As a pregnant mother making an adoption plan, talking about adoption with an older child is sometimes very difficult. There are no right answers, but generally counseling and time to think through the decision allows mothers to make the best choice. Recently three expectant mothers gave their perspective on telling their child about adoption.
Janelle decided it was better not to give a lot of details to her daughter, Kristy, until after the placement of her baby. Although Kristy was 7 years old and knew her mother was pregnant, Janelle had not talked with her about her plans for adoption. She felt it was best to tell her when she was together with extended family that supported her placement plan. She felt this was best because the grandfather and aunts of Kristy could help her explain why she had chosen adoption and why she felt it was best for everybody. About a week after placement, they all sat down together and talked about the baby and the adoptive family with Kristy. Kristy had lots of questions and emotions, and although she really wanted a baby sister, she began to understand what her mother felt was best for her and the baby.
The second birthmother, McCall, had several older children who were at ages that they knew their mother was pregnant. McCall began discussing adoption with them from the beginning of her pregnancy. McCall’s children understood that they were in a very difficult financial situation, far worse than they had ever been in. They also had several occasions to ask questions and learn more about adoption. McCall had been very sick throughout the pregnancy and unable to work which created a loss in income that they so badly needed. Her children would say encouraging things about the decision to place the baby for adoption to her. They understood that placing the baby for adoption was done out of love and concern for everyone in the family. As her children would say positive and encouraging things McCall was grateful that she had involved them early on in the planning, despite her fears of what they might think about her plan and fear that she would consider placing them for adoption. Contrary to what McCall thought, that was never mentioned by any of the children.
Another birthmother, Wanda, hid her pregnancy from her six year old daughter until after the baby she placed for adoption was almost a year old. Wanda’s reasoning for not telling Crystal was that she wanted to make sure the open adoption was going to work and wanted to feel comfortable in talking with her about meeting her brother, to make sure the meeting would really happen. Crystal ended up being more shocked that her mother had been pregnant and she had not noticed, then she was about the adoption. After initially telling Crystal, she let her look at pictures of her brother. Then it became more real and Crystal was emotional saying things like, “I wish you would have kept him.” As Wanda explained to Crystal that she wouldn’t have been able to take care of two children, it calmed Crystal’s emotions. It took some time, but Crystal was able to start processing the adoption and expressing her feelings.
Wanda and Crystal decided to make two scrapbooks, one for each child. They began to fill Crystal’s book with pictures from her birth and birthday parties. They also filled the brother’s scrapbook with photos of his birth, his adoptive parents and the birthmother. Then the mother gave Crystal a surprise. She told her that they had been invited to be with the adoptive family to celebrate the baby brother’s first birthday. Both were very excited and the birthmother was excited to have photos of her two children together.
If you are considering adoption and need counseling and advice for talking with your older children, contact Act of Love to speak with a counselor. You can email, text, chat or call. Someone is available 24 hours/7 days a week to offer support and provide information on adoption related questions.