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And So It Begins… Talking To My Child About Adoption

A couple of nights ago, during bed time routine, out of the blue, Ava asked Walter to tell her about the day she was born. We’ve always been honest with her about her being adopted, but we have been cautious about not pushing the issue, when she has asked, we have explained and we have always spoken openly about adoption in front of her. For both Walter and I, it’s key that she knows and understands that the topic of adoption and of her birth is not taboo. That she can ask any questions freely and openly, with out fear of hurting us or upsetting us. From all the literature we have read, in books and online, from adult adoptee’s, when talking about adoption reunion, their number 1 comment has been of feeling fearful about hurting their parents (adopted ones) or feeling disloyal to the family who have loved, nurtured and cared for them. We don’t want Ava to feel this way. We want her to know that regardless of what she decides, we will support her and encourage her and walk as far along the journey with her as she wants us too.

So there were no surprises for her when Walter relayed the story of her birth to her because she has heard it before. She knows my tummy is broken, she knows she came out of another Aunties tummy. After her question, Walter told her about how we’d received a phone call early on that Sunday morning, from Auntie Wilna, about how she was being born, coming out of another mommy’s tummy. About how we jumped in the car and raced to the hospital to be there on time for her birth. He told her how he was fearful to be with her tummy mummy for the birth but that I was there with her. He told her about how she looked and how he felt the first time he saw me walking down the hospital corridor carrying her. How beautiful she was. How precious she was. How miraculous her birth was. How loved she was. How we cried when we looked at her and held her and touched her.

She listened with her big brown Bambi eyes to the entire story. At the end of it, she stared at Walter and asked why she couldn’t come out of my tummy, why she had to come out of a tummy mummy’s tummy. Of course, she does know the answer to this, but I think the reality of her unique circumstance is starting to set in, I think she is starting to get a better understanding of what adoption is and how it’s different from the way other families are traditionally created. Walter reminded her that my tummy was broken, so she couldn’t be born out of my tummy, even though I had carried her with love in my heart and that was why she had to come out of another tummy mummy’s tummy.

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She was contemplative for little bit and then came the doozy…. she wanted to know why, if my tummy was broken and she couldn’t be born out of my tummy, why she couldn’t have come out of his tummy…..

So it has begun, that time that all adoptive parents anxiously anticipate, plan for and prepare for. She is obviously starting to understand that her story is different and trying to come to terms with it. I have no doubt that with time, she will have more and more questions and I hope that if Walter and I continue to handle her questions with love, understanding and without bombarding her with too much information, she will continue to be comfortable about asking whatever it is that she needs to know about her birth story, about her adoption.

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26 Comments

  • Reply WarrenK 2.0 (@MrSmithMachine)

    I love the term “tummy mummy”.
    The way you and Walter are doing it is perfect.
    Ava will have more questions, and when she is older harder questions for you to answer.
    But you guys are amazing!
    I love the honest and openness. And the tenderness.

    I don’t remember being told I was adopted. I just grew up knowing I was, my mother always talked about it to.

    November 21, 2013 at 8:20 am
  • Reply Jx

    Thanks so much for being open about your life and the adoption process. We have just started this journey. I was hoping you could point me in the right direction for books to prepare older kids for an adopted sibling, and also talking about adoption to the new child when he is old enough. We have 2 biological kids and are choosing to adopt, all the literature I find is about infertility and the birth story of ‘mummy’s broken tummy’? There really isnt a ‘script’ for choosing and feeling the need to adopt an abandoned baby?

    November 21, 2013 at 8:20 am
  • Reply Pandora

    My daughter will be 5 soon, and also asks questions about why she didn’t come out of my tummy. I give a similar explanation, but it just seems they need to ask and hear it several times to process the information. I don’t have a birth story for her, nor do I know much about her birth mom, so I don’t want to create reasons, words or feelings on her behalf that may not be true.

    However, we do talk about the day we fetched her. We have pictures up on the wall of that day. My mother in law and sister in law put together a beautiful photo book for her, filled with pictures, and the story of how she came into our lives. It is appropriate for her age, and later I will tell her more details as she needs them. She loves reading this book and looking at the pictures. It starts with pictures from when my husband and I were babies, our wedding, and how we wanted a baby to love. Then there is the whole story of getting the call, emergency shopping, flying to fetch her, meeting her for the first time, and bringing her home. And then it shows both sides of the families, her with her aunts, cousins, grandparents etc.

    She often likes to act out the whole scenario, where she is the lady phoning me to tell me she has a baby daughter that wants to come live with us, to me picking her up and bringing her home. I think this is her way of processing the information, and from the way she plays it out, she seems to understand what happened pretty well. (I think she is going to be an actress or a director, she scripts the entire thing to the finest detail!)
    The other day we were looking at some flowers she had planted and which she is very proud of. She told me ‘I adopted these flowers’. When I asked her what she meant, she said, ‘Adopted means that I am caring for them and looking after them’. I am pretty happy with this response.

    November 21, 2013 at 10:42 am
  • Reply Robyn

    I love how you guys tell her the story.. xx
    BUT Sharon.. you didn’t tell us what Walter said when she asked why she couldn’t come out of his tummy! hahaha!!

    November 21, 2013 at 11:20 am
  • Reply Jenna

    Different but so beautiful!!

    November 21, 2013 at 11:31 am
  • Reply panjels

    I love how you are tending to Ava’s questions, allowing her the freedom to enquire and keeping the topic open. Thank you for sharing!! This is so helpful for me, being in the very early stages of adoption. I’d love you to post more on this topic… x

    November 21, 2013 at 2:24 pm
  • Reply Ailsa Jean Loudon

    Nominated you Sharon – love your story!

    November 21, 2013 at 9:22 pm
  • Reply Britt

    Beautiful, thank you for sharing. My is 4 going on 5 and we are also very open about his adoption and add more info as we see he can handle. He has decided that he is going to have a baby sister and asked if I can grow her in my tummy, we explained again that my tummy cannot grow a baby so he asked if we could ask his biological mom to grow the baby for us – such innocence.

    November 22, 2013 at 10:34 pm
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