The intention in our house is to raise our adopted children with knowledge of their birth family with as open of an arrangement as possible to keep all of our children safe and healthy. With that in mind, adoption has been an ongoing conversation in our home. This is fairly easy for our family because of the 21 children who've lived in our home only ONE has only ONE mother. All of the others have at least two - their birth mother and their foster mother - but most have even more mother figures in their lives. Nevertheless, not everyone can have an open arrangement with their adopted child's family nor is it always easy to know what to say about your children's biological family, especially when the children were removed from the home and placed into foster care.
With that in mind, I'm sharing a post from Pam Johnson that addresses just how to talk about adoption with your child.
Discussing Adoption With Your Child
Adoptive parents today face several challenges. We must strive to help our children feel comfortable about the fact that they were adopted. Being open and talking to your children about adoption is the most beneficial thing you can do, but there are some things you should never say to an adopted child.
If your child discovers they were adopted on their own, the worst thing you can do is lie to them about it. Never tell your child that they were not adopted! Every child who has been adopted has a story, and they have a right to know all about what happened. Don’t ever make stories up to them. Tell them the truth, with age appropriateness of course.
Don’t ever tell an adopted child to forget about the past. Don’t tell them to stop wondering about their blood parents and what happened. Many parents do this when the children are older, because they want nothing more than to make the child feel better. They feel that the child must have had a hard life, so they want to wipe it away. However, older children often need to talk about it - the good, as well as the bad.
Never tell an adopted child how they should feel about the fact that they are adopted. An adopted child has a unique journey of his or her own, and that needs to be part of their own unique lives and feelings. It may take them 30 years to come to terms with it, but that's ok. Just be a supportive parent, and you're doing the right thing.
Never tell an adopted child anything about their mother that you don't know for a fact. For instance, never say that their mother must not have loved them. Children need to know the truth and you can tell your adopted child that they did not grow inside your tummy, but that they have a ‘birth mother’, and that they grew inside this person’s tummy. You can go on to explain that their birth mother wanted to find someone to take extra special care of them and that you are lucky to have been that chosen person. There's no need to paint a rosy picture or share gory details, until they are definitely able to handle it.
Adoptive children have feelings, just like the rest of us do. As parents, you want to make sure they know that they are loved and cared for. Be very cautious though. Don’t force conversations on them, but if they have questions to ask, be honest. Listen to your children and give them the love and comfort of that love. Give them the things they need to allow them to go through life knowing that they are just as loved as anyone else in this world.
Author Pam Johnson is a family counselor who specializes in helping adopted children cope with their family life. She obtained one of the Marriage and Family Counseling Degrees Online.