How to explain...

Anne - posted on 12/12/2008 ( 18 moms have responded )

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Our son was adopted domestically in WI. He is only 20 months old but I have been constantly thinking lately of how to approach the issue of being adopted when the time comes? My husband tells me to not worry about it now, that our son is too young to even start to ask questions, which is true. But I just can't help worry about how he will react when the time comes.... any thoughts?



Thanks!

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Ann - posted on 05/05/2009

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My son was adopted from Russia and we have been talking about adoption since the day we picked him up at the baby home at 12 months. he is now 3 and when you ask him where he was born he will tell you " russian born from mommy and daddys heart " I agree with the others that the more you mention the word adoption the better it will be for all involved. some family members get mad at us ( older generation ) for talking about it but it is what needs to be done. The other day My son got his book that i made him of our trips to Russian and the pictures that the baby home gave us and made the family member read it to him and he pointed out the judge and said " this lady helped my mom and dad take me home " You would be surprised how much they understand even at a young age.

Gretchen - posted on 03/18/2009

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I have 2 adopted daughters one 4 1/2 and one 2 1/2. We have wanted to be very open about their adoption with them both so we have tried to teach them the word adoption so it is part of their vocabulary. My 4 year old understands she grew in her birth mothers belly. My hope is if it is a natural part of their upbringing, they won't feel too different. We have also met with our 4 year olds birth mom many times and she is slowly starting to understand who she is.

Nancy Lolenese Mailoto - posted on 03/06/2009

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Your question is HOW to explain...you'll know when its time.  Just put yourself in your son's shoes, all he wants is answers to his curiosity.  I definitely agree with others here, you don't want to wait, when he is ready to ask, he is ready to receive the answer.  Just sprinkle extra love as you did when you agreed to bring your son into your life :) (Beautiful photo)

Dominique - posted on 02/28/2009

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Wow so much great advice! I can only add 2 small points. My son was adopted from Russia when he was 23 months old. He has had all of the loving language and support of so many other children on this board. He is now 7 (almost 8). He has surprised me a few times with his questions. The other day we are standing in line at the pharmacy and he announces "I wonder how that lady that grew me in her tummy is doing?" I just had to smile. Other than trying not to get flustered at moments like that...I would suggest you ask your child before sharing that he is adopted except with family and close friends. My son wanted to share (when he was ready) with his social studies class that he was born in St Petersburg Russia, not Texas.

Ronni - posted on 02/16/2009

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I was wondering if anyone has an in family adoption.  I did notice that Laura mentioned that her adoption was in family.  We adopted my little girl when she was 2 years.  It is actually my husbands niece.  She occasionaly sees her biological father.  Maybe once every two years.  She knows it is my husbands brother, but we have not told her it is her bio father.  By the way she is now 7 years.  I am not sure how to eventually tell her about her father and that her daddy is her uncle.  If anyone has a suggestion as to how and when, that would be much appreciated.



Ronni

Tia - posted on 01/29/2009

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My suggestion is pretty much the same as some others. Children's books about adoption are awesome. My favorite is "Tell Me Again About The Night I Was Born" by Jamie Lee Curtis. I have an adopted 3 year old girl (that's one of her favorite stories) and my 8 year old son was adopted by my husband. We used the word "adoption" like any other word so that it didn't come across as bad or secret. When my son asked questions, I was simple but honest. I told him that "Trevor" loved him alot but knew that "daddy" was there all the time like he should be and take care of him the way he needed to be taken care of and that he just couldn't. He didn't fully understand until he was 4 1/2 when we adopted our daughter. Then the questions came but with understanding because he related it to his own adoption. My favorite moment was when all the kids were playing and had an "adoption day" with all the dolls. It was sweet.

Teresa - posted on 01/27/2009

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We told our son when he was 5, but we have a daughter who is also adopted and is 2 years younger than our son so it helped him to understand a little bit what adoption means. He knows that we had to travel to get him, that he didn't grow in my tummy, but I'm not sure when he will really understand everything. I think it depends on the individual child and their maturity.

Kelly - posted on 01/14/2009

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Quoting Laura:



I remember that feeling of anxiety well!  I put so much pressure on myself to have it all figured out.  The best advice I got was from a psychologist who said "when she asks the questions, she is ready to hear the answers."  So we used the word adopted early on; holding her in my arms and saying; "I'm so happy we adopted you." for instance.  Well, I relaxed soon after that and yes, the questions came (sooner than you'd like them to.  They will come just when you least expect them).  I kept the answers simple, not expounding beyond the exact question that had been asked - giving her the opportunity to ask more questions.  Now she is nearly 8, knows she is adopted, knows her biological mother (who is within the family) and that's it.  It's not a story that ends with her feeling special because she was adopted or feeling lied to or... anything.  For the last year, she hasn't had any questions or comments on the subject.  That's just the way it is.  I'm sure there will be more in the future, but seeing where she's at now, I know that I can handle it by simply continuing on the path we've laid.






Great advice Laura!  As a mom to an adopted 18 yr old (7 mo at adoption) and a biological son who is now 14, I faced this challenge and more.



Adoption was never a secret, Zachary would often tell his friends he was adopted when he was younger.  It was easily part of conversation for any of us.  He rarely asked questions, but when he did we very specifically answered those questions only and did no extrapolate. And the questions do come at inopportune times most often!  The first time being when my husband was away on a business trip....not what you want to do on your own first time out fo the gate.



With Zach turning 18 recently, we this time "forced" the conversation simply because he never brings it up and hasn't for years.  We had items, cards and information that we wanted him to know we had (and gave him the option of having them any time he would like - and he's expressed no interest yet) and we also offered all the support we could give him if he wanted to start searching for his biological family.  It was the hardest conversation I've ever had to prepare myself for, and ended up reaffirming the bond we have with him, and the love we have for him - and vice versa!



Don't stress about it (and I remember those days!!), show your love and let things flow as they will.  Some times making a bigger deal out of it than it truly is to a child can just create greater doubts.



 



Good luck

Gloria - posted on 01/11/2009

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Hi, We have a 4 mths old son that was adopted domestical (from day 1) and a biological son who is 6 yrs old. So as you can imagine most of the questions come from the 6 yrs old. Adoption the word "adoption" is a part of our daily lives and my husband and I make it as "normal" as possible. We try to be open to any questions that arise but children are so remarkable and it's "ALL ABOUT APPROACH!" Children are not born with bias ideas or preconceptions about subjections it's all on how we the parents go about teaching them. You'll do fine when you'll explain anything to him! Your son will "feel" the answers to his questions don't worry about the "words" you use but the body language whenever you speak to him.  

Diane - posted on 01/08/2009

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We have 8 children 3 bio and 5 adopted. Our oldest 2 adopted children were 9 and 10 when they came to us.So, that was easy, Our youngest 3 children came as babies one at 2,one at 9 months and one at 14 weeks they are all full sibs. We have always been very open about our family structure with the kids. We told them from the very beginning that we chose them. Adoption language has been a part of our family conversation from the day they arrived. They are fortunate to have 3 older sibs in their 30's who also reinforce how blessed we are to have them in our family. For our kids the questions will be hard when they do come because of the trauma in their earliest days. We have crossed that bridge some with them as they are now 8,10 and 11.

They are chosen and all of us tell them so everyday in some way or another. We have had to do some heavy duty attachment therapy with them but it is working and we are so blessed by our children. Even on the hardest days they know that because we chose them we will always be there for them.

We only give answers that are age appropriate. When they ask about their bio mom we tell them that some moms love their children but cannot always provide a safe home for them and we are fortunate that she was able to make a decision to keep her boys safe. They have started asking about meeting her one day and we tell them that when they are 18 we will help them find her. We are putting this off as they all have RADs, ptsd and one is also on the autism spectrum. They also have 4 adopted older sibs somewhere in West Virginia. So, they have alot of procssing to do over time. Our kids are really proud of being adopted and will tell folks that we chose them.

The fun part is when we are with our oldest sons who are 35 and 33 along with our littlest sons and they all call me mom, boy do folks look! It is even better when my granddaughters are with us. What fun! Wouldn't it be grand if everyone had as much fun!

Georgia - posted on 01/08/2009

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We have just always from the beginning been open and honest about the adoption.  Being that we are caucasion and are 2 adopted daughters are african american, really didn't give us the option of keeping it a secret.



There are somethings however better left unsaid. I try to answer question as briefly as possible, the less detail needed the better.



I love to tell them how they are our chosen children and a very special blessing from God!

Laura - posted on 01/07/2009

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I remember that feeling of anxiety well!  I put so much pressure on myself to have it all figured out.  The best advice I got was from a psychologist who said "when she asks the questions, she is ready to hear the answers."  So we used the word adopted early on; holding her in my arms and saying; "I'm so happy we adopted you." for instance.  Well, I relaxed soon after that and yes, the questions came (sooner than you'd like them to.  They will come just when you least expect them).  I kept the answers simple, not expounding beyond the exact question that had been asked - giving her the opportunity to ask more questions.  Now she is nearly 8, knows she is adopted, knows her biological mother (who is within the family) and that's it.  It's not a story that ends with her feeling special because she was adopted or feeling lied to or... anything.  For the last year, she hasn't had any questions or comments on the subject.  That's just the way it is.  I'm sure there will be more in the future, but seeing where she's at now, I know that I can handle it by simply continuing on the path we've laid.

Taryn - posted on 01/01/2009

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We started reading kid-appropriate books to our daughter and let her ask her own questions. My favorite was A Blessing from Above. We just made it a matter-of-fact issue and always make her feel comfortable about anything she wants to know. Sometimes it's a bit difficult--she was forcably removed from her home due to drugs, alcohol and domestic violence, so her questions are a bit scary at times. But she's six now, and doing very well. :)

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Don't stress yourself out about it. It shouldn't be that big of a deal. We got "The Red Thread" and the "Miss Spider Books" and let our daughter ask questions when she was ready. She tells everyone now that she is special because she was adopted.

Melanie - posted on 12/27/2008

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we have 2 boys that are adopted. we got the first one when he was 15 months and then his full brother followed a few months later when he has 9 months. they are 6 and 7 now and we have always tried to be as open about the fact that they were adopted from the start and that they are our special boys and that we chose them. we have the life story books we were given by social services and they always know where they are and they get them out sometimes and we will sit down with them and talk about it. any questions they have we try to answer as best we can. try not to worry and start to introduce the subject gradually there are some good story books you can get that will help.

Suzy - posted on 12/24/2008

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We have always been very open with our daughter, speaking about her adoption since she was born. We love to talk about how great it was when she came into our lives and how we waited and wanted her for a really long time. When she was little, we toldl her her adoption story like it was a story book. She feels very loved and seems to know that she is very special to us. You have to make it a normal part of your life, don't wait for the time to "come".

Colleen - posted on 12/16/2008

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Hi

We adopted our son when he was one year old and now his is four. We started by saying that we were so happy we adopted him so the word adopted wouldn't be a forgeign word when he did start asking what it meant. He now sees people without kids and says that they should adpot.

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