Family Tree

As we pulled up to the house one day a couple of weeks ago after a fun day of summer camp, Jonathan said to me in a quiet and not at all like him voice, “Thank you mommy for adopting me I like living here.”


After I recovered my brain from jelloville, I told him I was happy that he likes living here and that we adopted him. He then asked if we could talk about adoption so in we went inside and had a very grown up conversation over dinner. It went like this:

Jonathan explained to me his adoption story and we played the dance where I ask him questions about who he remembers and he tells me the same things and we go through the houses he lived at and I ask him questions about them and he tells me the same answers and he tells me that his first mum and dad didn’t know how to take care of him so he had to move and I asked if he wanted to meet them and says no and on and on we go around and around on repeat.

But something felt different this time and inside my head was going “JUST SAY IT JUST SAY IT JUST SAY IT JUST SAY IT”

And then I said it.

“Jonathan, I have to tell you something. You know how Anthony is your brother? You also have TWO more brothers.”

Insert screams (excited ones) and some hand flapping and bouncing in his chair. You’d think I just told him he could eat the world’s supply of ice cream.

He asked their names and I told him. He said he wanted to meet them, as in right now, and I explained that we couldn’t now but one day we would. I showed him some pictures of his brothers and explained who they lived with – their paternal grandparents, oh yeah kid you also have more grandparents don’t you know?! And then I drew him as simply as I could a family tree. He was all over it. And calm. And appropriate. The whole thing was strange and great.

Then off he went to have a bath, but not before he insisted that the family tree not be thrown out so up on the fridge it went.

A week later I asked him about the family tree and if had been thinking about his brothers or had any questions. He answered “nope” and that was that.

It was one of the more interesting conversations we had that’s for sure and I’m very proud how he ‘s handling it all so far (the next morning he slept in an extra hour and half….coincidence…? )

family tree

(Don’t judge me on my drawing skill;) )



After an impromptu conversation about using drawing and interpreting kids drawings with our Clinician at work, I decided to try something with Jonathan.

That evening I sat him at the table with an array of coloured paper and different markers, crayons etc. and asked him to draw a picture of him, his family, his house. I didn’t give him any other direction and my only words after were “is there anything you want to add?” and I asked him to tell me about his drawing so I could decipher what the heck was going on.

There isn’t a lot to it; a house, the four of us, Santa, a stove. The interesting part will come in a few weeks, which after raising the topic several times during this time about family, him living here, his adoption and whatever else I can work into our conversations, I will have him do it again and we can interpret his drawings.

However, the interesting thing was after he drew his first picture and we sat down to have dinner (it was just the two of us as Gord and Anthony were out for the evening), we had our first aggression in months. I was hit and bit and he continued to go after me until I could get him to his room and hold the door shut. All because (seemingly of course) I asked him to finish his dinner.


The rest of the evening proved to be rocky; lots of not listening, being rude, crying when I said no. And it continued into the morning, at school/daycare and into the following evening.

I made sure to give some extra cuddles and love that second evening and a bit of an early bed time. We talked about sweet Jonathan and angry Jonathan and he seemed to get this idea: My sweet Jonathan is kind, listens, uses his manners. My angry Jonathan screams, cries, hits, doesn’t listen. He has brought this up over the past several days and is recognizing when he is ‘sweet Jonathan’ versus ‘angry Jonathan’.

After 2 days of unsettled behaviour he was back to his regular self. But, he randomly mentioned one morning at breakfast “I didn’t live here before”. I asked where he lived and we talked about a couple of specific people and that now he lives here forever with mum and dad. Interesting.


It all seems very interesting that this all came up from asking him to draw a picture.
Has anybody else used different types of media or ways to chat with their kids and what was the immediate fall out? Any advice would be great!

Curious to see where the next few weeks go as I push him a bit and we bring up the idea of other moms and dads and living different places.

Dear Birth Parents

Dear Birth Parents

I wish you knew how smart he is, how funny he is, how intuitive he is. How curious, and mischievous he is. And how incredibly cute he is.
I wish you knew how hard he has to fight everyday to feel secure and safe. But man does fight for it. And he’s winning.
I wish you knew how hard he tries to sound out words, what a great natural signer he is and how much he wants to learn about absolutely everything in this world.
I wish you knew how much he is loved; not just by us, but by everyone who meets him.
I wish you knew how much happiness he brings to our family.
I wish you knew how much I wanted a little one and how lucky I feel to be raising this incredible little boy.


An Interview with Anthony


(March 2013)

I’ve been wanting to ask Anthony his thoughts on adoption for awhile now, and I finally had the opportunity this past week as we were stranded in doors by a blizzard. No school, no work, just a day to hang at home and be lazy:)

        Anthony is 11 years old and is my step son. He lives with us 50% of the time; a mixture of weekends and weekdays and we see him every morning before school when he comes for breakfast. He was the only child between Gord and I, until last year, and he is still the only child between his mom and step dad. Needless to say adopting Jonathan was a shock to his system!

        Jonathan has now been with us for 13 months and below are Anthony’s honest and unedited answers to my questions on his feelings around Jonathan and adoption.


What is the hardest thing about adopting a brother?
I like being an only child better because people pay more attention to the younger sibling.

What’s the best thing about adopting Jonathan?
That I’m not lonely anymore.

What did you think adopting was going to be like before he moved in?
I thought he would be a different age. I wanted an older sibling.

What is it actually like?
It’s interesting. It’s just that my expectations were a lot higher than they should have been. I expected him to be more mature.

What is it like having a brother with a disability?
Honestly I don’t think that being deaf is a disability. I know it effects his hearing and all, but once he has his ears (CI’s) on he can still hear and if it’s a more older person they know how to read lips and once they get older they can be more mature.

What’s the most annoying thing Jonathan does?
When he says ‘why’ repetitively.

What’s the coolest thing about Jonathan?
That he likes to play games a lot. Like hide and go seek and stuff like that.

Would you want to have another adopted brother or sister?
Yes but only if they are older, about my age and over.

Do you think it’s different having a brother who’s adopted? Or is it like any other brother?
It’s basically like any other brother, it’s just that the parents are sort of getting a head start because they are usually older than a new born.

What do you think about his birth mom and dad?
I don’t know, some parents aren’t really fit for a child like Jonathan so people shouldn’t have a child if they know they can’t take care of a child then they shouldn’t have a child.

Do you think that he’ll want to meet them one day?
Maybe if he figures out that he had a mother and father.

Do you know anybody else who has adopted brothers or sisters? Or is adopted?
One year in school there was a kid in my class who was adopted. He told us. I was like, meh, ok.

Do you have any other thoughts on adoption or Jonathan you want to share?
No. (laughs)

(November 2012)



After writing a post a few weeks ago about receiving contact information and pictures of Jonathan’s birth family from our adoption worker, I bit the bullet and wrote to his grandparents. His grandparents live about an hour or so away in another town and have adopted two of Jonathan’s brothers who are 13 and 11. The boys know about Jonathan, although have never met him.

What I thought was going to be riddled with emotion and heartache and drama, really wasn’t all that dramatic after all. I felt that it was really important to make contact with them; knowing what I know about adoption, through reading and through blogging, and learning how important that connection to history and family is, I don’t want him to miss out on that part of his life.

I think because I felt this way, when it came down to it, it was actually very matter of fact and easy to do. I was nervous the day I sent the email. Waiting for a reply, checking the email account I had set up specifically for this about, oh, 14 times or so. But then I put it to the back of my mind.

Until tonight.

I checked the account and there was a reply.

A lovely, kind and understanding reply.

Insert sigh of relief.

We had explained that because of Jonathan’s language and still settling in, we haven’t told him about their family. Yet. We explained that we thought it was important but we needed to give him time and would start explaining more to him beyond ‘mum and dad adopted you’ when we felt he was ready.

And they got it.

It’s such a positive experience, this first connection to Jonathan’s past. I hope that we can get to know each other and create relationships for Jonathan with all the people in his life that care for him so much.

Next step: send a letter to his birth mom through the adoption registry. I’m thinking that one will be a tad more emotion laden and slightly more nerve wracking waiting for a reply. Fingers crossed!