Wednesday, July 22, 2009

To the mom I met today

The mom with the 5-year-old adopted from India, who has not yet told her daughter she's adopted. It's been kind of easy to get away with this so far since your husband is Indian. But I think it's important that you tell her ASAP! I gave you the link to the blog in the hopes you'll stop by, but I wanted to give some quick guidance to you and others who've delayed talking about adoption -- I know you're not alone in this!

First of all, why tell? Openness and honesty are FUNDAMENTAL to healthy relationships, and that includes the relationship between parent and child. I'm sure you think your daughter is too young to understand, and you're right -- she won't understand completely at first. But I bet she's already overheard a conversation or two (we talked about it pretty openly, so I'm sure it's not a deep, dark secret, and I'm sure you've had to explain your relationship within her hearing more than once!) that makes her wonder and worry that there's some secret about her that no one is telling her. And if you wait too much longer, she's going to be hurt and angry at you for keeping it from her. She'll likely put a very negative connotation on it all, since things that are secret are usually thought of as things that are bad.

Second, how to tell? Take a look at these posts for some tips: Talking Adoption Tips and Ten Commandments of Telling. I hope they'll help to get you started. Opening up discussion with a story book is great, so here's an Adoption Book List for you. You might also want to read the book, Talking to Young Children About Adoption. And check out the links to the right, Resources for Adoption Talk. Quick tips -- be positive, be as casual as possible (don't make it a heavy family talk, I mean), and be prepared to give lots of reassurance.

Third, what to tell? Think about where your child is developmentally. Do you have a pregnant friend? Has she seen pregnant women and known there's a baby in there? I'd probably start with pregnancy at her age: "Remember Mrs. XXXX, who has a baby growing in her tummy? Giving birth to a baby is one way to add a child to a family. Adoption is another way. Do you know what adoption is? Adoption is when a child's birth family can't take care of her, so they make a plan for another family to take care of her and that other family becomes her family forever. Adoption is how you became a part of our family!" And then follow where it goes from there.

Best of luck! And I know it's always unbelievably cheeky when total strangers give parenting advice. Sorry about that. But this is really, really, really important for your daughter, who was a cute as can be, smart and engaging and outgoing, and deserves the best!

6 comments:

Mei-Ling said...

Her daughter is already five?

I think even a two-year-old would have some semblance of adoption. I'm not kidding. If a two-year-old can recognize racism and ask about if she grew up in mommy's tummy... five years old is LATE.

Wendy said...

I agree, no one like someone butting in on their parenting, BUT if there ever was a case--this is it.
I know it will be awkward, hard, and you may even stumble on the words at first--similar to those divorcing, a death, etc, but they will come and you will get better at it--adoption is not a one-time talk, the same as with sex, drugs, life. Your adoption parent talk will improve and you will have many conversations over her lifetime. If you wait much longer she will wonder what else you are hiding, your trust will be lost--something we know is so important in adoption parenting anyway.
You can do it! We are here for support. Good luck!

Diane said...

Malinda- I had too much to say about this and Lorraine's post so I wrote my reaction on my blog and linked here. Thank you for reaching out to this family.

Wendy said...

Wonderful post Diane. You are so on with this post, we added to our "triad" to make a rhombus (my daughter's choice) because we need four sides for foster mother, but then there are five--nannies, then there should be six, her finder. It doesn't end and you are right--the points hurt and seperate.
The circle is and should be the only shape representation. We are lucky, we know all members in our circle and we connect for all the gamet of emotions and issues at some level, it is a continuim.

Thank you.

malinda said...

I love the adoption circle, Diane!

Just in case you can't figure out how to get to Diane's post, just click on her name. That will take you to her Blogger profile, which has a link to her blog, An-Ya.

(Don't want to insult anyone's intelligence in figuring out how to go there, but also don't want anyone to miss it!)

Diane said...

Wendy- I am so happy for you and your family that you have tangible connections within your circle- as emotionally laden some of those connections must be. Praying to be in your shoes someday.

Malina- So glad that you love the adoption circle!! Thanks for explaining how to get to my post!