Welcome to the ProSquad! Every week we'll be checking in with our crack team of experts to find answers to parenting's trickiest dilemmas and hottest issues. This week we hear from our adoption expert about the age kids will start asking questions, and our infant expert suggests some stimulating baby toys that are also inexpensive!
What age would you expect my adopted child to start asking about her birth parents?
Generally between around the age of six (varies somewhat), when a child enters school, and after the child has grasped the basic fact that a baby is made by a man and a woman. This is when the child understands that those who made him are not who he lives with. In other words he has two sets of parents. A child begins to realize that by having been adopted he has lost something — his birth mother/parents. A child of this age will typically begin to ask a number of questions, as in:
"Why didn't my birth mother/parents keep me?"
"Why did you adopt me?"
It is extremely important that the adoptive parents are open and prepared to, in positive and age-appropriate language, answer their child's questions, discuss their child's unique story, and help him express and process his feelings. Parents need to have honest and thoughtful answers, be supportive, and encourage their child to share.
Adoption Pro Judy M. Miller is an adoptive parent, adoption advocate, support specialist, and she coordinates and teaches parent preparation education to parents who are in the adoption process. Judy is a columnist for the adoption network, Grown in My Heart. Her essays and articles appear in adoption and parenting magazines and in A Cup of Comfort for Adoptive Families (Adams Media), Pieces of Me: Who Do I Want to Be? (EMK Press) and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom (Chicken Soup for the Soul).
Ever since I got pregnant my sister keeps going on and on about how I need to have a birth plan. Do I really need one, or is this just one more thing to forget to pack on the big day?
Birth Plans are an excellent document to create for two reasons. First and foremost they encourage you and your partner to think about what you want for your birth. Do you want pain medications? Would you like to be left alone? Who is going to attend your birth? Secondly, they are an introduction tool for the hospital to get to know you and your wishes. There are two kinds of birth plans I see: the bare bones and the beefy, and in my experience, something in the middle of these two are best received by hospital staff! The bare bones plans lack a lot of pertinent information, and a lot of the things typically included in the beefy birth plans are either not possible because of hospital policy, or it is something your hospital does as a standard practice already.
I suggest creating a birth plan that is more of an "Introduction to the Smith family", outlining the following things:
Who are you?
A quick note about mom and dad and if this is the first or eighth baby joining your family, as well as an introduction to anyone else you expect to attend your labor such as a sister, friend or doula. You might also add in here what Childbirth Classes you took or what books you read and liked so they will know what your basic childbirth education level is.
What are your goals/wishes/hopes for labor?
Talk about whether you want pain medications and when you would like them. When an intervention is offered by your care provider, such as artificially breaking your bag of waters, would you like to discuss it with your partner first? Also talk about your preferences regarding an induction. Under what circumstances will you consent to them inducing your labor? If you need a cesarean section, who is going with you and what preferences (if any) do you have for this type of delivery?
What are your plans for the immediate postpartum time?
Are you hoping to hold your baby immediately or would you like baby to be cleaned first? Are you planning to breastfeed? What newborn procedures or injections are you planning to refuse or delay? Are you having your son circumcised?
Once you've created your "Birth Wish List", take it to your care provider and have a discussion. It is very important that this discussion happen before you are in labor as you might find out some things you weren't aware of. Is there a time limit on how long you can push? Will your care provider induce you at a certain week of pregnancy despite the health of the baby being fine? What is your care provider's cesarean rate? Do they perform a lot of episiotomies or vacuum assisted deliveries? How do you feel about these?
A myth I commonly hear is that if you plan to give birth with midwives out of a hospital setting, you don't need a birth plan. You still should create a plan for the event of transfer to a hospital. Let the hospital staff know who you are and what your wishes are as you embrace the interventions that prompted your transfer.
My two favorite birth plans were complete polar opposites. The first was a one-sheet page of paper that simply said "Baby Out." The other was a two-page behemoth printed on neon yellow card stock that explained every detail of every moment of their anticipated birth. Guess which one ended up being the closest to the actual birth story? Try to find somewhere in the middle of these two. Keep it simple, and narrow it down to one page. Don't cling to the room temperature being exactly 72 degrees, but let them know if the nurses are supposed to ask you for pain medications or if they will get snapped at if they mention the word "epidural."
Kate Rollins is a birth professional working in the Seattle area. She has spent the past three years supporting families as a Birth Doula, Postpartum Doula, Childbirth Educator, and Lactation Educator. Kate has assisted families birthing in hospitals and at home, families expecting multiples and mothers with medical issues affecting their pregnancies and labors. Along with her professional birth experiences, Kate has had two daughters of her own, her first born in a hospital in 2006 and her second born with midwives at a birthing center in 2008.
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