Introducing your child to adoption early can mean different things to your family. I remember reading adoption storybooks to our first child as a newborn and having a hard time talking about his beginning. I kept reminding myself that he couldn’t really understand me yet. Thank goodness I have some time to practice before he does. Adoption is the only thing he has ever known. With our second child, this is a little bit more complicated. She is older and remembers her life before us. Introducing her to adoption is completely different, so here are some things that we are doing right now in our family.
1. Read children’s adoption storybooks.
This is a bit overused, but I think it really helps. Surrounding yourself with quality adoption-themed books will help you become more comfortable talking about adoption. It will also make the idea of adoption routine for your child. My bonus advice is to read the books first. Make sure the books you buy align with your views of adoption. I also think that exposing your children to different types of adoption will help them appreciate the differences, even within the adoption community.
Here are some that I like:
A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza
Jovi’s Path by Jodie C Coon
Tummy Mummy by Michelle Madrid-Branch
We Belong Together by Todd Parr
Megan’s Birthday Tree by Laurie Lears
2. Surround them with other families built through adoption.
Everyone wants to fit in. Kids especially want to be like their peers. By creating a community of families that look like yours, you are reinforcing the idea that adoption is a way to build a family. How do you find these other families? You can look on Facebook for adoption or transracial playgroups. Join a support group.
Look around you and ask around about programs that might be available for you. For example, our pediatrician has a teen-only support group. Our foster agency has a mentor program that has been a really great resource. Our social worker matched us up with another family who is a little further along on a similar path to ours. If you are having trouble finding new adoption friends for yourself and your kids, ask your adoption professional for help.
3. Make a book of their story just for them.
We had a hard time figuring out how to talk to our second child, who was nearly three when we met her. Explaining why she was living with us at an age-appropriate level was difficult. The adoption/foster care storybooks I had either didn’t really fit her situation or weren’t focused enough for her to grasp.
My husband made a her a children’s book specifically tailored to her and her story. She is VERY into mermaids and princesses. He created a narrative that walked a mermaid princess through her big moves, starting with her birth parents to known placements and to us and our family. It’s a vague but happy tale and it creates a relatable character for her.
4. Go to an adoption celebration.
This could be a bit tricky if you are not an active participant in your local adoption community. Our foster care support group does a cake, ice cream, and cupcakes to honor newly created forever families at our monthly meetings. In addition, if you do happen to create some friendships through a mentor program, playgroup, or support group, most people have an adoption party following the finalization hearing.
One thing that we are doing differently, since welcoming our second child, is acknowledging our son’s adoption day. We are still working out the language, but we see it as an opportunity to talk about how important adoption is and celebrate how special our family is.
If you are looking for ways to introduce your child to adoption, I hope this helped. And I would love to hear other ways you have introduced adoption to your children.