…adoption woes…


riley has always been sensitive…as a baby he would cry when I sang certain lullabies and not other’s…it was fascinating to me so much that I often wondered if there was a russian song that was similar to “hush little baby” that brought up bad memories to him.

…it’s no wonder that he struggles the most of my kids with adoption and his “roots”…I try to support him in discussing his worries and have always been very open about what (little) information I know…and it breaks my heart that he struggles with things like being embarrassed that he doesn’t have a “dad” or that he is from another country and so not just like me…for years, he has called my dad – “daddy” instead of “papa”.

a few months ago, he and I had a discussion about the “daddy” issue. He told me he was embarassed to be the only one without a dad – and despite the fact that he has several very good friends who come from single mother families, it is clear that most of his friends do come from 2 parent homes.

I asked him at the time what “he” wanted to say about this? He told me that he told people that me and his faher were divorced and he lived in California and never saw us…while I wasn’t sure that was the best story for him to tell, I supported him in this since I had asked.

well…recently when driving with the car pool to baseball practice, he was asked where his dad was and he told the 2 other boys that his father was assassinated! The mom driving told me she almost drove off the road – for two reasons…the first, he said it so nonchalantly and the second, that he knew the word to begin with! (apparently both of the other boys didn’t know what it meant – and the mom had to explain it). the two boys offered some sympathetic words and riley said…”it was a long time ago and I was a baby and don’t remember it”…and walked away.

…the mom told me at the next game we had about the declaration…she knew that riley was adopted and she just wanted me to know about it… a few days ago I sat down with him at bedtime to ask him about it. He explained that he didn’t like people to ask questions and so he said it…honestly, i hadn’t (and still don’t) gotten a hold of whether I think he should or shouldn’t say something like that. he thought that it probably wasn’t a good idea to say something like that but isn’t comfortable saying that he doesn’t have a dad because he is adopted. I tried to encourage him to say something more neutral like – “it is personal in our family” or to turn it around on people and ask “why do you want to know?”

but…clearly I don’t have all of the answers here and would love some people’s opinion on whether I should be worried about his answer or whether I should let him use some fantasy answers in such instances…

sigh…this parenting is hard…

Categories: adoption, Family, Uncategorized

5 replies

  1. I know it is a COMPLETELY different situation, but when I was a teenager and people would tease me about not having a chin, I would say something like, “it got knocked off in a fight.” Or, “Oh my gosh, it blew away!” One summer instead of putting up with the stares and teasing at Kings Dominion, I went around asking people if they had seen my chin, because I had lost it. I was hurt that it wasn’t there, and sick of dealing with people’s questions, so the easiest thing was to say something totally ridiculous that would throw people off. It was a way I could regain a little bit of control of the situation. It takes a lot of maturity both on the part of a person who is “missing something” and on the part of someone asking questions about that to be able to talk about it in an intelligent way, but it comes. Now, I can’t say for sure if someone should have told me a better way to handle those times in my life, but eventually I settled into who I am/what I looked like, and was able to respond in a more mature way. All that to say, I think if he feels like making up a crazy story about it, let him. He knows where he comes from, he knows what is family looks like, there will come a time when it is easier for him to explain, when he’s had a chance to settle into his own skin. I might suggest he at least not make up violent stories… maybe tell him if he wants to turn the conversation around, he can make up something hilarious… his dad ran away with the circus when he was a baby, his dad is a famous person and he’s not allowed to tell anyone who it is…. You are enough, and he knows that inside, but he can’t change feeling different. But different turns out to be awesome when you’re old enough to see how good you had it. 🙂


  2. Wow! That is a tough one. I think I would go with a more logical response & say that it is true that he doesn’t remember his bio dad because he was a baby when he had to leave Russia. Then, also remind him that it isn’t a good idea to make up those kinds of stories mostly because stories tend to get embellished & then it becomes hard to remember all of the untruthes when you have to repeat the stories. I hope he can get to the point where he can feel unique & special whether or not he has a father. Bless his heart!


  3. Well…. I grew up with a single Mom and for MOST of my childhood I had no contact with my Dad and we did not know his whereabouts so tho not adopted I struggled with those questions about my Dad as a child just like Riley. I still today truly believe that in my early childhood (1st-4th grade maybe) when I told the truth that I didn’t know my Dad, that almost instantly those kids would no longer want to be my friend. I thought their parents didn’t want them to be friends with me. I still think that is true and it very well might have been. 😦 But looking back I think the scary emotion (or lack there of sometimes) that those questions brought out in me is probably what scared friends and their parents away… *sigh*. Sorry to make you read so much of this but I too made up stories about where my Dad lived and why I didn’t see him. Actually, I lied mostly and told people that I did see him occasionally and that solved some of the problems for me. But I think it would have been even better if earlier my Mom could have talked with me more about this and if the two of us could have settled on a cover story that I could just tell people. In Riley’s case since it is likely that his Dad does live in Russia perhaps without necessarily going into the adoption details perhaps he could just always say “my Dad lives in Russia” and if they ask if he ever sees his Dad he could just say “no, because Russia is really far away.” It’s so hard. These childhood years while other kids are not old enough to know better than ask such personal prying questions are just torture. In my experience saying anything similar to “that’s private” brought too much attention because it made it seem like some juicy secret so I always felt better answering anything that moved the conversation quickly onto a different topic. I’m sorry he is so sensitive like that. I really was just the same. My mom’s only good advice was “you don’t have to tell EVERYONE every detail”. (((hugs)))


  4. Sue, I know what you mean. The girls ask me pretty regularly why they don’t have a Dad. A couple of years ago, Elena had some friends over and I heard one of them ask her where her Dad was. She said, “Don’t have one, never did.” It broke my heart! I think I would encourage Riley to just tell people his Dad lives in Russia. It’s the truth and it’s a simple response that might satisfy the curious friends. If they press for more details, he could say he didn’t get to know him because he came to live in the US when he was just a baby. I feel for you and Riley. Whenever the girls bring up the subject of not having a Dad, I say that I know it would be nice for them to have a Dad, but quickly add that we have a wonderful family, that we are very lucky to have so many wonderful cousins, aunts, uncles and their great Papa. Hang in there!


  5. Hi Sue,

    Hard to know what is best. At his age, I think this might be his most difficult time. Good of you to try to help him with a good answer. I think saying something too memorable is not the way to go. Memorable gives the kids he is telling something to think about and when they understand more they remember and start questioning him about what he said. Simple is I think best. I like the living in Russia suggestion. It is true and it is short and too the point. If someone wants to question deeper he can say he does’t want to talk about it or doesn’t know. He doesn’t have to know everything. Good Luck


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