Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Menstruation Talk Becomes Adoption Talk

Another great conversation from an adoptive mom friend:

This weekend I had the most interesting discussion with my 10-year-old daughter. (The same child who previously informed her younger sister that newborn puppies do NOT come out through the mother's eyeball! See Birth, Adoption, and . . . Yelling?) Though she has known basic facts about reproduction for some time, I haven't gone into detail about how female bodies operate. Given that she's showing signs of approaching puberty, I thought it was about time we had THE TALK. Our conversation turned into a totally unanticipated discussion about birth, heredity, adoption, abandonment, and choice.

I began the talk by explaining how as girls grow up, their bodies become able to have a baby. Her immediate reaction was "I don't want to have a baby!" I continued explaining the facts about a woman's monthly cycle (ovaries, uterus, eggs, blood, etc.) This part did not seem to gross her out her like I thought it would. However, it brought up a lot of other topics including:

Abandonment and adoption in China vs. the U.S. - "If I have a baby I will have to do what my birth parents did" (abandon her). This led to a discussion of that scenario, followed by a discussion of what many birth parents do in the U.S. (make an adoption plan, choose adoptive parents, maintain contact with their child, etc.).

Adopting, giving birth, heredity - "I don't want to have a baby because it will hurt. I want to adopt instead." I suggested that she may change her mind about that and eventually mentioned that she might want to consider it, because it would probably be the only time she would have a relative that looked like her. This led into a discussion about heredity and how many children look like their parents, but not always.

The birds and the bees - "How do you get pregnant?" "How do you avoid having a baby?" I provided basic info about how the sperm and egg get together and a few ideas about how to prevent that from happening. We talked about how when boys get older, they'll want to do that because it feels good and that she can say no. I also suggested that woman can take medicine or do other things to keep the sperm and egg from making a baby. I never mentioned abortion (didn't occur to me, as I was focusing on abstinence and contraception), but it was a very "pro choice" discussion. I told her that if she did not want to have a baby, she didn't have to... that it was HER choice (though I think that God is also involved). It seemed important to say that to her, to alleviate her fears. I am very glad to live in a day and age when I can say that to my daughter!

So, if you haven't had this particular discussion yet, beware that it might turn into much more than a discussion of feminine hygiene. (We did cover that too.) It was a very interesting discussion for both of us and not anything like I imagined it would be! It was also interesting that she approached the subject mostly from the point of view of a (potential) birth parent who does not want to have a child. Other children might take the position of desiring a child someday and vowing to keep it no matter what!

Something else to look forward to -- thanks for the warning! Best to be prepared . . . .


Spring said...

I'm new--this is my first time reading your blog. I'm also an adoptive mom, 2 from China, 1 from Ethiopia. Had to have this talk with Ethiopian daughter just a few months after her arrival...

She did not believe me.

Never having lived with women she could trust, she had no knowledge whatsoever. No hint. As a street kid living with other children for most of her life, she literally didn't have a clue.

You're right: this conversation often takes an unexpected turn!

malinda said...

Welcome, Spring! I'm glad you stopped by, so I could find your blog!

The whole menstruation thing IS unbelieveable, isn't it? I remember seeing "the film" in 5th grade and thinking, "You've GOT to be kidding!"

Spring said...

LOL Malinda! Gosh, it's been so long I kinda forgot about my own introduction to the mysteries of the female body :)