People often ask us if we tell the boys they were adopted. Of course we do, I answer. How did they react/understand is the inevitable next question. I have a hard time answering this one. It's not like we've ever had a big, sit-down talk with them about it. For one thing, they are still pretty young to understand such a big concept (4.5 years old and almost-3 years old). But even more than that, it is just something that is talked about openly and frequently. We have tons of books about adoption that the boys read, their lifebooks (or at least S's lifebook, since I have yet to get to little Ms) are continually opened and shared, we encourage an interest in all-things Russian, etc. Weeks will go by with no adoption-related talk and then things will come up for several days in a row that pertain in some way to adoption. We don't push their stories on them but we don't avoid them either. We celebrate the fact that they came into our family through adoption, but we don't want them defined by this either. It just "is".
Anyway, I often wonder how much the boys understand in terms of the way our family was formed as opposed to others. Last week S showed me how much he understands:
Everyday after nap, S comes up (before M wakes up) and crawls in my lap and wants to talk. It's our special time together and we discuss anything he wants. Sometimes he talks about the cows in the field across the road, others times about what he is going to do with the afternoon. Lately he has wanted to discuss Russia and adoptions. Last week, he crawls up in my lap and says he wants to talk about us going to Russia to meet HotDog. S is a very methodical/organized little boy so he likes to hear about every step of the process. I tell him that we'll fly to Astrakhan, go and meet the MOE, get a picture of HotDog and hear about some medical information. Then we'll go to the house where the babies live and we'll get to meet her. S then interrupts to say "And you'll get to hold her on your belly." This threw me for a second and I thought, here is a great teaching moment about birthparents. So I start in on HotDog won't be in my belly..." And then S interrupts again, with the most incredulous look on his face, and says "No Mommy. I know that HotDog grew in another lady's belly, like M and me. And now she lives in a house with other babies until their mommys and daddys come to pick them up. I mean, you'll carry her on your belly in the new bag you got in the mail (the new Ergo baby carrier I ordered)."
I'm pretty sure he "gets it".