Science is a favorite subject for our two homeschooling sons, both currently in 2nd grade. But recently Ian emerged from the schoolroom after watching the day's lesson and exclaimed in his own unique way, "Don't ask me anything! I don't want to cry again!" (In other words, asking to be asked why he was crying.) Surprised, I followed him back to the video screen and spoke with both boys about what had just happened.
It turned out that their lesson that day had been on earthquakes, which in and of itself was no novelty due to our living in a very seismic country and experiencing strong movement on a regular basis. However, on this occasion the teacher had specifically shared details and photographs of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Both of our Haitian-born sons - then 25 and 21 months old - were still in their orphanage when the earthquake took place and we have spoken of it numerous times. We've also shown them excerpts from a news report filmed at their orphanage shortly after the earthquake, in which they are both specifically featured. Yet for whatever reason, seeing the images in the context of their school day was startling to them. Nor could either of them recall having seen the news report when I reminded them of it. It was as if they were hearing their story for the first time six years later.
We spent awhile that morning reviewing their lesson, its pictures, and then watching the news report again together. Ian and Alec were both very animated about wanting to return to Haiti to help in some way. It was an unexpected opportunity for what felt like a second-generation adoption conversation. We've had so many talks with the older three kids but it isn't a subject our younger boys raise often. However it reminded me that these conversations will constantly be both evolving and revolving, and it is important to be prepared, available and willing to go over the same information as often as requested according to each child's needs.
Fast forward a couple of months, and this evening the boys were chatting nonchalantly while working at the dining room table. In the midst of a completed unrelated conversation, Alec suddenly brought up the topic of their birth moms. Again it was an unscripted and meaningful opportunity to share a piece of their stories with them. It also turned out to be a reminder that their understanding is limited by their age and worldview awareness at each stage! One of the boys seemed to not understand that a baby could be born to an unmarried man and woman. He said, "So my birth mom is like Mary?" (Cue a theological discussion of conception via the Holy Spirit!)
What a privilege and responsibility it is to hold our children's histories and hearts in our hands. May God enable us to always share wisely, wholly and well the precious pieces of each one's early story even as He writes the chapters that are now unfolding, and those still to come!