"When I was a baby, I was in your tummy, Mummy."
"No sweetheart, you were never in my tummy. You were in another lady's tummy."
"What's she called?"
"She's called *****"
"I don't know her."
"No sweetheart. You did live with her at first but she couldn't keep you safe, so you came to live with me and now I'm your forever Mummy, keeping you safe and looking after you."
I've always used the A-word around OB. Well before he could talk or understand I'd tell him a bedtime story about how he came to me and how so many of us worked so hard to make us a family. He still keeps the teddy in his bed that the adoption social worker gave us on the day of our Celebration Hearing.
So he knows he's 'dopted (as he calls it) but, as yet, he's only got the beginnings of an understanding as to what that means. And now, at three and a half, he's grasping for more.
"All my friends are 'dopted, Mummy."
"Not really, sweetheart. Most of your friends aren't adopted like you are."
"Who's 'dopted then, Mummy."
"Well, NB is adopted now isn't he?"
"Our friend ***** was adopted too. And ***** and ***** have just adopted a little girl, so she's adopted too. And Baby Girl will be adopted too, when we find her a new family. So we know lots of people that are adopted, but not everybody is adopted."
I think there are a few things that have triggered this new exploration. I've been talking a lot about how we're looking for a new family for Baby Girl, in preparation for her eventual departure. Good friends of mine have just adopted, and although he's not seen them in a while, he's obviously heard me talking. We had a visit from our own adoption social worker last week, and then the dedication of a good friend's baby, which triggered memories of OB's own dedication (which followed hard on the heels of the Celebration Hearing) and, perhaps more importantly, the cake we had for that event!
"Is Baby Girl going to have a new mummy?"
"Yes, we're looking for a new family for her."
"Am I going to have a new mummy?"
"No sweetheart. You're always going to have me!"
So far, the "couldn't keep you safe" explanation seems to be working well. I probably need to start preparing myself for when that no longer cuts the mustard.