“We are shaped by our conversations.” – Robin S. Sharma
The time had come. Our son finally pieced together enough information to ask a pointed question, which told us we needed to have the adoption talk with him. We had been preparing for this day but, for some reason, it still snuck up and felt fast.
One agreement my husband and I have is never to lie to our kiddos.
That deal stood when my husband chose to adopt Treyton. When the time came, we would sit down and let him know that dad stepped up to the plate and loved him like his own. Yet, a few of his features came from a different source.
I never dreamed the conversation starter would be “Did you have me with dad or with someone else?” Especially out of the blue in the morning before school. To say I was floored would be an understatement. But, we rolled with it and took it in stride and opened the communication that night (and forever more) on the topic.
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Surprisingly, the tough conversation went much smoother and easier than we had imagined, he only had a few questions, and now he knows he can ask anything any time he desires. The following day he did ask a couple of more inquiries and mentioned that he would try not to ask much more. I took it upon myself to reassure him that the reason we told him was so that he COULD ask any question about any aspect and we would be happy to answer those for him.
Honestly, I cannot express enough how proud I am of the young man he’s becoming and how he handled the situation.
Watching him process the information, seeing how he formulates his questions, and the way he responds really lets me know that he is an exceptional little man. And, I hope, that he continues with that in his conversations in the future.
Here are my tips on how to begin (and continue) tough conversations of your own whether they are with your children, friends, or anyone that befits this communication:
For our case, my husband and I discussed the need for this conversation when the adoption took place nearly 5 years ago. Honesty is the best policy in my book, and I knew down the road Treyton may be curious as to why he does not look anything like his sister (I was pregnant at the time… was not sure if we would have more at the time) or me or dad. So, we chatted about what we would do, what we wanted, out of the communication when the day arose. Planning definitely helped us not feel so off-guard when Treyton was ready.
We did not just JUMP at the first sign of curiosity. Over the years, we took clues, saw his progression in understanding, and listened to “signs” to know when to break the news. Once or twice he has asked previously who he looks like. But, more recently, these queries have become more frequent and more pointed. That little mind of his working harder to piece together information. So, rather than risk him hearing anything from someone else, we decided to share.
That cliche of “you’ll know when it’s time” really fits here. Tough conversations rarely have a guidebook or instructions. You really should trust yourself in these situations and know that even if you make a misstep, you can circle around and correct it or clarify. We have broken the ice for Treyton to trek through life with the awareness that he has a great dad and yet will know where he came from biologically, as well. Knowing who you are and where you came from seems to be a big deal in the grand scheme of life, so we wanted him secure in that.
Creating a haven where the other person feels able to be honest and open should be paramount. Being fed information that may shake them and make them vulnerable means they need to feel protected otherwise. “This is crazy!” That phrase was repeated a couple of times during the initial conversation, and meeting him with reassurance helped him to digest and be okay. Any reaction he had was met with openness and care.
No matter when he has questions, my husband and I need to respond accordingly and answer as fully as we can. He may not formulate those questions for months, but whenever he chooses to share those thoughts, we must explain to the best of our ability. In doing so, he will get that validation and remain important. Who knows what will be happening during these moments, but patience and understanding go a long way. Neither one of us has been in his shoes. So, we will help him navigate through his journey (and allow him to reach out to those who have experienced his situation if he ever wants).
These are the steps I use to approach any tough conversations, but this most relevant situation gave me the opportunity to piece it all together for others to use.
Happy to hear any stories you may have, questions, comments, and the like! Share away.
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