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What do I say to adopted DD age 3 when

(32 Posts)
BonkersinHonkers Sun 01-Jun-14 15:40:11

She starts talking about babies in Mummy's tummy and "when I was a baby I was in your tummy, Mummy". She knows she is adopted but obviously not what this means in itself. Help.

Pr1mr0se Sun 01-Jun-14 15:59:26

Hi, firstly well done on talking to your daughter so early about her adoption. My parents didn't manage it until I realised I looked different to them when I was seven and you're doing well.

Firstly it might help if you find out from her where she has picked up this idea from, a friend, or television or a book and that might help you get some context. You might be creating an ackward conversation for yourself when in fact this can wait until she's older. If you can avoid for now I would.

If it's unavoidable, to answer your question, from my perspective as an adoptee, I would approach it something like this...

You can then explain the difference e.g. you were in another lady's tummy, she gave birth to you but as she was unable to look after you when you were born she decided to gave you to mummy and daddy.

I'm afraid even as an adoptee myself that's the best I can come up with. I realise that might raise yet more questions.

Good luck. I hope you can put off this conversation for a bit longer.

RhinosAreFatUnicorns Sun 01-Jun-14 17:14:05

DD has just turned 3 and has been talking about this for the past couple of months. A nursery worker was pregnant so she knew that babies came out of tummies. She also requested a baby sister!

My explanation was that babies do grow in ladies tummies, but she didn't grow in mine. She was in another lady's tummy, but that lady couldn't look after her and keep her safe, and mummy and daddy wanted to look after her, so she came to us after being with her FC.

She asks for a little sister quite often and I explain that mummy doesn't have babies in her tummy. She seems okay with this, I think and hope. We are getting lots of requests to look at photos of her during the introductions week, particularly after such conversations, so it seems as though she is working through something in her head.

We have started to talk more and more about adoption with her, as more opportunities like this come up. I never know whether I am saying too much or not enough, so understand where you are coming from.

KristinaM Sun 01-Jun-14 18:00:29

You didn't grow in my tummy, you grew in another lady's tummy, her name is X

She had a lot of problems and couldn't look after a baby properly.

So you went to live with Y and Z ( foster carers) and then you came to live with us and we became your mummy and daddy. Now we will be a family for ever.

KristinaM Sun 01-Jun-14 18:03:42

When she is a little older , she might ask what problems BM had and you answer honestly .

Eg she took drugs /drank too much alcohol which meant that she couldn't look after a baby properly . She forgot to feed you /left you alone /forgot to bathe you.

Eg she had a BF who hit her and he might have hit you or hurt you

KristinaM Sun 01-Jun-14 18:07:59

Then when she is older, she will ask you why BM didn't do something about these problems eg stop drinking, leave BF.

Again, you should answer as honestly as possible.

You also need to explain why she wasn't placed with her extended family .

You should make sure that she has ALL the information you know about her background before she hits puberty. The more difficult the story is the more important this is .


KristinaM Sun 01-Jun-14 18:14:01

Remember to allow her to talk about her feelings or those of her birth mum. It's ok for her to feel sad and have a sense of loss. That's where adoption starts for everyone involved -child, birth family and adoptive family -they all start from a point of loss.

Don't feel you have to push an agenda of " well we were so happy to get you, let's not feel sad about it, we should all be happy now "

One doesn't cancel out the other. It needs to be about your child's needs for information and to give her space to discuss how she feels .

CharmQuark Sun 01-Jun-14 18:35:19

What about:

"aha! all babies do grow inside a mummy's tummy, but being adopted means that you grew in another lady's tummy instead of my tummy, and then I adopted you and I'm your Mummy. She was your tummy mummy and I am your at home, live with you, cuddle you, snuggle you Mummy!"


"the lady who grew you in her tummy wasn't able to look after babies and children, so she found a new mummy to be your forever mummy. Daddy and I couldn't make a baby grow in my tummy (or whatever explanation) and I wanted a little girl very vey badly, so I adopted you and you are my forever daughter".

KristinaM Sun 01-Jun-14 19:47:09

Charm quark -in the UK, Birth mothers very rarely find the adopters themselves, unless it's a relative. Usually adopters are recruited and children are placed through an adoption agency

CharmQuark Sun 01-Jun-14 20:00:54

Well, true.
I would introduce social services and an adoption agency a bit older than 3 tho'.

Maybe. (I mean at 3 if the 3 year old seemed interested. But my instinct is only to answer within the boundary of the question asked, and then answer the next stage when asked, iyswim. So the whole convo might be in stages)

Disclaimer: My experience is half a generation old... and within the immediate family rather than me

UnderTheNameOfSanders Sun 01-Jun-14 20:36:04

What Kristina said.

We never said Social Services we said SW-Name as in:
BM couldn't look after you and keep you safe so you had to live with FC-Names, and then SW-name looked really hard to find you a forever Mummy and Daddy and she found us.

KristinaM Sun 01-Jun-14 20:55:01

I agree, I wouldn't introduce social workers and agencies at 3 either. But I wouldn't say anything untrue, such as BM found APs ( unless she did of course )

And I totally agree that this is not one conversation, its many stories and conversations told over years, getting more complex and in depth as a child asks more. By the time they are 12 or 13, they might be discussing complex issues such as the nature of addictions, mental health problems, domestic violence, poverty, homelessness , racism ,abuse, etc

Most of these conversations will happen at totally random and unexpected times, probably as you are negotiating a busy junction or traffic jam or about to dash out to work

UnderTheNameOfSanders Sun 01-Jun-14 20:57:40

(We used SW-Name as she was still involved & visiting at it took 15 months to get to court so DD2 knew very well who she was. Also photo of her in life story books)

ReetaSkeeter Sun 01-Jun-14 21:57:20

Hi, first post here. My AS is also 3. He knows he's adopted but who knows what he understands that to mean. We've had the same conversations and he now tells everyone he grew in x's tummy but grew in my heart. At his current age that satisfies him for now. In fact his nursery friend got all upSet wishing he'd grown in his mummy's heart not her tummy!
I know more complex discussions will come but this works for him for now.

BonkersinHonkers Mon 02-Jun-14 02:49:32

Thanks everyone, that's really helpful.

Sharon09108 Mon 02-Jun-14 21:45:53

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

OurMiracle1106 Tue 03-Jun-14 09:34:44

Be honest. You grew in another woman's tummy but she couldnt look after you so a nice foster carer called x looked after you until you came to live with us and we became your mummy and daddy.

Also as a note as to why bm didnt get help with her problems some like myself were and still am but it would take to long to get better. I hope that the adoptive parents know that I was and am getting help not just a list of the issues.

Maybe I need to write a letter explaining that although I had these issues I was trying to get help and was getting better just not quick enough

TeenAndTween Tue 03-Jun-14 11:39:47

OurMiracle - have you been asked to write a 'Later Life Letter' for your son? We have a letters for our DDs from the BPs and the SW aimed at about 15 / 16 year old, explaining some things in more detail. If you haven't, you may like to ask your SW about it.

OurMiracle1106 Tue 03-Jun-14 11:42:19

Nope the social worker said that was her job and that I can write one but it will stay on his file

KristinaM Tue 03-Jun-14 13:01:30

Miracle -I hope that most adoptive parents woudl be smart enough to realise that not everything is as black and white as it can look in SWs reports.

They are not written to get a true and balanced picture of all the complexities of life for the birth family. They are written for one purpose, to persuade the courts to follow the SW recommendations. They often contain many serious factual errors, as well as opinions disguised as fact

Also they are only a snap shot at that time . Of course, that is the crucial time for that child, as their life can't be put on hold while adult problems are sorted out .

obviously many birth parents do manage to sort their lives out, and go on to have new and happy relathioships and successfully parent subsequent children . Sadly of course some don't and go on to lose more children to the system. And it's hard for children, with their black and white thinking, to understand that sad

I hope many adopters are honest enough to realise that if they and been in your situation, at your age, facing your problems , with your coping skills, with your support system, they might have struggled too.

Most adults have at some time been in a bad relathionship, , or they have seen a close family member or friends struggle in one . Same with addictions and mental health problems.

I hope they woudl communicate their child's story to them with love and empathy, understanding that we are all flawed people and we all make mistakes . At the end of the day, if you say harsh and judgemental things about your child's biological parents, you will hurt your child too.

A little empathy goes a long way

OurMiracle1106 Tue 03-Jun-14 19:42:12

There was a number of serious errors in some reports including my date of birth (they had it 5 months early) and my dads month of death )they added 15 months to my date of birth to get his death (which seeing as that was wrong etc)

I have made them correct these facts as they were incorrect. And would make tracing me as an adult difficult. He would be looking for someone completely different.

KristinaM Wed 04-Jun-14 00:27:44

Miracle -hopefully he won't need to trace you. You have letterbox contact with his parents right now and hopefully that will involve him when he's a teenager. If he wants to meet you, he can just write to you and ask .

If you write regularly as you are doing and stick to your side of the agreement, his parents will begin to trust you more and see that you are not a threat to him

OurMiracle1106 Wed 04-Jun-14 08:51:40

I am hoping that they will from my letters and actions at court realise that all I want is whats best for our gorgeous son and I know that's growing up with them. That doesn't mean I love him any less. That's me putting his needs before my own. He has stability security and love. Although I can give him endless love and am much more secure and stable I still have a long way to go.

I hope he doesn't need to trace me and I very much doubt if he did because letter box broke down that it would have anything to do with his parents but social services instead

golemmings Wed 04-Jun-14 21:56:51

I'm adopted and I always know that my mummy and daddy always wanted a little girl with blue eyes and fair hair and so they chose me to be their baby girl. It was one of my favourite bedtime stories when I was small. I have no idea how my birth mother was introduced into this concept though but I have always known her name and my birth name.

I've just started to introduce my children to the concept; they are 2 and 4.

QOD Wed 04-Jun-14 22:04:11

I agree with all the others, dd knew from the start that she grew in her tummy mummy's tummy as mine was broken, just accepted it as normal

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