When my kids were younger we didn’t always make a big effort to speak about adoption. We had some books and it came up from time to time, but weeks or more would pass with no mention of anything adoption or foster care related. My kids were little, and I figured they just didn’t think about adoption or being a transracial family very often. That may have been true, or as an adult adoptee friend of mine pointed out, adoption topics may have been popping into their minds but they didn’t know how to bring it up. It was entirely possible that I was sitting around waiting for them to take the lead, but being young, they didn’t know how. After that conversation I realized I needed to make more of an effort to be the one initiating frequent conversations.
Our family has since made a goal to talk about adoption openly, honestly, and frequently. We want our kids to know that they can ask us anything, and that it’s perfectly fine to feel however they want to feel about their own lives. Some days these conversations happen easily, but are still most often initiated by my husband or me. Some days, as I’m sure happens in all busy families, adoption conversations are pushed to the back burner while we talk about soccer, school, and which classmate got caught picking their nose.
I wanted to share a tool with you today that we have loved for opening up conversations about adoption in our home. At camp this summer Mariyah made an adoption question box. The question box is literally a small hand decorated box for a child to put their questions into. Mariyah’s is made from a small pop up cardboard box, but a shoe box would also be perfect. Your child can go as fancy or as simple as they want. Mariyah put rainbows on hers, because rainbows are her thing.
Questions get written on index cards or paper scraps and deposited into the box for us to check. Since in the past I have been the one initiating the adoption conversations, I didn’t think my kids would have much interest in a project like this. But to my surprise, my daughter has filled her box with note cards. Something about the indirectness of putting a question into the box really seems to work with her personality. Mariyah likes us to respond to her questions verbally, but I could see some kids preferring a written response, especially if they feel shyer about discussing things.
Some of her questions have been about things we have talked about before. This is a good reminder that when it comes to children you often need to have the same conversations multiple times as they process everything. Some of the questions that have been asked were things that I hadn’t even considered she might be curious about. We don’t always know the answers to everything our kids wonder about, as much as I wish we did. But just knowing certain things are on their minds has opened up many great conversations. I hope we are laying the groundwork now so that our kids feel comfortable coming to us in the future, with our without a question box.
Now on to the Adoption Talk Linkup!
New to linking up? We’d love to have you join us, here’s how.