Earlier this evening, I was trying to come up with a topic for today’s blog post. I just couldn’t think of anything good.
Apparently, my 3 year old could.
Jack: Why do I have brown skin?
Me: Because your birth mommy, S, and birth father have brown skin.
Jack: Who’s my birth fodder?
It occurred to me that I don’t know if we’d ever mentioned Jack’s birth father before. K chose not to meet Jack. K’s situation makes it unlikely that we will be able to safely contact him anytime in the near future. Why did I mention him tonight? I was thinking about genetics and being technically correct, forgetting that my kid, even if he doesn’t seem to be paying attention, will pick up on anything.
Me: His name is K.
Jack: He likes me.
Me: Well, honey, he never met you. But I’m sure if he did, he would.
Jack: When I’m a big brother, when I’m a ‘dult, I will have white skin.
Well, at least he’s not asking about his birth father.
Me: No, honey, your skin color doesn’t change.
Jack continues to argue.
Me: Look at Pam (a friend of ours who is Indian). Her skin color didn’t change when she became an adult. And Aria’s (Pam’s daughter) skin didn’t change when she became a big sister.
Jack: Why does Aria have brown skin?
Me: Because Pam has brown skin.
Jack: But why does Natalia (Aria’s sister) have white skin?
Me: Because Pat (Pam’s husband, and the girls’ father) has white skin.
Jack: But why does Aria have brown skin?
Me: Because children look like a mix of their father and their mother.
I won’t subject you to the exact conversation here. But somehow, I found myself struggling to explain adoption, skin color, genetics, and death to Jack, just before bed.
Jack: Why did you have me?
Me: Because we wanted a baby, and S couldn’t take care of a baby, so she searched and searched to find good parents for you, and she chose us.
Jack was smiling at this, so I continued.
Me: S would love to be here to give you hugs and kisses all the time. You have lots of people who love you. Me, Daddy, S, your grandparents, your aunts, -
Jack: My birth fadder.
Me: Umm… sure, yeah!
Jack: Is he mean?
Me: No, honey, but he wasn’t very smart, so he didn’t get a chance to meet you.
Jack: Is he good?
Jack is very much into the good guys versus the bad guys these days.
Jack: I want him to come to my house and visit me.
Me: Well, that’s not really possible honey. But when you’re older, we can write him a letter together.
Jack: Mom, when will you die?
How about right now as this hole grows bigger and swallows me?
I’ve never really known what to say to Jack about his birth father. I’ve been thinking about it for awhile now, actually, now that he seems to really grasp the concept of S and his siblings. We know very little about K, and S doesn’t like to talk about him. We know how to find him, but doing so isn’t a good idea. As I said, I’m not sure it would be safe. And, despite having 3 years to think about this, I still don’t know how to explain that to Jack.