Friday, March 19, 2010

A Good Question, and a Good(?) Answer

An adoptive mom asked me a very good question on Formspring. Her baby's birth father isn't the sort of guy who would win any awards for gentlemanly behavior, and she wondered how best to explain him when her baby got older and asked. How, she continued, would I want H explained to Roo?

I've thought about that quite a lot, actually. I know very little about H, really, and I hate that there's this void where half of Roo's history should be. I don't want her to wonder about him as this mysterious person all her life. But I also want her to understand that there's a reason he isn't in her life.

This is how I would explain it to Roo, if I was her mommy. I wrote it like a children's book because I don't doubt that Roo will wonder about her birth father when she's still young. It's rather a long children's book, but I have hopes that Roo will be a voracious young reader, much like I was. This is essentially the response I posted, plus a few tweaks. It's not perfect by any means, and I'll likely edit it and condense it later, but here's what I have so far.

You know who Jill is. Jill is your tummy mommy. You grew inside her and she gave birth to you. A little while later, she gave you to Mommy and Daddy where you belonged.

You have a tummy daddy, too. His name is H, and a long time ago he and Jill were very much in love, and soon you were growing in Jill's tummy.

Usually a baby's tummy parents are her mommy and daddy, who are married to each other and who take care of the baby. But sometimes a mommy and daddy aren't married to each other. This can make them feel sad. They love the baby very much, and so they don't want her to have an unmarried mommy and an unmarried daddy who are sad. These lucky babies have two sets of parents who love them: their tummy parents, and their mommies and daddies. Isn't that wonderful?

You know Jill, of course. But you don't know H. Even though H loves you and Jill loves you, Jill decided you would be happiest if you didn't know H when you were small. Here is why.

H had a lot of growing up to do still, and grown-ups who aren't finished growing up sometimes have big problems that make it hard for them to be good parents. They want to be good parents, but they don't know how, sometimes because their own parents had problems, too.

H's mommy and daddy (especially his daddy) sometimes weren't as nice to him as they should have been when H was a little boy. So he didn't always learn what children should learn from their parents. He never learned to take good care of himself, to be kind to others, to be like Jesus, to stay away from things that could hurt him, to make good choices instead of bad.

H made some bad choices. When children make bad choices, they get a time-out. Bad choices make you feel bad, and you know that they are wrong. Everyone still makes bad choices sometimes, but we learn from them to make better choices. Better choices make us happy.

When grown-ups make a bad choice, there is no time out. There was no one to tell H what he could learn from his choices so he kept on making bad ones. When you're a grown-up, the more bad choices you make, the harder it is to know if you are making a good choice or a bad one.

H made a lot of bad choices. Sometimes this meant that he was not a very nice person. When he met Jill, he was a nice person. They were very good friends, and then H decided he loved her. She loved him too, and they were very happy.

But H made some more bad choices, and they made him a not very nice person. He was mean to Jill on accident sometimes. This made Jill sad. She told H that she was sad. H felt bad and said he wouldn't be mean anymore.

But it got hard for H not to be mean. Soon H and Jill found out there was going to be a baby, and that baby was you. Jill was very excited. H was very scared. His daddy had not been very nice and he worried he would not be a very nice daddy either. Because he worried, he said things he didn't mean to say, and he made Jill sad and mad. Jill said things that made H sad and mad. They decided they did not want to be friends anymore.

Before you were born, H decided that he wanted to be a daddy, but that he did not want to be friends with Jill. This made Jill sad. Jill's mommy and daddy were best friends, and she wanted your parents to be best friends, too. And they are, which makes Jill very happy, and I'm sure it makes you happy, too.

Jill also worried about what would happen if H was your daddy. H made a lot of bad decisions, and she worried that he would teach you bad decisions because he didn't know any better.

Because of this, Jill found your mommy and daddy, and she made sure H did not see you. She knew that he would never be mean to you on purpose, but she didn't want him to be mean to you on accident and make you sad.

Jill hopes that some day H will finish becoming a grown-up and learn to make good decisions. Perhaps he has. And when you meet him someday, you will be strong enough and smart enough to meet him and know who he is, and still make good choices.


Margaret said...

Jill, I think you do a good job explaining to Roo without being mean to H.

I had an interesting discussion with my son the other day. Robbie is 4 (the age I was with final placement with finalization happening at 5.5 yrs). My husband and I mentioned that Robbie would not know his biological grandfathers (Sean's dad died when he was 4 and I know nothing about my birth dad). Robbie wanted to know about why he had another grandpa. We have never talked about my adoption to him so it took us by surprise. I hope we answered in a way he could understand, no more questions yet but I am sure they are coming.

Mother of the Wild Boys said...

Well put Jill.

Danya said...

What an AMAZING way of putting things for a young mind to understand! Thank you for sharing this and helping us know that it is ok to talk about the "hard stuff". You rawk :)

Ashley said...

this made me cry. my biggest fear as an adoptive mom is trying to explain to my child that the one who had a hand in creating her would rather she didn't exist. this is a very good way of explaining it. thank you.