In mid December, in the context of a conversation Seth and I were having about his life in Ethiopia, Seth asked me "why I taken to the orphanage?" He then immediately ducked and hid his face against my body, as if he couldn't believe he'd just said that out loud or couldn't bear to hear the answer.
I won't go into details about that conversation in order to protect the kids' privacy, but it's clear to me that the tough questions have begun. Thankfully, I had talked to my therapist about this and other questions I've been expecting around now, and so I've had a chance to think about how to respond to this exact question. As a result, I didn't have to pause too much in my answer, and I was able to handle the answer fairly well...I hope: factually; then compassionately. Since the day of that question, I've touched on it numerous times with Seth when we've been in private and having a close moment...just to afford the opportunity for more discussion.
I read in a book a while back (Twenty Things Adopted Kids with their Adoptive Parents Knew, by Sherrie Eldridge) that children who have been adopted wish that their parents would initiate conversations about things such as the circumstances of their adoption, as hard as those circumstances might be. I am glad that I read this, because it has led to my initiating conversations with Seth and/or Lizzie virtually every day about their birth family, circumstances in Ethiopia, bits of conversation that we had with the kids' birth father, and on and on. I've done this since day one, even before they had language to understand me or participate in a discussion. I have to say, in fact, that I go out of my way to talk to and with them about their first life, in large part because I want them to know that it is 100% ok to talk about whatever it is they want to talk about, when they're ready to do it.
As a result of all of the conversations we've had, I was pretty sure by last November that Seth was ready to start talking about the exact circumstances of his relinquishment, and I was ready for it. In fact, in the preceding weeks, I had been initiating conversations that circled around this very topic, to bridge our way into a direct conversation about it. He has been starting to ask more questions about his life in Ethiopia, and I could see that his comfort level in having such conversations has been increasing. I was proud of him for raising the question that touches on one of the lifelong traumas that he will have to grapple with and which must must surely cause him ceaseless anxiety. And I was happy, too, that he felt secure and comfortable enough to pose the question. He's come such a long ways in the past seven months, my sweet, intense, sensitive middle child...and so have I.