When describing our family dynamics, many things could be said. We have a fervent faith that drives who we are and why we do what we do. Hard work is followed by playing hard. Helping others ranks high on our list. And we are very open and honest about life. We have learned that when sharing our highs and lows with those around us, we always emerge stronger together.
So, when we started the adoption process, we were very open with our daughters about what steps we were taking and how we would walk along this path.
Our girls would see us sharing our story with friends, family or strangers who were interested. They heard us explain our hearts’ decision and how it would become a reality for our family. And we encouraged our daughters to learn what adoption was — so that they could also share with others the journey to their baby sister.
Easy at the Start
From day one, our oldest daughter took the reins and led the way. She wouldn’t even wait for someone to ask her about adoption or getting a new baby sister.
As she walked up to her cousin, teacher, pastor, or the stranger in the grocery store line, she would exclaim, “We are adopting a new baby sister!” From there, she would gladly give out any information that she knew to continue the conversation.
At first, before our family was matched with a prospective birth mother, most of the questions our girls were asked were very general about adoption.
“Are you excited about adopting?”
“Are you adopting a newborn baby?”
“Can you help take care of the new baby when she comes?”
“Where are you adopting from?”
They got to be pros at answering questions about the process itself and preparing for it. But once we were matched and our daughter was born, the questions changed a little.
Navigating the Complicated Questions
Their new baby sister was born three months early and stayed in the NICU at a hospital 1,000 miles away from home. Questions became more about how the baby was doing, whether they miss Mommy because she had been gone for a while, and if they would be able to visit their new baby sister.
One of my proudest moments as a mom was when my daughter’s kindergarten teacher sent me a picture of my girl standing in the front of her class while I was sitting in a NICU far away. Her grandaddy had printed off one of the pictures I had sent of her baby sister in the NICU. She was tiny, attached to cords, feeding tubes, oxygen, and tucked away in an isolette to regulate her tiny body’s temperature.
My oldest daughter was holding up this picture, showing her 5- and 6-year-old classmates and her teacher that she had a new baby sister. She not only shared the picture, but she took their questions.
These little inquiring minds were fascinated by the description she gave. They saw my girl holding up a sample of what her baby sister’s diaper looked like because it fit in the palm of her hand. They asked how big this little baby was, what her name was, when could she come home, how many hours away the hospital was, would she have to drink out of a tiny bottle, and did she have to stay and sleep all night at the hospital.
Of all the questions my girls have gotten asked about adoption, the ones asked on this day were the most important.
Love: The Common Denominator
Most people won’t ask my girls tough questions that go beyond their overflowing feelings of love for their new baby sister. Because my girls were so open about adoption from the start, they aided the transition of bringing home their baby sister.
Questions to our girls don’t usually stem from identifying adoption issues — but from recognizing the love they can’t contain for something (and someone) so beautiful.
I always wanted my girls to be prepared to answer any inquiries from others about their family’s choice to adopt. We talked with them about what each step meant not only for our family but for the family of the baby we would be adopting.
I never imagined that by preparing them for the questions, they would impress upon those asking that the only real answer is love.
Jill is a 34-year-old wife and mom. She has been married to her husband, Brannon, for 10 years and has three daughters; her newest addition was added to her family through adoption. Jill and her husband were in the adoption process for over 900 days before being matched with a birth mother. When they received the call that their baby girl was born, she was 1,000 miles away and three months early. Now she is thriving and home with her Mom, Dad, and two very excited and loving big sisters. 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.