Sunday, July 06, 2008

When Did I Understand That I Was Adopted?

Someone asked me yesterday if my son understands that he is adopted. I have no clue, but I doubt it. He’s four. If you ask him, he’ll tell you that he’s adopted. He’ll also tell you that Mommy and Aunt C are adopted too. He’ll tell you that he is adopting a baby. Does he have a clue what that means? No.

I remind him that he’s adopted and I tell him about the day he arrived on the airplane, but I really don’t think that the message is hitting home. He does think that babies come on airplanes and he was vastly annoyed with us for making him fly all the way to Detroit by himself. He wanted to know why Mommy and Daddy weren’t with him.

So, when did I understand that I was adopted? I have no clue. As far as I can remember, I always knew that I was adopted, but I’m sure that isn’t right. I don’t remember any conscious moment where I suddenly knew and understood adoption. I suspect that I heard it so often before I could understand the concept that when I could understand it was a pretty mild realization. Of course, I also had the added benefit of looking nothing like either of my parents.

I spent a few nights recently really thinking about how I could bring the situation down to a four-year old level. I think that (as usual) I was over thinking the situation. He’ll figure it out when he figures it out and, as long as it isn’t a surprise, he probably shouldn’t be too scarred by the experience. Right?


Daisy said...

Thank you for this post. My 2-year-old son is adopted from Korea and I have recently thought a lot about when he will realize that he is adopted. To be honest, right now I am not sure when or how to even approach explaining it to him. he is fascinated with planes so maybe that is a good starting point!!

Thank you for this blog. I constantly check in for new posts!

Tigslw said...

I just make conversation with my daughter. She will talk openly about being born in Korea. Just like her one brother was born in WV and her other brother in MD and daddy was born in CA--normal talk.

nikki said...

I have a 4 year old (adopted from China) and I'm always wondering if I'm telling her enough...don't wanna overwhelm her little mind. I think she understands as much as she can, for now. Thank you for this post.

I am also in the beginning stages of adoption number 2...this time from Korea. I'm so happy I found your blog!

EM said...

Thanks for your post and your blog! I am beginning the process of adopting a child from Korea and have so many questions. I enjoy your perspective!


Melissa said...

This is something that I have wondered about, as well. Our daughter will be three years old in a couple months, and was inundated with adoption talk over the past year while we were in the process to adopt our son. It was a good way to bring up the topic of her own adoption from Korea, but it largely is still just words and pictures to her.

I wonder if the true understanding of the concept of adoption comes along with the realization of why Mommy and Daddy look different than the child. It just seems like the understanding would evolve gradually and wouldn't be a big shock.

mab said...

I'm a 27-year-old Korean adoptee and I often get this question. My parents are Irish American and British, so clearly I don't like them, but I agree - I don't have a memory of one specific moment where I was told I was adopted. I just always knew I was. I agree with what tigslw said in that it should just be normal conversation. Like everything between a parent and child, I think open dialogue is best option and the child should know they can always ask questions or talk about things. That way you can talk about it as you would about anything else.

Margaret said...

my adoptive mother told me I was adopted when I was 4. Better that the newscome from a motherrather than classmates, neighbours, or unthinking relatives who might blurt out something!

so yung wilson said...

Hello - first time visiting your blog. I look forward to visiting again.

I'm a thirty-something korean adoptee (from OH! Millersburg to be specific), adopted at 3 1/2. I can't ever remember not knowing I was adopted. And I think that's a good thing - not talking openly about it gives the wrong impression that adoption is something to be ashamed of. I see this with my niece who is an adoptee - but one wouldn't know by looking. We spoke briefly about it for a moment since we have that in common, and she physically blushed. I felt bad for her ... needless embarrassment but hopefully not shame.