While most experts and grown adoptees agree that it’s crucial to talk about adoption in your home from the very beginning, what makes a conversation age-appropriate may differ based on an individual child’s maturity or curiosity level.
To get the conversation going, many families start by familiarizing their child with adoption vocabulary by talking about their child’s adoption story and birth parents. Children’s books, scrapbooks and lifebooks can also be a great way to help explain adoption in its simplest form as well.
Last week, we stumbled on this great video from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood in which Mr. Rogers explains his own personal connection to adoption (his sister was adopted) and reads a storybook that explains how we can love someone who isn’t exactly the same as us. The article also includes great quotes from Mr. Rogers about adoption and “Helpful Hints” for talking about adoption with children. Fred Rogers also released an adoption book for children in 1998.
Another classic TV show for children, Sesame Street, has touched on adoption a couple of times in its long run. In 1985, characters Susan and Gordon adopted their son Miles in a 4-episode series, and a children’s book based on the story line was also released. More recently, in 2006, Gina traveled to Guatemala to adopt her son Marco. To learn more about which episodes adoption themes can be found in, visit muppet.wikia.com.
Currently the TV show Jessie on the Disney Channel showcases a family of mixed race, formed through adoption. While TV and movies can only go so far to help explain adoption – and can sometimes miss the mark – these shows and others can be a great launchpad to start an ongoing adoption conversation with your child and even his or her friends! UPDATE: This Friday, November 15th, Jessie will be premiering a special adoption; read about the details from Entertainment Weekly.
For additional resources for on this topic, check out these links:
- The importance of being honest with your child, as seen in a Modern Family episode
- How to tell your child about adoption.
- Reflections from an adoptive mother ten years later
- Resources to get talking from AdoptiveFamilies.com
- One Mom’s advice from her experience at the playground
- Tips for talking about adoption in schools
- Lots of recommended adoption reading
- The do’s and don’ts of adoption language