This past Sunday was the one-year anniversary of the adoption date of three of our four children. Our other daughter had been adopted three months prior, on her birthday, so we celebrate March 15 for all four of them as she gets a celebration on her adoption day every year specially for her besides her adoption anniversary.
The recent events of the world have made me consider what it is that we’re not just leaving for our children, but also what it is that we’re showing them right now every day.
My children come from a different background than most. They were foster children before we adopted them, and, without going into detail on their individual histories, they had seen and experienced far more than any child should in 18 years, let alone two, as little Zaylee was when she moved into our home in 2017.
My children have been through more court hearings than many experienced criminals and spent the first few years of their lives not exactly sure where they would lay their head the next evening.
Because of that, my wife and I have never felt the need to hide the truth of the world around them. We take the time to talk with them and let them ask the questions that they need to ask, in order to understand happenings around them.
A month before they were adopted, those three siblings found out their birth mother had passed away unexpectedly.
Explaining addiction and overdose to a 4-year-old is something that many would skirt. There would be a sideways reason given to the children that they’d learn years later was not the actual truth.
That’s not how I wanted to ever have my children experience the world.
They processed these things over the days, weeks, and months to follow, and to some degree, we still process them today.
Zaylee is my youngest, and she has the personality of the baby of the family for certain. While I’d like to crack down on her behaviors sometimes, I’ll admit that she’s got me wrapped around her very little finger. You see, Zaylee is the first who ever called me “daddy” after she had moved in with us three years ago, before it was ever certain that we would be adopting her and her two siblings.
Let’s just say my heart won’t forget that one.
So when Zaylee was sent home from school last week due to a cough and a temp that barely registered above 99 (I had checked it that morning and checked it multiple times during the day and she was not over 98 the rest of the day, but alas), she wanted to know what she did wrong to be sent home from school. That set the opportunity for a talk in our family.
My wife and I talked with all four children (ages five to eight) about COVID-19 and the very real concerns and issues that surround the virus.
We discussed how they could end up having dance or gymnastics or even church events canceled due to concerns about spreading the virus. We also talked about keeping safe space for their health and the health of others.
When the governor shut down schools Friday and another conversation came because ideas for our celebration on Sunday for that one year anniversary were likely going to change, they handled it in stride because they weren’t panicking or afraid.
They knew the facts and how to keep themselves and others safe. They made good second choices for options for the special day Sunday, and rather than a buffet and bowling, we went to a sit-down restaurant with my parents and then a movie together as a family before returning home.
Little ears not only hear the words we are saying, but they understand how we’re saying those words and how we’re reacting as well. Educating ourselves to understand both the gravity of the situation at hand and a simple plan to keep one another safe shows through in a lack of stress from Mommy and Daddy.
As we live through week one of potentially more of children at home, avoiding spreading panic to the little ones is a responsibility of all of us “big people,” as Zaylee has termed adults in the past. We should not take that responsibility lightly.