We’ve been working on my son’s 504 plan for school. He has a 504 for asthma and other things, and it’s that time of year when we review it and make sure it’s good to go for next year. The school recently sent home a write up with background information obtained through testing and interviews (with his teachers, him, and me).
When it arrived, I sat on the couch and began to read. James popped up behind me, as children tend to do the second you sit down to read an important paper, “What’s that mom?” he asked as he peaked over my shoulder. “Hey I see my name! Is that about me? Can I read it too?” My heart lurched for a moment. We had talked about everything on the papers to some extent, but I’d always made sure to word things carefully. I didn’t like the blunt way everything had been spelled out. Painful life memories summed up in little bullet points along the page. Complicated stories reduced to single phrases.
“Maybe… let me finish it first…” I attempted to buy myself a little more time. I continued reading while simultaneously pondering the best way to handle the situation. Just say no? Read it together? Preface it and then let him read it himself?
Adoption man. You never get a handbook.
I feel like I’m having a constant debate within myself. How can I be open and honest with my kids about their own history while also shielding them from pain? I mean of course I know that with adoption, comes pain and loss. But I like to try to keep the doses of pain and loss to a manageable level each day. I know what all the experts say, be honest and open in an age appropriate manner. But what exactly is age appropriate? Logically I knew that nothing in this packet would be fresh information – but seeing it all summed up felt like it might be too much.
“You done yet?” James grinned at me from the other end of the couch and I realized I was staring off into space thinking instead of looking at the information in front of me.
This is his life and his history. The truth is, I can’t shield him from it. He wants to know it all, and at 11, he deserves to know it all. I passed him the packet of papers and prepared myself to answer any questions he might have. This is his life, and there shouldn’t be any secrets.
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