I was amazed by the bond I developed with Darling 1 early on in the pregnancy. I even (slightly) mourned the thought of him being born and losing the bond that only I had with him. Once he was born, I remember looking at him sleeping in his hospital bassinet and thinking, "Who are you, and where did you come from?"
When I was pregnant with Darling 2, I was surprised at how much Darling 2 connected with Darling 1. Darling 2 squirmed and kicked extra hard when he heard Darling 1's voice and every morning it was Darling 1 waking and talking that woke up Darling 2. This is quite clear and amazing.
A Child's Story
There are few details of my Darling Boys' short lives that I'm not intimately aware. I know that Darling 1 and 2 were extremely active throughout the pregnancies, and this hasn't changed. I know how Darling 1 got the scar in his eyebrow. I know that Darling 2 would sleep only on his tummy, even though the experts instructed us to lay the baby on his back. I know that Darling 1 spoke his first two words when he was 5 months old. I know that Darling 2 says "juice" for milk and apple juice, but I can usually tell which one he means. I know what Darling 1's first teddy bear's name was. I know which books are Darling 2's favorites.
I know all of these things because I have been there for almost every moment. Adoptive parents may or may not have all details of their child's early days, months or years. Some questions may be difficult to answer. However, every child has a story, and adoptive parents still have their child's story to tell, even if it starts at 3 months, 9 months, 2 years or 10 years.
For younger children, picture books are a good way to introduce a subject for discussion. Best-childrens-books.com suggested a number of books on adoption. Here are the top 7 from their list:
The Day We Met You by Phoebe Koehler
Happy Adoption Day! by John McCutcheon
Horace by Holly Keller
I Love You Like Crazy Cakes by Rose A. Lewis
Jin Woo by Eve Bunting
Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis
The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption by Jean Davies Okimoto
I actually own I Love You Like Crazy Cakes, and it's a beautiful and moving story of adoption by a single mother. These books are great to introduce the topic of adoption to toddlers and preschoolers, whether adopted or not. There are more books listed on http://www.best-childrens-books.com/childrens-books-about-adoption.html.
HealthyChildren.org lists easy ways to strike up a conversation with your children about adoption: http://bit.ly/9SS1Rm
Family Education provides great tips for talking to young children about adoption: http://life.familyeducation.com/adoption/nontraditional-families/45800.html
- AdoptiveFamilies.org has two articles I found helpful in discussing adoption with your child: 10 tips for talking to your child about adoption and preparing them to answer questions from others regarding their adoption: http://www.adoptivefamilies.com/articles.php?aid=195; and the dos and don'ts of answering your child's questions regarding adoption: http://www.adoptivefamilies.com/articles.php?aid=1160.
It can be difficult to know what to say about adoption and at what age to talk about it. In general, the same thing applies to every child, whether biological or adopted. Talk, talk, talk to your child. Keep an open line of communication between you and your child. That way you know that when your child has a question about life or needs a listening ear or words of encouragement or advice, your child will come to you. Have you explained adoption to your child? How did you do it? At what age did you talk about it?
I will post a bit of Motherly Advice on Friday. Tune in next week to get ready for Halloween. Over and out…
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