“What’s this?” CJ asks me, holding up a bronze coin with the word family and a small heart engraved upon it.
I’m at the counter cutting up rotisserie chicken for dinner, and CJ has climbed onto one of the barstools to keep me company. The coin he’s holding is a memento that a nurse thoughtfully gave to me before one of my D&C procedures.
“It’s something special to help us honor the babies who were in my belly,” I tell him, hoping this is the simplest but also the most truthful explanation.
CJ smiles wide and asks, “Like I was a baby in your belly?”
“Yep,” I confirm, smiling along with him at the memory.
“And like Kyeler was a baby in your belly?” CJ questions further.
I pause. I should have known this was coming. We’ve talked to Kyeler about his adoption countless times, but maybe we’ve never fully explained it to CJ?
I stop cutting the chicken and say slowly, “No, Kyeler wasn’t in my belly.”
“Was he in daddy’s belly?” CJ asks right away, and I have to laugh in spite of myself.
“No, he wasn’t in daddy’s belly either,” I tell him. “He was in another mommy’s belly. But now, I get to be his mommy forever.”
Did I explain that correctly? It sounds strange to my own ears, but then again, adoption is kind of like that.
“Oh,” CJ responds, clearly satisfied enough to end his interrogation session. He gets down from the barstool and scurries off to join Kyeler in the playroom, where I can hear the click of Magnatiles being put together by small hands.
I return to my dinner preparations, hoping I didn’t say anything wrong. I have long wrestled over how to talk with my children—only two and three years old—about the very real but very difficult topics that intersect our lives, such as miscarriage and adoption. It would be easier to just not talk about it, right? But I know I can’t do that. I want our family to be one of honesty and authenticity, even when it’s uncomfortable.
Later that evening, when the boys are in their jammies and arguing over which stories to read before bed, I approach Kyeler. I’m not sure how much he overheard earlier, if anything, but I feel the need to remind him what an integral part of our family he is.
“I love you so much,” I tell him. “I’m so glad I get to be your mom, even though you didn’t grow in my belly.” He looks up at me, holding a Paw Patrol book in his hand, and plants a small kiss on my cheek.
“Tiny tiss,” he says, grinning sideways at me. He turns his attention back to the stack of books, and that’s that.
I know there will be many hard conversations with my boys down the road, full of questions that I may or may not be able to answer. But for now, these simple interactions are enough.
This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in the series “Overheard at Home”.
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