April 8, 2016 by CassieCravings
When my husband and I began opening up the conversation of adoption to our son, we felt like we were exploring uncharted waters. We haven’t found a ton of literature out there for preparing a biological child for a sibling who was adopted.
Even so, I dove into the challenge confidently, perhaps even arrogantly. With my undergrad work in psychology, my M.A. in education and a decade of experience in the fields of education and casework, I felt that I was prepared to answer any question that came our way.
However, I found that things are different when it is your child.
I have fumbled and promised to answer questions later. My invitation for an always open conversation many times has left me flustered when I didn’t know the answer. And I never seem to know the answer.
While I am still fumbling and am constantly surprised by the questions his inquisitive brain can invent, I wanted to share 4 questions our son has asked (so far) about birth families, specifically the birth mother.
**Please note: My answers are not necessarily correct. They were tailored to meet the needs, personality and development of my own son during the ages of 4 and 6. The answers are ever evolving. When I learn more, I share more with him. Adoption is new to the entire family.
1. Do I have a birth mama?
One’s origin is a typical exploration of preschool children. That curiosity was compounded by a sibling entering the home differently than Eli. Interesting follow-up questions came after this initial one. See number 2 for the follow up.
Our Answer: Yes, I am your birth mama. I carried and gave birth to you. That means that I am your birth mama.
2. Does the baby come out of your vagina or Birth Mama’s vagina
Kids say the darndest things, right? This particular question relates to a study we were doing over the summer about mammals. As with any question, we answered it honestly and as openly as possible.
Our Simple Answer when Eli was around 4: The baby will be born from the birth mama.
He asked again around 5 1/2, and we followed up with a more detailed answer. At that time, his grandmother had recently had surgery, so Eli was aware of what that meant and wasn’t scared of the idea: Most likely he/she will come out of the vagina , but it’s also possible that she will have a surgery called a c-section. Then the doctor helps the baby to come out from an incision in Birth Mama’s belly.
3. Why would the birth mama give her baby away?
This question is important for 2 reasons. It opens our family to discuss the complexity of adoption, and it allows us to talk about correct terms. We say “placed” instead of “give away”, for example. I never gave my son a vocabulary list of words to say or not to say in regards to adoption terms. We talk about adoption openly and often. We model positive language and work hard at using it (and acknowledge when we fail at it).
Our Answer: A baby isn’t given away. That makes it sound easy, like donating old toys. A baby is placed for adoption. It’s important to say “placed”. When you place something, you do it gently, with care and love….like placing a Christmas present under the tree.
**note: Eli says that giving away old toys is not easy and is very, very difficult.
A baby is placed for adoption because the birth family is not able to parent the child. That can be for a lot of reasons. Many times it has to do with money. It is really expensive to parent a child. If there isn’t enough money it is hard for the entire family, especially the baby. Sometimes it’s because the birth family is very young or because the birth family isn’t ready to parent. No matter the reason, it’s a really difficult choice. And it is a very loving one.
**note: Eli offered to go get baby stuff for the family to help them. He said that he wanted to our baby’s brother, but if he could help them to stay together, he would.
4. Will the birth mama and daddy be sad?
Eli has a lot of curiosity about the birth family. He has a love for them as much as he does for “his baby”. He prays for them often.
Our Answer: I think that they will be sad. I can’t imagine making the choice for another family to parent a child. Even though they are making a loving choice and the right choice for their family, it will be very, very difficult. They will grieve. We need to remember that. The day we meet our baby will be one of our happiest days, but it will be one of their hardest.
While we don’t know all of the answers and certainly cannot predict what my inquisitive little boy will say, our family wants to be open throughout the adoption process. It’s complicated and many times messy. Waiting for our child is one of our most difficult seasons in our lives, for all of us. I have found that having honest conversations with Eli has helped him to process becoming a big brother through adoption.
What questions have your child(ren) asked about adoption? How do you answer them?