We all have a past, a history that’s part of our core makeup. It might not be something we actively consider as we go about our day to day lives but it never leaves us; it simply is.
I grew up in a military family with a sister and brother. My dad was career navy, and my mom spent most of her time taking care of us. She’s the reason I love reading and baking, but my dad’s DNA won out when it came to my skin, eye, and hair color.
I don’t spend much time thinking about those things, but deep down they’re a part of me. They’re my starting point in life, my touchstone. They’re the givens I never have to question.
But what happens when chunks of a person’s core history are simply missing? How does that affect a child as they’re growing into young adulthood?
It’s hard stuff to look into your child’s questioning eyes and find yourself at a complete loss.
Sometimes they’re asking questions I simply don’t know the answers to, questions that would help them plant their feet on solid ground as far as knowing their history. There are certain questions I try to answer, but that’s based on my best interpretation of what happened and as we all know, the only person who really understands the decisions made back then are the birthparents. I can try to put myself in her shoes, but there’s honestly no way I could truly understand this period in her life.
Just as hard are the times when they ask questions for which I do know the answers, but the answers are really tough. Honesty is the best policy, sure, but some of these truths are pretty harsh. How will I know when it’s time for them to hear frank answers about their birth families? When is the not knowing worse than learning something about their birth parents that could color how they perceive themselves.
These are the waters we’re wading into now. T-man and Bear are getting older, they’re asking the harder questions, and frankly I don’t blame them. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to have a giant hole where some of that core knowledge is supposed to be. Not to know your birth mother’s hobbies or whether she likes the same foods as you. Not to know what your birth father looks like or why he didn’t stay.
Almost all of my givens, from a biological standpoint, are simply missing for my kids. A blank slate on which they tend to write their own story or imagine the worst.
So how do I know when it’s time? I still haven’t quite figured out the answer to that one.