With all my researching, I’m getting excited that I may actually get to be a mother to a child I can talk with. The thought right now is that we will accept up to two children up to age 9. I may get only four years until teenagers! So, I’ve started practicing starting discussions. I like to be overprepared.
The first is the rules of our house. These will have to be discussed with the dad when he’s less busy (his boss is on vacation so he seems to be doing both of their jobs, but he gets 24 days of vacation plus Irish holidays, so we’re not complaining). (Also, I’ve decided his name on the blog will be “the dad”.)
The first and most important rule will be we all treat each other with kindness. I believe kindness, compassion and acting in a loving manner is the best thing a person can do. Sometimes we fall short of the mark, but kindness and forgiveness are closely related.
The second will be open communication. Say what is on your heart, our home is a safe place to do that. I believe this is the great strength of our marriage. We both say what we’re thinking and listen to what the other has to say. I won’t say this part to the kids, but I believe our communication style is what has led to the miscarriages strengthening instead of weakening our marriage. It has been safe for us to grieve and mourn in our owns ways while leaning on each other for needed support. It has been mostly me leaning and him being strong, but that’s pretty well expected with our respective genders. The whole point of adopting these kids is to be a safe place for them to land, a home for them to be themselves and become who they want to be.
Then there’s the obvious rules like rowdy playing with wrestling or throwing balls happens outside. Take off your muddy shoes when you come inside. Brush your teeth. Obey bedtimes. You have to bathe because smelling like you don’t makes everybody around you unhappy. Eat your vegetables, the cats won’t. That kind of thing.
Of course, there will have to be the sex talk. I’ll take the girl(s) and/or the dad will take the boy(s). This will of course change if our future daughter has been sexually abused, then I’ll need help figuring out how to talk to her. I’ll know where to get it and that’s important. I remember mom told me what sex was when I was nine and my response was “Why would anyone want to do that?”
I’ll share the difficulty I had at age nine at summer camp being made fun of for still being a virgin. I felt like there was something wrong with me that I hadn’t even started thinking that way yet, and as far as I know nobody had been thinking that way about me. I’ll share my later realization that it’s not about what other people think of my sexual history, it’s about what I think about my sexual history. And it’s about what she thinks about her own sexual history. It’s about feeling good enough about yourself that when other people push, it won’t change the way you want to behave. Even a boyfriend or girlfriend. It’s about knowing in your heart what is right and doing that. And that at some point she will be a grown up and in love and want to have sex, and that’s OK. But that before she does, she needs to realize all of the emotions that go along with having sex. That it often means more to a woman than it does to a man. Not always, but a lot of the time. It can mean that the possible subsequent break-up hurts a lot more. And she should be aware of the risks of sex, of pregnancy and STDs. That only if she and a partner have discussed these things and are ready to protect against the physical consequences and risk the emotional should she go ahead, and then not to feel guilty about it.
Then there’s drugs. Our children are possibly going to know some about this before they come to us, but it they don’t, here’s my side. I’ve never done any non-prescription drugs except I ate a pot brownie once and didn’t notice anything except more giggling. That’s because I know drugs are bad for you. I’ve never been offered more than pot, but I turned it down almost every time it was offered, and I’ve never regretted that. Drugs are especially bad for growing brains, which happens until you’re 25. It’s a big risk. The damage to your brain, the addiction possibilities, the legal consequences, it just isn’t worth it. There are so many other ways to feel good, that are good for you. Going for a good long hike, laughing with friends, singing your heart out in the shower. And again, it’s about feeling good enough about yourself that you can push back when people push.
And finally for today depression and suicide. It’s scary and sad, and you feel like you’ve done something wrong to be feeling so distressed. These are feelings I know well and understand. Always, always, always talk about it. Again with the open communication and our home is a safe place. I know adopted children can feel lonely and abandoned and wonder why them. If they need to talk to me, I’ll be there, and if they need to talk to someone else, I will find that someone else. These feelings make it hard to feel good enough about yourself to resist sex and drugs and other things you may not really want to do. That’s why you need to talk about it.
So that’s a lot of lectures I’m planning in my head right now for an imaginary 9-year-old girl.