Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Why don't we have a mum?...

Why do children always want to talk about the most important things when you are rushing to do something else?

In our case we were late for school - as usual. We only live over the road from the school so why we always leave it to the last minute to get out of the door amazes me. Today was just the same as any other day except that as we were crossing the road TJ suddenly says, "Why did you choose my name?"

"Well, to be honest, we didn't choose your name," I replied, "Your birth mum did.. but we chose you." and I smiled re-assuringly (as all the adoption manuals recommend). "Anyway," I went on, "we chose your middle name together, remember?"

"I don't like my name." TJ replied simply.

Immediately all my psychological warning bells went off (guess what I am studying for) and I know that usually when a child says they don't like something as fundamental as their name then it usually shows they don't like themselves - self esteem issues are high on the agenda for many adopted children.

We walked a little bit slower now as I felt a conversation was about to come on - a conversation that had to be raised by TJ, not led by me (even though I was desparate to).

"Why don't we have a mum?"

Great, we have five minutes before the school gate is closed and he asks me this. Oh well, if we are late then so be it - this needed to be discussed.

"Well," I said, "You do have a mum but she couldn't look after you and so you went into care while the social workers found you a new family. Daddy and Papa also wanted a family and we chose you. So you are very lucky, you were chosen, not many children can say that."

I breathed out after giving what is pretty much my standard reply to this question when it ever comes up. But then came his retort, "But we didn't choose you, nobody asked me what I wanted."

"And what did you want?" I asked. As soon as this came out of my mouth I knew that I was not going to like the reply. But it was quite insightful of him - they do say that children are usually a little bit older before they realise that in order to have be 'chosen' you first have to have been rejected by another family. Rejection is probably the wrong word to use but I can't find one that sums up how they would feel. In many ways I was glad that TJ was able to feel safe enough to have this conversation even though I knew I wasn't going to like what came next.

"I wanted a mum." he said, "I think I would have liked to have a mum."

" I know you would sweetie," holding his hand, "I know you would have liked to have a mum, but lots of children come from different families - some have one mummy, some one daddy, some have two mummies and some two daddies - like you."

"I know all that," he replied knowingly, 'I'm just saying that when I get older and get to choose my next family I'm going to have one with a mum."

"Well, unfortunately, this is the only family you're going to have mister," I said, probably a bit too strictly, "so get used to it... besides, this family loves you and I would be very sad if you went somewhere else."

He thought about this, "Do you think my birth mum was sad that I had to leave her?"

Where had all this come from?

"I think she probably was," I said, "But she knew she wasn't able to give you the love and care you needed to she knew it was better for you to be adopted and we told her we would love you."

"Do you think she would get me a new football?" he asked, "A blue one?"

"Well, maybe we could get you one this weekend," I replied.

"Good," he said with a smile, "because I want one of those."

And with that he rushed into school just as the gates were closing.

I was left standing there in a slight state of shock. Had my youngest child just used his adoptive story to manipulate me into promising him a new football? Possibly, but either way he was sharing a deep feeling with me - whether he knew it or not and I think that deserves a new football....

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