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

EXHIBITION

It’s National Adoption Awareness month! I thought it was a perfect time for this post. How many of you that have biological children have sat down and talked to your children about adoption? If your not having the conversation with them, they are having conversations on the playground, or just leaving the details up to their imaginations. Here are a few comments and questions my kids have had to deal 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.

Their REAL Mom and Dad are the ones that they call Mom and Dad (their adoptive parents), that they live with now 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 would be more than happy to!

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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Mother’s Day: A day of heavy reflection

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Mother’s Day is supposed to be filled with homemade gifts, breakfast in bed, smiles, kisses and love. This is true for me…I am so fortunate to have all these things. But with this day also comes heavy reflection.

Mother’s Day has become a day of mixed emotion for me. As the days until Mother’s day slowly close in, I feel my heart getting heavier and heavier. I don’t take this day lightly:

A child born to another woman calls me mom.

The depth of that tragedy,

and the magnitude of the privilege are not lost on me

~Jody Landers

I think about each of my children; their uniqueness, their smile and laughter, and then I think of the their “Belly Moms” that gave them the gift of life, but will never know that sound of their laughter, or see the smiles across their faces. It is difficult for me to fully celebrate this day knowing that somewhere there are three women mourning their loss.

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Losing Mateo

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Diego

I have only spoken of this to a few people. I guess it’s the kind of thing you hold in your heart, and carry there…always. You don’t talk about it, because it’s become nothing more than a sad memory and irrelevant.

We had been home from Guatemala for about a month. Lola was 16 months old and Diego was 13 months old. Our Agency called us; “Were not sure how to tell you this, but Diego has a new little brother”. “Wow, just wow”. Of course we said yes to the baby. But then reality set in International adoption is expensive (yes the rumors are true). Two International adoptions were very expensive. But, a third International adoption? How would we make this happen?  Our agency was great, offering to help with the expenses of a third adoption, and doing what they could to support us.

I began, planning and organizing our life with this new baby. We named him Mateo, after the city in California, San Mateo (like San Diego). We would need a bigger car, we would move Lola into her own bedroom, and begin accommodating Diego’s room to welcome their new brother. The weeks that followed we were in touch with our agency but news was few and far between. Until one day I got a call that the bio-Mom had changed her mind. That the Lawyer we had worked with was helping her get into a program where she could keep her baby.

My heart filled with sadness. Sadness, because I knew what a beautiful gift Diego was, and a biological sibling was sure to be just as beautiful of a gift. Sadness because I knew the part of Guatemala City that he would be growing up in, and because of this, he would probably grow up fast, and miss out on his childhood (if he even makes it to adulthood).  Mostly sadness, because I had already allowed Mateo to grow in my heart. The technical term for this is called an adoption interruption. But it was a loss to me.

I am sure that placing Diego with us was the most difficult thing that his bio-mom had ever had to do, and faced with going through that pain again was unbearable, and so she asked for help this time. Help to keep her baby.

I think of Mateo often. I think about how old he is now, I hope that he was able to start Kindergarten this year, and hope he is growing up happy, healthy and safe. I hope that he’s not experiencing a life that is full of fear, poverty or hunger. And, although he knows nothing of me, I will continue to love him, pray for him and think of him often. For once a child begins to grow in your heart, there is nothing you can do, they will live there…always.

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Vanilla Care, Chocolate Hair

Vanilla Care, Chocolate Hair. I can’t take credit for these words, it’s actually a really great blog that teaches white Mama’s how to care for black hair.

When T & Bug came to us, Bug’s hair was a braided mess, and T’s hair was starting to ‘lock up’. Georges took T and had his hair cut real short. That was easy.

I posted on facebook asking for advice on how to take out the braids. One of my great friends posted a website that takes you through how to take out the braids. I read several blogs and one thing that I learned is just how important the care of black hair is. What I mean by that is how other ‘Mama’s’ will judge the care of your little girl, by the care of her hair (correct me if I am wrong).  So this new information just added to the pressure of learning how to do Bug’s hair.

I took a trip to Target and was completely overwhelmed by all the products, I got some great advice from another mama that saw the bewildered look on this white mama’s face.

I washed and conditioned Bug’s hair, then I brushed it into a ‘poof’ on top of her head and finished it with a bow. Since then I have switched between two poofs and one poof.

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I have had several Moms tell me how much work it is if it’s not braided and I ought to just braid it.  To be honest, I enjoy the time we spend every morning brushing out her hair, as she brushes her baby-dolls hair.

On the first visitation with Bugs bio-mom, she seemed concerned that Bug’s hair was not in braids. On the second visit she actually brought beads and bands to braid her hair during the visit.  I don’t know if I am doing something that is viewed ‘wrong’, but as I said the time  I spend brushing out Bug’s beautiful ‘cotton candy’ hair is time that I love, how can that be wrong?

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My sweet little girl turned 6 last weekend. Her birthday was filled with friends, cake, and much celebration. I don’t think she stopped smiling even for a moment. As a mother, this warms my heart more than anything.

Every year on her birthday, we celebrate, laugh and sometimes even dance! But, I can never seem to get through the day without my heart feeling a little heavy. I am always stopped by my thoughts of a women far away, remembering this day with sadness in her heart. What has become one of the happiest days of the year for our family, is sure to be the saddest for her. This amazing women, that chose life, who carried her beautiful girl for 9 months, and then with all the love she had, she gave her to this mami that was waiting with open arms.

I always look at L on this day and think how proud her birth mama would be of her. I think of all the unanswered questions she must be thinking on this day. So, I silently answer her question…”Yes, she is loved, with all the heart and soul a Mami can give”.

Everyone talks about the miracle of birth, and it truely is a miracle. But what I have experienced is the miracle of adoption, how we opened our hearts…listened and found our way to a child!