A's Story

I would like to introduce myself, I am A's adoptive mother. A is a sweet boy who is very social, loving and hard-playing. He is fun and intelligent and most of all makes me feel like smiling every time I think about him. A is 4 years old and challenges me in many ways, I think he is too clever for his own good, or perhaps it is my own good I am more worried about!

Things I had to think about before adopting A were mainly adoption issues such as acknowledging that differences are a good thing, that we can celebrate good things but we must not ignore the painful things. Adoption is a blessing as well as a burden for parents and children alike: there is a catch 22 in adoption. 'If a child is adopted, thus chosen, first he must be rejected or given away.' If we ignore the second part, we ignore half of the child's story. I see a lot of parallels in adoption stories and DSD stories. We cannot keep something quiet or ignore it and hope it goes away if it is fundamental to our character development. We have to face it square on, however uncomfortable it can be.

So, I hope if you decide to read my A's Story, you will be refreshed by my openness about sex, trust and development and not offended.

Knowledge is power, 1 July 2011 

Giving A Control, 10 September 2011

What does a willy look like? February 2012

A has a willy, but it’s different from other boys’ willies. Of course, if you lined up ten little boys and compared them to each other, not one would look exactly like the other. They may all have similar characteristics but each has his differences, too. Just like all parts of our bodies: hair, for example, has many different colours as well as other differences. Some hair is shiny, some coarse, some straight, some fine, some curly, some dry, some hair is soft and fluffy, other hair is silky. Another one is hands. Have you ever compared hands with your friends? Try it. One has long nails, one has bony fingers, one has big knuckles, one has pink skin, one has wrinkles, one has freckles, one has hair, and so on…. The differences abound. So what is the need to be exactly like everyone else? Why do we want to be ‘normal’? I can make a guess: we feel stronger when we think we know something. Knowledge is power, and it strengthens us. I know how to act around small children, but not teens. Teens actually intimidate me. Why? Because I don’t know how they will react to me. Will they assume I’m out of date, respect me, sneer at me, get shy? Teens are a mystery to me. They are unpredictable and so they make me nervous.

Let’s get back to A’s willy. Who is going to see it? His teachers? Well, in some places, if a teacher saw my son’s willy, that would be grounds for dismissal. Who will he show his willy to? His friends? Perhaps when they want to have a little contest about who can shoot their wee wee farther? When will it become something for him to worry about? Unless, A’s willy starts to give him medical problems, I expect that it won’t give him any trouble until he wants to become intimate with someone he loves. (I don’t even entertain the question of locker rooms here for one very good reason. I will have his doctor give him an exemption from using a communal locker room on medical grounds. The school will have to find a private place for him to change.) (*)

Why am I not worried about A’s physical development being a bit different? Well, because A knows his willy is different. He can see it isn’t like his daddy’s and it isn’t at all like his sister’s privates. But he also knows his hands are big with sausage like fingers. They are strong and can open bottles his sister’s hands just can’t open. His sister’s hands are long and narrow. So slim, and they look so fragile that it makes you wonder how she can even hold a pencil in them. He knows his nose is small and triangular like a bunny, while his dad has a big nose like an exotic primate in the wildlife park. If it happens that someone sees his willy and points and laughs, it will hurt him. He’ll feel bad about it. Maybe he will be so ashamed that he won’t be able to even tell me about it. But if that happens, I hope he will remember all the times I told him how we have to appreciate differences in others. How laughing at someone for being different hurts them, and people who laugh at others for being different are not really nice people we want to give much time to.

So the next time you see something on TV or in a shop or hear something on the radio that opens up the subject of conformity, take the opportunity to talk about it. Ask your child if she would like to be skinny like the cat walk model, then talk about back problems really skinny people have. When you see someone on roller skates, talk about the different ways people can get around: skateboards, cars, motorcycles, wheel chairs, canes, scooters and feet. You can talk about how if it works for you, and it’s safe, then it’s a good thing to do. Talk about how someone who has black spiky hair with pink streak in it stands out, and ask if she would like to stand out, too. Maybe ask why someone would choose to stand out and not be the same as everyone else. Talk about being different and why it’s good at every chance you can get, but don’t discuss your private parts. Why not? Because that will come soon enough and there is no reason to make your child think it’s a bigger deal than it is. There is NOTHING you can do about the fact that he is different. NOTHING. Not even surgery will completely cover up differences- for every surgery leaves scars. What you can do is show your child, at every chance you can get, that differences are ‘normal’. We see them all the time. All we have to do is look for the differences and we will see them. Less focus on similarities making us feel secure and more focus on differences giving us extra advantages will go a long way to helping your child deal with very adult issues before he’s old enough to even know there are issues like that to worry about.

(If you are letting your mind go to the question of his having satisfying sex, DON’T. Most parents try not to think about it until their kid is at least 40. It’s none of your business. But if you still worry, just remember that a lot of people think that the usual missionary position is kind of boring and there are a lot of DIFFERENT ways to have very satisfying sex…. You really don’t want me to go into it, believe me. ☺ )

(*): Among dsdfamilies.org parents we had a discussion about this: how do you deal with questions like ‘why does your child have an exemption?’. So keep an eye out for the next instalment in this series ‘What to do, what to say’.

Will he look like a girl?, March 2012

What to say, what to do…., April 2012

Swimming in Junior Infants , May 2012

The Fanny Story , November 2012