A couple of nights ago Mike was out of town. The kids and I were snuggling in my bed reading stories, and as I was reading the last page of the last one, I thought of the photo album on the bottom shelf of my nightstand. I had been wanting to speak to the kids about my open adoption experience, about the twenty-year-old they don't really know but who is their birth sister, about the baby in that album. It's not that I wanted Mike to be gone for that initial conversation, but on that snowy night, just the three of us, the time softly presented itself.
My intention over the years was to let the the truth unfold naturally. I envisioned having conversations after meeting my birth daughter and her adoptive family for breakfast as we did for years, reminding Sophie and Michael who she is, the way we explain uncles and great-grandparents.
But those breakfast meetings haven't happened in a long time now. I don't fully understand why, but I have been assured that everyone is okay, that our relationship is sound, that it's just a crazy time. Sadly this crazy time has coincided with Sophie and Michael reaching an age when their understanding of extended family is blossoming. I've had to let go of wanting them to know their birth sister, at least for now. Knowing of her can be enough if it has to be.
So I closed The Snowy Day and brought up the album of baby pictures, of me as a puffy post-partum teenager, of their grandma and grandpa with darker hair and younger faces. I still said what I always had in mind...my tummy...not ready...and pointed out the parents I picked for that little baby. We talked about how she's a grown-up now, about how I get to be a mommy now and am so super happy about that. Michael and Sophie reacted in a way that showed me the window of a healthy openness had not closed, that this timing may have been just right. They asked enthusiastic questions, pointed to funny baby pictures, and let the topic come and go like any other.
They looked at the album again tonight briefly. Then they played. Then we got ready for bed, told stories, and on we go.