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When to start the adoption talk (age 3)

16 replies

byecorona2020 · 03/12/2020 12:21

We adopted our son when he was 6 months old. He's now 3 years 3 months and I'm wondering how to start the 'adoption talk'.

One of the ladies at his nursery is pregnant, so he's been talking about babies in tummy's, even saying he's got a brother (he actually does have 2, plus 4 sisters!!!), but I'm wondering if we could start the talk now he's understanding things a bit more?

I just have no idea how to start, how much he might understand, if it's too soon or if this could be a good way to approach it?

OP posts:
sunshineandskyscrapers · 03/12/2020 13:19

For my DS at age 3 it was really news to him that babies grow in mummies' tummies so they do need that basic bit of biology first and I think that's your way in. I don't think DS really believed about babies and tummies the first time he heard it, but at least that consistent messaging was also coming from nursery. So whenever the subject came up of babies coming from mummies' tummies I would always qualify this with, but you didn't grow in my tummy - you grew in another mummy's tummy. He's heard this over and over and, now 5, this is a given for him. From time to time we pull out the photo album from his time in foster care and have done so since he moved in, so he is well aware he did not spend his first year with me, and we talk about the FCs by name. He has quite an imagination and will often say things like 'when I was a baby I went to the supermarket and wore a face mask'. We have an understanding on this that I can't contradict him because he knows I wasn't there, so I just humour him and pretend to believe what he tells me.

Alongside this DS has an 'adoption bear'. I think it's standard issue at the adoption ceremony. But ours is called Adoption Bear and he sleeps in DS's bed. It keeps the word in our vocabulary. DS even told me once 'that bear's adopted', and I said 'yes, like you'. We had the privilege of attending an adoption ceremony for a friend and her DD last year. DS did not seem that bothered about it, but it gave him some context of where Adoption Bear came from.

Our next steps are to start talking more about his birth parents and the reasons he couldn't stay with them. This will be trickier I am sure and I've deliberately avoided it while he is settling in to school. I was also planning a trip to see foster carers this year, but Covid ..., so maybe next year.

And like your DS, mine has come up with a fictional sibling, even though he has a sibling in real life. A few times, on mentioning the fictional sibling I casually mentioned the real one, who lives in a different house. This really just proved very confusing so I have left it alone for now. We are going to have to revisit it though.

sunshineandskyscrapers · 03/12/2020 13:23

There's also a book that we both love called, I Wished for You by Marianne Richmond. It's more the adopter's story rather than the child's, and I am usually blubbing by the end, but it is written for small children and DS loves it.

user1497873278 · 03/12/2020 13:48

I’m just starting these conversations with my little one, she has a couple of books that are really good ( A mother for Chico, and I’ve loved you since forever. I have been reading these with her since she was about 2 1/2. I don’t use the word mummy in the conversations to refer to BM, as I’m the only mummy she has ever known and I just feel it would confuse her. When we are able to have more in-depth conversations I will probably use BP, to explain more, and at the moment I talk about not all babies come from their mummies tummy some come home in a different way, I then show her pictures of the day she came home. It’s more difficult than I thought it would be, I have to be honest

Whatthechicken · 03/12/2020 14:16

Ours were 2.5 and 3.5 so they knew at the time they hadn’t been with us forever...but I’m sure they forget sometimes (they are now nearly 5 and 6). We keep their life books and photos from the FCs around and talk a lot about ‘when we first met you’, ‘before we met you’ and ‘after you came to live with us’, we just drop it in when ever there is an opportunity...we don’t force the conversation.

A half sib of theirs has just been adopted, so I took sharing that news as another opportunity to remind them about their sib, the birth parent they share and when they asked more questions just reiterated the facts that they already knew.

My youngest is the most curious and will often get her life book (as she calls it) out after we have talked about something.

Ours often make up a narrative too ‘when I was a baby I...’

UnderTheNameOfSanders · 03/12/2020 16:01

If you haven't already started then start now. The sooner the better.

Peter's Mum is growing a baby.
You grew in X's tummy, but she wasn't good at looking after babies, so the social workers and judge said you needed a new Mum, and that's me.

See also baby Jesus.

ifchocolatewerecelery · 03/12/2020 16:25

The book we belong together by Todd Parr is a good introduction into adoption, our LO loves it and realm identifies with some of the pictures. Like other posters, we have always talked about the fact she is adopted. We have a photo on the wall taken of the day we met that we talk about often. She also asks to see baby photos regularly. She was 1 when she came home and we were lucky entropy be given loads of photos by FCs so I made some into a printed photo book for her so we look at that I explain each time where they come from.

We also have a mother for choco and the teazles baby bunny which we used to read regularly.

When pregnancy is mentioned in shows like Peppa pig, I've mentioned casually that she is adopted and what that means. Basically I take any opening she gives me to discuss it appropriately. The last one was when she asked if I'd breastfed her.

Adoptodad · 03/12/2020 23:13

Our little one if nearly 3 and we tell the bed time story called. "How we met you."

He asks for it most night but we think he just wants to stay awake and get attention for a few more mins. Its still an awesome story and we will tell it forever.

We also read the The Teazles' Baby Bunny books. To be honest I cant read it as I start to tear up with happiness. Wife has to read that one. :-)

Italiangreyhound · 04/12/2020 01:23

I loved A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza.

Loads of good books out there.

Always read them first before starting with little one.

I think start as soon as you can. It's always best for them to know the truth as much as they can from an early age (in age appropriate langauge).

Our son was adopted at 3. So he always knew. But I think in the early days he forgot. So we did remind him because it is best to know.

I told ds he grew in my heart.

Italiangreyhound · 04/12/2020 01:24

I tell ds it doesn't matter at all that he didn't grow in my tummy to me.

But be prepared it may matter to little one at times, and he may feel it is significant. I had to allow my ds to feel that way and express it (he is 10 now). Because me saying a lot that 'it didn't matter' that he wasn't born from my tummy, was hard for him.

Most of the time it is just a fact, I am mum, and dad is dad and he doesn't mention it. But for our little ones it is a factor of life to deal with and to be able to talk about openly. I find now, when we do talk, I am more likely to feel upset!

Does your little one have a life story book? Did you adopt in the UK?

We use the term birth mum, or her name. Birth father or his name. He wasn't that close to birth father, if he had been I might say birth dad.

If in the UK you may find post adoption support can help with this.

Depending why he had to leave his birth family you may find Nutmeg gets adopted is helpful later. But it may not be appropriate and your local adoption agency/county council may have a copy you can read before buying.

UnderTheNameOfSanders · 04/12/2020 08:21

We also liked A Mother for Choco. Not so keen on the Nutmeg books, but I can see they have their place.
We used birth mother/father or Name. We 'saved' Mum/Mummy & Dad/Daddy for us.
The first times of mentioning it are always hard (for you), so the younger you start the better. |We often did stories in the bath, and included in the repertoire the story of how DD came to us.
By the time we had each year 2x contact letters, card at b-day and Christmas, and a yearly certificate from us on 'moving in day' the fact of being adopted came up quite regularly.

Jannt86 · 04/12/2020 08:24

We read my 2.5YO (adooted as a baby) a book called the teazles baby bunny which is all about a bunny being adopted. We talk about how that's just like mummy and daddy adopted you. You grew in 'tummy mummy's' tummy but then she was unable to look after you etc. I think she gets it to a degree because she goes through phases of repeatedly asking to read it. I think story books are fab to start the conversation but they do all seem to focus on the adoptive parent and how much they wanted a baby. I think certainly at this age that's a bit irrelevent. I know it's a much trickier subject but I'd love to find one more from the child's perspective. I'm going to highjack your thread a bit and ask if anyone knows such a book? We haven't read her life story yet as I think they're quite intense for such a young chuld and there's a page in particular that I really don't like and I'm planning on changing it. I wish I'd just mentioned it before placement tbh. I think the trick is just bringing it into conversation as casually as you can and not making it a huge event but inviting any conversation that might occur too. I think as early as possible is best x

UnderTheNameOfSanders · 04/12/2020 08:58

Jannt86 DD2's life story book was aimed at an 8-12 year old, so we made an additional very simplified one for DD2 for when she was younger, with a very simplified account. Could you do that?

Rainallnight · 04/12/2020 19:30

Yes, definitely start now. Ideally there shouldn’t be a time when they don’t remember knowing. (Does that make sense? Too many double negatives). And you want to get her really comfortable with it before she has to answer any questions at school, if it ever comes up.

Lots of good advice about how on this thread.

ineedsun · 04/12/2020 19:44

We just used to tell ours stories about when they came to live with us - no big issue. Just in the same way as you'd tell stories about mummy being pregnant

FoolShapeHeart · 13/12/2020 01:32

My lo came to me 2 years ago at 8m. We see foster carer regularly, and talk about being adopted. I tell the story of how we came to be a family & end with the judge saying "and now it is the LAW" which lo loves ❤ & we have photos out. I started talking about it from the beginning, obviously lo was too young to understand but it normalised the topic for me. I mention it whenever it's relevant in a conversation, sometimes lo asks lots of questions & sometimes is completely disinterested! So I'd definitely think it's a good idea to bring it up now, like a pp said, ideally there shouldn't ever be a time when they don't know.

bigdaddykeithassandtitlover420 · 15/12/2020 10:06

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