Friday, August 29, 2008

The Daddy Question

OK, if you've been reading the blog, you've probably figured out I'm a little anal and have an obsessive-compulsive research gene! I even cheated on my homestudy, researching answers to the autobiography ("How would you discipline your child?" I don't know, I haven't met her yet! So let's hit the books and learn everything there is to know about child discipline). Before I adopted Zoe, I had probably researched just about every adoption question a child could ask. I could talk glibly about the one child policy, intelligently explain the social preference for boys, expound on socio-economic issues in China that led to child abandonment, give a dissertation on racial identity formation, you name it!

But somehow or other, I didn't really look into issues surrounding single adoption. It seemed such a non-issue to me. But what was the first thing a child would notice? Duh! Maybe that our family didn't have a daddy like her friends' families did?!

The first time Zoe asked why she didn't have a daddy, I wanted to say, "Could we hold off on that for about 3 weeks? I need to order some books from" LOL! Somehow I didn't think that would work, so I had to wing it.

My answer: "Because I'm not married." It seemed to me that it made it about me and not about her. And at almost 3, that answer satisfied Zoe.

Around age 4, Zoe had a friend a little older than her who would pat her and say "no daddy,"in a sympathetic voice, every time she saw Zoe. So I'd answer, "Right. Every family is different. Zoe doesn't have a daddy, but she has a mommy and a Mimi and a Grandpa, and an Aunt Kim and an Uncle Phillip . . . . " Soon Zoe was answering that way herself when asked about a daddy.

By age 5, Zoe had come up with a "daddy substitute" answer. She said to me, "You know, I don't have a daddy. But Grandpa is LIKE a daddy, and sometimes Mimi calls him Daddy. . . ." That worked for her for a couple of years. The daddy issue became a non-issue for her.

Then last year when I had brain surgery and couldn't drive for 6 months, the daddy question resurfaced. Obviously, it was a scary time for the girls, and they were worried about what would happen to them if their mama died. And they weren't happy that I couldn't take them anywhere they wanted to go, and that we were walking to school instead of driving like their friends did (now that I'm driving again, Zoe is asking whether we can walk to school -- go figure!)

Zoe said to me, "If we had a daddy, he could take care of you when you're sick." Aww, isn't that sweet? She's concerned about ME! Hah! Next statement: "And he could drive us so we wouldn't have to walk." Aha! That's more like it, center-of-the-universe girl! I explain (again!) that it isn't that easy to get a daddy, that I'd have to get married, and it was hard to find someone to marry.

So for about six months, Zoe and Maya decided to play "let's find mama a husband." Her choices were inspired -- "you could marry Grandpa." Sorry, he's already married. "How about Uncle Phillip?" No, he's my brother. "Cousin Patrick?" Uh, he's 14 and he's my nephew?!

Now that I'm healthy and driving, the daddy thing has returned to the back burner. Wonder what will bring it to a boil next time?!


Wendy said...

I am not single, but I do think Zoe's questions would/may come whether or not you had decided to adopt. I have a couple of relatives where the father is completely absent (one refused the pregnancy and left before birth) and they encounter the same one parent questions. They have birth fathers, so do our girls. I think continuing with all families are different is great. Many families have two moms/two dads/step-parents/raised by grandparents, etc. The two nuclear family home is really not the norm; you might want to work from that end.
I read somewhere that an A-parent had this very question (probably a blog) and she told her child that if someone said they did not have a father to say they do and he is Chinese (true); it usually should shut them down. If not, then they can explain their birthmother is Chinese too and that their Mommy/Mama/Mom is American like them and home or at work right now. All that said, I think the most important answer is that it is none of the questioning person's business--I am trying to empower M right now that she does not have to answer when she doesn't want to or feel like it.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

My kids rarely get adoption questions (at least, not ones they will admit to me), but questions from other kids about not having a daddy are more common. I think when kids who have a daddy are young, it hasn't occurred to them that kids could not have a daddy. My kids will just matter-of-factly say they don't have a daddy. Occasionally I've been asked to confirm that. From what I've heard from others, sometimes it upsets our kids when the other kids don't believe them. So, confirmation from the parent or the teacher can help with that. Like you, I say we don't have a daddy because I am not married. But lately my kids (age 5 and 10)have expressed some interest in having a daddy. I've explained that I would have to go on a lot of dates and that they would have to have lots of babysitters. They also think that hugging and kissing is gross (in a funny way) and would probably find that aspect of it quite comical.
Sue (who always has trouble logging and is too busy to date)