Sharing the News

There couldn’t possibly be a more lovely and nurturing person alive than hand-stitched dad‘s aunt. She lost her hearing as an adult, following a car accident, and has responded to life’s challenges with absolute grace. Last time we visited, we told her about hand-stitched dad‘s upcoming surgery. Hand-stitched dad expressed regret that his aunt was left confused about the news while other family members asked us questions. When I asked him how he would like to tell his aunt and uncle about this news, he was adamant that his aunt should know first. We discreetly prepared a message on our iPad and waited for the right moment.

Hand-stitched dad says:

We drove down there. I was feeling nervous.  We chatted about the ‘normal’ stuff first and then we had traditional Sunday lunch. Hand-stitched mum wrote a message on our iPad: “We are applying to adopt.” We showed it to my aunt and I said we were planning on adopting. Then, we told my uncle. My aunt cooed excitedly and asked some questions.  Later, my aunt took me aside and asked me if I had wanted to adopt. I smiled and nodded.

Afterwards, we went to my cousin’s house to tell their family. This time, hand-stitched mum said we were applying to adopt. I can’t remember what they said — I was nervous!

I was less nervous than hand-stitched dad. His aunt and I spoke later; she asked quietly whether we could have kids. I looked at hand-stitched dad sitting across the room and smiled, shaking my head. She repeated herself throughout the evening: “It’s your decision.” I wondered if she thought we were asking them if we should adopt.

At hand-stitched dad‘s cousin’s house, the news was much simpler to give. I smiled around the room and said we had news to share. Our cousins smiled at us. When I said we were applying to adopt, my cousins paused. Their response was positive, but deflated and confused. I told hand-stitched dad later that they were probably expecting me to say pregnant.  Well, a child joins a family of many layers. It is a transition for all of us.

We have now told most of hand-stitched dad‘s family and none of mine.  He is more nervous about telling them than I am. We both agree what will happen: my parents will coo insincerely and nervously and then, after a few minutes of chit-chat, start asking absurd and inane questions. They may blurt out something inappropriate. And we will all itch for the awkward conversation to be over. Nothing against my parents, but they, like many people, need to be eased into things.

We are reassured that no matter what people’s responses are now, they will change when faced with our actual child rather than our plans.

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The fact that I’m a grand-uncle to an 18-month old makes me feel quite old! I’m really not that old, am I?!

As mentioned in my previous post, until a few years ago I didn’t think we’d be adopting, so I never expected that anybody would care about my experiences with children. I’d always thought that I’d just learn ‘on the job,’ so to speak. Anyway, on Mother’s day our family met at my sister’s house for Sunday lunch, so while everybody was finishing their meal and chatting, I excused myself and sat with my grand-niece while she played nearby.

At first I just watched her playing with a toy school bus and a stuffed dog. It was cute to see the attention she put in to carefully opening and closing the door of the bus each time she moved the stuffed dog on or off. The fact that the bus had no roof and the dog would have been way too big to fit though the door seemed to be of no consequence to her whatsoever.

Next she climbed inside her Little Tikes car. Rather than dashing about, she glanced around for a while, looking a little confused. I remembered seeing her in her car earlier; she had made a big play of turning the key before setting off. I wondered if she was looking for the key, so I helped her search. I found the key on a little chair at my feet. I called to her and showed her that I’d found it.  She lent though the ‘windshield’ of her car, with her hand reaching out expectantly. I too lent over with my arm stretched and handed her the key. She sat back in the seat and pretended to turn the key in the ignition before setting off around the room.

By now the family was returning from the meal and sitting in the lounge. My grand-niece parked her car and toddled over to me with an In the Night Garden book. I asked her if she could point out the Tombliboos to me (which she did). When hand-stitched mum asked her if she would would like me to read to her, she shook her head and plonked the book down on the sofa.

I looked around and found one of those shape sorter plastic ball things – you know the ones – where you have you find the right shape to fit each hole.  At first I was at a loss as to how to extract the shapes from the center of the ball; however, my nephew came to my aid and showed me how. Then my grand-niece picked up a shape and seemingly randomly tried to stuff it in to every hole.

To try and make it easier for her, I slowly rotated the ball, presented one side to her, and asked if she thought the shape would fit. After a short struggle, I’d announce that I didn’t think the block would fit and rotated the ball to show the next opening. When the shape finally popped though the correct hole, I gave a big cheer and a broad smile formed across her face. This cheering seemed to give her no end of encouragement and we hunted for the next match together.

By this time pretty much everybody in the room was watching. Much to her excitement, the next matches resulted in louder and louder cheers. Sadly however after a while, conversation had taken over in the room. As such when another block fell in to place, my grand-niece paused for the cheers, but none came. “Uh-oh,” I announced loudly, “didn’t anybody see what you did?!”  A cheer arose from the room, a smile returned, a little body relaxed and the play continued.