So, today is Ilan’s adoption day! Our special boy has been part of our family for five years and I can’t quite believe how time has flown since that first day we met each other in Durban. Ilan’s teacher invited me to use this opportunity to come and speak to his class about adoption. I thought it was a good idea and asked Ilan what he thought – he said YES with a big smile on his face. I was pretty intimidated at the thought of speaking to his class because I wasn’t sure how to frame the conversation and how to prevent the chat from getting out of hand, but I sucked it up and set a date. I need practice doing this and they’re only six year olds, right?
I invited my pregnant mom friend, Leigh from The Mom Diaries, to join us as she is 28 weeks pregnant and her son, Noah, is in the same class as Ilan. I’ve heard that when you speak to your child’s class about adoption, you shouldn’t single out your child but invite another mom to speak too, so that you can both chat about the different ways that children join families.
I did some research and got some input from other adoptive mom friends and this is what I planned to say, in six easy steps. (We didn’t get to all of it, but kids are forgiving and I think they caught the gist.)
1. Frame the conversation & invite another mom to join you
“Today we’ve come to talk to you about how God made children who all look different and how children join families is different ways. Some moms and dads choose to grow a baby in the mommy’s tummy and some moms and dads ask a Social Worker to help them find a child to love, a child who needs a forever mommy and daddy. We’re going to talk about how Noah grew in his mommy’s tummy and about how we adopted Ilan into our family.”
2. Read a relevant book
“Now I’m going to read you a story about a family that don’t all look the same, it’s called A Mother for Choco.” It’s a story about a little yellow bird called Choco who becomes part of Mrs Bear’s family. Leigh had to help me finish the story because I started getting a bit choked up, but fortunately I don’t think the kids even noticed.
After the story I asked: “Does it matter if your family don’t all look like each other?” The kids responded with a resounding ‘No!’ and then we spoke about how ‘Love makes a family.’
3. Share your child’s journey to your family
“Ilan’s adoption story belongs to him, but he is happy for us to share some of it with you today. Ilan was born in a hospital in Durban (who was born in a hospital?) and his first Mommy asked the Social Worker to find him a forever family because she wasn’t able to look after him herself. Yes, Ilan has two moms – lucky boy! His first mom grew him in her tummy and I am his forever mom.
From the hospital, Ilan went to live at a special home for a while. Our Social Worker phoned us to tell us about a cute little baby boy in Durban and said that he needed a family. We were so excited to go and meet Ilan.”
4. Share some pics and point out the similarities of your child’s story with that of his/her classmates
“Here are some pics of the place where Ilan was staying:
-This is Ilan when he was a baby (Did any of you also wear nappies when you were a baby?)
-This is the play area (Who likes playing with toys?)
-This is one of his friends
-This is his cot (Who else slept in a cot when they were little?)
-This is the home where he lived (I told a story about the resident monkeys that climbed all over the roof and used to steal the toys from the garden if we didn’t pack them away.)
-This is the highchair where Ilan was sitting when I first met him. (He was about to have lunch and so I fed him. He liked my red nailpolish. I gave him lots of kisses and cuddles and was so happy to meet him.)”
5. Explain what Adoption Day is all about
“Today is a special day because it’s Ilan’s adoption day. Ilan has been home with us for five years now. Five years ago we went to court and a judge said that Ilan is officially part of our family. It was a really exciting day for us and when we flew back home to Cape Town all of our friends and family were so excited to welcome him home.”
[Ilan was keen to chat about adoption and celebrate this special day, but not all children enjoy the attention and may not want to celebrate the day so publicly, or at all. Every child is different, so read your child before you make a big fuss. Ilan’s teacher made him a special crown to wear and he was over the moon.]
6. Hand over to a mom who can talk about her pregnancy journey
Leigh showed an ultrasound of her baby girl and spoke about how her baby is growing in her tummy.
“I have nine months to anticipate, pray for and plan for my new baby, just as Ilan’s mom prayed for him before they met each other. My tummy grows bigger every month before my baby is born. Ilan’s Mom’s tummy didn’t grow bigger but her heart grew with more and more love until it was about to pop. It’s very, very exciting for moms to meet their babies for the first time.