I am grateful that we have been very open with our children with regards to their birth parents, their placement in our home and their own individual stories, it has made these discussions easier, but there are still questions that are hard to answer. It is almost weekly that we have talks about their birth mother, their birth father(s) and even their biological uncles, aunts and grandparents. I don’t have all the answers, but quite honestly, what parent does?
I don’t know any other families who are in an open adoption, much less any who have teenagers right now, so here are a few things that have helped me over the last decade:
Validate the question(s), it is okay to have questions.
Reaffirm your love for them as an individual and as your child - Sometimes my children were hesitant to ask me questions about their birth mother because they didn’t want to “hurt my feelings” if they were talking about their “other mom.” I will admit that when my boys were first placed with us, I did feel jealous of their mother, I felt I was being compared on every level with her. I don’t feel that way now; I feel that she and I both have significant and independent roles to play in their lives.
Be honest – I try to answer their questions to the best of my ability, but sometimes I don’t have an answer to their question(s). If they ask a question and want an answer right away, I do my best, but sometimes after I have time to think about their question and my answer, I may go back and tell them that I didn’t answer their question properly. I have told my older boys, “I don’t have a parental instruction manual, I am learning just like they are and I am not always right!”
Love them unconditionally.