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Life story/talking about adoption etc

(11 Posts)
Magslee Wed 18-Sep-13 20:08:17

Hi All
I'm wondering if anyone can give me some advice about how/when to explain about adoption. My son is 2.9 and has been with me for 9 months. I have talked to him now and then about the basics of being adopted and that he has a birth/tummy mummy and also me. I also have some of the story books. I haven't got his life story book yet because of a very slow sw and an uncooperative former fc.

I find myself just randomly and a bit suddenly talking about adoption to him as it never really comes up naturally. The difficulty is that DS has speech delay so he doesn't talk about the past and can't really ask questions and it is very hard to know what he understands from what I tell him. I think his understanding is probably pretty normal for his age and it would be really helpful to know other children of his age say or ask about adoption (if anything).

Also, how do you go about it? Do you just bring it up now and then? or have a special time to talk? How often is adoption mentioned etc? I want to create that sense for him of always having known he is adopted and also that it is ok to talk about his birth family etc. but I don't know if I am just confusing him at the moment.

Any thoughts much appreciated
Thanks very much

Doodlekitty Wed 18-Sep-13 20:10:53

I was nearly 19 when I found out I was adopted. It hit me like a sledge hammer and really sent me a bit off the rails for a while. I really wish they had told me earlier as it made no difference to me. It was the hiding it that got to me

Devora Wed 18-Sep-13 23:48:10

I don't know if there is a perfect way - because the communication is not really two-way at this stage, so it's impossible to know if you're pitching it right.

My dd has just turned 4, came to us at 10 months. I started talking to her about adoption before she turned 2 - with the aim of her not being able to remember a time when it wasn't openly discussed. But yes, it did often feel clunky.

I used to show her her life story book - which isn't great quality, due to similar issues as yours. But you could make one yourself? Or make it with him?

I also used to occasionally find excuses to bring it up. Or my older child would talk about it (often in just the wrong way, so I'd be torn between encouraging her and trying to shut her up).

She's now old enough to be talking about it herself. She refers to her birth parents by name, and if she hears the term adoption she says, "I'm adopted!" And she loves looking at the photos in her life story. But still, it feels slightly awkward and I'm not sure how much she is really understanding.

I read somewhere that the full meaning of adoption doesn't really dawn on them till the age of six. Until then, I think we may need to just be realistic about what we can hope to achieve - just keep it out there so that it isn't ever a shock and they know that this subject isn't off-limits.

Doodlekitty, I'm so sorry for your experience. These days adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to be as open as possible, and I hope that far fewer people will go through the trauma you experienced.

JammieMummy Thu 19-Sep-13 11:05:03

Our DD is 3 and to be honest it is a bit hit and miss! Sometimes she will say "I am adopted" but the other day she said "Mummy I am not adopted I am a big girl" as if somehow you could only be one and not the other! confused

We have some toys out that her birth parents bought her, I will occasionally say "X (BM's name) bought you that" when looking through photos a few months ago I told her X and Y were her birth parents she was very insistent that she only had one Mummy (me) and that was the baby DD's mummy. She understood the baby was her and she had grown in X's tummy but refused for her to be referred to as BM so now we call her X.

The other way we bring it up is through friends ("we are going to see S today, he is adopted like you") and comparisons our dogs are adopted, Stich (from Lilo and Stich) is adopted, family isn't blood it is love etc. She has been helped by the fact we have recently had DS placed with us and at nursery the other day there was a tiny baby there and one of the staff said to DD "do you remember when DS was that small" she went very quiet and looked rather unsure of herself, then didn't answer the question, so we know she knows but she doesn't like it discussed too often, I hope it is because she is just happy living her life.

I do think books are a great thing as it removes the pressure from them and makes it about someone else while still explaining what is going on. I think it will always feel a bit false though as there are so many emotions wrapped up in it, it is never going to be easy to talk about (or at least not for a while). I think the fact you are even trying now is a great thing!

TeenAndTween Thu 19-Sep-13 11:11:35

Dd2 came at 2.5 and it is only since she turned 8 that she has really asked us any questions. I think it sounds like you are doing fine, just drop it in as and when eg towards Christmas 'Jesus grew in Mary's tummy, you grew in XXXs', Court date 'today we are celebrating becoming a forever family' etc. You don't need to say much, just keep the information 'live'.

Doodlekitty Thu 19-Sep-13 14:51:56

I know my mam bought me a cabbage patch doll because they came with an adoption certificate but then couldn't bring herself to explain. I agree that the best thing is to keep the information 'live'. Apparently my mam tried to but then I started to bury it and she couldn't bring herself to contradict me

Kewcumber Fri 20-Sep-13 10:04:49

Ah just read - India closed but China and Philippines special needs programmes open

Kewcumber Fri 20-Sep-13 10:06:39

Sorry wrong adoption thread!

sparrowfart23 Sat 21-Sep-13 00:13:02

Our DD is four, came to us at 13 months. Initially, I felt that it was a little artificial bringing up adoption with her, but found it helped me just to get used to how I wanted to communicate with her about it, even if she didn't really understand. IMO, getting into too much detail about the process/circumstances isn't helpful earlier on with little ones.

DD has in the last year started to initiate getting her "baby books" (her life story book and her photo album from foster carers) out to look at. She knows she has a birth mother and a birth father, but I don't think she really understands what that means. Recently she asked me (or maybe just stated) about growing in my tummy, and I said 'no, you grew in your birth mother's tummy'. She just accepted that and I could see her processing it, but she didn't ask for more explanation. She likes to look at the photos from the day she was born, and those from when she met mummy and daddy. When she says she has eyes the same colour as mine, I say, 'Yes and you have the same colour eyes as your birth mother too'.

For me, it is about being open to talking about adoption and how our family came to be, but I don't want DD to feel bombarded with messages about how she is different. If you just bring it up occasionally, or comment on it when it comes up, I think that's fine for now esp as your DS is quite young. As long you initiate opportunities to talk about his adoption, he will ask you about things when he is ready for it (at least that is what I am hoping for with DD)!

morethanpotatoprints Sat 21-Sep-13 00:23:20

Hello OP, I was told I was adopted long before I understood what it meant and before I started school. I would imagine that would be nursery/pre school now.
My parents wanted me to know and be prepared in case anybody said anything at school and they did......
It was never a big deal and made me feel special because I believe I was given just enough info to deal with in an age appropriate way.
I can't really remember what they said but that's the point, it wasn't anything drastic.
I think if you bring out the specialness of his coming to you it will benefit him immensely in the long term.

Tillymint2u Fri 11-Oct-13 14:11:22

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