Our daughter very recently turned two. But at this time two years ago we didn’t know of Lilli yet. Or of her birth mom or her birth dad or her brother.
It’s hard to even remember life before Lilli, being so consumed with our lives as a hard-working, hard-playing family of three now. Two years ago today was unremarkable; I can’t even recall what we did for Halloween that year. Matt and I were just a ‘waiting family’ going about our business, trying to stay distracted, busy. Hoping, but not expecting; preparing psychologically, but not too eager. Nervous, excited, but clueless in that way that you are before you become a parent.
At that point two years ago, we’d just been in the open adoption pool for about six months. The agency stats said the average wait for a straight couple was 11 months. We are a straight, yet interracial couple and there were no stats for that. My brain told me we’d probably have to wait a while longer. My heart told me that I was ready, really ready. Not in a desperate way, but in a peaceful, post-infertility-trauma, healing sort of way.
We met Lilli a month after she was born. We’ve celebrated two birthdays with her, but it’s rather strange because we weren’t with her at her birth. She has her birthday and then coming in two weeks she has other significant days, the day we met her and the day we brought her home. Is there a name for that day? Should we be celebrating those milestones?
Now that Lilli is a talking two year old I know I need to start figuring out how to explain all this. Matt and I have started talking about it with her. Practicing, really. But that’s the way we’ll learn to tell the story. And I’ve got some reading to do that will hopefully help. (Our OA&FS counselor recommended Rain or Shine as well as these books.)
We actually serendipitously picked up a sweet book from the library called Pablo’s Tree. It’s kind of amazing in several ways. It’s about adoption. But it’s not a typical adoptive family. So far, I’ve had a hard time finding adoption books and stories that feel like something we can relate to and this one felt pretty darn good. Pablo’s family is Mexican-American. His mother adopted Pablo as a single parent. And the story is about the relationship between Pablo and his (adoptive) grandfather who planted a tree in his honor when he was adopted. It’s a lovely story, but it did make me feel a bit sad that we don’t have a tree, or something sweetly symbolic like that.
If you are an open adoption parent with recommendations for books or other resources about how to talk to toddlers about their birth story, I would love to learn them. Or if you just want to share your own experience, I would deeply appreciate the opportunity to witness and learn. How did you start talking to your little one about their birth story? What kind of celebrations, ceremonies or traditions did you create for birth and adoption days? How do you involve birth families at that time of year?