Wednesday, May 28, 2008

When Did DD Become Aware of her Adoption?

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.


Dawn said...

Like transracialness, I think openness brings it all up differently, too, because I'm sure Madison has understood adoption since she was a little younger than three because that's when she started understanding that she was OF Pennie. If Pennie hadn't been a part of our lives, I don't think this would have made sense to her as early as it did.

Overwhelmed! said...

Oh good, I'm glad you posted about this.

As I mentioned in that previous comment, we are quite open with our son about the fact that he was adopted at birth. We talk with him about his first parents and include them in our bedtime prayers. I've shown him pictures of them. I discuss his adoption with him. I read him age-appropriate adoption stories.

Despite all of this, at almost 3 1/2 years of age, he seems to have no real comprehension of what adoption is all about. None.

I just wondered when that light bulb might go on in his little head, when he'll start asking questions about his adoption.

We haven't had a pregnant friend/family member nearby that might cause him to be curious about pregnancy and where babies come from.

We're not a transracial family, although our son looks very different from us and we get questions from strangers quite often (he's blond haired with blue/green eyes, we're both dark haired with brown eyes) but he doesn't seem to notice any differences at this age.

Anyway, I can't help but be curious about at what age other children begin to "get it".

I'll be interested to see the comments of others here.

Carlos Ramo Kutz said...

I'm wondering if someone can help steer me in the right direction. This isnot a comment on your latest post, but a question that surely you have addressed somewhere. We are considering an Ethiopian adoption (we have a little boy naturally) for our second child. I just can't get around the fact that I might spend 20,000 dollars to adopt a baby whose family would be able to take care of her if I gave them that money. I feel like if I truly loved a child, I would just give that money to a family (families) and then the child would be able to stay with her own family. In other words, why does the person with the money get the baby?