to the heart of what it means to have another child in a blended family.

Some have been raised directly by people we care about. Some have been insinuated more indirectly. Others are just lingering in our minds. While it may or may not matter which is which, I’m not going to attribute to the source. Each has prompted significant discussion in our household, or at least in my head. Some have prompted other reactions, which I feel less free to discuss here, for now. Below are just a few of the more common or persistent questions.

– How will Baby Jaye feel when she realizes she didn’t grow in your belly like her little sibling?  Well, I can’t really answer that. I can’t know how she’ll feel. But however Jaye might feel some day about not having grown in my belly is what she’ll feel regardless whether she has a sibling. That is an issue of adoption. All adoptees one day come to the realization that they did not come from their mama’s bellies but were born to another mother. Having a sibling who was born to me might highlight this distinction for Jaye. Each child would have their own unique story of how they came to be our children. In fact, I’m using this experience as a way to deepen Jaye’s birth story. This is one of her first direct connections to a “baby in the belly.” Jaye knows that her little sibling is growing in mama’s belly now, just like she grew in Kaye’s belly. Now maybe that part of her story will begin to make some sense. Will it make her sad one day? Or angry? I don’t know. Maybe. But that’s inevitably part of adoption. I hope if anything it will make her realize how special Kaye really is to us, how she is really part of our extended family.

– Will the sense of “displacement” Jaye may experience be harder or different because she was adopted but this baby was not? I can’t really answer this one either. I was the youngest in my immediate family and I was not adopted. But I can’t see how adoption factors into it. Almost every parent we know has two children. That means one was “displaced” to make room for the second, if not physically (from his/her nursery or room) then figuratively as the “baby” in the family.

Even before I knew I was pregnant, we were already talking to Jaye about being a “little girl” (“not a baby!” she says) and the differences between “babies,” “little girls” and “big girls.” For example, big girls don’t drink out of bottles, they don’t need nonnies (pacifiers), they go in the potty and sleep in big girl beds, etc. Some days Jaye still wants to be a “baby.” But most days she is a “little girl” and I remind her that she’s “getting bigger every day.” Yet we’re not pushing her to grow up. Everything has been at her pace, so far. (Though I admit we are tempted to be a bit more aggressive with potty training while we still have some warm summer days to go bottomless…) And we do realize that there could be some regression when this new baby comes home. That’s all normal.

But Jaye is still our “baby.” She’ll always be our first child, our first baby. She truly is the center of our universe, the light of our lives. And yes, some of that spotlight will inevitably shift as we welcome a new baby into our home. That is hard. But we are committed to ensuring Jaye’s comfort and well being with this big change. We want her to feel as though this new baby is “our” baby — i.e., Jaye’s baby too. In fact, we refer to the baby as her little sibling, not as the treasured “baby.” We are promoting pride in big sisterhood. I tell her every night how lucky her little sibling will be to have Jaye as her big sister. We talk about all of the things Jaye can show her little sibling. We have books. We’re doing everything that parents do to prepare and acclimate their child to the arrival of a newborn.

I just don’t see how it’s any different because Jaye was adopted but this child was not. I’ve said this many times before, but it bears repeating: I could not love Jaye any more if I gave birth to her myself, if we shared the same genes. Anyone who knows me, or who reads these words, can see that. I’m in no way suggesting that having a child by adoption is the same is having a child by birth. Certainly it’s not. But the love is the same. While at some point that may not be enough, it’s everything I have to give. And that won’t change with the arrival of a new baby. In fact I feel entirely grateful to be fortunate enough to give Jaye a sibling.

– Aren’t you worried about showing some sort of preference for your biological child over your adopted child? Um, no. Just no. See above. The love I feel for Jaye is so pure and unconditional that it will in no way be affected by the presence of another child.

We recently heard a very sad story about a family who adopted a son at six months, then went on to  have two biological children. The mother had told a friend that, after the birth of her other children, she realized she had never truly bonded with her son. Our friend could actually see how that was playing out in the dynamic of their family. Just awful. Mac and I talked about it for days, how sad it is for that little boy. My heart aches for him.

Mac and I both came from families where preference was clearly shown, in some cases is still clearly demonstrated. Let’s just say it’s a very negative and harmful dynamic and we’ve seen the effects firsthand. We are both hyper aware of this and would go to any length to ensure that it never happens in our family. Neither of our children will ever feel as if one has any standing over the other with either one of us.

Yet of course there is going to be a tough adjustment period. Even now on restricted activity, there is less I can do with Jaye without risk of harm to myself or the baby. Then I’ll be in the hospital for at least 4-5 days, possibly longer, which will disrupt our normal routine. My recovery will be challenging. I won’t even be able to lift Jaye for weeks. She will inevitably have less “mama” time as I heal and tend to a new baby. Dada will be stepping up, of course. And I will make special time just for her, reading and playing as I can. I know this is critical as we adjust to a new family. And yes, I realize this part will be different than if we had adopted another child. But none of this indicates “preference” for a new baby over Jaye; rather it is just a necessary part of new life with a newborn, and healing after surgery.

– Are you worried about others showing some sort of preference for your biological child, or calling attention to distinctions among your children?  This one concerns me. I’m not so worried about others showing preference, as Jaye is clearly beloved by all of our family and friends. If that were to happen, Mac and I would be vigilant and speak our minds, or disengage if needed. I’m more concerned about people drawing comparisons between our biological child and genetic relatives, or distinctions between the two children. I already see this now, when we get together with cousins. Someone always has so-and-so’s eyes or laugh or gestures. When this talk emerges, I get protective for our daughter and fear that she may one day feel left out of those discussions, so I divert them. But they happen. That’s what people do. And it’s not just family. Even friends and strangers often look for commonalities. (We even do it in looking at our daughter’s birth family and identifying whose features she has.) When we’re among people who know us, I might share that Jaye has the same gorgeous golden locks as Kaye did as a child, or her strength, or that she shares the same unique green eyes as her uncle. But what about when others make comments and ask questions? I suppose we will have to find more creative ways to respond to such comments.

– What was Kaye’s reaction to the news? How will Kaye feel about you having a biological child after placing her daughter with you? Well I can’t really answer this one either, as Kaye’s reaction is not mine to share. Plus I may not be privy to her true thoughts and feelings, even if I felt free to share them here.

At the heart of the question though, particularly part b, are other underlying questions — e.g., how do you think Kaye will feel if she intended to place her baby with a family that wasn’t able to have biological children? or, will Kaye question your love and loyalty to her daughter now that you will have another child? or, do you think Kaye will want her daughter back now that you will have “one of your own?”

Those are some pretty heavy questions. I may never know the real answers. We have always been very honest and clear with Kaye about our history and our intentions. Certainly this scenario was never part of the equation; it just wasn’t within the realm of options. The surprise affects us all. Yet Kaye knew that we always wanted two children. In fact we were worried she might be disappointed if we were unable to provide a sibling for Jaye by adopting again.

The reality is, life changes. We never thought it would change like this. We never could have anticipated this. It’s not like we were still trying to conceive when we adopted and withheld information. It’s not like we’re moving thousands of miles away. We’ve been honest and we’ve maintained our commitment as parents in a very open adoption. But does that matter? Does that address the heart of the question?

In all honesty, I can’t possibly know how Kaye feels right now, or how she will feel tomorrow. She does seem genuinely happy that Jaye will get to be a big sister. But I can’t know how she’s truly processing this. As much as I love Kaye as family, I also can’t take responsibility for her thoughts and feelings. They are hers and hers alone. I want her to feel free to share with me, to know I will always listen and try to understand. I want her to feel comfortable trying to work through the hard parts with us, to the extent she feels appropriate. I want her to know we’re in this for the long haul and that means communication is key. But ultimately, Kaye is going to feel what she feels, and do what she needs to do. She is working through her own life issues. How she will respond still remains to be seen.

Like life, this is all still a work in progress.

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~ by luna on August 2, 2011.

19 Responses to “questions”

  1. Wow, there is so much to consider here. While some of those questions had formed in my own mind I didn’t even consider others. I am very impressed with your candor on these topics. You’ve obviously thought very long and hard about all of this and your respect and love for your daughter and her biological family are apparent in your answers to these questions.

    This is surely a complicated situation, one that might be difficult for some people to navigate. It’s clear, though, that you have a clear vision of how to proceed. Both your children are very lucky to have you for their mother.

  2. It’s interesting. We are being shown to an expectant mother this week, and it’s raised some massive questions for me as well. Seeing how you’ve worked through some of them here, I feel a certain comfort in knowing we’re all working on it.

    I adore you, and am so amazed, but not surprised, with the grace you are carrying yourself with.

  3. WOW people really put it to you. I cannot imagine lovign one child more then another, I can see liking one more then another on a given day, because sometimes thats life but loving? I will never understand, and I’m glad when people think you could love your biological child more then your adopted child, I do know this happens I guess but Maya was ours the minute we saw her picture. We had to fight to get her home, and I could not love her anymore then I do. Benjamin can as a baby, I was very careful about keeping Maya very important because at first everyone loves to talk about the baby, luckily thats all Maya wanted to talk about too. Now at times of course she would like more attention and she will flat out say that, whihc is great. I won’t have the issue of coming out of who’s tummy since she knows who both of their birth mothers are and its not me so there’s no jealousy about that.
    The only reason you might have a harder time in my eyes anyway is Jaye’s age, thats a much harder age to deal with change like this, she needs you more because she’s not a “big girl” yet. Maya was 4.5 whcih was perfect, since she didn’t really need me to do much for her like the little stuff.
    I would think that K would be exctied that there will be a little bro/sis coming she knows you well enough to know how much you love your daughter. Benjamin’s birth parents picked us knowing that we had a daughter that we moved to another country for. They still love to see the pictures of them together and how much Maya loves her little brother.
    Have you tried bottomless outside with their little bottle and then a nice pretty clear container full of mini m&m’s? that way if they go they can have a couple m&ms not just one, size doesn’t matter to them. Maya was trained up right away at 22 months. The candy didn’t last very long just like training a dog.

  4. You’re doing just awesome with this all, Luna. I really think the trick with the older sibling (regardless of their birth story) is to allow them to voice their feelings, and acknowledge them. It’s really effin hard to go from the center of the universe to “not right now,” “in a minute,” “I can’t, I’m busy.” And it won’t always be like that, but it’s difficult for a child to see that. (It’s tricky business for a seven year old, I’m sure it will be for a two year old, too!) I think like any siblings, there will be some rough patches where it looks as though mom must like the baby better, and you’ll get through them by explaining that no, baby just needs more time right now, and I promise eventually you’ll love your sister/brother. It’s a wonderful thing to have. (I have a feeling Kaye will also realize a sibling is a wonderful, valuable thing.)

    I’m willing to bet that in your head these discussions will have a bit of the adoption question overlay, but they won’t in J’s — not yet at any rate. I think it will be the usual sibling issues, and you’ll just have to let go what other people might think about them. Other people can go hang — they’re not in your family.

    Much love moving forward.

  5. I am always amazed at the questions and comments people make about a family whether they know them and all the intricate details or not …

    As a mom of 2 through adoption who are two years apart it was a perfect transition age for our first … since two doesn’t completely understand all the complexities our transition to big sisterhood (even with the bumps in the road) were better than expected …

    Since both of my girls were adopted their stories are similar but still different … as you are sharing with Jaye what her role will be we prepped our first the same way and different … we didn’t have the baby in the belly talk as it wasn’t happening in our home and our younger daughter was born 10 days after we met her birth mother so there wasn’t a lot of time together to really get that gist …. but we did share after we knew the placement was permanent that she was a big sister and how exciting that is …

    In any case your children will know the love you have for them from the day you meet them no matter how they enter your family.

    My hope someday is that people will think before they speak so as to understand what the impact of what they say may have … are they being too intrusive? too opinionated? well that’s a post in its own right …

    Again, we are here when you need us ….

  6. Such a lovely post. I am astounded people would ask you such personal/inappropriate questions but it is wonderful that you are already thinking through all of them. As a family who certainly hope to consider adoption in the future, it is always nice to read such well-thought out responses.

    I am very interested in the idea of “favoring” a child. My parents were incredibly conscientious about this, but my sister and I had/have very different needs (including mental illness) so we certainly did not receive identical care. I worry that my husband (an only child raised by 4 loving grandparents) thinks that the only way to be fair is to do things exactly the same (to the extent that he didn’t want newborn photos of #2 because we hadn’t done them for #1, even though I knew there would be so many fewer photos of #2). I’ll be interested to see how you find different ways to tell each child about their birth.

    I don’t know if this would work for you, but one thing that made me feel a lot better about being slightly out of commission for the few days post-delivery was to explain to my then-2 year old that I had “ouchy wrists” (i.e. awful carpal tunnel, such that I woke up with clenched fists and it could take up to a half hour to unclench them). She was totally used to that after a few weeks and never associated it with the baby, so when I couldn’t lift her post-delivery I just reminded her about my “ouchy hands.” For us it was nice not to worry that she would associate the new baby either with my being in pain or not being able to carry her, etc. I was just thinking of that when you wrote of worrying about “displacement issues.”

  7. My nieces are the same. Older one was adopted and younger was a surprise bio child. These questions seem to me to be moot. Jaye will deal with being adopted in her own way. My nieces are sisters through and through and the bio child seems to take questions about them being ‘real’ siblings more to heart than the child by adoption. Every individual’s disposition is her own and I think it’s genetic.

    As far as ‘favoritism’ goes, I think the bio niece is more like her mother personality-wise so they conflict a bit less than her sister. But I’m not sure their mother thinks about her reactions as much as you do. Every child needs to be parented differently.

    Really, there are so many families blended in so many different ways these days, it surprises me these questions even come up. Either your a thoughtful parent your you’re not. Clearly, you are. You will make the decisions you think are best for your family and you will make changes if you think they need to be made.

    I don’t know. I guess I feel like questions like these come from people who just don’t get it. (Am I being a bit harsh? Maybe. But I still think it’s true. Even when these questions are coming from a place of love, they still come from a place of ignorance. I think it’s possible for both to be true.)

    Good luck with everything. My fingers are crossed for you.

  8. Holy cow, Luna! I have been AWOL, and missed the chance to give you a virtual hug on your unexpected expecting! I’m so pleased for you. And frankly, if anyone on this planet can figure out those issues and questions, it’s you. You’ll do what you can, the best you can. And I feel sure it will be enough to raise two happy, wonderful humans.

  9. My goodness, you have done a lot of thinking! My head is spinning from all of the questions and answers here. I was most affected by the question of calling attention to distinctions among your children. I was adopted as an infant by a woman who found my limited story difficult to tell, even in the privacy of our home. Friends and strangers alike continuously brought attention throughout my life to the fact that my adoptive mother and I were both tall and slim, a point which was completely coincidental but never explained with truth or humor. But we’re not biologically related, I wanted to shout. And by keeping my story private, to hide what I assume to be her own shame and grief at not having biological children, she denied my identity, my individuality, my story.

    Now that I have my own child, one who is not my husband’s, but through known donor sperm, I am hyper aware of these kinds of questions and comments. My son is similar to his biological father in countless ways, some wonderful and some challenging. There is no denying natural influence, but nurture also plays a major role in creating a child. My son has many of the positive characteristics of my husband, the father who is raising him. And they are such an amazing duo, absolutely in love with each other. I don’t think any of us want to hide or deny in unorthodox, miraculous conception and birth story. It goes a long way in explaining who we are.

    You, Luna, have gone to great lengths, not only to avoid secrecy, but to explore, embrace and celebrate Jaye’s beginning for what it truly is, a beautiful love story. Anyone who asks these questions must not see the heart and strength and courage I recognize in you.

  10. I used to say I would never give birth to a child after we adopted Mallory. I didn’t want to do anything that would make her think we weren’t happy with her or adoption. I was telling my grandmother this one day when I was playing with Mallory. She said “you are so in love with this child, there is no way she could feel second best about anything.” And she was right. I did give birth to two girls. I just decided they were all kids and I would celebrate the way they all came to me. My two younger daughters look exactly like me. Mallory is replica of her first mom. She knows where she comes from, she knows she is treasured because of who she is, not just what she looks like. It can be done. She does/has experienced issues with adoption- normal issues, but so far it doesn’t seem any of them were brought up by her siblings’ birth.

    I say face any issue head on with openess and honesty and love and acceptance & validation of her feelings and you’ll be fine. Nothing is perfect, but in the end it can be fine.

  11. My daughter had a brother and sister on her soccer team last year. The brother was his parent’s biological child, the daughter adopted from China as an infant. They were just 3 months apart in age. I have never seen a bond between brother and sister like these two. They could read each other’s minds on the soccer field, always knowing where the other was and passing the ball back and forth which much more intuition than one would expect of 6 year olds. I later saw them together at a park with their summer adventure program, playing with other children but always checking on each other, if only with a glance and a smile. The parents were amazing as well, so happy and outwardly loving to their children.

    Congratulations on your growing family. I’m so excited for Jaye to have a sibling.

  12. I can’t say any of these questions occurred to me cause knowing who you two are I know that it doesn’t make any difference to you. You thought J would be you’re one and only and here you are with a bonus prize. Not sure if any one else’s opinions really count though I’m sure people will voice them anyway. The way they both came- miracles both of them!

  13. I can’t believe that people have actually asked you these questions! I honestly don’t think it makes a difference that you and Mac adopted Jaye and now have this miracle coming. Whether you had stopped ttc when you adopted shouldn’t matter, so many people have more than one child, how that child comes into their lives is irrelevant. You and Mac had wanted 2 children and now that is coming true. I think that Jaye is going to have the same reactions, possible regressions as any other 2 year old becoming a big sister/brother.
    Funny thing though- after I caught up with your blog on Sunday, I found out that one of my husbands cousins are expecting- they too had a surprise pregnancy. I guess she had taken several HPT over the last few months and they all came back negative and she wasn’t have obvious symptoms. Anyway, she took another test last Sunday, got a negative and then her husband saw the test in the trash a little while later and it was very positive, so they went in to an Urgent Care since they had no idea how far along she was- much to their surprise she is 34 weeks pregnant! You hear of this happening and then within days I have 2 people that I know that have been given this little miracle.
    Just wanted to let you know I am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers and hoping for the little one to stay put for as long as he/she can. Take care, have tons of fun with Jaye, I can’t wait until she gets to meet her new baby- they are going to do great together! ❤

  14. It sounds as though you’re doing everything you possibly can to prepare Jaye for the arrival of her new sibling. As for all these other questions/concerns: those of us who know you know that your and Mac’s love for Jaye is unconditional. You have already done so much to ensure your daughter grows up with a strong sense of who she is, and I feel sure that you will deal with any questions she has as and when they arise with your usual sensitivity. That is what is important–not the judgement of other people.

  15. OH!! EMMM!!! GEEEE!!!! Luna!! Just catching up on your news. Thrilled for you, but totally get how terrifying this must be.

    I know you will do what’s needed for Jaye. You are a wonderful, mindful parent, and Jaye will be an awesome big sister. She is so loved, she will instinctively know how to be loving to a new baby.

  16. Holy smokes!! I am just catching up on your news as well. I’ve been slacking on my blog stalking. CONGRATULATIONS for you and your family. I cannot believe the gall of some people to insinuate, or ask, or even THINK those sorts of questions. Yes there are issues that will come up as Jaye grows in discussing adoption but you are an amazing parent and this is just another aspect of life that you will be able to guide her through and teach her about. It reminds me when I met with my daughter’s adoptive parents. It had been a long and emotional week and it was the day they were taking her home (out of state). I had dinner with her dad and we were sort of nervous with each other and just kept talking about adoption and how it is so great (it is, but we were nervous and shy about the power shift and literal role reversal that had happened in the past week) and I blurted out something like “Well they do say that a lot of people get pregnant after they adopt!” (yes I really put my foot in my mouth, but I didn’t realize how insensitive and rude it was to say that). He sort of smiled and later on we were discussing my future and hopes and plans, and he said “You can always go on to have more children”. No malicious intent was meant, but it was honestly the “Adoption 101- what NOT to say to a birthparent, or what NOT to say to an adoptive parent”. I still kick myself that I said that out loud (luckily her mom wasn’t there to hear me say that, I think it would have affected her more than it did him). Anyway what I want to say is a lot of people are well meaning but don’t have the tact or wherewithal to be appropriate and respectful. Also, I know as a birthparent I feel like there are a lot of unspoken assumptions or thoughts about why I placed, my situation with the birthfather, my lifestyle, what have you, and I feel silently judged. I realized that a lot of it is internal self-talk, and I have to learn how to be less judgemental and easier on myself. Wishing you all the best.

  17. […] about one child that was adopted and one that is biological. Though we certainly get a lot of questions about […]

  18. […] instance. In each child, I can point to specific features and know where they came from. Yet as a blended family, I am particularly sensitive to these differences, especially when pointed out by others, even in […]

  19. […] over an hour away. I had to begin sharing the news and fielding inappropriate comments and loaded questions. Then after a spotting incident at 28 weeks last July, I was placed on moderate bedrest. All of a […]

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