My name is Jessica and I’m a mother of two; one beautiful little girl whom I’m parenting and the other, a son, who I recently gave up for adoption. After finding out I was unexpectedly pregnant, I spent months struggling with what was the best and smartest decision for my unborn son and finally chose adoption, through Adoptions of Wisconsin. Once I made this decision, I began to wonder how to talk about adoption with my 4-year-old daughter. My daughter, Lauren, is smart and knew that I had a baby in my belly, but I wondered how she would feel when the baby didn’t come home with me when he was born. I wondered if she would wonder where he went and what happened to him. I wanted to tell her about adoption so many times, but didn’t know how to without confusing her.
I reached out to my Adoption Social Worker with my dilemma. She suggested a book called Sam’s Sister, by Juliet C. Bond, and then sent me the book as a gift for Lauren. For about a week, I hesitated reading it to her and then decided it was time. I was amazed at how well she listened and I could just see the little gears turning in her brain. After I read it to her, she said “Mommy, are you giving our baby away to someone who can’t have a baby?” I said “yes baby, there is a Mom and Dad out there that can’t have a baby on their own and Mommy has decided to give them mine. I have you and that is all I need.” She said “Ok” and ran off to play. Over the remainder of my pregnancy, Lauren did have moments where she was sad that her brother was going to a new home when he was born, but ultimately she seemed to understand.
The closer I got to my due date, the clearer it was to me that Lauren understood what was going to happen. I had a sense of relief that I told her, but I was still scared of how Lauren would react once the baby was actually born and didn’t come home with me. Many people told me to say nothing to her about adoption because she was resilient and wouldn’t remember anyway. After giving birth to my son and giving this wonderful couple a gift of life, I am glad that I explained to Lauren what happened. Lauren came to the hospital and met her brother and his parents who are raising him. I am glad that she met his parents because now they can tell him about her as well as about me. In the months since my son was born, Lauren has shown that she does remember her brother by talking about him every now and then. Being honest with Lauren and talking to her at her level, was one of the best parenting decisions I could have made because now Lauren understands what happened to her brother and why I did chose to give him up for adoption. Although telling her wasn’t easy and she may have more questions about it in the future, the fact that I decided to tell her means that we can talk openly from here on out about her brother and adoption and I don’t have to try and cover up a secret.
I encourage Moms who are struggling with how to explain adoption to your child, to get a book like Sam’s Story and read it to your child(ren). The book really made it easy to do something that I struggled with. It explained adoption at a level that a child can understand and opened the conversation that I was uncertain how to begin so that I could continue it into the future.
If you are an expectant birth parent, please click here for more information.