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“Where do babies come from?”
Explore the mystery with your children

Every St. Patrick’s Day, Jane would ask, “Am I Irish?” Over and over, her mother would respond that they didn’t know her ethnic background. While she was in her early teens, Jane’s family learned the details of her ancestry and medical history. Jane’s response? “Well, now we know for sure that I’m Irish, too, so this year I can wear green like everyone else.” (Editor’s Note: To learn more about Jane’s story, read How it Feels to be Adopted by Jill Krementz.)
    I wonder ... Before they can even talk, babies’ eyes fill with wonder as they are captivated by life around them. When language explodes, so does their curiosity about everything! “Why is her tummy getting so big?” “Where did the neighbor’s new baby come from?” “Did I grow inside you?” Their questions require a simple response at first, and will be expanded in years to come. Let the story of adoption flow from everyday interactions. Make sure your child understands that adopted children grow inside women; for some children this is a source of confusion. Scan photos of the day your child entered your lives, first interactions with relatives, and other early experiences. These can be laminated and spiral bound, becoming well-worn scrapbooks. Expect to answer questions over and over again, just as you have reviewing spelling lists repeatedly before the child finally learns the correct spelling of a word!
    Destined in Love. Baptized in Christ, we have been adopted into the divine family: “In love He destined us for adoption to Himself through Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 1:4-5) In Spiritual Fitness, Father Bill Ashbaugh reflects on what this means. Issues that penetrate to the heart of our existence do need to be pondered; adopted children need opportunities to reflect on how they became part of your family. Children explore different aspects of personal identity at different ages. Remember that this child has entered your hearts “in love.” Questions about the circumstances of birth are not a threat to the love shared in your family.
    Mystery is a part of all our lives, especially when we are young and are searching to find our place in the world. In his October 1979 visit to New York City, Pope John Paul II offered wisdom for all of us: “When you wonder about the mystery of yourself, look to Christ who gives you the meaning of life. When you wonder what it means to be a mature person, look to Christ who is the fulfillment of humanity. And when you wonder about your role in the future of the world ... look to Christ.” – Dr. Cathleen McGreal is a Professor of Psychology at Hope College and a certified spiritual director.

by Dr. Cathleen McGreal

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