Saturday, February 24, 2007

Things Adopted Children Wish Their Parents Knew


This was the title of the class I took today at my agency. It was very interesting. The main points were:

  • Always be honest in an age-appropriate manor. Never presume to guess and give answers that are not certified facts. For example, "Your birthmother loved you so much she wanted you to have a good home." Unless you know this for sure, don't say it because it may not be the truth. A birthmother could have been the victim of sexual crime, may have been a teenager. Just stick to facts and admit when you don't know something.


  • Be your child's ally in their process of figuring out what being adopted means to them. It's a life-long process and it needs to be acknowledged.


  • Realize that the process your child goes through is strictly his/her own and that you may be going through a process of your own.


  • The connection the child has to his/her biological family is intensely personal and primary. The connection the adoptive mom has to the biological mom is through the child, therfore, secondary.


  • Don't deny the differences in genetics, race, etc. This needs to be directly addressed. Prejudice does exists in the world even if it doesn't exist in your own home.


  • Cultural exposures shouldn't be limited to the adopted child, but integrated into the entire family.


  • The process of understanding what being adopted means is very fluid according to life stage. A child will focus of different stages of the adoption at different developmental stages, for example, wondering how old the biological parents were, then, later, the legal process of adoption. At each stage, a new greiving process may emerge.


  • Children (even as adults) view their adoptive parents as their "real" parents and the parents they were born from as their biological parents, even those who have met their biological parents. In most cases, adopted children will set definite boundaries and make it clear to their biological parents, usually the mom, that he/she doesn't consider them their parent. The parents who raised them, cared for them when ill, saw them off to school and did all the things parents do, are considered the "real parents."
The adult adoptee leading the class recommends the following books, but with this word of caution:
    Adoption has been viewed by each generation differently. In the U.S., in the past, children often were not ever told that they were adopted. Then there were phases of minimal information given, and, eventually, open and international adoptions. Through each of these stages, views also changed from denial, hostility toward the birthparents, tolerance, acceptance, and more. Books reflect the attitude of the author based on the cultural views of adoption pertaining to the author's time. While the information in many of the books is good, sometimes the delivery, author's perspective, may be very forceful, even militant, or, just the opposite.

    ·Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew
    ·Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self

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