For hopeful adoptive parents who have children already in their home, remembering that adding to the family will have an impact on everyone can help the transition for all to be smooth. We had a 9-year-old and a 4-year-old when we were blessed with a 5-week old baby placed in our care. Children’s limited life experience means that they’ll have basic questions—things we may not think to explain if they don’t ask. So I sat down with a six-year-old recently. Following is the interview, with this bright little boy (my grandson) as the interviewer, myself and my son as the interviewees.
Gage: What’s an adoptive mom?
Me: An adoptive mom is a real mom whose child didn’t grow inside of her, but inside of another woman. An adoptive mom loves her children just like your mommy loves you.
Gage: Where did you find Uncle Bryan? Was he on your doorstep?
Me: No. Actually, Bryan wasn’t abandoned. His birth mother (the woman who was pregnant with him) was very young. She loved him very much and she wanted Bryan to have both a mommy and a daddy. She hoped the family he would have would raise him to believe in God and to be happy. She didn’t get to choose his family, but she believed that the government would make a good choice for her. When he was first born he went to a foster family who took care of him for five weeks. Then he came to our family. We first met Bryan when we went to the government office. The person in charge of making sure he was taken care of brought him into the room. He was in a car seat and had lots of dark curly hair. He was so cute and I couldn’t wait to hold him, but I thought I should wait until the lady in charge told me I could. When I picked him up he looked in my eyes and I loved him right away. Your mommy was just 4 and she came with me because Grandpa was at work. So she got to be one of the first ones to see Bryan. He didn’t have a name yet, and she wanted to name him King Kong.
Gage: Why did Uncle Bryan’s birth mother choose not to keep her baby?
Me: There was no one to be his daddy and she really wanted him to have one. Also, she felt like she didn’t have the things he needed. Her life was kind of hard and she didn’t want him to have a life like hers. So she decided that it would be better for him if he was in another family.
Gage: Uncle Bryan, are you happy that you’re adopted?
Bryan: Yes. It’s great being adopted. There are lots of reasons. One of them is that I get to live in America where I have lots of opportunities to become whatever I want to be. I lived in another country for a while and that made me even more grateful to have grown up in America. Also, I know my birth mother didn’t feel like she could take care of me, and my mom and dad did take care of me. I love my family and am glad I was adopted.
Gage: Do you miss your parents?
Bryan: I never knew my birth parents. But I know my birth mother now. I met her a couple of years ago. She’s very nice. I haven’t met my birth father. But because I never knew them, I don’t miss them.
Gage: Grandma, was he sick when you found him?
Me: Bryan was a healthy, chubby little baby who was so cute we could hardly stand it! He didn’t live in an orphanage like you might imagine. He was born in a hospital then lived in another family’s home before he came to us.
Gage: Were you happy when you got him?
Me: Getting Bryan was one of the happiest things that’s happened to me. We prayed for a long time for the right baby to come to us, so when Bryan came we felt so good and happy.
Gage: What is his birth mother’s name?
Me: It’s Joy. Isn’t that a perfect name for her? She gave Bryan the life she wanted him to have and she gave us Bryan. It makes me smile to know her name is Joy.
Gage: Is Uncle Bryan allowed to kiss his birth mother?
Me: Yes! When he met her he hugged her. He’s so thankful for her. She made good choices and Uncle Bryan is so glad that she loved him enough to give birth and to give him to a family who also loves him. So when he sees her he gets to hug her and kiss her if he wants to.
Gage: Uncle Bryan, are you ever sad that you’re adopted?
Bryan: No. Never. I’ve never been sad that I’m adopted. I’m so happy that I get lots of love from my family. I love my life.
Your kids may ask different questions. Gage is no stranger to adoption—he has several adopted cousins besides an adopted uncle. Even with adoption feeling so normal to Gage, he still had a lot of questions, so certainly children who haven’t been exposed to adoption will have many as well. If your kids don’t ask questions then you can spark discussions by asking what they think about certain things. That’s sure to begin discussions that will be meaningful, enlightening and even funny.