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My granddaughter has lived with us (her grandparents) since she was 8 months. She is now four. My daughter and granddaughter have been with us for two and a half years My daughter has been out of the picture for over a year due to drugs. We are in the adoption process now. She has been calling my husband and me "mommy and daddy" for over a year. We were told whatever she is comfortable using.

My question is, just recently she refers to her mother as her other mommy and where is she. What do we say to her? Once adopted, there will be no contact unless her mother turns her life around. At this point she gets to see her for one hour, supervised, once a week.

We want our granddaughter to have the best chance in life and want to say the right thing to her when she asks this question.

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Firstly, you have done a fantastic thing caring for your granddaughter.

I would say use age appropriate responses as near to the truth without making it too much and only when she asks, making sure your granddaughter does not feel blame or responsibility for her mother.

At 4, maybe a response could be, "your other mommy is not feeling very well and has to get fixed but she loves you so much she wants me and your grandfather to love and take care of you because you are a very special girl."

I am sure during the adoption process you will have access to social workers and specialists that can help you with answering these questions as your granddaughter grows up.

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I have an adopted child, so I can relate.

"Your first mother wasn't able to take care of you, so you came to live with Daddy and me."

Where is her first mother? "I don't know where she is right now. But we're going to see her on Tuesday. Do you remember, we saw her last Tuesday?"

Draw her family tree with her and put it on the wall.

Show her a picture book with a pregnant woman, and talk about how much [insert name of first mother] wanted her to be born, and how much Mommy (you) and Daddy wanted her to be born.

Let's say her first mother's name is Anna. You could refer to her as "Mama Anna" or "Mommy Anna."

Allow your granddaughter to feel some sadness occasionally about the loss of her first mother.

Tell her stories about her life, that you remember -- perhaps something about when she was born. How surprised you were when she started walking, when you were least expecting it -- or whatever special memories you have about her. Use plenty of humor. Don't hesitate to repeat these stories as many times as she enjoys hearing them.

You probably do a lot of these things already -- in a forum like this, it's hard to make suggestions, because there's so little opportunity for give and take.

Breathe a sigh of relief when your adoption is final and you can put a stop to the constant rubbing of salt in your granddaughter's wound.

Let's hope that over time, her first mother gets better and is able to be a positive in your granddaughter's life.

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