Last night, Matthew, Isaac and I had a conversation. It was a conversation that, as an adoptive parent, I knew I would be a part of at some point. I was prepared for the conversation, but I wasn’t prepared for how it made me feel. It went something like this.
Isaac: Mom, when can we go on a trip to Korea?
Me: I don’t know, Buddy. I was thinking maybe when you and Matthew are about 8 or 9 it would be a lot of fun to go. Wouldn’t that be fun, guys?
Isaac: YES! I give that TWO THUMBS WAY UP!
Matthew: No! I go to Korea BY MYSELF.
Me: You don’t want me to come?
Me: You don’t want Isaac to come?
Me: You don’t want Daddy to come.
Me: So you want us to stay at home while you go to Korea by yourself.
Me: Do you want to live there?
Me: Well, you’re just a kid. Who will take care of you and make your food for you?
Isaac: Mom, this conversation is making my heart feel very sad. Make Matthew apologize.
Me: Matthew doesn’t have to apologize if this is how he feels. Now Matthew, you can go live anywhere you want to when you are a grown up. Anywhere in the world! But for now, you have to live with us. And when we take trips, we will all take trips together. Because we are a family, and it is mommy and daddy’s job to always take care of you. And Isaac, you can also live anywhere in the world that you want to live when you grow up.
Isaac: Well, even when I grow up, I want to live with you, Mommy.
Me (feeling antsy about both of my children’s choices at this point): we can talk about that when you get closer to growing up.
Matthew: Well, I will live in Korea!
Isaac (very dejectedly): I give that two thumbs waaaaaay down.
Then we started talking about something else.
I really felt like Matthew was doing a little bit of fishing here. I don’t negate any of his feelings about Korea or any desires to return there one day, but a part of me thinks he was hoping I may lay on the floor, gnashing my teeth and begging him to love me more…….choose me over Omma……our home over Korea. And I didn’t…..even though my heart was faintly throbbing and I was trying not to register anything but mild curiosity in my expression.
Later on that night, while the boys were cleaning up their toys, Jason and I were in the kitchen talking. Matthew brought a toy in the room with us and played with it in the floor for a minute. Then he got up to leave the room and said on his way out, like an afterthought–I gonna live here.
I guess this is my cue to steel myself for these kinds of conversations. The fact is that I truly believe that this particular time was Matthew feeling me out, wanting to know if I would freak out, beg him to stay, or simply tell him that was not an option. But one day, he may come to me without any ulterior motives. He may genuinely tell me he wants to go to Korea…for an extended period or permanently. He may tell me that he wants to begin a search for his birth family and that he wants me to help him (or that he wants to do it himself and I am strictly forbidden to be a part of it).
And all of that is fine. And normal. And expected. But the fact of the matter is, while these conversations are all healthy, they don’t necessarily give me the warm fuzzies. But that’s not really what matters anymore.
My job now is to nod. To listen. To do my best to understand. And to keep the tiny fractures in my heart to myself.