Ask Grandma Maggie

Parenting & Childcare Advice
Peggy Moss (1933-2014), also known as Grandma Maggie, penned a parenting column on this site for many years. Back by popular demand, we are republishing the column, sharing with you the best of Grandma Maggie’s parenting and childcare advice.
Unfortunately Grandma Maggie is no longer able to take questions.

How to explain giving up a baby for adoption to a child?

, ,

Dear Grandma,

I have a 17 year old (Amanda) who is going to have a baby in a few weeks. I also have a 4 year old (Hannah). Amanda is going to be giving her baby up for adoption. Hannah knows that Amanda is going to have a baby soon and can hardly wait for the baby to arrive. When Amanda delivers the baby, the adoptive parents are going to take the baby home soon after he is born. Therefore, Hannah probably won’t even get the chance to see the baby.

How do I tell Hannah that the baby she has so anxiously and patiently waited to hold and hug will not be coming home with us? I’ve searched several bookstores trying to find professional advice and have read countless children’s books but none address this specific situation.
I realize that Hannah may not be affected at all but I would feel better if I were prepared for any questions Hannah may have after she realizes that Amanda is no longer pregnant and the baby is not at home?

Thank you so much for your help!

Cheryl

Dear Cheryl,

There is really only one way to go with this and that is to tell Hannah the truth, for when in doubt the truth is always the best choice. However, how you tell her is VERY important. I caution you not to use the words “gave the baby away” because that can be very scary to a four year old who might wonder if she is next. Rather tell her that because her sister is so young and cannot afford to give the baby the time and the things that a baby needs, that she has agreed to allow someone else to adopt her baby and raise her the way she needs to be raised. This allows you to introduce the word adoption to her vocabulary and having some children’s books ready that explain that word and those loving actions more towards her age level. Visit your bookstore or librarian before you begin this conversation so you are ready.

Above all, prepare her for the fact that the baby is NOT coming home, but rather going to its new home with its adoptive parents. It’s OK to admit that the family is sad about this fact, but that everyone must do what is best for the baby.

I admire that you are so supportive of your older daughter and that she has made such an unselfish choice for her child.

My very best to all of you.
Grandma Maggie