Blog follower Michelle writes: “I always enjoy reading your posts and everyone else’s that is involved in the blog. I wanted to get your opinion … I am a mom who donated our embryos. We are very close to the family and we have seen our “embryo” that we donated when she was 3 months old and again just a few months ago. (She is now 4 years old and our twins are 6 years old). I ordered the Training Wheels book in hopes that this could be a good book to help our twins understand what we did and why we did it and who this special friend and special family really is to them. Unfortunately I was disappointed in the ending of the book when the boy asks his mom “is Mike my brother” and the mom says “no, more like a special friend.” To me this is not truthful and more confusing to the children and they should know the truth and I was really hoping to get a book that could help explain all of this to our twins instead, I am back to how do we explain this to our twins like I was before I got the book. What are your thoughts on this and did you go any further in telling your twins about who the Cassidy’s are besides the books way of saying ‘special friend?‘”
In response to this question, I thought lots of people would like to hear the answer as well.
I tell the twins, which I do not think they are old enough to fully understand, that the Cassidy boys are genetically their brothers; however, they do not live with them and therefore, do not have a relationship that is like a sibling, but more like a cousin or “special friend.” We call them by their first name, such as Ryan, Joel or Chad. I do sometimes call Patty’s sister “Aunt Cathy,” I have never asked her how she felt about that, but Patty’s kids call her that so we have joined in as well. My kids also have called a few people Grandma and Grandpa who are not in that role, but since other people called them that they joined in. I think the best thing to come up with how you want to call that person and ask them if that is ok by them. Some adopted children call the genetic mother, “my birth Mom.” In our situation that is not the case and I do not think “genetic Mom,” works for me. Patty and I talked about this and we felt just calling each other by name worked for us. No matter what you call the “other” family, I feel that it is very important to be as truthful as you can be related to what they are able to understand. I think if you make things “lighter” than they are the children at one point may see that as a lie, then trust is broken.
Just the other day, we were on our way to Julian’s Karate class and he said that Natalie did not look like anyone in the family, because she has brown eyes and he has green eyes like Daddy and Mommy. Natalie let him know that I, “Mommy” has blue eyes! I did take that time to tell them that neither one of them had eyes like Mommy nor Daddy since they were genetically from Patty and Jim and that is who’s eyes they have. But then I went on to tell them that my eyes change from blue to green, so some times Julian and I do have the same color eyes and that Natalie has beautiful brown eyes like cousin Julianna and cousin Brooke. That even though they may not look like us it does not change our love for them. I asked them if they still loved Dad even though he has blonde hair and we all have dark hair. Natalie was first to pipe in that she loves Daddy so much! Love is not dependent on what we look like nor who’s genes we have, but how we treat each other.
Julian is only three years old and is figuring out genetics. I do not understand those who try and keep “adoption” a secret from their children. If a three year old can figure it out, then I am sure it could come to light at some point in the child’s life. Once you tell an untruth, it is very hard to go back. So that is why I am straightforward and do not sugar coat anything. If I felt uncomfortable answering something, I would just say, I think that will be better discussed when you are a bit older, than trying to make things sound the way I may want them to be.
When I have questions about things such as these, I look to the Bible for my answers. I am also reminded of the little saying my Mom would say, such as “O, what a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive.” For me, not telling the whole truth is the same as telling a lie. If I want my kids to tell me the whole truth then I will also have to tell them the whole truth as well, regardless of the consequences. It is my prayer that I can live up to this.
“Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” (Colossians, 3:9-10)