The Three Books That Helped This Gay Dad Have "The Talks" With His Adopted Daughter
Well before the "Birds and the Bees" talk, gay adoptive dads have a couple others they have to get through with their children. Here's several books that helped Erik Alexander and his husband have these talks with their daughter Alli Mae
It's hard to believe that we are already embarking on the appropriate time to have the "talks" with our oldest child, Alli Mae. It seems like yesterday that I was writing about our tiny little preemie. That itty bitty, 3.5 lb baby has quickly blossomed into a beautiful little girl. I am sure every household has a different opinion of when the "talks" should happen. In a heterosexual home, the "talk" usually means the birds and the bees, and takes place much later in life. However, for homosexual parents there are multiple talks. Sure, the birds and the bees are one of them and quite frankly probably the easiest of them all to have. The "talks" I am referring to are about adoption and having two dads.
It's not like I have been dreading these conversations. It's more like finding the right words. I want to be able to answer her questions. I want her to be able to understand. But most importantly, I want her to be happy and to feel secure in our love for her. I want her to be proud of her home and of her daddies.
I am a fear based person. I always have been. The glass is half empty and I am always braced for the worst. And, if by chance I am wrong and the glass turns out to be half full, then that makes my day! Douglas, however, just glides along gently like a balloon on a string. He lets things just roll off his shoulders like a bead of water on a windshield. It's not that he is fearless, he's just not concentrating on it. And when things do happen, he hits it head on and then turns the corner. Me? I face it head on, and the face it for the next 2 miles because that's all I can think about.
I am always the one to overthink things. I replay events in my head that haven't even happened yet and a lot of times, I freak my own self out! What if she resents us? What if she wants a mommy? It's almost humorous how deeply I go into things until my husband snaps me out of it. I know we are great parents! I know that we are resilient and we can navigate through anything that comes our way. In a lot of ways Douglas helps me become a better person. Sometimes he doesn't even know it. I watch him, and try to apply his confidence into my own life.
Alli Mae with her Papa and her Daddy
The "talk" conversation came about last week when Alli Mae was talking about a mommy at school. Douglas asked her if she had a mommy. She smiled and laughed and said, "No daddy. I have a daddy and a papa." Can I just say how adorable that is?!? She is two! Actually, she's two and a half. We figured if she can say that, then maybe it is time to break the ice and talk to her about how all families are different. Some families have a mommy and a daddy. Some families have two mommies and others have two daddies. Some families just have one mommy or one daddy. Our family has one daddy and one papa. There may be lots of different kinds of families but they still love their babies all the same.
We feel like the 'talks' should happen multiple times as she grows rather than just one time. We want her to feel natural about it and understand as she gradually gets older instead of her turning 6 and dropping a huge bombshell of information on her. Also, 'talks' don't have to be formal sit-downs where we make a big deal about it, rather, they can be as simple as reading a bedtime story. In fact, the books we read to her really help to open the door to these deep discussions. We were given the book And Tango Makes Three by some dear friends that also happen to be a gay family.
We have found that this book is unique because it really helps to initiate the conversation of having same sex parents while also tackling the subject of adoption as experienced by a penguin family. We literally cried the first time we read this book. It is also a true story!
A few more books that we have found to be helpful in triggering conversations about adoption are:
This book is nice because rather than using actual families as examples, this story uses flowers and seeds to convey a beautiful message. This book is the most abstract out of the ones we have.
Written by Jamie Lee Curtis, this book is very cute, however it is geared around a mom and a dad adopting a baby. Some same-sex parents may feel uneasy reading this because of the family being about a mother and father. With that said, we feel like in our home that censoring this would be doing an injustice to the growth of our children. Sure, at first it seems a bit awkward as we read stories about the traditional mom and dad, but over time, it helps create dialogue and introduce opportunities to have deep conversations with our little ones that may help them understand a little more about the differences that make each and every family. As its title implies, this book directly addresses the concept of adoption.
Alli Mae with papa and daddy
Even though the number of 'talks' we will have with our children might be more than some, the love we have for each other and all the support we have from our incredible families will enlighten our children and help them to become more accepting and well rounded adults. Instead of being fearful of these conversations, I am actually excited to have them now because I know that we have the compassion, patience, and love to help them understand that no matter what kind of family we have- they are loved with all of our hearts.
I would love for you to follow our family's journey!
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