It always seems to be unholy early in the morning, before my morning coffee, that my kids have the audacity to ask the absolute strangest questions. Just today, my six-year-old asked me “Why are our noses in the middle of our face?” Last week, my seven-year-old daughter asked, “Do you need a license to drive a sandwich?” First of all, What? Lastly, Why? These questions come fast and often. Not only ridiculous but often almost impossible to answer. Then there are other times where kids may ask questions that are “hard” not because the question cannot be answered, but rather because it is about a sensitive subject. Adoption is one such subject that brings up tough questions. These questions can range from personal to complex. These questions may not always have an easy or age-appropriate answer. However, it is valuable to find a way to answer these questions in a way that is not only age-appropriate but protective of all involved. 

“Why Wasn’t I In Your Belly?” 

This is the most common and also arguably the most heartbreaking question I get from my kids. I believe this stems from the fact that some of my children are biological and some are adopted. Though we are all a part of open adoptions, the fact that they were not born from me is the differentiation that seems to speak the loudest. All of my children have inquired about their birth stories and we have discussed them openly. However, adoption obviously has a different feel and all adoption stems from loss regardless of the circumstances. We do not shy away from the age-appropriate realization of this loss and we also do our best not to deviate from the truth. 

When this question is asked, we try to address where the question is coming from and remind them of their birth stories. The question is asked more than once not because they do not remember the answer, but rather because they may be feeling insecure in some manner. It may not even have anything to do with the actual question, but just a general feeling of instability. We try our best to get to the root of the problem with reassurance and understanding. 

After reminding them of their birth stories, we talk about all of the love they have in their life. We do talk about hard truths, but we try to focus on the similarities and the connection they have with their siblings. I try my best to reiterate that all of my children, biological, step, or adoptive, were born in my heart. Their births were an amazing gift, but a physical process. It is about their life and their place as a part of our family. No matter their birth story, it is simply a story of how they came into the world. Our connection started from a deeper place and continues to grow daily. 

“Why Couldn’t They Keep Me?”

While this question may seem just as heartbreaking as the previous, it usually comes from a surprisingly upbeat and innocent space. It is not typically from a place of sadness as they already know their adoption story. We have never been shy about it in order to make sure there is no sense of shame but rather pride over their story. However, we also recognize that there is loss in adoption. For this question, it is often about addressing that loss while also celebrating the gift of adoption and their biological family. 

If one of my children asks why they were placed for adoption, we discuss the age-appropriate facts first. For our situation and age group, it is as simple as “your family loves you and were not able to parent. They wanted to keep you safe and the best choice for that was adoption.” As they get older, we will delve more into the bigger story. However, we have found that our children will ask questions as they are ready to hear the answers and are more capable of understanding. We will always answer their questions with age-appropriate honesty. 

“Why Doesn’t Everyone Adopt?”

This question has been asked by all my children, both biological and adoptive. For them, adoption is their normal. My children are all close in age and understand that families look different. Some have different parents, lots of parents, or only one parent. Some families are not all the same color and some families are. Some children come from their mom’s bellies and some from their birth mom’s belly. The moral of the story is adoption is our normal. 

As it is our normal, it is often hard for them to comprehend why adoption is not everyone’s normal. For some of our kids who are old enough to understand, it is hard to think about there being kids in foster care, waiting to be adopted. With this, it only makes sense to wonder why people are not lining up to adopt. While this question may seem like an easier one to answer, it is actually quite hard. There are many reasons why people choose to adopt and many reasons why they choose not to adopt. In the end, it is up to us as an adoptive family and as simply good humans to advocate for these kids and educate others on the need for forever homes.
There are a million questions my children have asked and will continue to ask about adoption. I have a million unanswered questions, many of which will still need to be answered through experience. Some of these experiences will be hard and likely lessons made out of errors in parenting. The adoption journey is nothing if not a learning process. However, the commitment I made when becoming an adoptive parent includes being a lifelong learner. I owe it to all of my children to be constantly learning and to do better, be better. If I do not have the answer to a question, it’s my duty to admit that and help guide them the best that I can to find what is right.