We're car-pooling for Chinese Camp this year with friends of the girls from school. We've all known each other since Zoe and their oldest started kindergarden, and frequently do things together. They pretty much know all of Zoe's and Maya's adoption stories, since Zoe especially tends to share. Today, while we were at lunch (both my girls were in the buffet line during this conversation, thank goodness!) after I picked up the girls from camp, the 8-year-old asked me, "Do you have to pay money to buy a baby?" Now, all adoptive parents are pretty used to the "how much did she cost" question from random grownups, but I admit a bit of surprise when asked by a child!
First step -- rephrase the question: "Are you asking me about how much it costs to adopt?" Yes, that's what she's asking.
Second step -- clarify language: "Actually, you can't buy a baby. That would be against the law. People aren't for sale."
Next step -- clarify concept: "When we adopt, we pay for the services of the people who help us make sure the adoption is legal. It also cost money to travel to China, and to go to court, and to bring the baby home."
Final step -- compare to something familiar: "You remember when your mom had baby A? Well, she didn't buy her, but she had to pay the doctors and nurses and hospital for helping her have the baby. Adoption is like that."
Feeling pretty good about my big self, and then I get the next shocker: "Why did Zoe's parents put her out of the house?"
First step -- rephrase the question: "Are you asking about why Zoe's birth parents couldn't parent her?" Yes, that's what she's asking.
Second step -- clarify language: "There are lots of reasons why birth parents can't parent their children and so find a new family for them."
Next step -- clarify concept: "Good parents want what's best for their children, and if they can't provide what their children need, they still want to make sure their children get what they need. Sometimes that has to happen with a new family. That can be very sad for everyone."
Final step -- compare to something familiar: "When baby A was born, do you remember the things she needed?" Out comes the litany of blankies and milk and hugs, etc. . . .
Final, final step: wishing I could have a large gin and tonic! And final, final, final step? Wishing I could have had a more nuanced conversation about money in adoption, but impossible with an 8-year-old!