Readers Share: Do You Have Mementos From Birth Family?

If so, when and how did you decide to share it with your child? If not, how have you handled discussions about the birth family?

Mementos from Birth Family

I Keep Photographs in A Lifebook

I have six children, four adopted from different birth families and two from the same birth family. All of our children have pictures and letters from birth parents. I keep them in a lifebook so they can look at them whenever they wish. Most of my children were old enough to remember living in their birth families or at least in a foster family. We try hard to be open and honest while being mindful of each child’s stage of development and sensitivities. I have saved some letters to share with the children when they are older and can understand the content better. Overall, I feel our children are blessed to have the information they do about their birth families. The truth is often not as dramatic as what is imagined by not knowing. —Ellen, Maine

My Daughter Shows Them to Friends

My daughter, Maya, was born in Vietnam and is three years old. Not only do I have pictures of her birth mother, I had the honor of meeting her! The pictures of Maya’s birth mother are in her photo albums along with photos of all the other people who loved and nurtured my child before she came to me, including her foster mothers. When sharing her photos with friends, she always points out the photos of her birth mother and her foster mothers, calling them by their names. Sometimes Maya will say that she misses her birth mother or birth father. To this I respond, “It must have been sad to say goodbye to them,” at which point she usually responds with a nod. This opens a door for us to talk about feelings and to recognize the loss she will always feel. It also allows us me talk about my feeling of joy when we first met. —Martha, Connecticut

We Framed a Photo of Her Birth Mother

We currently do not have contact with my daughter’s birth mom. However, because our adoption began as an open one, we have pictures of Janan’s birth mom in her baby album. As a result, seven-year-old Janan knows what Elfe looks like and knows a bit of her history—though not all of it: some parts of the story will wait until Janan is older and can understand it better. Recently I found a picture of Elfe that hadn’t made it into the album. When Janan saw it, she asked for the picture. We put it in a frame, and Janan put it on her bedroom shelf. Last week she took the picture to school for show-and-tell to help her friends better understand about adoption. For me, seeing the picture on the shelf is uncomfortable at times, but I know that it is important to Janan. —Pam, via e-mail

My Son’s Birth Certificate Provides a Link to his Birth Family

When we adopted our son in Russia, we received a photocopy of his original birth certificate and the paperwork his birth mother completed. I feel very lucky to have, in her handwriting, the reason why she allowed her son to be adopted.

As I was creating our son’s memory book, I made a family tree that has his birth mother’s name at the center with his. I also wrote her name in our son’s baby book, just in case his paperwork from Russia is ever lost. We do not talk about her yet; our son is too young to understand. For now our conversations are limited to “When I was a baby, I lived in Russia,” and “I came home with Mommy and Daddy on an airplane!” Someday he will know his birth mother’s name, and some of his questions about his birth family can be answered.

My own small way of thanking that remarkable woman is placing her name in our church bulletin on Mother’s Day. I’m probably the only one who notices it, but she is my son’s birth mother, and every day she is in my prayers. —Hilary, New York


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