“Mom, will my brother come home tomorrow?”
Once a month, this question is asked by one of my kids. Ever since we filled out our application to adopt from South Korea, before our home study was even complete, this question has been uttered numerous times out of innocence and curiosity.
I have found that our kids want to be a part of the adoption process. As hard as it is to answer their questions and include them, it is healthy and FUN to include them as much as possible in the adoption process.
This is our family’s second adoption and I have found that including them along the way makes the transition easier when your new child comes home. They’re more invested in this new family member when they’re a part of the process. Your kids get a front-row seat to God's redeeming power.
These six things have helped us include our kids in the adoption process while preparing them for the huge change ahead.
Trust me. You'll never regret including your kids.
1. Talk about the adoption from the very beginning.
Before we told our parents, or anyone else, we told our kids first. We have never regretted telling our kids first.
You don’t want them to find out from anyone else but you. If you're scared of the questions they'll ask, they likely won't have a lot of questions at first. In our experience, those will come later. The fact that they know first will make them feel like they’re on the inside of the whole process.
I remember telling our kids at bedtime about our second adoption. (I don’t recommend telling them at bedtime. That was a mom fail!) My oldest cried because of the fact that I would be doing a lot of paperwork again. She is the only one old enough to remember our first adoption process. Apparently, she only remembers me doing paperwork that took me away from her. Hello, mom guilt!
Our son, who is seven, cried because he said he couldn’t wait that long for his brother to come home.
Our youngest started crying, and she wasn’t sure why she was crying. Like I said, learn from my mistake and don’t do it at bedtime.
Tell them first, though!
2. Pray together.
At bedtime, we always prayed for their little sister in China. Long before we had a face or name, we prayed.
Do you know how amazing it is to pray for something AND watch it come to fruition? Imagine your kids experiencing God working in that way!
They prayed for Brielle long before she was in our home. Now, they have a face to go with those answered prayers.
We’re keeping the same tradition alive for their brother in South Korea. We’ve prayed for him from the very beginning, and we’ll pray until the very end. Someday, his face, and their answered prayer, will be physically in front of them.
That’s good, goosebump-inducing stuff.
3. Involve them in picking a name.
Our first adoption, my husband and I agreed on our daughter's name and just stuck with it. We don’t necessarily regret that, but we're adding a fun twist this time.
We are SO undecided on a name. We’ve allowed the kids to give us any boy names that they like, and we’re creating a list.
Ethan wants to vote on a name. We haven’t squashed the idea yet. If we are torn between a few names, we may have a family vote. This is the fun stuff that they can be a part of.
4. Complete paperwork and errands together.
Brielle went with me to mail our adoption application. I have a picture of her smiling while holding the package in front of the post office. She was just as excited as me to mail that package. It was more fun doing it together!
Ethan wrote the sweetest note to include in our first care package to his brother in South Korea. He’s impatiently invested, and it warms my momma heart.
Allow your kids to tag along for paperwork errands. Allow your kids to be a part of the fun mail days. Allow your kids to include notes or items in care packages. Allow them to select photos for the home study or dossier. Allow them to pick out outfits and room decor for their new sibling.
Do it together!
5. Celebrate adoption milestones and holidays.
We made a sign and celebrated the day we hit a huge milestone when we were adopting Brielle. Families adopting from China love their abbreviations. The day we left on vacation we got the news that we were DTC (dossier to China).
So, we celebrated at a truck stop.
I used a crayon and paper that I found in our minivan to make a sign that said “DTC.” We took a photo, and it's a fun memory for our family now.
We won't be with our son on his birthday this year. We'll still be waiting, but we will celebrate! We’re going to have cake and ice cream. We’re going to send him a birthday gift with the cutest first birthday outfit.
We’re going to take pictures to show him that he was loved from afar on his first birthday.
If you're adopting internationally, celebrate the holidays that your child would be celebrating in their birth country. You'll be celebrating those holidays once they are home anyways. So, you might as well start now!
Your kids will love learning about new holidays and traditions.
Adoption is hard and emotional. Every now and then, take the time to celebrate!
6. Share the good and the bad.
Your kids will ask you hard questions during the adoption process. My advice is to share age-appropriate information and only facts.
The other night my son asked these questions.
“Why do kids end up in orphanages?”
“Will I end up in an orphanage?”
These are not fun questions to talk about with a seven-year-old. I get sad when I have to share the reality of my kids' stories and the fallen world that we live in.
I want to shelter their little hearts and minds, but I don’t. I can’t. Our hard stories highlight the redemption and restoration of God.
I share age-appropriate facts to answer their questions.
Yes, they might ask if they’ll find themselves in an orphanage, but guess what? If you’re adopting, your home study requires you to have guardians in place. You have the perfect fact to share about how their family will always take care of them.
I know. I’d rather not think about it either.
I never lie to my kids telling them that their life will be rosy and perfect. I also don't make up stories that could create fantasies.
I use questions as an opportunity to share the facts but also share about the Redeemer and Restorer of every single one of our lives.
Make adoption a natural part of your family, and watch the compassion in your kids grow. Adoption is life-changing for every family member.
You may just find that, through preparing your kids, you’re also more prepared.