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Talking to my 4 year old.

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

We are starting to gradually involve our 4 YO DD in the conversation. We were filling out some forms, and gathering documents for adoption. She asked my DH what we were doing and he said we were filling out forms so that someday we could have a baby. Now she is asking when the baby will be here? Can we go get the baby now? etc. I tried to explain its going to take some time, but that someday our baby will find us. 


How can we explain this to her? Should we leave her out of it? She seems really interested in getting a sibling someday. She LOVES babies. 


We are letting our intentions to adopt be more public, in that when people ask if we are expanding our family we tell them we are planning to adopt. 

post #2 of 7

Our situation was different than yours because our son was younger. However, even with a 4 year old I probably wouldn't have said anything this early in the process. This can take a really long time and they just don't understand that. If it were me, I'd probably just keep saying it's going to be a really long time IF she brings it up. I also wouldn't talk about it around her. However, that's me. I try and limit how early I tell my little kids about stuff, they just get too worked up about it. At that age we probably only gave our son a week's notice before vacations. We'd pull out a calendar and draw a picture of the first travel day then mark off each day before that.


In  case it helps someone, here is what we did:


Our son was 2 when we started the adoption process. For a lot of reasons we were going to limit the search until his 3rd birthday. If no baby by then, we would stop looking. Because he was so young and because we were not assured that we would adopt, we did not tell him about our intentions. We did read new baby books intermittently (just as we might rotate between truck books or alphabet books) and I held a baby as often as I could get my hands on one, but that was all the prep we were able to do.


We ended up getting a baby when our son was 31.5 months. We got a phone call one morning about a baby that was less than 1.5 hours old. We met her at 6 hours of age. We left our son at home with a sitter and told him that we had to go help someone. When my husband went back to bring him to the hospital, he said I was helping a baby.


The birthmom couldn't sign until 72 hours then we had to wait until the unknown birth dad was TPR'ed at day 70. We did not want to bring home a "sister" only to have to give her back, so we kept telling him that we were taking care of her. (On the off-hand chance we had to give her back, we didn't want him to think that because his "sister" had to leave he might have to leave as well.)


When she was finally legally free, we were only a month from finalization. I think we waited until a week before finalization to tell him what was happening.


There is a big difference between 2.75 and 4. 

post #3 of 7

When we started the adoption process our older children were 5 and 3 and we explained everything as best we could.  When we switch over from international to domestic we explained that when a baby came home that the birthparents could change their mind and that it was their choice to decide what was best for the baby.  We never told the kids about any phone calls we got and situations we were presented to until we got the call to come to the hospital the next day.  We only waited 9 months for our "match".  Our son came home with us at 24 hours and we waited 5 days for the parents to sign away their rights.  My DD, she was 7.5, was very stressed and grumpy during this time.  She was very distressed that a baby could be born and not be able to stay with its mom.  Deep down that felt very wrong to her and we discussed that in a perfect world it wouldn't happen.  Living through it is one thing and I think you don't know how the kids will process it until it happens.  Once we knew for sure that he was "little brother" she was SO happy.  I think it was love at first sight for her and she didn't want him to not stay.  My son didn't seem affected much at all.  I found myself unable to name him until it was for sure.  I didn't realize that was what I was doing until I looked back.  I think we all protect our hearts a bit.  We are very truthful with our kids and we tell them it is their job to help remember things because little brother won't.  That way they can tell him all about the exciting things that happend when he was born, when the adoption was finalized, his 1st birthday party etc.  We also have an open adoption so they have met the birthparents and sibling etc.  It helps when they can put a face on the people involved.  We finally got a referral for the international adoption we started in 2008 and we are rediscussing what it will be like to bring a 1 year old home from an orphanage and how they might act ect.  Having an open adoption makes me mourn a bit that we won't have that in our international adoption.  Anyways, I would be very truthful and order books on the subjuct.  I find my kids do well when they have lots of time to process things and talk about all there questions.  My 3 year old at first got very upset that we might place him for adoption so we had lots of good discussion about that.  Good luck!

post #4 of 7

We plan to start the process for our second child when our son is 4. We're going to talk about. Yes, he will be young but he may also remember some of it when he gets older so I don't want to lie to him about anything. I'm just going to explain things as simply and honestly as I can, just like I would if I were pregnant.


We haven't yet decided if it will be a private domestic adoption, international adoption, or fostercare adoption. If there's a situation where the new child will be at our home without a finalized adoption yet, then we will explain that, too. We'll just explain that "sometimes adults can't take care of their children and so other people help them out." We'll be honest we'll deal with the questions, fears, and other issues as they arise.


I firmly believe kids deserve honesty and they can handle the truth. So long as it comes along with lots of hugs, "I love you"s, and a reliable daily routine, things should be fine.

post #5 of 7

Marsupial-mom, I agree!

post #6 of 7
Originally Posted by marsupial-mom View Post

I firmly believe kids deserve honesty and they can handle the truth. So long as it comes along with lots of hugs, "I love you"s, and a reliable daily routine, things should be fine.

I agree about the honesty and kids coping with the truth. I also think some information doesn't need to be shared any earlier than necessary (and some not at all.) If I were pregnant I would not tell a young child until a good way into the pregnancy about the baby. 40 weeks is a really long time to a young child. Perhaps it's just a difference in style. I see no reason to make a child wait an eternity just so the parents can gush about something they find really exciting.

post #7 of 7

We had to tell DS (3 at the time) when we started the process, b/c we were leaving him one night a week with a babysitter while we attended our foster licensing classes, which lasted 10 weeks. We told him  we were doing it so we could get him a little brother or sister, and as the process went on, we explained that we may get more than one child, and it may be a baby or it may be a child his age, and he or she may stay forever or just for a little while. Then we'd answer him as simply as possible when he'd ask questions like, "How long? Why wouldn't the baby stay forever? Where are the parents?" etc. It's less than a year later and he gets it. We'll see how much he can process when our first placement goes home and we wait (or not) for the next one, but he seems to understand the whole picture and will get used to the concept more and more as time goes by.

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