Q: Hi Dawn, We met tonight with a birth mother and she wants to proceed with the adoption. He is almost a month old. She has two other children. Can you suggest some books on how she can explain to her 4 year old that the baby is going to a new home and convey it in a way that he understands and doesn’t feel threaten that he may go to a new home also. My worry tonight is the 4 yr old and how is the best way to handle it with him. I know the birth mom is worried also as she says she wants everything to move quickly because the longer he is with them the harder it will be for them to let go.
A: I’m so glad everyone is focused on helping the first mom’s older children understand adoption and what is happening. It is confusing for the children not being placed for adoption, but with all the adults focused on their best interest, it need not be devastating. Unfortunately, there is a dearth of resources to help children in first families understand adoption. The one really good resource is the book Sam’s Sister by Juliet Bond. The story is told by 5-year-old Rosa, whose newborn brother is placed in an open adoption. It would be a very thoughtful gift to give the mother. While this is the only book that focuses specifically on birth siblings, there are other books about adoption that could be used to explain what is happening to birth siblings.
I also heard of a first mother who used the Discovery Channel series Adoption Stories to explain adoption to the children she was not placing. Since it is geared for adults, and primarily for adults that want to adopt, I was skeptical, but she thought it was very helpful. I would recommend that the mother watch it first to make sure that it is sending the message that she wants and that it is something that a four year old could understand.
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