Reader: Any advice on how to introduce my 27-year-old birth son to my 6 & 2-year-old that have never been told that I placed a child for adoption?
Thank you for your question. I’m sure you are anticipating the meeting, and I applaud you for carefully considering the best way to go about it.
A good place to start is establishing what “introducing” means. Do you wish to have the children meet in person? Speak on the phone? Or do you plan to simply share the story of your son’s placement and perhaps show the kids a photo of your birth son? Are you hoping this will be a progressive relationship where you move from talking about your birth son to having the kids meet him?
Once you (and your birth son) decide what you want the introduction to look like, it would be wise to seek the assistance of an experienced counselor to help you navigate what to share and how. Your six-year-old, in particular, is at an interesting developmental age, so having a professional help guide you would be beneficial. Your inquisitive six-year-old may ask questions about your son’s biological father. Or perhaps the child might worry that he or she might get separated from you like your first child did. You want to prepare yourself for the possibilities so you can respond appropriately. Of course, your two-year-old is quite young and the concept of adoption is far beyond his or her ability to understand at this time; however, it’s good to include the child in conversations, establishing an environment of openness and honesty.
I would recommend introducing the word and definition of adoption to your six-year-old and two-year-old prior to them meeting their biological brother. There are some fantastic adoption books on the market to help. One of our family favorites is Penguin and Pinecone by Salina Yoon. In summary, Penguin discovers a pinecone (whom he names Pinecone), but quickly learns that Pinecone cannot flourish in Penguin’s arctic environment. So Penguin lovingly takes Pinecone to a warmer climate and plants Pinecone. Penguin sadly leaves his beloved Pinecone. Time passes, and Penguin decides to check on Pinecone. What he discovers is that Pinecone has grown into a beautiful, healthy pine tree. The reunification is joyous!
You can then share with your young children what you and your birth son have agreed upon. I think it’s important to be on the same page with your birth son regarding the information you both are going to share with the younger children at this time, thereby respecting his feelings. Keep in mind your younger children’s personalities, sensitivities, preferences, and maturity. You want to give your children sufficient, direct information without introducing them to concepts or information that they are not prepared or mature enough to handle.
Be prepared that this introduction may bring about the need for you to seek professional counseling as you are likely to face a myriad of emotions. And, as a mother, you will not only be dealing with your own emotions, but you will be helping your children navigate their own emotions as well. Having the support of a professional, as well as friends, family, and perhaps a support group, is essential to your well being.
You will need to re-visit the adoption discussion many times throughout your children’s lives, adding more resources and answering more questions as they mature. (Some adoption experts have noted that children cannot fully understand the concept of adoption until they are able to understand how babies are created, because the idea of a baby growing in a woman’s tummy, being born, and then being placed with a different family to be raised, can be quite confusing.) Likewise, continuing to seek support from experienced, empathetic, and mature individuals will offer you the guidance and encouragement you need.
I hope that the introduction goes incredibly well and that this is a beautiful beginning for your family.