How should I respond to my four-year-old son when he begins telling others that he is the adopted kid? That’s where we are in the Camp household. It’s not a bad thing. Not at all. I only wonder how much he understands at the age of four.
For those who don’t know our adoption story, here is a quick recap.
Danielle and I became licensed foster parents January 2011. We turned down several placements over the next few months for various reasons. Then on an extremely hot day in June I took a call from our child placing agency about an eight-month-old boy. My mind raced with thoughts ranging from, “He is so young” to “We have turned down every call. Other than his age, I have no reason not to take this placement.”
Even though we were more ready for a child between 4-8 years old, we decided to accept placement of this precious baby. I did so with the understanding that he probably would be with us for only a few weeks, because he had several other family members in the area.
Well, a little over two years ago we adopted the little guy! If you want to read more about that amazing journey along with what we learned about foster care, check out Adopting the Father’s Heart.
Needless to say, since our son was only eight-months-old when he was placed with us, he only remembers us as mommy and daddy.
Even though Danielle and I know we are his parents, if not biologically, definitely in every other way, I still want him to know his full history. I don’t want him to find out in his late teens or even later in life that he was adopted. Talk about trust issues!
I wrote about that in this blog—When Should an Adopted Child Know? You can also find some great feedback there about the subject.
So, we have always talked freely about adoption in front of him. I even began to weave an age appropriate story for him that I began to tell him about a year ago. Yes, that caused some sleepless nights and tons of questions as his young mind processed this information.
But, that’s the point. It has allowed him the opportunity to process.
That brings us to a few weeks ago when Danielle recorded a video of our son thanking a relative for a birthday gift. With a big smile on his face he proudly stated —”Thank you from the adopted kids!”
What did he just say!? Does he understand what he is saying?
A few days later while bathing, my son used the same term again. “I am an adopted kid!” Ok, I thought to myself, I am going to find out how much he understands.
For the record, our son is an incredibly verbal boy. He uses mulit-syllable words all the time that I don’t hear most four-year-olds saying. And, he usually knows what they mean. If he doesn’t, he asks.
“Son, what does it mean that you are an adopted kid?”, I asked him. Without hesitation he replied, “Well dad, my first family weren’t able to take care of me, so they gave me to you and mommy.”
I sat there a little dumbfounded. “Is that a good thing?”, I asked. “Yes! It’s great!”
Now I don’t know if he will always feel that way as he understands more and asks more questions or decides he doesn’t like us for a day or two. But at least at this point in his life, he understands that he came from another family who couldn’t take good care of him. And, now he is with us. And, he really thinks that’s great.
Now we still get questions like, “Can I be in your family forever?” or “Will you always be my daddy?”
Even those questions usually cause a lump in my throat, I am thankful that we are on this journey together helping him make sense of his past, present, and future.