Adoption is not always a clean situation or any easy topic to discuss. When you are trying to explain the decision to adopt to a child, what do you say and how much detail should you include? Children will be naturally inquisitive when learning anything new. How can you approach the process in a way your child will accept and understand?

Our oldest daughter was 3 years old when my husband and I stepped into the adoption process for our family. We strongly desired to include our daughter in the steps that would lead to bringing this baby home, but we wrestled with the explanation we would give her so she could wrap her mind around how it would all take place. Not only did we want to understand the process of adoption, but we also wanted to cultivate her perception of adoption and the love that our family felt for it.

Happy family mother and child daughter play and laughing in bedHow much can a 3-year-old really understand about adoption? We approached the discussion with our daughter like we would if we told her that we would be having a biological baby. My husband first talked about how other families we knew had babies very recently and how their family changed with the new addition. She could grasp this concept very well. We then expressed what it would look like if our family had a baby. What would her new role be then? Big sister. The thought of that responsibility was more than exciting to her little mind. Our discussion was a fun one about buying a new baby bed and changing diapers and feeding bottles. Her response could not have been more innocent or made us happier by expressing her desire to help in all of the above areas.

Our idea was to then talk about our decision to bring this baby home through adoption. We told her that there are some babies who will need a family to help take care of them. Her questions started about those babies’ mommies and daddies. Then, as simply as we could put it in words that a 3-year-old could comprehend, we told her about their love for their child. What she heard from us was that sometimes a mommy and daddy need help to take care of their baby and give them extra love for them and let them stay at their house to be part of their family. She loved knowing that these babies also would benefit from the love and hugs and kisses that a big sister would give.

When we finished the first talk about adoption with our daughter and answered her questions about when it would happen (we don’t know) and where the baby was right now (we don’t know) and where would we go to get this baby (we don’t know), we talked about how God has a special baby picked out for us. Even though we may not know when or where or how this baby would join our family, we would pray for that baby like we did. Our hearts would be ready and willing whenever we got a call to say our baby needs to come home.

You may think a 3-year-old wouldn’t retain much of that conversation or even maintain the thoughts of how this would happen, but we keep it on the forefront of our talks regularly. Our now 5-year-old will be explaining our family’s decision to adopt to friends and family (and even the person sitting next to us in the waiting room or riding with us on an elevator) because we have helped her understand our passion to love another baby and how we are pursuing that through adoption. I can’t express my joy when I hear her talk about our baby like they are already in our home, pray for a baby she has never seen, and announce our adoption as a proud big sister because we have been able to demonstrate for her the abounding love in adoption and watch that grow inside her.

Jill is a 32-year-old wife and mom. She has been married to her husband, Brannon, for eight years and has 5-year-old and 1-year-old daughters. Jill and her husband are currently in the adoption process to bring another baby into their home. Jill lives in a small community in Kentucky. She has her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Spanish and obtained her Master’s degree in Christian Ministries. Jill’s passions are her faith, her family, writing, playing sports, and eating good food.