My son is three-and-a-half years old and lately he’s been obsessed with his anatomy and how it works. We’ve had many conversations like, “I have a butt. I go pee.” I always matter of factly reply, “Yes, you do. Everybody does.” He’s also very curious about where babies come from. The other day, I listened while he role played with Cookie Monster who birthed a small bunny rabbit. There was an ambulance ride to the hospital and even crying. It was everything you’d expect giving birth to be like from the active imagination of a toddler.
I’ve always been open with him about his adoption. I normalize it by having conversations often. He knows that he was a baby in his birth mother’s tummy before he joined my family. Because he’s still very young, I’m not certain he’s able to fully understand who she is or how she’s part of his family. However, one day, he asked, “Birth mother take care of me?” This question was completely unexpected. I waited a few seconds and thought carefully about my reply. I answered, “Yes, for a short time and then she made an adoption plan for you to live with omma and then with mommy and daddy. Each of us took turns taking care of you.” Then I reassured him that we all love him.
I know this conversation is the first of many that I will have with him about his birth mother. He’s young now, but his questions will become much more complex and his desire to know more with greater detail will increase as he gets older. As a Korean adoptee who has a Korean adopted son, I understand that one of the losses of adoption is the unknown answers to the multitude of questions. How will he feel when I’m unable to give him details about why he was given up for adoption? Or that I have generic information about who is his birth mother-eye color, height, weight-and I can only repeat back the spotty fill in the blank answers from his adoption file. How will this be enough?
Sometimes there are moments when I catch myself thinking about his birth mother. I wonder if she has the same happy giggle as him. Maybe he gets his strong determination from her. Does she think about what her life would’ve been like if the circumstances were different and she raised him as her son? Maybe there will be a time in his adoption journey when he will have the opportunity to meet his birth mother and get answers to his questions. Perhaps he won’t want to meet her or there is even the possibility that she doesn’t want to reunite with him. Whatever he chooses to do, my hope is that he trusts me enough to come to me with any questions about his adoption-big or small. I will listen. He will know that my love for him is unconditional.