Babies

Welcoming an Adopted Baby Home Is Both Beautiful and Challenging — And Here's Why We Need to Talk About It

The Real Housewives of Dallas mom Brandi Redmond recently welcomed a baby boy.

ICYMI, Brandi Redmond, her husband Bryan Redmond, and their daughters Brooklyn, 9, and Brinkley, 6, have welcomed Bruin, 5 months, to their family. There's now (officially) a party of five — and, if you've seen their sassy daughters, it surely looks like a party for this The Real Housewives of Dallas crew. 

We got a behind-the-scenes look at the adoption process for Bruin Charles, which was finalized in June.

"Today is one of the best days of our lives. Bruin Charles Redmond will forever be our little boy, little brother and in our hearts. We love you BruBru," Brandi captioned a family pic from court in June. 

The RHOD mom shared the happy news that she and Bryan had adopted Bruin this past winter after he was born prematurely on December 31, weighing just 4 pounds and 5 ounces. His biological parents were teenagers, who awarded him to the state at birth. Brandi and Bryan adopted Bruin via a closed adoption.

BTS...the girls making Bruin official. 💙💙💙

A post shared by Brandi Redmond (@brandiredmond) on

Adoption is beautiful, but also complicated and why it needs to be talked about more, says April Dinwoodie, Chief Executive of The Donaldson Adoption Institute, Inc. in New York City. She would know; she was adopted herself. She explores adoption from many different angles in her popular podcast, Born in June, Raised in April.

Dinwoodie spoke to Personal Space about how positive it is when an adoption story enters the reality TV space, because when it’s unscripted is when we see real layers of emotions happen.

“Like on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Lisa Vanderpump’s son [Max Vanderpump-Todd] is adopted and all this stuff resonates at a high level, it’s great to see, because when it’s scripted, they get a lot of stuff wrong,” Dinwoodie says. “In real life it’s another level of perception.”

Brandi bringing home a new baby without having been pregnant herself may be a bit confusing for her daughters because they are young, but, Dinwoodie says, honesty always works.

She says the following always helps when considering adoption or if you are already going through the process:

Always center on the truth and be factual as long as it’s age-appropriate.

Be as open as possible and make space for relationships with extended birth family members so that there is no mystery.

Have photos of birth family members to share along with the good things about the family that is connected to the new baby.
Make sure parents/caregivers are aligned with how the conversation will unfold.

Use tools like these books and even movies/TV shows that have healthy adoption narratives. (Dinwoodie says this website is a great resource.)

Make sure there are items of comfort that can come home with the baby (e.g., a blanket that may have birth mom/birth dad’s scent and or something that has their voice recorded).

What not to do?

Don’t treat the idea of new sibling as a “gift” or present for the existing children and/or make up a story about where the child came from. (Storks do not deliver babies.)

Don’t avoid what may be uncomfortable for you because children can always sense these things.

Don’t do it alone, making sure you have “really skilled therapists and understanding friends and family surrounding you as you navigate the adoption experience.” 

Think that children are not ready to receive facts and information — so often adults use that as an excuse to avoid sharing challenging information.

Dinwoodie says that, in the end, you may not necessarily know your new baby’s full story, and that you are coming at an adopted baby from a different place, which people are often reluctant to talk about.

She explains:

“Kids get basic understandings, you say something like ‘there was another mommy like me who had a baby, can’t take care of him or her (don’t need to say why, you can do that later) and we’re gonna take care of that baby,’ Me and daddy can raise them like you and he’s going to be your brother. Basic facts work.”

Babies are traumatized by the separation of their birth mother, so you do have to take extra care to make sure there is a very loving environment, which involves making sure other children at home know this baby may need a little extra love.

“It’s always going to be a little different and that needs to be honored,” Dinwoodie says. “You may be a different race, you may not look like your family, so I always encourage authentic connections to birth families. We can love someone that is not our blood relative as if they are our blood relative, but it takes work. Maintaining some of that birth family connection is critical to identity.”

Whatever a family decides to do, adoption is beautiful, and makes us talk about the most uncomfortable layers of family today.

“It’s hard, it’s differences in race, class, culture, it involves sex, money, the deconstruction of a family, the reconstruction of a family. All of that is ever present in adoption and we have to face it head on,” Dinwoodie says. “Lots of times families that want to adopt don’t want to go there and there's so much conversation and care that has to go into rebuilding the family and there’s no easy answer.”

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