Explaining things to children

Bringing the baby home
Three cheers for cousins!

We adopted our sons in the 1970s.  Now they are both fathers.

Our granddaughter Mia is black – and beautiful of course!  One day, when she was aged five, I was invited to her school Assembly to talk about my most recent book “Sammy Goes Flying”.  Georgina McIntyre, the illustrator came along as well, so it was to be a happy occasion.

Mia was at a small school and I knew that this was to be a whole school assembly.  The top Juniors, aged eleven would be there.

My son and I realized that the time had come to explain to Mia why I would be introduced as her Grandma and yet some of the older children might question that.  They might be puzzled that I am white and she is black. She is clearly not ‘mixed-race’, or ‘dual heritage’. The time had come to explain to her about her father being adopted and what ‘adopted’ meant.  She could then answer any challenges.

After the event I didn’t hear of any challenging comments.  The whole occasion was most enjoyable and Mia beamed with pride when the Head Teacher asked her to stand up.  It was good, however, that she had been introduced to the fact of adoption.

Mia rarely plays with dolls.  She usually much prefers playing with soft animal toys – see below how she ‘decorates’ a doorstop dog.

dog photo 

However, one day I observed her playing with her dolls and heard her say “Those dolls are twins.  That doll is adopted.  She has a white Grandma”.

I know that there is at least one foster child in her class at school. I don’t know whether Mia knows that, but I happened to be talking to a mother who said she is fostering the little girl.  Perhaps fostering and adoption are not much talked about, but they are a fact of life.  It was good to hear Mia talking about adoption in such a matter-of-fact way.


Odette Elliott
Odette Elliott
I love writing stories for children. I have had six books published and am working on others.

1 Comment

  1. I suppose we belong to the same club of multiracial families since I’m from the Philippines and my husband is English. I didn’t give it much thought until the day my son came home with a drawing he’d made of our family. Daddy and his brother were yellow. Mummy was blue. I wish I’d kept that drawing!

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