When our children were young and our adopted son was preparing to go to kindergarten, we all of a sudden realized that he would be in situations where he’d have to talk about adoption. We wondered: Have we prepared him well enough? What will he be asked, and how will he answer? How will he feel about those discussion?
Thankfully, Bryan had a healthy understanding of adoption and not much extra work needed to take place. Being multi-racial in a white family, it was obvious that Bryan was adopted. So questions were sure to come. If we had had to “cram” for those impending questions, the results might have been disastrous. In retrospect, I’m grateful for the five years of preparation before he entered school. And that would be my advice to adoptive parents: Prepare and help your child prepare every moment of every day. How do we do this?
- Have an atmosphere of openness in your home. This means that you, as parents, should talk openly about adoption and with a feeling of gratitude and pride rather than shame and secrecy. Additionally, creating an atmosphere where your child or children are comfortable talking with you about everything is essential. This means they should not be ashamed to tell you when they mess up. Rather, they should feel contrite, but not afraid or ashamed. When that relationship exists, they will talk with you about adoption too. They’ll be more likely to ask questions about where they came from and why. When your child is comfortable, feeling like all of their questions have been answered, they will not feel ashamed or embarrassed when their peers ask questions. They’ll openly educate their friends about adoption and can actually do much good!
- Invite conversations about adoption. Sometimes adoption is so much of a non-issue for the children that it is never really discussed. So parents should be intentional about bringing up the topic occasionally. When involved in an open adoption, it’s a little easier because of conversations with birth parents, receiving packages, etc. But in a closed adoption, parents should consciously plan times and ways to discuss some aspect of adoption and then be open enough to share honest answers to any questions your children may have.
- Speak positively and openly about adoption to other in front of your children. Let them hear you answer friends and strangers when they ask about your child’s situation—even if those questions are ignorant or inappropriate, your response could build your children’s confidence and help them know how to answer similar questions when the time comes. Be unapologetic in your bold responses and always give a positive spin to your answer.
When your child grows up observing your comfortable feeling with adoption, he/she will automatically assume the same sort of attitude. This will be monumental in preparing your children to respond appropriately when peers ask questions of them.