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 Amazon.com." 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?!
The Angrier Adoptee, part 1
1 week ago