It was a snowy morning, about a month ago, when my 3-year-old daughter sat glued to her favorite morning show: Doc McStuffins. I was having my coffee and trying to get some work done until suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a commercial flash for an upcoming McStuffins episode. From across the room I vaguely heard something being said about bottles and diapers and babies … and I began to feel that familiar feeling dread begin to grow the pit of my stomach.
Uh-oh. Not this again, I thought. As if I’m not surrounded by this situation enough in real life. Now I’ll have to go through another television show explaining to my daughter why the cartoon mom has a baby in her tummy and I don’t.
But then something unexpected happened: The commercial announced that the McStuffins family would be growing — through adoption.
I watched as my daughter started jumping up and down, while screaming, “Oh my goodness, that’s like meeeeee!!!! I’m adopting toooooo!!!!!” Immediately, I teared up, as my little girl happily clapped and jumped her way all over the couch. In the middle of all this, my husband ran up from the basement to find the both of us looking like completely crazed lottery winners.
To fully explain just why this moment was so huge, I should probably back up a bit.
First, my daughter is not just a casual Doc fan. She watches dutifully every week; she has all the accessories (including a Pet Vet check-up center); she dressed as Doc this Halloween; and she has proudly declared that she wants to be a “doctor for stuffed animals and toys” when she grows up, too.
And then there’s this: Our family has been waiting to adopt for almost two years now. So, watching this all play out — seeing that my daughter would be finally able to relate to a family-building situation — was honestly a dream come true for me. And being that I also love Doc McStuffins, I certainly had confidence that they’d get it right. (Especially once I read that Disney took the time to consult with adoption experts before writing the upcoming episodes.)
As the news sank in, I began to realize just how much this show will affect our lives in a positive way. I especially love that my daughter’s friends will be exposed to adoption as a “normal” way to build a family. Recently, one of my good friends told me that she’d explained to her older daughter that our family is expecting a baby through adoption, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciated her efforts in this area. Still, as far as I know, she was the only friend that I know of to broach the topic with her children.
In the weeks that followed the Doc McStuffins promo, something flipped a switch in my mind. I guess it was the fact that the McStuffins family had bottles all ready to go, and a nursery all set up for their baby. Meanwhile, our family has been waiting for over a year now for our baby to come, and there were no bottles prepped and ready; no nursery waiting to greet our newest family member.
Needless to say, I was now inspired: I hopped in the car and drove to Home Goods — where I’ll freely admit I spent way too much money completing our new baby’s nursery.
But the biggest difference I noticed after seeing the promo was in my daughter. She was so incredibly excited that we too were having a baby — adopting a baby — that she was sure to proudly declare this information to literally everyone we passed that day in the store.
It went a little something like this:
Daughter: “We’re having a baby!”
Stranger Who Was Trying to Find Dining Room Curtains: “Oh! Congratulations!” (Stares at my stomach.)
Me: “Yes, we’re adopting a baby! Sweetie, you have to tell them that we are adopting a baby, so they know the baby isn’t in my tummy.”
Daughter: “We’re ADOPTING our baby! That’s what Doc’s family is doing, too. It’s awesome.”
Stranger, Vaguely Interested and Now Full of Inappropriate Questions But Trying to Hold Back: “That’s great! A boy or a girl?”
Daughter: “We will just have to wait to adopt the baby and see!” (I have no idea why I spend more time contemplating boy versus girl than she does!)
I know my daughter had already spent a lot of time thinking about the baby, but I do think the fact that Doc is adopting helped validate her own experience. That night, when I tucked her into bed, my daughter asked, “Mommy, was I adopted?”
“No, you grew in my tummy,” I answered.
“Is that better?” she wondered.
“No,” I said, “Just different.”
“But did Baby Valerie down the street grow in her mommy’s tummy?” she asked.
“So there are all different ways to have a baby, Mommy,” she said back. “They could grow in another mommy’s tummy, and that mommy loves the baby but cannot take care of the baby, and asks us to be the baby’s family and we love the baby. The baby will be a cute little honey-bunny.”
And at that moment, my heart grew a thousand times bigger.
Now, several weeks later, Baby McStuffins has officially arrived; and while we still don’t know her name yet, I can already tell these next few episodes are going to make a world of difference in our home. And for that, this mom would like to give the McStuffins family a great big thank you.More On