Friday, October 29, 2010

Siblings and family connections

I recently started reading some of the blogs in the Open Adoption Blogs network (check it out HERE) and there have been a lot of discussions around siblings lately through the open adoption round table. It was perfect timing because I have been thinking a lot lately about pea's birth family and the birth family of our future child. At this time, we do not have any contact with pea's birth family, but we do have some limited information, which is incredibly invaluable. But, it isn't enough. I want more. I have been feeling this sense of loss knowing pea's birth family is out there, somewhere. Knowing that there is an entire family, community, culture connected to my son that we know very little about is very painful sometimes. These are pieces of my son. Parts of his life story. And, there are others in this world who look like him. I find that so amazing to think about. I don't know why, but maybe it is because those connections seem so far away and out of reach. We really hope to find some of pea's birth family, but there is definitely a possibility that we may not, given some of the circumstances.

We are very lucky to have a few pictures of pea's birth mother. I look at her picture and I can see my son through her eyes. I often wonder if his siblings have the same eyes, the same mannerisms, and the same little quirks that make my heart smile. Perhaps one day, pea will be able to see a reflection of himself through his birth family. But, until that time, we just hold on tight to what we do have.

With that said, however, I can definitely see how a lack of information and connection can lead to the development of fantasies about birth families. I even find myself doing it. With no information, we create the story and image that feels the most comforting. So, how do we develop "realistic" images of birth families that we do not know? And, most importantly, how do we help our children do this as well?

How do you try to "fill the gaps" without creating a fantasy image of birth families? And, how do you do it in a way that is validating? As pea starts to ask more questions (specifically, why? why? why?), I sometimes find myself stumbling around trying to answer his questions in simple terms, but I struggle at times! I would love to hear your approach and any tips for having these conversations with your little ones.


harriet glynn said...

Oh wow. We're in the opposite situation. How interesting because truth be told having 11 birthfamily members closeby can be emotionally difficult as well but I know it's worth it. I hope your son's birthmom/family come round. They may well want to contact you later one. Your son is seriously ADORABLE!!

Pam L said...

Even though we talked "adoption" with Maria from day one, the concept didn't click with her until last year. Someone said something to her about her "real mommy". We still don't know who that someone was but I'm guessing it was a child in preschool. We don't use those words to refer to her birth mom but I think it took those words to make her start thinking. We are lucky enough to have a photo of her birth mother and grandparents but until that time, she never wanted to see them. She did finally ask to see the photos and for several weeks after that, she talked about her birth mom so I know the little wheels in her mind were turning. I answered all of her questions as honestly as I could and will continue to do so. If and when the day comes that she's ready to try and find her birth family, we'll do the best we can to make that happen too. Every child is different and I think following the child's lead is the best action to take.

Lynn said...

Hi - loving your house!! you're doing such an amazing job with it. re: birth families. we paid to do a search - it was costly but am glad we did. we still get very limited information with sporadic contact. at this point, i think it was of greater relief to the birth mother than us. but, i know in the future, we really want n to know her. we have a bit more information on the birth father - but not much. even having contact with the birth mother, you still come up with ideas about her and her life. some day we will meet her and i'm sure it will become more clear. what i do know about her - well, i like and respect.

Becky said...

Steven periodically asks questions and I try to answer as honestly as possible with the information that I have. It's interesting that I have so many friends who have adopted chidren, so I don't know that it really occurs much to him that it's "different" to be adopted. I believe that with very little effort I would be able to contact his birth mother and I have told him that when he is older if he wanted to do that, I would help him but so far he really hasn't expressed any interest in it. Guess we'll just keep going with the flow of where he's at and what he wants or needs:)

Lavender Luz said...

What a beautiful son you have.

I think your willingness to see through your son's eyes, and your intention to answer him honestly and kindly and age-appropriately will take you far.

Much of what we do for our kids is to model dealing with What Is and sometimes being OK with not knowing.

And, of course, finding out what you can.

(And thanks for your kind comment on my blog today!)
You are a good mama!