It isn’t hard for most people—preschoolers included—to figure out that my family doesn’t exactly share a gene pool. My daughters are Chinese; my husband and I are not. And that fact leads to the inevitable questions many children ask: Why does so-and-so look different from her mom? Is that her “real” family? What does “adopted” mean?Real Real Mama, from Dawn at this woman's work:
I know how hard it can be for children (and even adults) to understand adoption, since I’ve been trying to help my own kids grasp the concept for the past four years. Because November is National Adoption Month, it’s a good time to help all children try to make sense of the topic.
We are reading Charlotte’s Web for our bedtime book right now and after we readThe Family Stories Project from the University of Michigan:
tonight she wanted to talk some about being adopted. We talked about the things she misses and then we talked about the things she has (like Noah) because she is adopted. We talked about how one doesn’t make up for the other but it’s ok to be happy and it’s ok to be sad and that adoption is complicated. “Yeah,” she said. “Like missing your real real mama.”
“Well,” I said. “I can’t make that better for you, honey. I wish I could but I love you.”
“I know,” she said. “I know you’re doing the best you can. I love you, too.”
It sounds like a very gloomy conversation but it wasn’t.
The Family Stories Project has explored the experiences of internationally adoptive families in order to learn what makes early conversations about adoption helpful to young children. At the first phase of the project children were between the ages of 4- and 7-years old; during the second, follow-up phase they will be in the 7 to 10-year old range. We look forward to learning from the children and their parents how their perspectives on adoption have changed as the children have moved into middle childhood and are interacting with the wider world around them, including school, friends, and community.