Once we got Eliot's referral we started the jokes that since he looked so much like us, we'd have to be real honest with him from the beginning that he was, in fact, adopted. Otherwise, he'd never know.
I had no idea people who adopted out of their race actually tried to keep the adoption element a secret from their differently colored children. No judgements here, just confusion.
I also had no idea how much of a banner "Adoption" would become for our family, so "when to tell Eliot" was never an issue. He's heard his adoption story 9 million times. He knows he's from Guatemala and has fallen in love with his birth country as much as we have. There's still some confusion given the fact that he's a 5 year old trying to understand a pretty complex part of his life but he has a fundamental understanding of it all.
Fast forward to last spring, while we were in our foster training classes (which we loved loved loved, shout out One Heart) and one of the trainers shared part of her story. Each of her children has a unique story and birth family involvement. When someone in the class ask her how she handles that, she casually mentioned that there are pics on their fridge of birth family. They are recognized as a character of each child's story in a way that makes it so commonplace that there's no mystery. Russ and I loved it.
We've had a pic of Eliot's birth fam in our safe for years. Not knowing what to do with it, we kept it there. Other adoptive moms have mentioned that they create a scrapbook type adoption story book and include any birth family photos in there. It's accessible. It takes out any mystery.
Adoption can be confusing for everyone, but children especially. As E gets older, there will be more questions. I love that those around us are smarter than we are and were willing to share their ideas. There will be no big reveal of Eliot's story as far as we're concerned. His foundation for this part of his identity will be the same today as it will be in ten years. As his parents, it's our job to set him up for success in every aspect and we're praying this is the right direction.
But then again, we're only 4 years and 2 adoptions into this, so as usual, we're kinda making this stuff up as we go. Isn't that what parenting is all about? Er...