I entered the adoption process with very little knowledge about adoption. Growing up, my experience with adoption was very limited. I had a few peers that were adopted, but I never talked to them about their adoption story or what it felt like to be adopted. I never really thought about how adoptive parents tell their children their birth story until I was actively involved in the process. We received adoption training with BETHANY CHRISTIAN SERVICES. The tips that I am about to share came from our education through Bethany and my experience as an adoptive mom.
1. Tell it as a story: Kids love stories…especially ones that feature them as the main character! I often start out my son’s story with, “One morning while I was eating my cereal…”
2. Start early: Our social worker advised us to start telling our son his story when he was an infant. I thought that was weird, at first. She explained that it would get us into the habit of telling his birth story and also give us some practice. Almost 5 years later, it is very natural for us to talk to him about the circumstances surrounding his birth!
3.Create a Book: Make a storybook about the story of your child’s adoption! Include pictures of the birth family, adoption day, time in the hospital, the first time you met, and his homecoming. Shutterfly even has an Adoption Story template!
4. Be honest: Likely, there are some difficult truths about your child’s adoption story. As a parent, your instinct is to protect them from anything hard or hurtful. This is where trust and a deep faith in God come in. God is big enough to take care of your child’s heart! Pray for your child as he processes his adoption story through the different phases of his life.
5. Keep your eyes open for opportunities in your everyday life to tell story: For example, if the city or country that your child was born in is being talked about in conversation or in a book or a movie, use that opportunity to talk about their birth story. We have talked with our son about his story on walks, in the car, before bedtime, and while running errands. Over time, the subject has organically worked its way into our every day life.
6. Make yourself available: Be prepared to answer questions as they arise. That may mean that you may need to drop what you are doing, change gears, or shift your focus for a bit to have a conversation about adoption. In my experience so far, these conversations have been short. I have been caught off guard at times because the questions seem to come out of the blue!
7. Clarify the question: Make sure you understand what your child is asking. If you aren’t sure, ask them! As adults, we have a tendency to complicate things. Keep it simple! Young children can only comprehend so much. Your conversations will evolve as they mature.