“Mom, Did you know that Billy is adopted?”
My friend’s son came home from school recently asking this question about a boy in his class.
And my friend didn’t know what to say except “Yes.”
Then she emailed me.
“What else should I say?”
I have answered and addressed the adoption questions for 8+ years and taught my children how to address them as well. But I’d never looked at it from this perspective, the perspective of a non-adoptive parent.
Here’s how I replied:
“I would tell your son that yes, you know Billy is adopted because it’s not a secret. That adoption is a way that you can build your family and Billy and his parents are very open about it, and how wonderful they’ve found each other. Did you know that his sister is adopted too?” I would ask your son if he knows what the word adoption means. I would hope that while he may not have the exact words that at least he knows the general gist. And then encourage him. Educate him. Show him that adoption is something we can all talk about openly and positively. Say “Yes!” “That’s right!” Then give him the language and the tools to educate others as Billy’s friend. Say something like: “Yes; Billy was adopted by his parents at birth. His birthmother was unable to care for him so she made the decision to place him for adoption and chose Billy’s parents as the family she wanted for him. She made this plan out of love for Billy.
Obviously no two adoptions are the same and there are many variables that could change this answer but hopefully it is generic enough that you could adapt it to fit your family.
I think if this situation happened with my kids I would want the parent to take it one step further. I would ask your son if Billy told him or if someone else did.
If Billy told him, great!
If someone else told him, then I would delicately try to make sure the conversation was not mean in intent. If it was, then I encourage you to start a new conversation, and I would suggest you call the mother of the adopted child. If this was about my children and the intent was not kind, I would want to know.
Most importantly, I would ask your child if they have any questions about adoption and let them know that people adopt for so many reasons. There are many children in our country and around the globe who need homes. Isn’t it great that families can be made in so many ways?
If more questions arise let me know. I am happy to address them. Because as I said before, adoption is not a secret—not in my house.
Finally, I also told my friend, to let her son’s school know that I would be more than happy to come in to school to give a class presentation on adoption and what it means to be adopted. And the best part about my presentations is that I have an almost 9 year old co-presenter who loves to tell his story.