02 June 2011

explaining adoption to a 4 year old

I can hardly believe it, but it's been almost two years since we adopted Eddie. Need I say it? Time flies. Lute went with us to get Eddie, he was at the hospital when he was born, he met his birthmother, he was part of almost every moment of bonding with our little man. But at only two years old, I don't think he really got it. We read books about talking through the process, we philosophized about the conversations we would/should/could have with him. But when it came right down to it, we wanted it to unfold naturally. Nothing forced. We wanted it to be our version of normal before he ever thought about the fact that it wasn't everyone's version of normal. Also, we didn't really know what to say.

Fast forward to this week.
Some good friends of ours recently brought home their newest addition - a sweet little son from Ethiopia. They are also a family with three active boys, so in addition to the adoption connection, we can relate on all levels of little boy chaos (and sweetness, too). We have a picture of their family hanging on our fridge, which has prompted some insightful conversations with Lute.

Conversation #1:
Lute, after studying the photo for several minutes: "Hey Mama, Zeke looks like Eddie!"
Me (taken a bit by surprise): "How so, Lute?"
L: "Well, they have the same hair. And... look at his face, Mama!"
M: "Do you and Eddie look alike?"
L: thinking, thinking, thinking "Yes! We both have two eyes!"

It was sweet to hear his observations, unable to really pinpoint how Zeke and Eddie had similarities in their differences. The conversation didn't go much further, and I reveled in the innocence of his perception of the situation. I knew a deeper conversation wasn't far off.

A few weeks later, Lute was studying the photo again, and that led to
Conversation #2
L: "Mama, Zeke really does look like Eddie."
M: "What about them is the same?"
L: "Their faces are kinda the same. Maybe they're brothers!"
M: "But Eddie is your brother."
L: "Well, yeah..." (As in, "Duh, Mom.")

We talked about when Eddie was born and flying on the airplane and, of course, swimming in the hotel pool. We talked about how sometimes babies come from the same mama's tummy that you came from, and sometimes you get to fly to far away places and bring home a new baby. For the first time, we used the word "adoption" and how the coolest thing about it is that we are all adopted - by God Himself! Lute was pretty excited about that part, but seemed fairly unconcerned with the details. I think mostly because this is our version of normal. What more explanation does there need to be?

I know it won't always be this simple, and I pray for the right words when they'll want to go deeper. But there is something to be said for it happening naturally, not forcing understanding and over-explaining. 

They are brothers - there is no doubt about that.


  1. Carina you have such a gift I look forward to every post on your blog...Your family is as "normal" as it gets!! we are all loved by the same father! I can't wait to meet these beautiful little boys, through your interpretations you give me reasons to smile at all of lifes little imperfections. God bless you and Nick and those precious gifts God gave us!!!! Love to you, Aunt Margaret (and her 4 special loves too!)

  2. awwww... i love that our adoption has prompted good conversation in your house about your own adoption story!

  3. I loved the cute conversations...we both have two eyes! I have a 2 and 4 year old and we are planning an adoption in the future. I am sure there will be a lot of wonderful conversations like that. I just really love the way you are wording things and explaining things in such a natural way!
    Found via circle of moms

  4. Popped in from SITS! That's so precious!

  5. Your children are beautiful and those conversations were just precious.

    I'm not really sure what normal means, but family is family no matter how you came to be that way. You are a doing a lovely job.

    And PS you have a beautiful way with words!

  6. Ahhh that was soooo sweet!
    Loving the conversations. My husband and i have 2 kids already but maybe one day i would like to adopt?? Will be book marking your blog!


    Claire (stopping by from SITS)

  7. @Haley of course - you are a constant inspiration :)

    @Christie: so glad you found me! Thanks for your kind words

    @The Me: I really am glad there is no "normal" these days - I think it can make for a beautiful explanation of family!

    Thanks to all of you! I love these little guys.

  8. OK, just gotta say, I'm loving your blog! The pictures, the love of coffee and chocolate (2 of my favorites as well), the baked goodies you share. Love it!!