If you’re an adoptive parent, you’ve probably read the book, “Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born” by Jamie Lee Curtis. If you haven’t, it’s a must-read. Even if you haven’t adopted, it’s a pretty cool book.
Tell me again about the night I was born.
Tell me again how you would adopt me and be my parents.
Tell me again about the first time you held me in your arms.
It’s a wonderful tale about the journey of adoption all wrapped up in a fifteen minute bedtime story. With candor and wit, it reflects feelings difficult to put into words. Each time we read it, Shane puts himself into the story and pretends the book was written specifically about him and that we’re the crazy parents running through the airport. It helps him know what questions to ask about the beginning of his life.
His favorite part is “Tell me again about my first diaper change and how I didn’t like it at all.” The picture in the book is of a baby getting his diaper changed with one eye closed, mouth wide open. He loves it because of the story we told him about the first time we changed his diaper at the hotel. We were a little rusty (and had a daughter). We forgot that you need a peepee teepee when changing little boys. The minute we took his diaper off, he peed and it went right into his eye. Pretty good shot! He laughs every time we get to that page.
This is the part that he’s been really curious about lately…”Tell me again how you couldn’t grow a baby in your tummy, so another woman who was too young to take care of me was growing me.” We’ve always used the term “adopted” since the day he was born. I didn’t want him to grow up and suddenly hear on the playground that he was adopted. That would turn a beautiful thing into something with negative connotations. I don’t think he’s exactly grasped the concept, but has listened to the words in the story and is starting to put pieces together. At six years old, he’s on a mission. He reminds me of the little bird in the Dr. Seuss story, “Are You My Mother?” asking random people along the way. Not long ago, my husband introduced him to the Human Resource contact at Microsoft who helped us with the adoption benefits (which are wonderful). She said, “It’s so nice to meet you! I’ve known you since you were a little bitty baby!” His response, “Are you my birth mother?” We were talking to a random lady at Target. He said, “You have a big tummy. Are you my birth mother?” Awkward (because she didn’t look pregnant).
The fact of the matter is that I thought I was prepared for the questions. But, every time he asks, I get a huge lump in my throat, can barely swallow and answer with just enough information to satisfy his curiosity. I don’t know why I can’t find the words to elaborate. We’ve always told him that I couldn’t grow a baby in my tummy and that his birth mom was too young to take care of him (just like in the book), that he grew in our hearts rather than in my tummy, “that we couldn’t believe how something so small could make us smile so big.” That seems to pacify him until the next time a thought pops into his little mind. Each time, his questions and ponderings are more in-depth. As the days go by, I hope the lump in my throat gets a little smaller every time we delve deeper into the story. It might take a bottle of wine…or even two.