“Adopted, Not Different,” Ensign, July 1997, 68
Our family now has seven children, five of whom are adopted. When our children started school, I realized that I had neglected to prepare them to cope with the natural curiosity and, on occasion, insensitive comments of others. We’ve found that discussing the following questions and possible answers with our children has helped them in public situations.
Are you an orphan? One reply is, “Orphans are children who have no parents to care for them. We have parents who love us.”
You don’t look anything like your parents. A simple but confident “I’m adopted” will usually clarify the situation. It may be helpful to discuss with the child his or her appearance, especially if the child is of a different race.
What is it like to be adopted? Since a family with adopted children functions the same as any other family, a simply stated “It’s wonderful. What is it like not to be adopted?” will usually take care of the question.
Do you know anything about your real parents? The word real can make both parents and children feel uncomfortable. “Real” for the parent and child is what is here and now: the reality of what constitutes a family and family life. “I live with real parents who are raising me. I don’t know my birth parents” is all that’s needed. Or, if applicable, “I’ve met my birth parents, but I live with my real parents who are raising me.”
Sometimes, as parents, we are also asked difficult questions:
Which are your real children? I reply, “They are all my real children, but I gave birth to two of them. They are all mine.”
Do you feel any differently toward your adopted children than you do toward your birth children? “No,” I reply, “when my children each came into our home, they came into our hearts.”
Early communication about adoption helps promote a comfortable and secure atmosphere in the home. Being adopted does not mean being different; it means having a family and being loved by them. We are so blessed to have children who know they each are a child of God. There is much reason to rejoice in the knowledge that we are all a part of his eternal family.—Susan Zimmerman, Visalia, California