Wednesday, April 05, 2006

To Son, With Love

Robyn - 35
1 child – son (21 mo)
Southfield, MI

I recently got up the energy to make good on a promise that I‘d made to myself 21 months ago. That is, to write my son letters. Why you ask? I want to chronicle his young years in a way where he can read about them and feel what was going on at that time.
I said that I was going to start when he was born and one day turned into five, turned into five months which turned into today. But doggone it, I am doing it now. I want him to know what his mommy was like when she was ______ years old. I intend to do this once a month or at least once every three months (so that there’ll be something interesting to talk about) because life can get boring and mommies and daddies can get tired, yet he grows and he grows.
I know that he won’t appreciate it when he’s young (unless he turns out to be a very sensitive child), so I don’t intend to show it to him until he gets into high school….maybe college! This will be part of his lineage, part of his legacy to his grandchildren and so on; a documented griot’s version of the most precious time of his and my life. I want him to know me for me; something that time cannot replace or take away. They say the mother/son bond is very strong and I hope this will always serves as a reminder that I am his first love and that I always will be in his corner.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Where's My Dad?

March 28, 2006

Andi - 47
3 sons - (18), ( 3), (1)
Philadelphia, PA

I am single and I have three kids. The youngest two are adopted. My oldest son sees his dad on a regular basis but the two little guys don't have a "dad". I knew this was going to be an issue for all of us to deal with as they grew older and I have thought about it a lot. I wasn't prepared for Buddy Boy to lay claim to it so young though. He was just past 2 and barely talking in sentences when he started asking "Where's my dad?" He asked me, his grandparents, his teachers... I had to work on my answers and it was hard for me. Imagine how awkward for his teachers.

So I naturally tried to write it down. I decided to make a book about it for him and make copies to share with his grandparents and school, to help them out as well. I used PowerPoint to make a slide show with pictures of all of us in his family and simple, clear text. I printed out the slides and sewed them together with ribbon between cardstock covers. It is one of his favorite books and just yesterday he brought it to me to read when we were having a quiet moment on the couch.

It goes something like this:

Buddy Boy has a big question.
He asks his mom again and again
"Where's my dad?"

"You don't have a dad."


"Because I adopted you and I am single."

"But where is my dad?"

It goes on with him repeating his question over and over and me explaining all about his first parents, with some little tidbits like I know she likes to fix people's hair and she loves music. His bio father played football in high school and wanted to go to college to study psychology. He has me, his big brother, his grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, all who love him. But no dad. Different types of families... you don't have a dad but you have all these people who love you in your family, including your birthparents.

My idea was to give him information about his bio family as well as emphasis how much he is loved in his whole family. Give him his past and ground him in the present. I used the repetion of his question the same way he was using it, to give him a chance to process the information, gather facts and sort out relationships. I think that's how young children think and I hope I gave him enough information and reassurance to build understanding and security. I think it did its job. I illustrated it with photos of our family. I don't have any of his first parents, so I had to be a little creative. I used a rose on his first mother's page and a picture of him with a football on his bio father's page.

It is one of the central facts of his life and one of the things we will always be dealing with. Working on making sure he has role models, learns to be a man and a father, learns about families and love and relationships.... you can go on from there. I approached it from the beginning with talking, listening, writing and reading. My tools. Language, creativity, paper, computers, pictures, words.....

Blessed art thou O Lord our God, creator of the universe and father to the fatherless. We praise you for the gift of language; the path of connection; the flow of love; the net of family. Open our lips and our mouths shall give forth thy praise.