May 25, 2012

Teaching Our Kids About Adoption

I think I've mentioned a book on the blog before that I highly recommend, called Telling the Truth to Your Adopted or Foster Child by Keefer and Schooler.  We probably underestimate how helpful it's been and to us already and we anticipate that it will continue to provide a lot of insight for us as our kids grow older.

One key concept in the book is how important it is to have an open, honest relationship with your children.  You want them to trust you, to know that you tell them the truth and don't keep secrets from them.  Think about how painful and confusing it would be for a young child to learn a difficult detail about their past inadvertently from a relative or family friend.  So it is our job as parents to share as much with our children as they are able to understand for their age.  That's where the book comes in.  It gives examples of what parents can share with their children at each age level.  And even better, it also lists several difficult birth family scenarios and how to share about them in an honest and age appropriate way throughout the child's life.

Inspired by the book, we decided to take things a step further with our children lately.  They're familiar with our welcome home video, and they really enjoy watching mommy and daddy get on an airplane to bring them home from Ethiopia when they were babies.  They definitely associate it with our excitement and love for them.  So recently we started using the word adoption as we talk to them about it, saying things like "we were so excited to go to Ethiopia and adopt you and bring you into our family!"  They respond to our excitement, and we think it's good that the concept of adoption is in their vocabulary and has a positive connotation.

Today I saw a little bit of the fruit of our efforts.  Our daughter was reminiscing about a visit we had last week from our dear friend "Aunt Brandy," and so I told the kids about how Uncle Noah and Aunt Brandy would be having another baby soon.  They have an eight month old baby that the kids know, and they're adopting an eight month old from Congo, hopefully bringing her home as early as August or September.  Our daughter asked me to remind her what the baby's name would be, and we talked about how they would have two babies just like we did.  I said "they will have one baby from Aunt Brandy's belly -- Gracie, and one baby from Africa -- Nora!"  The kids thought that was great.  And then our daughter said with excitement "they will dadopt her!"  That's right, my girl.  It's sinking in!

sweetie pie with her Africa shirt from Ms. Amber

I shared the story with my husband this afternoon and he had a great analogy.  Our daughter also says "Jesus died on the cross for our sins."  And she says it in the right context, with some amount of gravity and some amount of joy.  Of course she doesn't fully understand what this means yet.  But we're building a foundation of knowledge for them both, and Lord willing, over time God will open their eyes to see more and more the fullness of it all.  May He give us more and more wisdom for the task along the way too!      

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