Where is your Daddy?

As a choice mom, one of my biggest worry is around my daughter one day answering to her friends and strangers to the inevitable question, "Where is your daddy?"  I never want her to feel inadequate or less than in any way because she has a different family structure as a consequence of the decisions I have made.

My daughter just turned 10 months this May, and I feel like I am barely coming out of the fog of new motherhood, and naively thought I had at least a few more years before I come up with a rehearsed story for her.  No, I should have been ready, like yesterday.  

Baby J was playing with my friend's 4.5 year old son, completely absorbed with his trucks and legos.  It was a precious, sweet moment to witness the two parallel play together until he abruptly turned to her and asked, "Where is your daddy?"  My heart dropped.  Of course, he didn't comprehend that she didn't know how to talk yet so he repeated the question the 2nd time, and eventually the 3rd time.  Baby J just stared at him with wonder.  Before he had a chance to repeat himself again, I swiftly answered "She doesn't have one".  Thankfully, he appeared satisfied and went back to his legos.  It was this exact moment that I realize how uncomfortable I was answering to a 4 year old about her origin.

Parenthood forces us to continuously reflect about ourselves and most importantly our beloved children.  I've learned that Parenthood requires moving out of your comfort zone and talking to kids about many challenging topics all the time and learning how to work through this uncomfortable feeling is the key to their upbringing, self-confidence, and happiness.

To ensure Baby grows up feeling confident, proud and secure about herself, it must first start with me as her mother.  I need to be her primary source of strength, resilience and grit to cope with the adversity she will face. I need to build her up, and create and support a safe space to tell her birth story with ease, confidence, and grace.

Recently, I attended a workshop "Talking to Your Kids about their Donor Origins", and got some key take-aways:

-Keep it Simple - Keep it simple, honest and personal especially for toddlers.  Make the story about love and connection.

-Tell Early - Telling early has many advantages and gives the parent(s) the opportunity to become comfortable with the topic and try out different ways of sharing the birth story.

-Tell Often - Telling is not a one-time event but an on-going process. Children will have different questions and interests at different ages, and your stories and explanations will evolve as they come up.  Find ways to keep the dialogue open.

-Differentiate between people who make you and people who take care of you - It is important to clarify that the donor is not a parent.  You could say "There are people who make you (like Mama and donor) and there are people who take care of you (like Mama and Grandma).  Sometimes these people are the same and sometimes they are different.

-Set and Own the Tone - Be positive and knowledgeable, Share the birthstory in a non-charged way and normalize the topic. Creating a book and memorizing the story is a great option.

I now feel prepared to arm Baby J with her birth story. With some inspiration from a dear friend, it will be something like this:

Children are born into all sorts of family structures between married people, out of wedlock, to adoption. For me, as your mother, I felt deep inside me that you NEEDED to be born because you were just so special and the world needed you to be in it. I did not have a partner at that time that fit like a puzzle piece, but I couldn't just let you not be born!? So I went to a doctor that helps mommies make babies if they don't have a puzzle piece and here you are. It took a lot of strength, and courage to do it on my own but I just knew you had to be here.

And you know what? I was right. You are amazing in so many ways. And one day, challenges will come your way, and you'll find out that, just like your mommy, you are in fact braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem. I have no doubt.


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