I Have a Grenade, and I’m Getting Ready to Throw It
This Christmas is going to be pretty different and potentially exciting and full of drama for us. On December 25th, Mr. MPB’s parents are coming to visit for a few days. They have never traveled to visit us over the holidays, so this will be a first for everyone.
But the bigger news is that we are going to tell them we are adopting. They have no idea that we have had 5 miscarriages, and they sure as heck have no idea that we have even been contemplating adoption. You see, my in-laws are not always the most supportive of people (you can read my one other post on them here). In the past things like this have happened:
- They have suggested to other family members that they break-up because they didn’t like the couple’s choices to move to another city when the non-family part of the couple was accepted to a prestigious educational program that required a relocation and the family member chose to go.
- My mom and sister should not have been mentioned at my wedding because the focus should not have been on me and my family (FYI, my wedding was exceptionally hard for me because they were not there, and the ceremony was actually held on what would have been my sister’s 30th birthday).
- Non blood relatives (i.e. me) have not been allowed to participate in the family gift Christmas exchange because we are not “real” family.
- Step-families do not matter in the same way that blood relatives do. (i.e. much of my family does not count as they are “step’s”, and we should not choose to spend time with them at the expense of Mr.MPB’s blood relatives).
So, really, we are going to throw our figurative grenade and watch the pieces fall where they will.
In throwing our grenade and stepping out of our “closet” we are going to use the advice of Ash Beckham. (FYI, this is bar none, the absolute best TED talk I have ever watched).
Given my in-laws’ past comments and behaviours, we have zero intention of telling them the details of our struggles. But we are going to utilize Ash Beckham’s Three Package Girl Principles:
- Be Authentic
- Be Direct
- Be Unapologetic
I am fortunate going into this conversation. I am professionally trained in crucial conversations and negotiations. I can facilitate a room of 5 people or 200 people and am yet to lose control of a room during highly contentious meetings. I have had people invested in their problems cry in front me and others as they discuss the problem at hand. I have had people scream at me and tell me I have ruined their lives. I have professional training on how to calm a room down, how to use my body language and tone to include the basic dynamic of a conversation, how to create a safe space for a conversation, how to defuse tension, how to create humor at the right time, how to sense the emotion in a room and alter it or capitalizes on it. While I don’t necessarily enjoy it, I can handle a hard conversation and I can do it very well.
However, my challenge here is twofold. One, this is intimately personal for me. My professional training will help, but this is not a personal situation. I will not be able to separate my personal investment in this, which will add a unique dynamic to the conversation. Second, I am not leading this conversation – Mr. MPB is. Years ago we made a decision that we are each responsible for hard conversations with our own parents. So, I have to keep quite (which is always hard for me) and I will only step-in if needed. I’ve coached Mr. MPB on all my little tricks and techniques, but this is on him. I am scared and I am nervous because I know it won’t be easy for us.
So, here is our plan going into the conversation. First, we are going to wait until after dinner, when we are sitting in the living room having a glass or wine – the setting will be more relaxed then doing it at the dinner table. We are going to tell them the following:
- We are really excited that we are choosing to have children through adoption. We are going to repeat this like a broken record for the entire duration of their visit.
- We will not have children biologically. It is not an option. As far as they are concerned, there will be no hope of biological grandchildren. Well we know one day we may choose to try again, they do not need to know this. Biological or adopted does not matter to us, and we will not give them hope that they may one day have what they may perceive as a preferred type of grandchild.
- We will stay away from specifics and will not tell them about our 5 miscarriages at this time. If they push us on why we cannot have biological children, we will simply state that it is in the past and we want to focus on the happiness of the future. We will not discuss the why with them right now because we need to focus this on being happy, not about the hardships we have endured. Secondly, we are already dropping enough on them and while it is not a secret, it is a lot to digest in one evening. Thirdly, we suspect as we have for the last few years, that they will not be supportive of our struggles and our decisions. Lastly, and most importantly, our struggles should not be the story of our future child. Yes, it is part of our lives and forever will be, but it is not okay with us to ever present the concept that “we’ve had 5 miscarriages and are choosing to adopt because it’s a last resort” – it’s not how we feel, and we most definitely do not want to shape our children’s future in this light. Our adoption story is now our child’s story, and our excitement to have them join our lives, and that matters more than anything else! There is a time a place, and this is not it.
- It is our choice to adopt, and it is not open to discussion. There is nothing they can say that will change our decision. We will make it clear that it is their choice how they interpret and respond to our decision to adopt. They can either get on board, be excited with and for us and be part of our lives. Or, they can make the decision to say hurtful and heartbreaking things and no longer be an active part of our lives. But, this decision is fully on them, and only on them.
If it goes exceptionally badly and they start to say anything hurtful, we are prepared to cut them off and suggest that they go for a walk to calm down and come back when they are ready to discuss this without saying anything they will regret for the rest of their lives. We desperately hope it doesn’t come to that, but we are ready for it should it happen.
While Mr. MPB and I are anticipating some family drama, we are also incredibly excited to no longer be keeping secrets! When we tell his parents about our decision to grow our family, our decision to adopt, everyone will know. We know it may be hard for them to digest, so we know our few day visit could go poorly. But, we also know they may surprise us, and it may go well. And, we also know, that no matter what, there is something so incredibly liberating about getting this off our chest!
We will survive and we will move forward. One day, one moment, at a time.
And on that note, I wish everyone a wonderful Christmas. I hope others who are facing family drama, are able to see the happy moments through the clouds, even if you have to dig a little bit to find the happiness.
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