Adoption: correcting ignorance [pt2: when to tell a child he was adopted]


I am learning how quickly my Mama Bear instincts kick in when people say ignorant things, how easily my heart is ready to protect and defend our baby and Birth Mom, our Other Family we have not even met yet.

I also am learning how ignorant I was before stepping into this journey, how ignorant I still am, and how hurtful ignorance can be. 

There are phrases and words that sting the hearts of us on this journey like wasps, stings that last longer than you expect them to, as the venom spreads and courses its way through. So let’s talk about it. While I learn and my ignorance is corrected, why don’t you join me and learn too? And grace.  I’m honored to be here typing to you.

Last week we touched on: Birth Mamas and Open vs Closed Adoptions.

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People have been asking this question the entire journey through: when will you tell your child that he or she was adopted?

Such a good and valid question that we also asked and conversed and prayed through.

Last summer I was chatting with a friend who had been battling infertility for a few years. Her and her husband discovered that his sperm count was at 0.  They decided to pursue insemination with donor sperm. I asked her what that would look like for their family - do you tell a child this? Does it even matter? I wondered and asked because I wondered if our story would unfold similar to theirs. She shared with me that a counselor said these words: a child should never remember being told he or she was adopted; let's use that same rule for this situation.

That churned the wheels in my brain and sparked some fun creativity. I had never heard it put that way, but it sounded right, it felt right, it seemed right. At this time, over a year ago, I was certain we would never have an open adoption - solely a closed one. Now that we are hoping for at least a semi-open adoption, this will be a lot easier and make sense. But even for closed adoptions, I suggest this way of thinking, "our child will never remember being told he/she was adopted, she just knew."

We are making a specialized book of this journey, fit just for our baby. We may purchase THIS BOOK or we may create a shutter fly book. Basically, the idea is to always have the conversation open and honest, that yes, you were brought into this family the non-natural-not-my-womb-like way, but you are still very much our child. Yes, you have Another Mother and Another Daddy, you have Grandparents who are tied to you by blood, and they treasure you...but so do we. Keeping a child's adoption a secret used to be the norm. But now, psychologists and studies show that it is much healthier for a child to grow up knowing that huge part of their identity. It is a bigger part than you or I could understand. To withhold such precious information, such treasurable pieces of someone's identity can be detrimental.

Loren and I both hope to make our home a space where our children, adopted or not, feel free to ask us questions about their identity. We pray that our home will be a safe space, coursing with honesty. Our social worker had some great input as well - she mentioned the difficult scenarios of the baby coming from a rape or sex trafficking situation. She has guided our thinking to remember it is good to be honest but also age appropriate; to answer with the truth but also withhold bits until the age is right, or frame the words honestly and wisely. It is a forever journey.

We hope and we pray that we will get to meet more than our baby's Birth Momma. We hope that we are able to meet a few family members, as many as possible, to learn about and study their family history. We want to bring as much information about our baby's First Family into our little book to share with our little one as he or she grows. Especially if our baby is another ethnicity; we so want to bring that culture into our family and ask about traditions and weave them into our lifestyle.

On a similar note, people [my ignorant self indluded] often times say something like "So why did her mom give her up?" or "How could she look at that little face and give him up?" Or, "...give their child up." So often we stereotype the Birth Mommas as irresponsible or selfish teenage girls; but what we don't choose to see is their incredibly selfless and responsible decision to place their baby in another momma's hands. Or they are simply forgotten as precious humans who made an incredibly painful decision. This was and continues to be excruciating. Their heart breaks daily for the child they chose not to raise. Those birth momma's sacrifice every natural hormone in her being to give her child a better life. Our greatest joy will be her greatest loss. On Mother's Day, what will bring me the utmost fulfillment and a heart filled to the brim, is what will crush her and bring grief to the surface. She is more like Jesus than you or I realize, sacrificing her heart so her child can have a better, more full, whole, abundant life.

SO. These selfless Birth Parents dont "give them up" like they give up soda, but instead give them a life they know they never could. We celebrate while she mourns. It is a common misconception that these babies are unwanted or unloved but in most of these cases, this is so not the case.

If you have a moment to read this quick post by a Birth Momma, I encourage you to. I can't seem to find enough of these sorts of articles and posts. Click on the quote to led to the article: "We place that final kiss on our baby’s forehead and pass them forward to your waiting arms because we know you will be taking it very seriously too."

PS! IF YOU WERE FOLLOWING US ON THE LITTLE WORLD OF SOCIAL MEDIA, YOU WOULD KNOW THAT OUR HOME STUDY ASSESSMENT WAS TODAY! Cathy, our amazing social worker, is gone and our home is mega clean and I love it. Scrubbed down to the cracks of the baseboards and decored with fall love from my Mother In Law. Anyways! About three times before she left Cathy said, "Dont worry, you're approved, I just need to get it written up and the signatures. You should be able to have copies by September 25." FOLKS! WE ARE SO CLOSE TO APPLYING TO AGENCIES AND PRESENTING TO MORE BIRTH MOMMAS. What a breath of relief, what a blessing our Cathy is. Thank you for rooting us on!

For more reading on Birth Mothers, 12 Myths About Birth Mothers.

To financially support our adoption, click here.