Kids are honest. I love how they just ask whatever they’re thinking about without any hang-ups. This conversation happened with my friends’ 3 year old son last year while we were visiting them. I wrote it down at the time but haven’t shared it until now.
Ben: Did you have a baby?
Me: Alianna is our baby. We have her.
Ben: Was Alianna in your belly?
Me, thinking: How the heck am I going to explain this to a three-year-old?
Me: No, she was in a different woman’s belly. She had a different mommy before she came to live with us.
That was the end of the conversation but I brought it up again later when his parents were present so they could help explain it to him. Ben has two younger siblings, the youngest was just a month old at the time so he understands that babies are in mommies’ bellies before they’re born.
A while back I also had a conversation with friends’ daughter who I think was about 7 at the time.
Ruby, admiring baby Alianna: Maybe one day you’ll have a baby of your own, too!
Me: Well, you know what? If we get to adopt Alianna, then she’ll be our own. She’ll stay with us and be part of our family forever.
Ruby: Big, delighted smile. Yeah!
It’s kind of amazing how a simple, honest answer satisfies a simple, honest question, isn’t it?
Have any of you other foster or adoptive parents had interesting conversations with kids about the process? Foster care seems particularly difficult to explain sometimes (without getting in too deep about abuse or kids getting taken away from their parents) but I haven’t had any negative experiences trying to explain the basics. What about you?
Just last week, a boy asked me if I was A’s mom. When I said, “Yes.” He said, “But how come you are different colors?” I told him, “Some families just have different colors in them.”
I did have a girl (probably around 9 or 10) say to me, “So, M is your first real kid.” I told her, “No, D & A are my real kids too.” I was pretty glad my boys were not paying any attention to this conversation.
Yeah, it seems the word “real” is often misused because people don’t know what other word to use. The question itself is probably innocent curiosity most of the time – just wondering who is biologically related to who. If the person asking is old enough to understand I would try to kindly give them the right vocabulary with my answer.
We have some friends with boys who are pretty much like our nephews. We were trying to prepare them ahead of time so they wouldn’t just come to visit one day and find out we had kids. I told their 5 year old that we might have kids staying with us for a little while if they couldn’t be with their parents for one reason or another.
His only response?
“That will be cool so your house won’t be so boring without kids and I can teach them to play your ninja turtles video game!”
That’s a great response! Before we started fostering the first time, a friend asked how she should explain foster care to her very inquisitive 4 or 5 year old son. It was a great question and it was nice that she was already thinking about it in advance. I suggested explaining that so-and-so would be living with us for a while (but we were not sure how long) until his/her parents could get some issues straightened out in their lives and to reassure him that he would be staying with his parents.
I was part of an “adopted student” program at church and was paired with a family of 6. Their two girls are adopted, and it was so sweet and a little confusing for them to have me as their “adopted” student and not have me come sleep at their house! The family was living in a very small space at the time due to the father being in graduate school, but the daughter insisted, “we have LOTS of room for you!”
That’s so sweet that she wanted to make sure you knew you were welcome and wanted!
My recently adopted 5yr old daughter, who came to me at 3yrs as a foster child, still remembers her birth mom. This makes the concept of adoption a little more difficult (especially since she doesn’t like the idea of having two moms). Recently I explained her birth mom’s turn was over and it’s my turn to be the mom. I added it will be my turn from now on so she’s not waiting for someone else to come along.
Her sister, now 3 1/2, came to me at 20mths. Being so young, a very delayed upon arrival, she doesn’t remember much. Her explanation is, “I grew in someone else’s tummy, then God brought me to you because you’re my mom.”
Fostering…..that brings a whole lot of harder questions but mostly from misinformed adults.
The questions can definitely be trickier to answer about foster care, between misinformed adults and not wanting to expose children to too much of the ugly reality of the past.
I’m loving this discussion and taking notes for the future! Thanks for sharing!