As an adoptive parent I have ALWAYS tried to make sure my kids know that they can come to me anytime. And ask about anything. They can ask about their first families. They can ask about how they came home. They can ask about why adoption exists.Whatever. I may squirm inside from time to time, but these conversations are important and a huge part of our family tapestry.
Several months ago, Fiona asked me about her birth father. Unfortunately I had not info at all on him--not even his name is present on her original birth certificate. I said she would have to ask Mom J for information on that and that I would help her with that conversation if she felt that she needed it.
She thought about it (for a loooong time, like several months) and then decided she would like to talk to her first mom about him. She wanted to know simple things. His name. What he liked to do with her. What he contributed to her racial and ethnic identity.
I got in contact with J and explained what Fiona wanted and asked if she would be okay with having this conversation. Alternatively, she could write a letter or message us via social media. She wrote back that she would be fine with answering any of my daughter's questions and would tell my son Rob anything he wanted to know as well.
As luck would have it, Fi was home that weekend and we made the call. J and I talked a bit and then she and Fiona talked. Fi got her questions answered and I think this was another step in something I can only describe as emotional completeness.
Adoption leaves these blank spots. Relationships lost or misunderstood. People forgotten. Stories that make sense of our connections are not told. For Fiona, filling those blank spaces is crucial to her healing. On the other hand, at this point Rob wants nothing to do with Mom J. I told him about the call and what J had said. He made sure he was not available when we made the call. When the call was over, he immediately resurfaced and joined in our activities cheerfully. Rob has strong connections with other first family members, siblings and cousins and aunts and uncles. He just can't figure out yet what his relationship is--if there IS a relationship--with J. He also is a bit put off by the fact that she and I are friends.
It is hard to explain to Fiona that he needs to walk his own path and that there will probably come a time when he is ready for this, but that it is not now. And that while I support her journey, I also support his. Fiona's cognitive delays make it hard for her to see why this is okay. I wound up falling back on "he's your little brother; remember you are the BIG sister and so you are ready for this before him." Which is not really the why of it but if it makes things okay, I'll run with it.
Ironically, Fi shares more of this journey with KC who has always wanted to know as much as possible about Mom Y. Last night he came downstairs and said he wanted to know why she gave him up for adoption. He'd been thinking about it he said, and he didn't know how to ask. The words came out in a blur, rapidfire, and his eyes were huge. That conversation started with a hug and I could feel him lean into me hard. We talked about how people don't always have good supports in their life to help them and that his mom lived with her parents--how space and money concerns can make for hard choices. It was enough for now. I have grown adept at reading the "full up" signals in my kids--when the conversation has gone far enough for now. But I remain ready to talk again when the need arises.