Many birthparents struggle with how to tell their older children that they are placing the child they are pregnant with, for adoption. It is very difficult for a mother and father, who have made the adoption decision, to explain their choice to the children they are raising. As we all know, most children are very aware of a mother’s pregnancy from the time they are around four or five. Sometimes the parents talk openly about the fact that the mother is pregnant. But, they are often times reluctant to talk about their plan for the baby with their children who are old enough to understand.
Undoubtedly, the best way to handle the situation is with honesty and care. Adoption can be discussed with children who are very young and those who are older and teenagers. It is important to talk on the child’s level so they understand exactly what is happening. It is very important to establish the point that you love the child you are talking to very much, and you love the baby very much. You can help the child understand by stating facts about your situation. For instance, “Mommy works very hard so we can have food to eat and clothes to wear. We are a happy family and we love each other so much. But sometimes I can’t provide the things that you need. Babies need a lot of things too and I’ve found wonderful parents that are going to take good care of our baby.” Involving older children in the adoption process can also be beneficial. You can show them the profile of the adoptive family. You can ask them if they would like to draw a picture for them or write them a letter.
With adoptions at Act of Love, often times birth families and adoptive families meet before and after placement. The social work team and staff are available to help with building the relationship with the birth family and adoptive family. The children of the birthparents and adoptive family love to be involved in the get-togethers and bonding time. The children can see the adoptive parents with the baby. They can sit with the adoptive parents and together hold and love the baby.
Being honest with your children about the adoption will benefit you and them in the long run. No one likes to feel deceived. It is better for the children to know, and be a part of the adoption, while it’s happening then to find out ten years later. Finding out later causes so much distrust between a parent and child. They then begin to wonder what else was kept from them during their formative years.
Children understand more than we give them credit for. They are intuitive and can grasp concepts that we sometimes don’t believe they can. Knowing where their baby sibling is going and if possible meeting the people that will be “mom and dad” to their sibling helps the older siblings to understand better about adoption. They can formulate their own thoughts and can feel a part of the experience.
One birthmother who placed her baby for adoption a year ago, said her four year old would often comfort her saying, “Gracie is happy mom. She has a mom and a dad who are taking good care of her.”
As you contemplate adoption and talking with your older children about your decision, remember, they are a part of you and a part of the family you have created. They will be able to best understand and accept the adoption plan if you talk openly and honestly about it. Many siblings send pictures and letters to their adoptive brother or sister, and delight in seeing correspondence come back from the adoptive family.
For extra support and guidance, your experienced counselor at Act of Love will be available to listen to your needs and help guide you as you make your decisions and talk with your children. Sometimes just having a listening ear of someone who truly cares about you and your family can make all the difference. With over thirty-five years of adoption experience, the Act of Love adoption staff can help your adoption experience be positive and provide the support you need before and after placement.