Overwhelmed with Joy asked in a comment on my last, and perhaps cryptic, post.
Miss I is now three and almost-a-half, and recently has showed some concern about some of the language we use. Particularly, "mother" and "first mother," are terms that confuse her. I suspect that natural- and birth- would be no more helpful to her, for it is about the term "mother" and all derivations. She currently wants to be only my baby, my *only* baby, and a baby forever. I suspect that this has more to do with her transition to preschooler from toddler. I think, too, that it is because at three, adoption is far more conceivable to her.
We've been reading her lifebook to her intermittently since she came to us at 17 mos. She was old enough to celebrate her adoption, at two. She was there when my nephew was born, and knows that she was not born to me. How well she understands why she is in a family she was not born into, who can say? How well can a three year old understand death? illness? finality of any kind?
For a transracial adoptee, adoption is almost inescapable even from a young age. I would not expect an adoptee the same race as her parents to have the same level of comprehension of (or interest in) the construction of her family at the same age. Our daughter knows our family is much different from other families. Yet I'm not certain that she really knows.