Posted by: DD | May 18, 2009

SUBJECT MATTER

For the first time since ZGirl was born last July, I suggested to Mr. DD that we should talk to XBoy about the donor.

Because XBoy is 7 years older, I really feel that it’s important not to wait until ZGirl is two or three before approaching the subject with him. I fear that he may look at the first couple of years with ZGirl with something akin to deception if we wait that long. Maybe in not such a definitive manner, but later when he’s reached teen and adult age, he may use it as an excuse or a way of lashing out.

I also know that his exposure to peers in school will introduce him to the concept of sex before I’m ready to deal with it myself, and I just think it would be more prudent for him to know that sex is more than dirty talk between a group of boys and a way of teasing girls (I didn’t tell you how XBoy came home the other day from school and asked me what “gay” meant. Of course I tried to explain it means happy, but he knew that the way the kids were using it, it was derogatory and clearly they were not calling him “happy”.).

Mr. DD doesn’t think telling XBoy about ZGirl’s conception is a good idea. He worries that XBoy will run his mouth about it to both friends and family. While I don’t care so much about his friends, since who’s going to give much thought to a 6 or 7 year old trying to repeat something another 7 year old told them, especially about “eggs” and “embryos” and “donor gametes”? However, I am concerned about this information becoming family table fodder.

I believe that as long as we don’t make a big deal, (It’s a secret! Don’t tell anyone!!), or that the information is a topic of contraband, and that we keep it very, very simple, XBoy should walk away from the discussion as if we had just told him that we were going to repaint the living room.

For me, that means keeping the birds and bees out of the conversation as much as possible. Instead I thought I would just use the approach that women have eggs that can become babies but sometimes those eggs are bad. In those rare cases, couples can sometimes use the eggs of other women to make babies…and that’s what we did in ZGirl’s case. Is that a too simplistic way of broaching the subject of donor eggs for the first time with a 7 year old? Of course we would welcome the questions as they are asked. I just feel, and maybe I’m wrong about it, that this is something that should be trickled in for assimilation and not dumped.

Other questions for you: Do you think I should wait until ZGirl hears it first? Do you think Mr. DD might be on to something as to XBoy spilling the beans prematurely to family (BTW, I’ve intentionally started planning this to coincide with the summer break)? Am I providing a disservice to my son and taking the chickenshit way out by not talking about intercourse and ovaries and gonads and penises and vaginas and sperm (oh, my!)?

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Responses

  1. Even though my youngest DS is adopted and my oldest (almost 6) knows it, the fact that youngest is adopted does not come up when oldest is talking about him. They are just brothers. Not sure it the same thing will happen but in my house the fact that we had to adopt was a non-issue.

    I’d hold off on the BIG discussion on birds and bees too.

  2. Oh my, you sure ask the tough questions. I don’t know XBoy but it does seem a bit early in his life to understand this when he doesn’t understand about birds and bees the easy way.

    But I see your point about him needing to know, and he might need to know before ZGirl is old enough to understand.

    Can you start with basic birds and bees, then work into how some couples have trouble making babies a few months later, and then ease into donor eggs?

    Just a thought. Good luck. I know this is really hard to decide.

  3. I have no assvice – I think it depends on the child.

    The more I think on it…the more I agree with KLTTX and donna. I don’t think it will matter to him, she is his sister and also with the slowly letting info out.

    If you bombard him with loads of info it may seem like a big deal but if you slowly give him info and just make it blase it probably won’t matter enough for him to blab.

  4. i don’t have any suggestions but i think you are wise for thinking of the issue now (pro-actively) then being “caught” with it at some later date. kwim?

    • Yes, I know exactly what you mean. I don’t want my son to think we were keeping a secret from him, especially since we don’t plan on keeping it a secret from HER. 7 might be too young to understand completely, but we easily forget how smart XBoy is and need to him credit for that.

  5. Man, DD, tricky shit. What would *I* do?

    I’d probably not say much. Ben is a half-sibling to his brother and sister and we don’t say much about it. To him, they’re his siblings period.

    When he gets older? We’ll talk. But at 7 almost 8, he’s too young to get it. And to him, it doesn’t matter.

    I’m waiting until he’s old enough to talk about it. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it.

  6. Wow. The thought of having to tackle that topic makes me want to go to bed and hide under the pillows and I don’t even have that issue. I have no idea how to broach that subject delicately enough to make it not weird. Good luck.

  7. I don’t know about telling siblings, but from some of the things I’ve read about telling the donor-conceived child it seems there are age-appropriate ways/language to tell them their story. The younger they are, the simpler the story. Then you let them take the lead about how much more to tell them (and how much they can actually understand) by letting them ask questions, if they have any.

    I’m not sure what level of understanding 7 year olds have (about this or anything else), but I know on the donor conception network website, you can download booklets about appropriate ways to talk about donor conception. I haven’t looked at these myself yet, but maybe they can help you in telling XBoy?

    Here’s the link:
    http://www.donor-conception-network.org/telltalkpubs.htm

    Is there a specific age you have decided on to tell ZGirl? Some people choose to talk about it even before the kids can understand. If it’s fairly soon (like reading to ZGirl a children’s book about donor conception) maybe you can include XBoy in the process and let him ask any questions that might come up in the process? Don’t know if that’s a good way of doing it or not. Just throwing the idea out there.

  8. My only worry here- is that XBoy may use it as a way to hurt ZGirl later in life. – you know how kids will argue, say things to hurt one another (ie: I wish you were never born.. etc etc)

    I think if it was me, I would be too afraid to talk about the donor at all. Then again, I’m NOT afraid to talk about the birds and the bees.. and all the FUN stuff that comes with baby making.

    Ultimately, you’re the only one who knows you, and your family dynamic.. I’m just a stranger from a foriegn country! 😀

    Good luck, no matter what you decide!! You’re going to need it!!

  9. I’m a big fan of talking about things like this early and often. Just make it part of their story. I don’t think seven is too young at all. Snowbaby just turned 4 today and she knows that she grew in another Mommy’s tummy and that now she lives with a new Mommy. That is an age appropriate thing for her to understand. My kids have all sort of bio relationships, non-bio relationships, with people who live with us and who do not, and they just know that these people are family.

  10. Man (or rather WoMan), this is a topic that interests me a lot. Some of the reading that I have seen says that 8-9 is a better age cognitively for having perspective. Other books say to tell from birth. I didn’t go the birth route as I wanted to tell him first. I didn’t want him to have to experience other peoples reactions.

    I have not yet told, but intend to. I have no good advice.

  11. Surely this is some book that is appropriate for his age that talks about reproduction. You could just introduce the extra concept of donor eggs within that context. I would definitely start talking about it now because it is a part of how your family was formed and there is no shame in that.

    Eventually your family is going to find out and I would think you would rather it be on your terms than accidentally, so maybe it is time to tell them, too.

  12. Oh God I have no idea, though I did have a reaction to your description of your eggs as “bad.” I mean, you don’t want him to think that reflects poorly on him, or you. Maybe just you guys needed medical help, the doctor said it would work better for you to use an egg from someone else, so you did, and look how great it worked out? Shit, I dunno.

    • You are right about the “bad”. It’s not like my eggs were up partying, smoking pot or having crazy orgies. And since XBoy was aware of all my doctors appointments and saw me doing injections, keeping it “medical” would be better.

  13. I have no real idea, so take this for what little it’s worth. With adoption, we’ve been told that we should deal with it openly and honestly at an age-appropriate level as soon as we can. P knows that half of him came from me and half of him came from Daddy (and that half of K came from his firstmom and half of K came from his firstdad), but we haven’t discussed sperm and eggs yet. Since XBoy is two years older, I would imagine you could say that the daddy gives his sperm and the mommy gives her egg, but that you didn’t have the right kind of egg to make ZGirl so you got it from the lady who had it.

    Someone (and I’m too lazy to go back through the comments to find out who) suggested that she was worried XBoy would use this to tease ZGirl at a later point in life. Being 7 years older, I would imagine he’ll find plenty with which to tease her. That’s part of being a big brother. But if he sees it as completely normal that she was conceived that way, it probably won’t even occur to him to use it that way. At least not until he’s WAY older, and by that point he’ll probably be too embarrassed to bring up anything that has to do with sex to mention it 😉

    I would keep discussions short and off-hand, rather than sitting him down and saying “XBoy, we need to discuss this with you.” Otherwise, it becomes a big deal. But honestly, once it’s in XBoy’s head, you can’t keep him from sharing it with others. He may not get the details exactly right but he will probably pique interest in others (because they’ll wonder where he heard those terms), so I would make sure you have a firm plan in hand as to how you’re going to deal with family before you tell XBoy. What that might be, I have no idea!

  14. Tell your family now–I know that sucks, but they will cause problems for you, and XBoy might say something. And you don’t want to cause a scene then.

    For now, say what Baggage said, or something similar, like “You know how we had to go to a doctor to get help having ZGirl? And did you know that mommies and Daddies each contribute a little bit of tissue from themselves to make a baby? True, and the doctor helped with that. Mommy needed a little more help and the Doctor suggested a nice lady give us some of her tissue to help make it work. And it did, and now we have Zgirl because a nice lady shared part of herself.”

    Other other variations…..but do it over boring ol Wednesday dinner, just don’t sit him down specifically to talk about it.

  15. And if he can’t tease her about this, he’ll tease her about something else. Or make stuff up.

  16. Hard question. I think I might go with a tell now approach in as low key, no big deal at all way as possible. Which is pretty much what you have said you are going to do. I have friends whose kids (4 and 2) both know they have a mum , a dad and a surrogate mum and who refer to it in a completely matter of fact way. But they do refer to it so if you aren’t comfortable with family/ mailmen knowing then I would wait.

  17. some good suggestions, of course I’m tucking them all away for use with the blobbies. but I don’t like the term bad either, I’ve given it some thought ok a lot.of.thought. when the time is right we’re just going to say, my eggs are broken and we so wanted you (use zgirl to xboy) that a kind lady gave mummy some of her eggs. as a start it’s non clinical it’s easy to understand and hey broken eggs are my specialty at brekky time so they’ll understand broken.

  18. I agree with the commenter that said to just work it into everyday conversation…not the ‘lets sit and talk about something’ kind of conversation.

    When S1

  19. oops…hit the done button by mistake…

    Anyway when S1 was very little, we told him that we waited so long for him and we were very happy that a mommy that grew him in her tummy, picked us to be his parents. I know this is different than donor but kids really only absorb as much as they can at certain times. If he knows that families are made in many many ways, it really won’t be a big deal to him at all.

  20. I would actually go the opposite route – start with the birds and the bees – because he has to have wondered, somehow, how that baby got in his mother’s tummy, and indeed how she got out!

    Then I’d go a bit further and explain that although that’s normally how it happens, sometimes the doctors have to give you medicine to make things work properly (he’s not daft, he’ll have noticed you going to the doctor’s, and it may even reassure him if he thought you were really sick), and sometimes even then things don’t work properly and the bit from the mother or the father has to be given to you by someone else, but you can still grow the baby inside you.

    You could also talk about how HE grew inside you so that makes him the same as the baby.


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