How Do I Tell My 4 Year Old That He's Adopted?

Updated on May 01, 2008
D. asks from Splendora, TX
63 answers

I have no idea how to tell my 4 year old he's adopted. I think I want to start out with reading him books on adoption so that he's at least familiar with the idea (any suggestions on good books?) and then after that I don't know how to approach it. He's a very sensitive boy. This is so important and life changing that I have to make sure I do this right. Help?

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So What Happened?

I just wanted to thank each and every one of you that responded. I have taken advice from each of you! I bought 4 books, 3 for my son (which are for different stages of this process for him) and 1 for me. I am only going to start by introducing him to the word adoption so that he becomes familiar and comfortable with that before we move on. We are Christian's so God will definitely be at the forefront! I will be open and honest in answering his questions and of course I will not bad mouth his birth parents. If it weren't for them I wouldn't have my precious son, he will know that! I do have to tread carefully as I said he's a very sensitive boy but I feel much more confident about it now. If you have any additional information on this subject please don't hesitate to contact me. Again, thank-you all so very much!!!

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J.W.

answers from Houston on

My sister has known she was adopted from the beginning. As a child I remember bringing her home from the hospital when she was 3 days old and having a birthday party!

When she was in elementary school kids started teasing her because she was adopted. She told them, their parents had to bring them home from the hospital but she was picked!

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V.O.

answers from Austin on

You have received some wonderful advice..my daughter (who is 2) is adopted. We celebrate her adoption day like a birthday, just on a smaller scale.

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J.H.

answers from Houston on

I Love You Like Crazy Cakes is a good one and another is On The Night You Were Born. The first is about internatitonal adoption and the second is domestic adoption. Either way, it will at least introduce the concept. They both have beautiful, child-friendly stories that explain adoption and may give you ideas on how to broach the subject. Good luck.

Jen

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J.H.

answers from San Antonio on

Hi D.,
I am also a single working mom with an adopted son. My son, Nathan, is 5 1/2. It is really difficult to just bring it up at 4. I have been telling my son about his adoption since birth mostly to get myself comfortable with saying it. I created a scrap book that is his life story. It begins with my profile seeking adoption and has pictures of placement. Some day I hope to be able to put pictures of his birthmom in it, too. (She's chosen no contact) We attend an adoption reunion every summer and have lots of contact with adoptive families. The agency that I used to adopt my son is a huge support and wealth of knowledge. I know that any of the "girls" there would be able to guide you. Please call Elizabeth at Abrazo Adoption Associates or private message her through their website www.abrazo.org
Also, if you'd like to communicate more with me, I'd be happy to talk to you about life as a single with a sensitive, young adopted son. Another adoptive mom said to me just a couple of weeks ago, "He's very sensitive for a boy." What's that supposed to mean? I'd love to hear from you.
Kristin W. I think it's fabulous that you've maintained an open adoption. That's the most positive thing for everyone involved.
J.

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K.F.

answers from San Antonio on

As the adoptive mother of two now pretty much grown kids from another country, and having worked with and known many adoptive families over the years, I would strongly suggest you not make it a big announcement, but start, if you haven't already, just talking about it as a normal part of life and conversation. My kids, who came at 5 and 8 months old, never knew anything other than they were adopted. Children come into families by birth, marriage/ re-marriage adoption--that's just life. My, and most, adopted kids need to know that you are grateful to their birth parents. Talking about, and their wanting to know about, birth parents is no threat to you or your relationship. Openness and ongoing conversation is just so much easier. My kids have been a joy! Best of luck!

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L.B.

answers from El Paso on

Hi D.,
What an angel you are!!I am adopted, have met my birth parents and propmptly thanked God they did the right thing for me. I have always known about being adopted, and one day just understood what it meant. My mom and dad always would tell me that I was a special baby, a chosen baby. My mom explained when I was older, 5 or so, that her "tummy" was broken and the lady who gave birth to me, blessed her and my dad by giving them me. There are many great books about adoption, I think Jamie Lee Curtis' book is wonderful.My own children know about this and understand it and it is always an open topic for discussion. My mom always told me when I was 16, if I wanted any info( she had acquired a name) she would give it to me. When I was 18, she helped start the process to find them. Of course, you need to go with what your comfort level is.Talk with him, answer his questions, never side step the answer. If you don't know, tell him you don't. Him being so sensitive, he will know you are nervous, so tell him you are and that this is a new journey for you too and you both can walk it together. Trust your gut, and remember what a wonderful thing you did for this boy,YOUR chosen baby. It is nothing he or you should ever be ashamed of. Good luck and again, you ARE an angel.

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T.W.

answers from Houston on

my mom read me a book that explained it to me, and then answered any questions i had. of course, for a long time, i was sure she'd chosen me from the baby store!

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H.S.

answers from Odessa on

I have an adopted son too he is 16 mo. old. Your situation is quite different though. Tell Me Again About The Night I Was Born written by Jamie Lee Curites is basically the story of our adoption. It's a great picture book and Barnes and Noble should order it if they don't have it in stock. Next, You need to read some literature about telling an older child about their adoption now and when he asks questions in a few minutes, days, weeks, years, etc.... You NEED to tell him now. If he is extrememly sensitive you have to remember to be extremely strong and probably cry later after he goes to bed. First of all he does not need to know any personal a information about the biological mother. I am telling mine now that she was sooo young but loved you soooo much she wanted you to be with a family that could love and take care of you the way she wished she could and it made her sad to say good bye but it was the best thing for you. Then I tell him I am so glad she made that decision because I wouldn't have him if she hadn't. I also tell him he grew in someone else's tummy, but he grew in my heart the longest. That is true. I hope this helps. I will be praying for you. I know this is hard. I will be praying your little boy receive it and understand and is able to move on.
H. S.

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C.T.

answers from San Antonio on

Hi D.,
I am adopted and I have 3 other sibblings, all adopted from different families. We are all 2 years apart and all in our 30's now. We all grew up knowing that we were adopted which I believe is the best way! My husband learned at the age of 21 that the father that raised him was not his biological father. We have since come to know his biological father very well and he and his family are our VERY close friends, but the man who raised him will ALWAYS be his dad! Although my husband took the news well, one of his brothers was devistated.
I don't know the name of any books anymore (check your local library), but talk to your son often about him being adopted and let him know how special he is because you "chose" him. And though he won't understand what everything means at the age of four, you'll be surprised what he does understand and more importantly what he grows up already knowing. Talk to him about the process (such as, if he was adopted overseas, how God had a little boy so special waiting for you that you got on a big plane and flew all the way across the ocean to get him! or if you adopted him from a group home, tell him about going to visit him at that group home. Maybe tell him a little bit about your situation, why you chose adoption (couldn't have children, etc...) that you had so much love in your heart that you wanted to share it with a child, and you chose him to share your love with. I beleive the most important thing is to start talking about it now and talk about it often. As we got older and had more questions, my parents always told us what they knew of the biological parents and why they made the decission to put us up for adoption (there wasn't a whole lot they could tell us since all adoptions were "closed" or "semi-closed" adoptions). They also assured us that after we turned 18, if we had any interest in finding our biological parents, they would do everything in their power to help us do so. Unfortunately, our adoptive parents both died when we were young and we never got that opportunity. I often wonder how I would start the process to go about finding my natural parents.
Honesty and oppeness are the key!
Hope this helps

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B.P.

answers from Houston on

Several of my 8 are adopted. We tell them (the ones that are adopted at an older age) that sometimes children are born to people who just can't take care of theirselves much less anyone else. And that God new how badly we wanted a boy / girl and saw that he / she got to come live with us and be loved and taken care of.

For the younger ones, that we have adopted at birth, we start telling them the day we get them that they grew in our heart instead of my tummy and that they are our perfect gifts from God. More explanation is given as they get old enough to ask and / or understand.

Be as up front as possible. Never lie. Read books based on adoption. Seek a family counselor to help. Patti Peoples in Nassau Bay Area, across from Johnson Space Center is an excellent therapist. I have used her for a lot of my foster kids. Out of all the therapist I have worked with over the years, she is one of the best with all ages, tiny children thru adulthood. Hth

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K.D.

answers from San Antonio on

Telling an adopted child from day one is the ONLY way to handle it, in my book. My husband (54 yrs old) is adopted and cannot remember ever knowing anything else (and he has remarkably detailed memories from a very young age: < 3 yrs). His parents told him that he was adopted from the start. They also adopted a daughter when he was 3 years old and he actually remembers much of the home visits from the agency in preparation for the event. His parents and the agency reps. made him feel he was a "part" of the process. Both he and his sister are products of "closed adoptions" so they do not know anything about their birth parents. Both are well-adjusted. Both have been loved EXACTLY as one loves ANY child of their own, because that is how their parents view their children: as their OWN.

My sister-in-law (my husband's adopted sister, that I previously referenced) has two adopted children of her own. They are 21 yrs. and 18 yrs. of age, respectively, and have always know they are adopted. Also, after quite a few years of trying to become pregnant, my husband's step-sister and her husband adopted a infant girl (now 27 yrs. old) and within six weeks of this daughter's birth/adoption, "they" became pregnant with a son. He is the only "natural" child in our family, so we have been a poster family for adoption from the mid-1950's through the mid-1970's. His sister (the adopted girl) just recently wanted to find her birth-mother and learn about her family. Her mom (my husband's step sister) helped her research, they found the woman living in New York, and the two of them went for a family visit together. It was a good experience all around, because there has never been any reason to doubt that she is the cherished daughter of my sister- and brother-in-law.

The trend continues...I have a goddaughter who was adopted 13 years ago in a private adoption, such that she knows her birth mother, who lives in another state. Although they do not correspond regularly, there are no secrets about her birth-mother: she is given the utmost respect for loving her child so much that she chose great home for her. When my goddaughter she began to approach puberty, her parents helped her to understand how MUCH her birth-mother loved her to choose "life" for her, by allowing her (adoptive) Mom and Dad to make such a precious child their own. Telling her from day one was the natural assumption. Continuing to deal honestly with her is the firm foundation for total trust of her parents that will provide her a sense of security for her whole life.

There are no repercussions when it comes to giving a child total love, no matter what their genetic origin. I simply think you are a bit LATE in the announcement and encourage you to pray about "the how to" and then "just do it", quickly! If you are unsure about the urgency of this disclosure, imagine what it would be like to find out, accidentally, at some later point that your parents have kept from you something that is so integral to your relationship with them. It could rock the foundation of your faith (in them and other areas) and undermine your security. God bless your efforts!

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K.H.

answers from Killeen on

My husband was adopted, his "parents" were always up front and honest with him about it. He does not remember being told just that he always knew.Be sure to always tell him he was chosen and that he is very special
Here are a couple book titles:
Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis,
Happy Adoption Day! by John McCutcheon
Over the Moon: An Adoption Tale by Karen Katz
Did My First Mother Love Me? by Kathryn Ann Miller
I Love You Like Crazy Cakes by Rose A. Lewis
I hope these get you started.

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M.N.

answers from Longview on

I have three adopted little boys. There are wonderful books that explain adoption. We have always been open with our boys and they know their story and how they came to our family. The important thing is to be honest and reassure him that you love him and you are his forever family. If you go to tapestrybooks.com you can find all kinds of books, tapes and I think even some videos about all types of adoption. Some for children and some for adults who were adopted and some for adoptive parents. Your son is blessed to have you. Say a prayer and ask the Lord to lead you in your discussion and He will. God bless!! If you want to talk to me you can send me a personal message, I would love to offer any assistance that I can. I am not an expert but will share our experiences and of those of others that I know.

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D.E.

answers from Houston on

D., my 5 yr old daughter is adopted and we always just said it from the beginning. THe first thing that you need to feel in your heart is that there is nothing to be ashamed, fearful, hidden about in adoption. It is who your child is. It is his story. He has a right to know about his story and it doesn't make him any more "special" or different. It just is. By saying he is "special" it puts pressure on them to be that way and can make them feel different. We watch Miss Spider and all of her buggy kids are adopted. We read books- Tapestry books.com is a great source for adoption material. I also have the Jamie Lee Curtis book - Tell me again about the night I was born. Anytime I see a movie about a person taking in a child or an animal I tell here "Hey that is just like you!" Sometimes she will get more interested in her story and basically I just answer what she wants to know at that time. Idon't give her more than she is ready to know. SHe knows that she has a birth mommy and daddy but she doesn't really Know what that means yet. Practice the story while you are driving in the car. Don't make it a big deal just relay it like you were telling a family story- very matter of fact. We don't celebrate her adoption day like a birthday but we talk about the judge and all the other babies that were adopted that day. Practice your story on a family member and don't do it like " I have something to tell you" Read alot and pray! Do not keep it a secret. That just makes it seem like something to be ashamed about. Remember everyone in your family, friends, coworkers knows that he is adopted- why shouldn't he know. The last thing you want is someone else other that you to tell him. He will always love you and your are his mommy remember that. Good Luck!

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S.H.

answers from Killeen on

We adopted a little girl. We got her at birth as a foster child then adopted her before she was a year old. Because she is bi-racial, it was obvious to others that she was adopted and we didn't want her upset if someone said something to her. We always told her she was adopted, even before she was old enough to understand. We told her that her other mommy loved her so much that she wanted the best for her. Since she couldn't take good care of her, she asked the judge (the man with the hammer, she later told my dad) to find a good home for her. When the judge decided she should be our little girl, he hit his hammer on the desk and said,"she is yours." We have three boys and she has always known she was special. She is now 33 and has her own daughter. Being adopted is something she has always been proud of. I don't know if this is of any help, but we believe that being as honest as possible is the best. When our daughter was a toddler, we had a record album called "Down by the Creekbank". It had a song that said "I am adopted, I'm a special child you see. I'm proud to be a member of a royal family. Our daughter always said she was "double" adopted. With God's help, we raised a beautiful Christian woman.

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L.H.

answers from Houston on

Here is my input on this. I have a teenage daughter who has always known she is adopted. The best book I can refer you to is one you write yourself. It doesn't have to be fancy or detailed, but just a simple book about him.
Our daughter's book is a total of about 10 pages. It starts with “Once there was a man named _____. (next page) And a woman named ______. (next page). Then it goes on to tell the things they (we) liked to do as a couple. I added cute Evan-Moor pictures on each page and had it laminated at Kinko's. It ends with: “The lady at the adoption agency asked: What will you name her?” And we said: We will name her Lauren! And then has a sign drawn with words that when we got home some people had decorated our house with signs that said: Welcome Home Lauren! (Corny, but she loved it!)
We read it to her when she was 3 and I’m sure it didn’t sink in, but it was a recurring request to read the “Lauren Book”. We found her reading it on her own, too, which gave the story real meaning and stimulated conversations as she matured. Each stage has had its own questions and we know that from the very beginning, we were always truthful with her and were thrilled that she was "home"!
Hope this helps.

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C.E.

answers from Austin on

What we are planning to do with our twins who are almost 2 is make a photo book that tells the story of how they came here, add words to make our own little picture book, then read it for a bedtime story. They won't understand "adoption" for a while, but when they are they'll know.

I got this idea from a great book I just got....Raising Adopted Children by Lois Ruskai Melina.

I have to respectfully disagree with the people who say to not tell until he is older or asks or wants to know or whatever. Research suggests otherwise. We owe it to our children to be open and honest and not keep secrets.

Good luck!

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J.J.

answers from Austin on

what is the point in telling him till he is older? i think it will just cause problems in ur relationship.

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S.G.

answers from Houston on

Hi D.
I dont have advice on what to do I do have advice on what not to do.My husband was adopted his adoptive mom told him when he was 13 according to my husband she waited too long.
I would say that telling him before school starts is probably a good idea.I wish you the best of luck and the best to you and your family.
S.

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T.V.

answers from Houston on

I was listening to Dr. Laura and this subject was brought up. Dr. Laura says, and I agree, that the parent who takes care of the child is the parent. As an adopted child I have to say, I think I would have been better off if I had not known.

With that said, if he asks tell him, but until he has reason to doubt, leave well enough alone. He needs no other mother than you.

Blessings,
T.

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E.F.

answers from Houston on

I have an adopted daughter and was myself adopted. I think the best thing is to talk about it as part of regular conversation rather than as a sit down revelation. There is a great book called Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis (has 2 adopted kids). My mom always used to tell me that I was special because she got to pick me out which I liked hearing as a kid.

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L.F.

answers from Austin on

Why tell him now?? I'd wait a year or so at least. Little guy has enough to deal with, realizing he is not the center of the universe as is.

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F.G.

answers from San Antonio on

i think he is a little young to be telling he's adopted...why the rush??

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K.B.

answers from San Angelo on

Start slow! A friend of mine was adopted and she says she doesn't really remember being "told". She was adopted at birth by a family with existing children, and she says she never felt as an outsider growing up. One thing she does remember is that her adoptive mom would tell her that instead of growing in her tummy like her other babies, she was special because she grew in her heart. I thought that was a wonderful way of putting it.

Good luck, I know you are fretting over this. I think your book idea is great. You also might get in touch with a child therapist to figure out what your son can grasp at age 4. (I have 3 kids - 13, 10, & 8 - and if there's one thing I know for sure, don't tell them anymore than they need to know!!)

My heart and prayers go out to you and your son. Don't worry, you'll both be okay!

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S.S.

answers from Austin on

I have two adopted neices (2 & 5 yrs old) and love them both. I believe what my sister has told them is. God gave you two mommies. One who carried you in her tummy and me who takes care of you. We both love you very much. If you need more, the one who carried you in the tummy couldn't take care of you and that's how you (my sister) stepped in. My sister had pictures of the birth mothers so when the older one understood, she asked to see the picture. At the beginning, she did look at the birth mother's picture a lot. And not as much now. I don't recall if my sister put the picture of the birth mother in a frame and left it in my daughter's room (I think so but can't recall at this moment). I'm sure she asks and my sister and brother-in-law explain again.

Hope this helps or gives you some ideas.
S.

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C.B.

answers from Houston on

I have a 14 year old-soon to be 15- son who is adopted.
WE celebrated Happy Adoption Day on his court day. We celebrated like it was a BD-one small gift and told hom how special he was and that God chose him especially for us.
WE let him ask questions as they came and didn't offer additional details unless they came up.
WE never had to sit him down and have "that talk".
He's young enough that you could probably still do that.
Someone gave us"Chico's Mom" which was a cute book about adoption using farm animals-one mom raised another kind of
animal. Hope that helps!.

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C.B.

answers from Austin on

D.,

Both my boys are adopted. I have a 4 year old and an 8 year old. Both know they did not grow in Mom's tummy. You are doing the right thing by reading him books starting to dialog with him.

I don't think my 4 year old understands, but when he is ready, I will explain it to him. I am not so sure how much my eight year old understands, but we tell him his "birth" story (about how we became a family) whenever he asks.

Another reason it's not so hard to discuss is because at church we talk about how we are all adopted into God's family through baptism (we are Christian). Also, we have friends who have children that are adopted.

I hope this helps.

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J.H.

answers from Houston on

Where did you get him? If it was from an agency, they should have recommended some books. Contact one or check with the Pediatrician, but definately do something and start now.

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S.C.

answers from San Antonio on

Read "A Mother for Choco" it's a book about a bird who is looking for a mother. Very sweet and easy to read to a young child. I used to read this book to my kinder class when we talked about different kinds of families. It was a hit every time

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S.G.

answers from Houston on

There is a great book called Shaoey and Dot that is by the Christian singer Steven Curtis Champan. He has 3 daughters that he and his wife Mary Beth adopted from China. They are big advocates of adoption and that is why Steven and his daughter Shaohana wrote the book. Go to the local bookstore and look for some books on adoption. My personal thought is that you tell your child that they were so special that GOD sent YOU to pick only them because they were so special.

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A.N.

answers from Austin on

Hi D. - I am adopted and I can tell you that I always knew and my parents handled it great - my favorite thing they used to tell me is how much they respected my birth mom for making such a hard decision to give me to them - that is so respectable. It kept things in great perspective for me and I felt doubly loved.

Since your son is sensitive I would not tell him outright - I would read, as you mentioned - I think you sense that is the right thing to do for his personality. Introduce adoption in many ways - babies, kids, animals, etc... and get him to understand the concept first. Then have talks about it and you will know when the time is right to mention it to him. What is great is if you can point out people who are adopted, that he knows. AND make sure you tell him that his birth mother loved him so much she gave him to you - and how hard that would have been - how special he is.

If you keep it positive, it will be just fine. As long as you are okay, he is probably okay.

Good luck - listen to your heart on this and you'll be fine.
Alli

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L.B.

answers from Sherman on

I too have adopted children (3 & 4) and we talk about adoption with both of them. (They were not adopted at birth, but were still infants.) They are comfortable talking about it, but their childhood understanding is so limited still. But I am glad we are talking now and pray that their curiosity will be satisfied while they are young. Good luck to you!

Books that I have are: A Koala for Katie by Jonathan London. It is a story where an adopted girl projects her adoptedness on a stuffed Koala after a discussion with her parents at the zoo. There is nothing wrong with it, but one of my favorites that we have had for a while is A Blessing from Above (Little Golden Book) by Patti Henderson which has a Bible scripture in it....I like it a great deal... also because it is vague enough and sensitive to the entire triad of adoption.

I found a book titled The Day We Met You by Phoebe Koehler that expresses the feelings of the adoptive parents the first time they met their baby. It is nice if that child was an infant when the parents met her/him.

A great book for those who met their adoptive child after the infant stages is Welcome Home, Forever Child by Christine Mitchell. (the pictres are of a cat looking family and show a mom and dad figure, but the words don't mention a traditional family)

I know that there is one called Rosie's Story by Lori Rosove but I haven't read it. It is about having differences from your adopted family. I'm guessing it's meant for trans-racial adoptions.

All of these can be ordered at Amazon.com They also have reviews that you can read on them.

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J.R.

answers from San Antonio on

Hi D.,

My husband and I are both adopted, from different backgrounds for example my husband does not know his birthparents and I do, but My parents always told me that I was adopted and they said it this way, I was special becuase they got to pick me, they really wanted me so they worked very hard to have me be their daughter. My husbands mom told him that he was adopted as well and they were very honest that they could not have any children and God made it possible for them to get him. I hope this helps. I know that there may be feelings later on that he may have but for now just telling him is important so that he does not find out by accidnet later and wonder why he was never told.
Let us know what happens,
J.

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L.D.

answers from Houston on

Well, it would have been so much easier if you had discussed it from the beginning but it is never too late to tell the truth. I'm sure there are good books out there. Google search adoption books for children and pick the one that you like and tell your son immediately. Don't make a big deal out of it. It really isn't a big deal anyway. It's just "truth be told"!!!

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K.L.

answers from Houston on

I have been through this experience. At 4 years old,he isn't capable of comprehending the concept of adoption. All he knows is that you're his momma,which makes his world feel safe. Telling him now will turn his world upside down. No matter how many books you read to him on the subject to prepare him,the only thing he will hear is you're not his momma. His little mind isn't ready to process the information. He just needs to feel safe and loved....and at that age,his world revolves around you. You are his momma and you make him feel loved and special.Telling him now will shatter his world,and he doesn't have the intellectual "tools" to work through it. He doesn't even have the vocabulary skills to express the questions and fears that it will bring up. I sympathize with you and it's a continual road that you will travel with him. It's best to wait until he is 7 or 8,so that he can ask the questions that he needs to ask. That's the age that the child counselor told me to approach it with my daughter. It was still difficult but we continue to work through it. She is now 10 years old and she has her ups and downs....mostly,she has a difficult time with her anger about why her biological mother didn't keep her. But she knows I love her and that she is my gift from God and that I will always be her momma,no matter what. I wish you and your son only the best. Good luck.

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M.T.

answers from Houston on

After you read the book to him, you may want to tell him something like this:
Let him know that he is so special that God didn't want him to come into the world just like every body else. Tell him that out of all of the other babies that were born on the same day he was born, Mommies got to pick what baby they wanted, and God let you pick him.

Every child should be wanted and know that they are.

Bless you and your son,
M. T

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A.W.

answers from Austin on

Hi D.,
I'm the mom to a wonderful little boy who was born in Korea. (I also have two older bio kids that are just as wonderful!) With Nate, it was obvious from day 1 that he was different from the rest of the family. We did a lot of research on adoptees and their feelings and attachment. We found that creating a "Lifebook" for Nate was something that would help him understand and accept his story, at the same time giving him a window of opportunity (while we read it to him) to ask questions that he may have been a little uneasy to bring up on his own. It's been awesome having his lifebook! He had a foster family that took care of him in Korea for 7 months and the separation trauma was huge for him. That has shown up over the years in a few different ways...and we finally decided to go to a therapist to talk to her. We were just so nervous about how he would adjust to being separated from me to go to Kindergarten.....he was SO timid about other adults!! She was able to tell us that he was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which really explained a lot. He had been so nervous around other adults because he was afraid that someone might take him from us! He also was afraid that someone would notice that he didn't "match" with our family (especially if they were asian). A huge part of him healing from the trauma is talking about his story and how each step of it impacted him. Our therapist has been AWESOME!! Her name is Em Hardy and she has an office near Zilker Park, in case you're interested in talking with her. Her website is www.emhardy.com and she's just great with kids and parents alike. If you'd like more info on creating a Lifebook for your son (it's written in storybook form, to be read to your child in terms that they can understand!), let me know. I actually taught a session on creating a lifebook for your adopted child for Great Wall Adoption Agency in Tampa last winter and have some worksheets I'd be happy to email to you.
Adoption is such a special thing and it's so important that your son know his story from a young age so that he can begin to process it before he hits those really hard adolescent years. Studies have shown that adoptees go through periods where they have a difficult time with their adoption around 5 to 6 years of age and then again during adolescense. Now is a great time to help your little guy begin to process it!

Contact me anytime! My email address is [email protected]____.com .

A.

mom to Hailey (16-bio), Eli (9-bio) and Nathaniel (5-S.Korea)
www.thefirstglimpse.com

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K.W.

answers from Corpus Christi on

I gave my daughter up for adoption at birth almost 17 years ago. Her adoptive parents told her from the beginning. They never made it a bad or sad thing, what they did was tell her about this other special person in her life. That she grew in my tummy and that I loved her very much, so much that I made sure she had a good family. Mine was an open adoption so I've always had contact with my daughter, she spends about a week a year with me and my family. Her parents always felt that a child could never have too much love, so they welcomed me and my family into their lives. What I've seen of that is a young woman who has grown up so confident in herself and I'm convinced it is because of the way her parents handled our relationship and her adoption. She never had to wonder if she was loved, she always knew it.

Even if your adoption was closed and you don't have contact with the birthmother, always tell your son that she loves him just like you and his dad love him. If you make it a positive thing for him, he will benefit from it and accept it. When he asks questions, be honest with him, but only if it is positive, otherwise just say you don't know the answer. Maybe it sounds deceptive but to me it is more important for a child to grow up believing that he was loved by the people who brought him into the world as well as by the people who raised him.

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N.B.

answers from Houston on

I have no advice on the topic...but I read a fabulous email once from a child's point of view. The email was about adoption. The child said that instead of a baby being grown in the mama's belly, he/she was grown in the mama's heart. I couldn't believe a child could be so perceptive! Love it! Best of Luck!!!

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L.Z.

answers from Houston on

Hi D.,
My husband and I have a 5 year old son that we adopted at birth. When he got to be 4, we started worrying about this as well. As it turned out, a friend of ours got pregnant. We talked about her alot. I took him with me to buy her baby shower gift, etc. We spoke about the new baby growing in her tummy. At some point close to the end of her pregnancy, our son asked if he grew in my tummy. This was the question we were waiting for. My husband happened to be home from work at the time and we stopped what we were doing -- turned off the tv and started talking about how mommy couldn't grow a baby in her tummy... But mommy and daddy wanted a baby so badly. We met Ms. Jennifer and she was having a baby and she gave him to us. Ms. Jennifer wasn't able to take care of her baby... Then we showed him pictures of him at the hospital with Jennifer and with us. We were there when he was born. We explained how great it was to be there and that we took him home from the hospital with us. I have everything in a huge scrapbook of his whole first year, so it was easy for him to see. His adoption day is my fathers birthday, so we celebrate that as well as his birthday. He never understood before why he was getting presents, but now he does. He mainly was concerned about living somewhere else without us. It calmed him to know that he has always lived with us. He has told several people that he is adopted and it is just a fact for him.

Personally, I wouldn't bring it up to your son. You need to make sure that he is ready to hear the information. And only give him enough that he can handle. I had bought and read several books to my son before, but not sure if it helped at all. Tapestry Books on line has lots of age appropriate material. Also for you as well.

The main thing is for you to be calm -- and then most likely your son will be!

Good Luck,
L.

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T.T.

answers from Waco on

Hi I also adopted my youngset child. She will be 10 this year,She was not a family members child. But she does have other siblings.She does see 2 of them. I am also a single mom and choose for her to know she was adopted.For us we let her know that she is special and we choose her.Every year on the day the judge signed the papers to make it official Her and i have a mother daughter day, we celebrate! How did i tell her?.....Letting her know she was not in my belly but someone elses, But i got her as soon as i could. God had a plan for us and it was for us to be together. I don't lie to her she knows her other mother did and does drugs so she can not see her. Every sittuation is different..........There is always questions threw life when they know they are adopted, I don't tell her any more than she needs to know at the time. She knows most everything now except her biological mother.And it is working out wonderfully so far.God new what he was doing for her and i. We are happy. (i have older children,that are biologly mine) So it help when i tell her she has brown eyes like her brother, or she looks like me, or you act like your sister...always reasuring her this is where she belongs. I don't know your situation but i hope some of this has helped. I wish you all the luck in the world. I know i have beeen blessed,and so have you.Valerie

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L.L.

answers from New Orleans on

I would get some advice from an adolescent/childhood counselor or some other professional in this area first. I think that 4 yo is too young to absorb and understand fully. My opinion though.

It may trigger confusion and affect him negatively and cause him to worry in him especially if his memory is not fully developed yet. I would think that a better age would be after 6 or 7 when they understand better and can retain the information you give them and ask appropriate Questions. I would still only give a little information at a time, you don't want him to bite off more that you think he can chew.

The book idea sounds great if you do this first for a couple of years, exposing him to the concept of adoption first, then maybe by then he will have a clearer picture formed in his mind beforehand? I hope you find the best solution.

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J.S.

answers from Killeen on

I have no idea what advice to give because my mother never withheld this info from me. I have always known. I am sure there was a point where my mom had to explain it to me a few times, but I don't ever remember learning that I wasn't a biological child of my mother's.

I do remember my mother telling me that being adopted means I am special because adopted children are wanted and saught after. I grew up knowing I was special, how cool is that? What more could a kid ask for?

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C.K.

answers from San Antonio on

Hi D.,
I don't have any ideas on good books, your library will, but I do have a 14 year old son I adopted when he was two. What I did was have a "just family" party every year on the date of the adoption, just like his birthday party. That started when he was just three. I told him that this was his adoption day and just as important to our family as the day he was born because it was the day that the judge made him mine. That way, he just grew up with the knowing that adoption was a good thing and he was special in my heart because I picked him out to be my son. If he's old enough to ask questions, this is the time he'll do it and you can just be prepared with answers.
Then I put a picture of the judge signing the papers on the wall and told him about it, starting with "do you remember when we went to the judge's office".
If you make it natural and easy, he'll take it that way.

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P.P.

answers from San Antonio on

If you make a big deal out of it then he will pick up on that thinking there is something wrong or different. Plus he's only 4. Not sure how long you've had him but My nephew was adopted and we were all very open about it and how cool it was that he was our nephew. The most important thing is to just love him with all your heart and the adoption thing should just be a moot point. You can introduce the idea now. I'd start on the internet and look for interesting stories on adoption such as this article.
http://www.animalactivism.org/resources/online/story.php?...
You can relate the story to him. You were lost and I found you and now I get to take care of you because now I'm your Mom! As he gets older you can elaborate on the circumstances but at this point I'd just keep it very simple.
Good Luck!
Pen

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L.S.

answers from Killeen on

A friend of mine was adopted at birth. Her parents just alway told her. When the adoption was paid off, she was so excited because her mom and dad had "Paid her off." Her parents just always told her how lucky they were that they got to choose her themselves. How God blessed them with that gift. She is now a 40 year old well adjust teacher with children of her own. It is important for the child to know that there are more than one way to become a mommy, but no matter how we do it, we love it.

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K.N.

answers from Houston on

Hi D.,
My parents adopted me when I was 3 days old. 8 years later my parents had my sister Angie and 17 months after that had my sister Brittany. My parents told me and my sisters from the beginning that I was adopted, this was back before "how to" books. I will be 35 this year. They simply told me that I was adopted and was their special baby. That God gave me to them. That their love was stronger than birth parents love. Plain and simple. I also have a great book called "Questions Children Ask & How To Answer Them" by Dr. Miriam Stoppard. It has GREAT information in it and it gives you senarios for explination by age groups. (2-4, 4-6, 6-8, & 8-11) Bottom line you should talk about it from the beginning so that it's accepted and normal.

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D.J.

answers from Houston on

Hi D.,

I see that you have gotten a lot of good advise so far, but I wanted to put in my 2 cents worth. We also have an adopted son. He is 10 now but we got him at birth. I actually was in the room and got to see him be born. Anyway, I started telling him the story of how we got him as a bedtime story. It was his favorite, (well, that one and also the one about his daddy getting lost in the snow) and he wanted me to tell it to him almost every night, but the basic theme of the story was that since mommy couldn't have a baby in her tummy, God made us a special boy and put him in another ladies tummy until he was ready to be born and then he got to come home with us. I also believe this story myself. He is so much like us that there is no way it could have been a random thing. I even sometimes forget that I didn't give birth to him.

Good luck telling him, and I do think that you should. I know of 2 people that didn't find out they were adopted until they were older, and both of them had a really hard time with it. The people that I know that that were adopted and always knew it were much more secure with it.

D.

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N.H.

answers from Houston on

I would not bring it up until he either asks you about how/when he was born or some other occasion comes up where you can start to talk about it. Some kids can understand at 4, others are not ready. Just be ready with what you are going to say. We adopted two children and I was not ready when my son (about 5 at the time) ask me what it's like to have a baby in my tummy. Fortunately it was easy to distract him and move on to another subject until we could compose a good answer.

We also celebrate their adoption date. They were both adopted at the same time and we call it our Family Feast Day -- the day we all became a family. What we ended up telling him (on our next Family Feast Day) was that some mommies can have babies but can't keep them, other mommies want to have babies but can't. So God picks out good mommies for children and good children for mommies and brings them together - just like he did for us. We showed pictures of us when we went to get them and showed them maps of where we went etc.
(They were from Russia)
We also told him about all the other great people that were adopted -- like Moses and even Jesus.

You can tell him there is a wonderful person who loved him so much that she not only gave birth to him, but also loved him so much that she wanted him to have the best life possible.

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D.B.

answers from Houston on

Focus On The Family has a lot of information on this subject. They also have a lot of other family "help" information. Their website is family.org.
Check 'em out!

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L.M.

answers from Austin on

Hi D.,
Thank you for adopting a child. It is a selfless act and I admire you.

I personally found out when I was 12 years old by snooping in my babybook. My mom is my bio mom but my dad adopted me when they married when I was 1 years old. (At first I thought I was completely adopted) My mom explained everything and I was able to understand then. Plus it explained so much about myself and my brother (who is fully related).

In the end, I don't know if it makes a difference WHEN or HOW you tell your child, just be prepared with answers. Especially the biggy "Who are my real parents???"

And what ever you do, DON'T LIE! If they are not dead then don't tell him they are, etc...

You know, now what I am faced with, is telling my childern that their Grandpa isn't blood related and it kills me. He is the BEST GRANDPA in the world. But, I will tell them later too.

Sincerely,
L.

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P.W.

answers from Houston on

My daughter is 26 and we adopted her when she was 5 and a half weeks. Being a girl we had bought her a cabbage patch doll. They make boy dolls also. They come with adoption papers etc. We told her how special it was to choose her. You can do the same with a special adopted pet (fish, dog, cat, etc.). We kept the explanation simple and said that Mommy could not have babies so we had the wonderful opportunity to choose her and that she is so special. As time went on she would ask a question and we would answer ir. An example is: When she was having her 6th birthday, she said, Mommy do you think that my other Mommy is thinking of me today? I said of course because you are so precious and I know she is wishing you a happy birthday. When she turned 21 she wanted to meet her birth mother. We went to the lawyer and he put us in touch with her. We all got together and my daughter and her birth mom look like sisters. They spent the weekend together. My daughter even went to spend a few days with her at her home. When she returned, she came to me crying and I asked her what was wrong. She said "Mom, why don't I feel anything for her?" I said because she is a stranger to you. She hugged me and said to me, "YOU are my MOM and always will be." Even though they have each others phone numbers and email, they never call or email. I am her Mom and it is to me that she comes.

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J.C.

answers from Austin on

I have the book "Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born" by Jamie Lee Curtis. It is a really sweet book. My 4 year old daughter is not adopted but one of her close friends was adopted from China so she really loves to read the book. I think if you are really open and honest with your son as he grows up and tell him he is so special that you picked him to be yours that he we be okay with being adopted when he is older. Good luck!

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B.B.

answers from Houston on

A four year old will not comprehend adopted. When I was growing up I had a friend that was adopted. We were 9 years old and she told me that her mother and father pick her, out of a lots of other kids. Her parents thought that out of all the other children, they thought she was the best. She felt special and very loved. It made me wish I was adopted.

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W.C.

answers from San Antonio on

I was the only child of 4 that was adopted. I was not adopted until 5 years old, so I always knew. I think 4 is a great age to introduce this to him. He is aware and can understand it just fine. My siblings would always pick on me for being adopted, until my mom told me that I was the only child that she got to choose. I've also hear the "grow in my heart"- though that might be misunderstood at this age. I would just explain to your son why you chose to adopt him. Be honest and answer all of his questions. The book idea is a great idea. I wouldn't really set him down and just read 12 books to him though. maybe over the course of a week or two. I would also include any other family that you have. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and even close friends anyone and everyone that your son loves. At this age, he will mostlikely put a lot less though into it then you are, and will probebly just except it like he would if you said the sky is blue. There might be some why's or how's or whatever and just answer all of them honestly. She him some pictures of the day you brought him home so that he can see how happy you were to have him.
The day that my adoption was final, my parents gave me a single rose. We had a party, kind of like a birthday party. Every year there after my parents gave me a card and another single rose. It was my own special little day that most children didn't get. Maybe starting a little tradition like this. As he gets older, there will be more questions about his bio-mother. Like where she is and what she's like. Just remember to keep the answers positive and age approprat without lying. "She wasn't able to give you the things that she wanted to." or "She wanted more for you then she could give." or (in the case of surrogate mother's) "She gave me the greatest gift andyone could." I'm sure that this goes without saying, just never say that she didn't want him. That will break a child's heart at any age. Also stay away from "I couldn't have any children. This will make him feel like the runner up prize.
Good luck and God bless. Thank you for choosing adoption.

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D.L.

answers from Corpus Christi on

D.,
You have received a lot of good advice. We have two daughters - the oldest is adopted and the youngest is not. They are 5 and 4 years old. We picked up our oldest when she was 13 months old. We have remained in contact with her foster parents and visit with them twice a year. We have let her know that when she was tiny she lived with them. We have talked about adoption from the beginning.

I know of some that tell their children they are special because they were chosen. We have told ours that God chose her to be in our family. That our family was not complete until we had her. We have not gone into full detail about her bio family. I will answer her questions with just enough information to satisfy her. We treat adoption as though it is the most best thing ever. She has even asked if we could adopt our youngest since she is not adopted.

We enjoy reading Happy Adoption Day. And have also started celebrating her adoption day with a party.

Just start slow and a little information at a time.

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D.A.

answers from San Antonio on

Reading books on adoption is a great idea and I'm glad you are starting now rather than waiting. Just explain that babies are made many different ways and adoption is one way. I have six adopted children. We have always just used adoption as a household word. When they had questions, we answered them as simply as possible, careful not to use bigger language than they were ready for. If you don't make a big deal about it, he won't either. Just be matter of fact with him. I told my children that God had a plan for them to be mine, he just used someone else to make them, and their birth families just wanted them to have the best. Just keep it simple and it will be ok.
Good luck and good job!
D. A.

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A.L.

answers from Houston on

D. - I actually don't have much to add because you've gotten excellent advice from varied sources. I especially like Kristen W's and B P 's responses. They've actually been thru the process and know what really works. 4 yrs is NOT too old and don't 'wait a couple of years'. My 2 have always known and i started with books and a fun song tape. I also tell them the story of Moses and how he was the 1st adopted baby ! The more you talk about it, the more comfortable you'll be : practice when he's asleep. Mine were open, but very different..although I do have pictures of both. My 6 y.o. knows his birthmother. He has here picture and sometimes asks 'now who's tummy did I grow in?' I've also introduced 'womb' instead of the organ which digests food great-grandmother lives down the street. We have a great relationship past the birth circumstances. Google adoption resources & you might find some; (I got mine thru a Houston support group which disbanded). Also, your agency should have some suggetions. Around 8 yo is another awareness milestone. Feel free to email me. i wouldn't worry about the counselor: keep everything matter of fact & easy, like you were born with blonde hair. Remember it's a past tense verb, not a present adjective to set him apart.

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A.R.

answers from Houston on

I have a very good friend that is writing her 2-year-old's adoption story in a storybook. It starts with my friend and her husband wanting a baby and then God blessed them when the birth mother chose them. It has pictures of her birth and her birth mother too. She is hoping that if she reads this book to her daughter starting at age two, it will be like she 'always knew.'
I can say that when my children read about ME in a 'storybook' they tend to believe it more. She is making this book using digital scrapbooking, and printing in a real hard bound book using www.CreateHeritage.com. It is beautiful.
A.

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K.M.

answers from Houston on

I don't think he would understand. I would personally wait a year or two.

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S.O.

answers from San Antonio on

I asked my friend to share her experience. This was her email response to me:

I don’t mind at all if you use my answer to help someone else. This is basically what happened.

She was about 4 years old. Her and I were talking after seeing something on TV about babies growing in the Mom’s tummy. She asked me point blank if she grew in my tummy. I told her no, that my tummy doesn’t work for growing babies inside and that she actually grew in another lady’s tummy, but that lady knew that she wasn’t able to take care of her. That lady was very kind to us because she knew how much I wanted a baby and so she decided to give her to us as a gift, knowing that we wanted a child even though my tummy didn’t work. I expounded a bit on how much we prayed for a baby and how I tried to get my tummy fixed for a baby. I told her how we are very thankful for that lady, and we know that God used her to bring us a great gift. I explained that tummies don’t make someone be a Mom, but loving and caring for a baby are what makes a mommy.

Well, I hope that was clear…ha! I am so thankful that it happened at an early age. It was a great relief for me and since then, we talk about it anytime she wants. Usually , the questions have nothing to do with the lady, but more to do with how we felt when we first saw her, what she looked like, etc.

Hope this encourages you.
S.

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M.H.

answers from Beaumont on

Wow! I'm not sure what to tell you. I'm adopted and I don't ever recall my parents having a sit down conversation with me about being adopted. It was always general knowledge and in everyday conversations. When I was growing up several of my parents friends also had adopted children. Does your son know of other children that are adopted? That may help you spur a conversation. I think reading books to him is a great idea but I have no suggestions on titles. I think it's going to depend n how much your son already knows. Does he think your his natural mother or has the question never crossed his mind. He's young enough that knowing now will equate to him always knowing. I wouldn't wait any longer. Hope this helps.

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J.M.

answers from Odessa on

I, too have an adopted son. I bought the book by Jamie Lee Curtis "Tell Me again about the night I was born". I really like the book and think it would be a great way to break the ice. We have always had an open book policy at my house and have always talked about my son being adopted. We call his biological parents his birth parents and my husband and and I are his parents. We were fortunate to have been in the delivery room at the time of birth and have the extra gift of talking about his debut into the world. If you know any of the details about his birth parents, you may want to give him the basic information but may want to wait until he's old enough to ask for the more intimate details. I think you are wise to get this out now. I think if you wait any longer he may feel betrayed that you kept this from him. Remind him that although he didn't grow in your tummy, he was always alive in your heart.
God Bless.

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