questions from my son
So it’s been almost four years since my London born wife and I adopted a little boy. He’s about to turn 6 and as I look into his young, bright eyes and find comfort from the way he’s always wanting to hold my hand whenever we’re in public I wonder what will some of the questions he’ll ask me as he grows older and how will I answer them? We are not connected biologically of course but our connection is deep none the less and I feel a responsibility to him and myself to answer as honestly as I can. Hopefully the love I feel for him will prevail regardless whether the answers I give are what he wants to hear or not. He’s bright and knows that he was adopted from an early age. We told him mummy chose daddy and daddy chose mummy and we chose him so we could be a family. This made him and smile and we got big hugs for our explanation. We’ve done our best to fill his life with love and compassion and laughter and so far he has not questioned in any detail how he came to be with us but that may change. In order to maybe prepare myself I’ve decided, as an exercise, to ask myself what he might ask me, no matter how confrontational it might be, as a way to maybe prepare both of us for the what the future may bring.
Daddy, I know I came from someone else and I’ve seen the letters and pictures. Where are they now and why couldn’t they look after me?
The woman who gave birth to you was born in England and got pregnant by a man who was from a country in Africa called Nigeria. The woman who gave you life was not able to safely look after you so the decision was made by people who do such things and are very good at it to put you into a foster home where someone would be able to look after you. This was not the first time this had happened to this woman so her lack of what it takes to be a mother was something the authorities knew would be an issue.
What do you mean this is not the first time?
You have an older sister by the same two people and she’s currently in care with an aunt of the woman who gave birth to you.
I have a sister?! Have you met her?
Unfortunately no we haven’t.
Can meet her?
Your mother and I have tried many times to see if we could make that happen but they have never gotten back to us and we have no rights to do anything more than that but we’ll keep trying.
What about the man that got her pregnant, is he my father like you daddy? Where is he now?
I suppose in some ways he is your father because he was the man who made it possible for you to have life in the beginning and I’m thankful for that because it allowed me to be your father now. As far as where he is now we have no idea. We send him updates just like we do with your birth mother to let him know how you’re doing but we’ve never heard anything back from him. We think he’s back in Africa because the paperwork that allowed him to stay and work in England had expired so he had to leave. However, just because we haven’t heard from him doesn’t mean he doesn’t think about you. He knows you’re with us and that you’re safe and loved very much.
Did you always want to be a daddy?
That’s a very good question and to be honest I wasn’t sure if I could do it or not. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to provide someone with all the opportunities I had but all that changed when I got to know you. It’s because of you I realised that the most important thing I can do as a daddy is to let you know that you are loved and wanted and that no matter what it takes I’ll do everything I can to make sure you grow up happy, loved and confident to take on whatever life throws your way. You need to remember that no matter what I’m with you, even if I’m not actually standing right next to you I’m with you. I’ve got your back. You’ve shown me what an amazing person you are and I think you have the potential to do whatever it is you want to do with your life.
Since I have the same last name as you does that mean I’m related to everyone else even though I’m adopted?
Of course! Everyone I’m related to and your mother is related to is your family. Biology has nothing to do with it. And everyone on both sides of the family all feel the same way about you. You have a huge extended family that loves you and will always look out for you because they are your family no matter what. And you need to know that you’re responsible for them as well. It’s a two way street so you need to understand that if there’s anything you can do to help someone in your family you need to do that because they rely on you as much as you rely on them.
Daddy, what’s a nigger? (this is something I know will come up in one form or another and I dread it but hope it’s doesn’t mean the end of his innocents. There’s no easy answers here so I need to try my best to be truthful)
Well, it’s not a nice word and one your mother and I don’t like. The actual word as I understand it comes from the Dutch word for black. That was hundreds of years ago when the trading of men and women captured from Africa and brought to Europe and America for slave labour was legal. This was a very sad time in the history of the world when some men thought it was okay to force other men and women and children to work for free. They never thought it was wrong at the time and to get past any feelings of guilt they wrongly assumed that these captured men and women were inferior to them and the very idea that they might actually be equal or superior to them frightened them very much. And unfortunately some people are frightened about that even today so as a way to make themselves feel better they do and say whatever they can to make you feel bad and insecure about yourself. That’s very wrong and illegal but you need to do yourself a favour and not be tempted to get angry or worse yet believe them. You need to feel sorry for them because they say and do such things because they are frightened and ignorant and not willing to change with the way the world is going. You are the future and it’s through you and others like you the world has the chance to be a better place for everyone no matter where they’re from or who they are.
Are these people called racist? (never underestimate children)
Yes, those people are referred to as racist.
Are they born that way?
No, they learn to be that way from other people.
Like their mummy and daddy?
Unfortunately sometimes yes but we have to believe they can eventually learn to not believe such things and not have their heart filled with so much hate for other people.
You know Sean and Nicky?
Even though they’re both boys can they have children?
Of course they can!
But doesn’t one of them need to be a mummy? (the comedian in me will want to go for the joke I’ll tell to Sean and Nicky later but hopefully I’ll resist the temptation)
Of course not. As a matter of fact two girls can get married and be parents as well.
So it’s okay to have two mummys or two daddys?
Yes it is. The important thing is that they love their children no matter who they are or where they came from.
Is the policeman a bad guy?
Why do you want to know?
A kid at school said that the policemen are always looking for an excuse to beat up people like me. Is that true?
Well you know how there are good people and bad people in the world who work at all kinds of jobs? (he nods) Well that’s true with policemen as well but the good news is with policemen if they’re bad other policemen who are good find out about them and punish them.
Then I’ll be a good policemen! (it’s what he’s been talking about lately)
I have no doubt you will. Your mother and I believe you have the ability to be whatever you decide that you want to be.
Can you give me a ride on your motorcycle now?
Yes, but don’t tell your mother. (he will because he gets so excited he’ll want to share it with her)