Keep It Simple

Talking to your child about his adoption isn't always easy.

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puppyThe other night while I was putting my four-year-old son to bed, he asked, “Was Sandy, our dog, a baby?”

Yes, she was.

“Did she grow in her birth mommy’s tummy?”

Yes, she did.

“Why does she not live with her?”

I explained to him that a lot of dogs get adopted when they are puppies and their owners become their mommy and daddy. I had a feeling I knew where this was leading.

The next question he asked was, “Does my birth mommy know my name?”

As my son gets older and starts to understand more about his story, he will just ask questions out of the blue. I never know what is going to come out. This particular night I was thankful he could not see me, because I was in tears. The simple question pulled at my heart. I try to prepare for every possible question, but sometimes I am taken aback.

It is hard to imagine how a little kid processes the whole idea of adoption. To answer his question, I said, “Yes, she does know your name.” During the first year of my son’s life we sent our agency letters and pictures for his birth mom.

He continued to ask questions about his birth mom for the next five minutes or so. Some of the questions were, “Does she have kids? Where does she live? Does she know where I live?  Is she married?”

When my son was a baby, I use to wonder how I was going to answer any of his questions without breaking down. Every time I thought about him asking questions about his adoption, I would start crying. It was so emotional for me. I was sad that he did not come from me. I was sad that I was going to have these conversations with him.

It wasn’t until three years later, when we started the adoption process with our daughter, that I learned how to cope with these emotions. Our wonderful social worker said you have to imagine these conversations with your kids. You have to be prepared for anything that comes out of their mouths. The one thing that she said that meant the most was, “It is not personal. Your child is just trying to figure his story out. They are trying to put all the pieces together.”

When children are young, they just want a very simple answer. You don’t have to go into many details right now. For example, I would not tell my four-year-old that his birth mommy took crack and was addicted to drugs. I simply would say she made bad choices. Of course when he gets older and fully understands what drugs and addiction are, I will tell him.

I believe in telling your children the truth about their birth family. Some stories are really scary and bad, but you have to tell them. Just make sure you tell them with a neutral spirit, without judgment. It is going to be hard and hurt, but I believe it is best for the child.