When Will My Adopted Child Understand Adoption?

The answer is...

Shelley Skuster April 02, 2017
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I threw a frozen pizza in the oven and set the timer for 23 minutes.

My daughters were having so much fun playing in the front yard with pinecones and twigs that we nearly missed our window to make dinner.

Sunshine and fresh air can distract us from responsibilities like dinner time, but they certainly can do a body good.

My 3 year old gently helped her 2-year-old sister set the table with our toddler-proof, unbreakable Elmo plates. I filled sippy cups with milk, passed out napkins and the oven’s timer beeped just as my husband walked in the back door.

Pizza’s done! Daddy’s home!

The girls didn’t care about dinner as much as they cared about Daddy getting home from work. Totally understandable. For now, he ranks higher than pizza. But in 13 years we both know we may rank a little lower on the totem pole.

Big hugs and high-fives were shared with Dad while I cut slices of our freshly baked cheese pizza.

As I was cutting bite-size pieces for our 6-toothed 1 year old, I heard the pitter-pattering of our 3 year old’s little feet run into the kitchen. She looked up at me with her beady brown eyes.

“Mommy?” she said. “You have a baby in your belly.”

“I sure do! You’ll have another baby sister or maybe a baby brother in a few months!”

“Yeh! I didn’t grow in your belly. I was in Momma Tina’s belly. Kendra was in Momma Kara’s belly. And Addie was in Mommy’s belly, but now she’s out! We all grew in different bellies!” she said excitedly.

I reminded her that’s what makes us so special–that we all grew in different bellies, but now we’re part of the same family. And Momma Tina and Momma Kara are part of our family, too.

She smiled and nodded her head proudly.

And just like that, she carefully slid the final plate off the counter with her little brown hands and brought the bite-sized pizza pieces into the dining room for her littlest sister.

I starred at the counter, though–pizza cutter still in hand.

It amazes me that my 3 year old already grasps the concept of having two mother figures in her life. Our 2 year old loves looking at pictures of her birth family and our family together. And eventually, our 1-year-old biological daughter (and baby on the way) will add to the dynamic of curiosity and understanding about the unique ways our family has been formed.

I’m not sure when our daughters will fully understand the complexities of what it means to be adopted, but I do know they are constantly learning and absorbing what we tell them, especially in these early years.

My hope is that whenever they have questions or hurts or complicated feelings about being adopted, they’ll always feel comfortable talking with us–even if it’s a simple few seconds over a slice of pizza.

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of our children’s birth families.

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Shelley Skuster

Shelley is a former award-winning television journalist who traded in suit coats and red lipstick for a messy bun and yoga pants. She's a freelance writer who stays at home with her three daughters who are all ((gasp)) under the age of three and came to her via adoption and birth. She's the woman behind the blog Shelley Writes, and she can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.


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