Monday, November 12, 2012

Adoption Talks With Our Son

Today I am thankful for...

~  Our adoption talks.

Week 2

Talking With Our Children About Adoption

     Adoption talks.  Just as in biological children, parents of adopted children learn what makes them tick emotionally.  And as our children grow and mature, our adoption talks evolve right along with their ever-changing minds and bodies.

     Being that our son is Asian and we are Caucasian, we knew sooner than later we would be starting to talk about adoption.  And I would be less than truthful if I told you we were not nervous about that first encounter because, seriously now, we did not want to say one thing that would ruin our son's life forever.  Then we relaxed because we learned that mistakes happen.  It's a fact of life.  Learning from those mistakes is part of what makes you a successful parent.

       The age game.  At the early ages of 3 & 4 children can't really understand the concept of a child moving from one set of parents to another.  They may be able to tell their story but it doesn't mean they actually understand it.  A lot of children act out what is on their minds with imagination and role playing.  

     For example, there is a part in his story where he became sick on the plane and vomited all over himself and me.  He honed in on that, thinking it was so funny, and that is what he emphasized in his birth story when retelling it to others.

     His story around age 3 - 4.  "I was born in Korea and then my mom and dad came to pick me up. We got on a BIG plane and I puked all over the place.  Ha ha ha ha!" 

    Where friends would look at us in horror over the fact that he thought vomiting was hysterical or that is his "birth story" was all about puking, I would remind myself (and occasionally my friends)  that this was okay.  It is the way he was processing it at the time.   The key at that age was while we talked, it was kept very basic but very accurate.  

 
     Around the age of 4, children can begin to realize there is a past as well as a present.   This leads to curiosity about the time they were babies.   As he has grown, we've slowly added details.   We have learned from classes that it isn't until the middle-childhood years (ages 7-11) that children start to compare their own experience with those of their friends.  That's when they'll react more to those differences.

     Our son recently turned 7.  So we continue with our talks, when he wants, and those talks continue to change.  The birth of his baby sister last winter brought us to a new level of talks as well.  I must add, you would be surprised at how innocent (and sometimes not so innocent) comments or questions from strangers (and even friends) can prompt discussions.  

     Life books.  Every child (age 1-99) loves to look back at old photo albums and baby books.  But what do you do if you weren't the biological mother?   We learned that you can still make his baby book extremely special by adding bits and pieces of information

     What is a life book?  A life book is a link to the past, an amazing tool to use as we talk about adoption.  It allows parents and children to create a sense of history and belonging.  By using scissors to crop photos, stickers, die-cuts, and colored paper, a parent and/or child can create a beautiful life book.

Things you may consider including :

* Who gave birth to me?
Why couldn't my birth parents raise me?
* How and when did I get from my birth parents to the orphanage, foster parents, or other caretakers?
* Who gave me my name?
* What type of area of community did I live in?
* What did my home look like?  did I share a room, crib, or bed?
* With whom did I live?  Who took care of me?  What were their names?
* What was my life like?  What was my daily routine?  What was my general health? What skills had I developed?  Did I have any special friends?  What were my favorite toys or foods? Do you know someone who may have photos or additional information about my early life?
* Why was I not adopted sooner? (If your child was older.)
* Where and how was my special need diagnosed?  What special services or help, if any, did I receive?
* Is my medical condition common in my country of origin?
* Do I have biologically related siblings?
* Did my birthparents die?        

 I want to share some pages out of our son's life book for you to see...

    
    



 





The next picture is of the phone that we received the "travel call" on.  Then I wrote a description of that amazing moment so we would never forget!


By the way, always keep very personal information private!  There are things that people ask about our son's birth family or his history that we just decline to talk about.  We want him to know first and then it is up to him to decide what to share with others.


Our son loves this  section of his life book!  I mean, how many kids get to look at passport pictures in their own baby books? :)




     And there are so many more pages!  I keep the finished pages in page protectors and then place it in an out of the way area.  I do not plan to "give it" to our son till he is older and settled.  I continue to add to it every single year, and we have already started Book II!

     We usually pull his life book out on his birthday.  For the first time, (at the age of 7), this year he seemed to really enjoy it which tells me that he is maturing and his emotional processing is changing as well.

     Children's books on adoption.  There are also some amazing illustrated children's books on adoption these days.  If they don't talk specifically about his adoption, we find the similarities in them and apply them to our own experience.  Regardless, these books are amazing medians to be used when discussing adoption with your child.

A Mother For Choco

Over the Moon:  An Adoption Tale

I Wished for You:  An Adoption Story

Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born

And SO MANY more!  You can peruse Amazon and load up on titles then check them out at your local library.

     Remember, I'm gathering around the blogosphere table with some other women who have so much to share.  You can link up with all of them by going to Jen's... Forever, For Always, No Matter What.  If you know of anyone else who is in the process, please pass this along.  We are hoping to help others out there who are adopting or placing.  God bless!

(I am also linking up at Catholicbloggers.network under the section Catholic Family Journal.  Stop on over and see some great Catholic bloggers sharing posts in many different categories!)

 ~  Patty  ~










10 comments:

  1. His life book is beautiful! As they grow and change the conversations certainly do grow and change too. Keep up the good work :)

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  2. Oh Patty...you are wonderful...what a wonderful gift you have created for him. It is beautiful! You are such an inspiration to so many... Happy Monday, friend

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    1. Thanks, Billie Jo! I have to say, thinking of what his birth mother had gone through inspired me to do the best I could knowing that I will never completely fill the void that was placed in his heart. At least I could help him cope :) God bless the birth mothers!

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  3. This is a great post, Patty. I love the life book. yours turned out so wonderfully!! I had a hard time getting my thoughts together on my post, so it's kind of hodge podge. Thank goodness for adoption !!!

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    1. Gardenia, your post is excellent! I can never recall the articles we read and absorbed. Thank heavens you can so others can refer to them. When I'm asked... my mind always goes blank!

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  4. I love the life book! What a great idea! I have really enjoyed this project that you are working on with Jen.

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  5. I love his book...made me tear up looking! How special for him to have that! You are such a good mom. I liked reading the levels of conversations you've been through thus far...very helpful since we are just at level 1. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. What a beautiful gift you have made for him. I love reading about you, your family and his adoption. He is such a handsome boy and he seems so sweet, too.

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  7. Wow! That is an absolutely thoughtful and beautiful book Patty. What an amazing gift for him. He is so blessed to have you as a mom!

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  8. What a beautiful post and inspiring heart reflections, Patty. That Life book is incredibly special. None of my biological kids even have such an amazing gift like you have made for him. He is truly blessed and that is such a witness to the world! God bless you, Mama.

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