We were at a birthday party for the child of a friend of mine from high school. Although I would consider her a close friend, we don’t get to see each other very often due to distance and schedules. I haven’t seen her or her family since Jackson’s 4th birthday party. She has another friend who went to high school with us, and I haven’t seen her since 2008. That friend – I’ll call her Jenn – was at the party today.
Jenn is gregarious, and since we knew each other, and pretty much no one else, we did some talking.
First, she asked if Jackson and Cassie were “actually” brother and sister. Now, to her credit, I could tell she was trying to come up with the right way to ask. (Whether or not it was any of her business to ask could be debated, I suppose.) I said, no, they’re not biologically related, but they are brother and sister. She also asked if my kids had other brothers and sisters with their birth families. They do. (Jackson’s very open with this fact, actually.)
Later, we were all the last ones left at the party. That’s when the real awkwardness began. She asked why, if she was already parenting three kids, did Cassie’s birthmother “not want her.” I very politely explained that Cassie’s birthmother did “want” her very much. However, she thought she was done having children. After thinking for a long while, it became obvious to her that she could not be the mother she wanted to be to her older children if she tried to parent Cassie as well. (Of course, the story is more complicated than that, but that’s Laine’s story, and Cassie’s story, not for Jenn, or you, or anyone else.)
Jenn then went on about how she “could never do that.” I explained that it was absolutely difficult, and painful, but it was the right decision for Laine. She went on in that vein for awhile, then abruptly asked about Cassie’s birthfather, and whether he was in the picture. I said, “Well, that’s an even longer story” and was about to add “which we don’t have time for because it really is time to go” but Max chimed in, “Robyn, we need to go.”
And we went.
Most people can’t fathom the decision to place a child for adoption. I can only speak to why S and Laine chose adoption for their children, and even then, some of the information simply isn’t anyone else’s business. I’m fortunate that I don’t get into awkward conversations like these very often. I think I handle each one better than the last. I’m sure this won’t be the last one, so we’ll see how I do next time.