Tuesday Topic: What do You do When You Don’t Know Their Story?

Today’s Tuesday Topic comes for Laurel, who blogs at God Found Us You. She asks,

I have one son who was adopted internationally and one son who was adopted through foster care. We have basically no backstory for our internationally adopted child. We have extensive backstory for our fost/adopted child. This seems difficult to navigate as we have extensive answers for one child and only guesses for our other child. I would love to hear any tips/advice on how to handle these differences for our children.

This is true of so many of us who have multiple adopted children. We deal with this in our family too.

Can you share some thoughts with Laurel? Wisdom, tips, and even, “I’m right there with you,” are all helpful to our little community here. Please take a moment to leave a comment.

If you have a question you would like me to share as a Tuesday Topic, please email it to me at lisa@onethankfulmom.com  It’s very helpful if you put “Tuesday Topic” in the subject line.


Encourage one another.




This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Leslie
    January 28, 2014

    We were able to do a bio family search through an investigator. I'd highly recommend if you are able.

    The best resource I've found is Carissa Woodwyk's "Before You were Mine" book. It is about writing a lifebook for your child, but also has some excellent ideas for handling missing information. This book has been very helpful for us.

  2. Mary (Owlhaven)
    January 28, 2014

    I think one of the blessings of having 6 adopted kids is that we do have the full range of story/lack of story. Some of ours have lots of story, but at least one of ours has zippo. There have been some really good group discussions, where I think they lean on the fact that others in our family have similar stories– that multiple ones don't know their 'real' birthdate, let alone the hour of the day that they were born. It normalizes it for them. I also think kids hear each others' stories and to a degree use each others' to guess a bit about their own. For example, we were able to take our two Korean boys on a homeland tour in 2009 where we met one son's birth family. We know very little about the other boy's family but just seeing the kindness evident in the other family was comforting to him, I think. He could imagine that his own family were people of great kindness as well, who had just been unfortunately up against some very hard circumstances. That is the way I try to fill in any blanks when I talk with kids, with the message of "I don't know for sure, but judging by you, I would guess your family was very loving, and cared for you the best they could in a hard time.' I also emphasize that God was with our children, and will be with them every step of the way in the future, even walking through very hard times.
    Mary, momma to 10

  3. Kelly
    January 28, 2014

    I've seen parents do so many creative things to help their adopted children fill in holes. One Mom staged a photo shoot with her teen, recreating the photos they would have taken if he were a baby when he came to her, or if he had been born to her. My friend just spent a day with her daughter, celebrating all the milestones with her they would have recognized if she had been born to her, (coming home from the hospital outfit, rolling over, sitting up, first steps, etc.).
    As parents, some of us will never be able to answer questions for our kids about their histories before we met them. But we can find creative ways to support them in their questions, help lead them into grieving their missing histories, and help stand with them to put their pieces together.

  4. Christy
    January 28, 2014

    I have five kids. With my third bio baby I had postpartum depression. I don't know when he got his first tooth or how old he was when he started crawling or what his sleep patterns were for his first year of life. I was not in a place to record that kind of stuff. My fourth "baby" came at 5 and a half and my fifth is her brother who was 4 weeks. For me, it helped that I also have those gaps for another of my children, that they can be the same in that way. We do have some info on extended family, so I hope to get more of her story for her as she gets older, but I'm sure there will always be holes.

  5. Karen Twombly
    January 29, 2014

    I have 4 adopted kids, a sib group through international adoption. We have part "no story" and part "stories we were told that don't match up".
    My prayer is that God would draw them to himself and they would ultimately rest in the God of all backstories! Some things are too hard for us to help with and only he can comfort and heal. I pray they will rest in Psalm 139 that where ever they have been, he was already there and is there now.
    Humanly speaking, I see no easy answers. I can only be the physical arms of God's love to them. I can pray and I can sit with them when they struggle. I have to trust God to lead and do the rest. I know if they are to truly know their backstory that God can bring it to light somehow. If not, we just have to trust…

  6. Sue
    January 29, 2014

    My kids are from China, one was under a year and one was almost 2 when we adopted. I explain what we know in child friendly terms. For example, when a baby can not have birth parents who are also their forever parents it is because of grown up problems. We don't know what the specific grownup problems were but sometimes it is that they are too young, they can't take care of a baby because they don't have enough money to pay for medicine, get her heart fixed, pay for school, food, etc. As they have gotten older, we have explained the one child policy to my oldest in general terms, including the fact that the boys are supposed to care for their parents. HARD stuff to talk about, but there is quite a bit of research on the WHYS many kids in China are available for adoption. So, I preface things with "We're not sure but for some families…." We have a finders name for one which could lead to birth family potentially, or could truly just be a non related finder for one child, but the other child has some earlier photos and more "history" before she came to us by virtue of the fact she was a whole year older. Also, her orphanage just did a better job documenting. They also only kept the sickest kids, the others were in foster care, so they had more time.

  7. Laurel
    January 29, 2014

    Thank you all so much for this! What a blessing Lisa has created this space for us to support each other as adoptive families! Thanks for taking the time to write, and I'd love to hear more responses if there are any others reading this!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

I accept the Privacy Policy