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How to Talk With Your Children About Adoption: LOVE Makes a Real Family

EXHIBITION

We have spent a lot of time guiding our children through their adoption stories. This includes unwanted questions from their peers, and even adults. We empower them to use their words, and remember they have the strength of their entire family behind them when they are confronted with these uncomfortable and intrusive questions. We recently learned the W.I.S.E method, and I frequently remind them of this tool.

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How many of you that have biological children have sat down and talked to your children about adoption? If your not educating them, just know that they are having these conversations on the playground, or just leaving the details up to their imaginations. Here are a few comments and questions my kids have been confronted with:

  • Why didn’t your REAL mom want you?
  • My mom told me your parents were bad, and that’s why you had to get new parents.
  • How much did it cost?
  • Why are you brown and your mom is white?
  • Is THAT your brother/sister?
  • Do you know your REAL mom?

You can imagine how painful and uncomfortable these questions can be. I encourage you to please take the time to have this conversation with your children. There are many great children’s books on the subject of adoption (I caution you, every adoption story is as unique as the child, so the books are not a one size fits all).  Here are some basic points to help start the conversation:

All families are different, but the one thing they have in common is that the parents LOVE their children very much! Some families look alike, and some look very different from each other, but inside their hearts are the same.

Sometimes families with adopted children look different, because the children grew in another person’s belly, and may look more like that person.

Many children grow in their mommies bellies, but adopted children grow in someone else’s belly, while they grow in their Mommy and Daddy’s hearts.

The other person who’s Belly they grew in is called a Birth Mother, or Belly Mom.

Their REAL Mom and Dad are the ones that they call Mom and Dad and who love them. Their brothers and sisters are the ones they love, and call brother and sister.  This makes a REAL forever family.

There are lots of reasons birth moms aren’t able to care for their children and decide to give them up for adoption. This is a very difficult decision for birth moms because they love their children. Ultimately, they decide adoption is the best, most loving choice for their children.

Adopted children have another set of parents called birth parents, but this is private information, and adopted children don’t always know their birth parents or want to talk about them. Please know it is rude and potentially hurtful to adopted children to ask them about their birth parents.

Families being different is what makes us special! Let’s celebrate our differences! Can you think of other ways families are different? (This could lead to a discussion of single-parent families, grandparents as parents, same-sex parents, step-parents, etc.)

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If you would like me to talk to your family, church group or classroom, and you live in the Raleigh-Durham area,  I welcome the opportunity to help educate about adoption!

Please share this with your friends, school, and moms groups! Please do your part to educate others Thank you!

**Special thanks to my fellow adoptive Mom, Kathryn for letting me borrow some of this text!

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Oh the Things People Will Say

 

When we were in the process of adopting, our agency offered adoptive-parenting classes, during these many classes they warned us that since our family will not necessarily fit the look of a ‘traditional’ family, we may get unwanted odd and often rude comments from strangers. 

We hadn’t even left Guatemala before we received our first comment/question in the airport. It was from an older man from the United States, he was in Guatemala on a missionary project “Did you get a two-for-one deal?” I was so taken by surprise with this comment I really don’t even remember replying.

The Le Chevallier Family in Guatemala

After arriving home, a common question that we received was “Where are they from?” This bothered me and I was always quick to reply “Here” or “Why do you ask?” both in a defensive tone. Slowly I learned that most of these people were harmless, just curious and they just weren’t sure how to bridge a conversation. Some turned out to have friends or family that had adopted or some have been adopted themselves, and they enjoy sharing their story. I now answer in a friendly tone “They were born n Guatemala”. If D&L were within earshot of the question, I let them answer. 

Early on when L&D were just under 2 years old, I was at a park with a friend and her two children (an African American foster son, and an adopted Caucasian daughter).  An older gentleman was there with his grandson and he asks us “Ya’ll run a day care?” our simultaneous reply was “No, they are all ours”. 

Another frequent comment is…”Do you know anything about their Mom?” my reply is usually “Well, I am there Mom, but I do know a little about their birth mothers” If they press for more information, I just let them know that it is not my story to tell, and that story belongs to L&D. 

By far the most common question we get is “Are they brother and sister?”  People  ask this question right in front of L&D all the time, so I let them answer “Lola is Diego your brother? “ and of course the reply is always a big resounding YES!  I realize that what they are really asking is are they biological siblings, which they are not, but they most definitely are brother and sister!

At the Guatemala City Zoo

Still Holding hands!

Just this week I was with L&D and we  were at a yogurt shop and the guy that was waiting on us asked where they are from, then he asked “Do you take care of them?”, I answered in a friendly tone, half laughing “Oh I have to, they are my kids”

I have come to learn that for the most part people are just curious and they speak without really thinking.  I now always approach these questions with a very upbeat tone.  It is also a matter of education, and each question and interaction is an opportunity to teach.   As our Ohana grows, I am sure there will be more questions/comments and with that more opportunities to educate.