Talking about adoption with a 4-year-old

In a previous post, I wrote about an adoption conversation I had with BC when he was 3. Now he’s 4, and our conversation has changed slightly.

Our adoption talk used to be initiated by me, and mostly consisted of me telling him that he has two moms and two dads and then reciting our names. Recently, he has started asking that I tell him about when he was a baby. I’ve answered this question enough times now to understand what he wants to know (I answered it “wrong” – according to him anyway – quite a few times).

So usually here’s what I tell him, “First mom (FM) and first dad (FD) were married and you grew in FM’s tummy. After you came out, you lived with aunt S and your grandma and grandpa. Then, you stayed with AL and CL (foster parents) until you could come live with us. Now, you’re our son forever.

Thankfully, this simple story satisfies him for now. I’m not looking forward to the time when he asks why all these things happened (BE hasn’t asked about this either). Obviously it’s not a happy story. It will be challenging to answer honestly, but in an age appropriate way.


2 thoughts on “Talking about adoption with a 4-year-old

  1. I hear you! It’s even somewhat harder as they age because our kids have forgotten some of the bad stuff that helped them to initially understand why they had to find a new family. We know from them that there was enough money to buy beer and cigarettes, but not food, and they totally forget that now.

    Regardless, we’ve always kept these conversations simple. We talk about how their birth mom loved them so much, and when she realized that she could no longer give them the life she wanted them to have, that she got help from Children’s Aid to find them a new family. They now understand this at 16 and 14 and some of the complexities involved. During the tween years, they didn’t understand why. Why could my mom not work hard enough to make money to feed us? Why didn’t my mom have a house? Why couldn’t my mom be like you? That is something that’s incredibly difficult to answer.

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