Not the time, not the place…


A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated our boy’s birthday party with our family and friends, with a party at our home.  We went through all the expected motions of a kid’s birthday party.  There were snacks, drinks, toys, cake, decor…everything had been planned to a T.

Unfortunately, there are some things that are just completely out of our control and no matter how much we plan, these moments hit us before we can even figure out what is happening. We have friends who’s youngest son will most likely end up being in the same class as our’s when they start school.  Their oldest son is 8 years old.  He is on the autism spectrum and is an incredibly intelligent child.  I constantly admire the way that his mind works, always trying to dissect everything he learns so that he can understand it fully.

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It was time to open the presents and all the kiddies were huddled around to see what treasure lay in each shiny bag, while their parents looked on from the outskirts.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, this inquiring mind voiced a statement that he had obviously been thinking about a lot. “You’re not his real parents.” I went cold.  This was the moment I have been dreading ever since we started this adoption journey.  We brushed it off and tried to ignore it.  But, he repeated his statement.  A little louder this time. Why?  

Why does he have to say this right now, in the middle of celebrating our baby’s birthday?  Why must he ask in front of absolutely everyone?  Why? Not the time.  Not the place.

We tried our best to gently enforce that we ARE in fact his real parents and that there is no difference between “adoption parents” and real parents.  We left it there.

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Afterwards, I realized, there is never going to be a right time or a right place for these questions or comments.  They are always going to take your breath away and leave you with sweaty palms, fumbling for an answer.  How do you explain adoption to a child who has such an intricate way of understanding things?  This child needs to understand everything logically.

It was this moment that made me realize that we have not equipped our friends with how to help their kids (our boy’s future friends) understand adoption.  I also realized that we are not nearly as equipped as we thought we were to deal with questions or comments around adoption.  We have a long way to go.

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I asked permission from this mom before sharing this story and as most moms would, she apologized that there was even a comment to blog about.  There is nothing to apologize about when your child is trying to understand another person’s circumstances.  My reaction was what needed to be apologized for.  As an adult, I should be trying to help him wrap his mind around this complex life that we lead. I still don’t know how to do this.

If I was in the same situation tomorrow, I would probably still be clueless on what to respond with.  If anyone has any advice to share, I would greatly appreciate it!  Especially with explaining adoption to children on the autism spectrum. If you would like to learn how to teach your kids about adoption, I found a really great blog HERE that you can read through for some guidance.

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  1. 1
    Cheryl

    Angie, one moment that I have had like that still sticks in my memory…When Jason was at play school a little girl his age (=-4) said to me in front of a group of other children and moms “Why can’t he talk? My sister who is 2 can talk already!” Apart from the impulse to react like a dog to a person who knifes into an open wound, I looked at my boy’s innocent face, doing the best that he could do and replied “He is learning, and soon he will talk just like your little sister”. She was happy with that. Children seem to be happy with a simple answer. They ask questions that adults would never dare to ask, and when they want to know the answer, they want to know now – convenient or not!. They don’t have filters and to even a greater degree, children with autism. They don’t ask to mean harm. But do you know what, you only have joy to express! Let your eyes light up at those questions – You may not be his real mommy and daddy, but he was a special present from God to you to look after and be your boy……. Enjoy parenthood!

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