Things Adopted Children Wish Their Parents Knew…
In this blog, we talk a lot about adoptive parents and birth parents, but I also believe it is important to understand adoption from the perspective of the individual it affects the most: the adoptee. Children growing up in an adoptive home from infancy or toddlerhood will most likely find their adoption situation very normal and may not question their story until they reach adolescence or young adulthood. It is often at that time, however, that adoptive parents feel bombarded with their child’s “sudden” curiosity, as if it awakened overnight and is now here to haunt them. As we know, the truth is rarely that black and white. Some children either hold off on asking certain questions because it never occurred to them to ask when they were younger, or they sensed some level of resistance or hesitation on the part of their adoptive parents in discussing these matters. (Children who were placed out of foster care or at an older age will certainly still have questions, but they are often more aware of the circumstances surrounding their relinquishment and placement.)
From young children to adult adoptees, there are many patterns in the issues raised regarding one’s adoption story. Many of the same questions regarding background, reasons for relinquishment, feelings of abandonment or rejection, and curiosity about appearance and ability can be heard across all types of adoption, regardless of the adoptee’s demographic.
In interviews with adoptees, there are some common threads that get expressed about not only the questions these individuals have, but also statements of things adopted children wish their adopted parents knew (or had known) when they were growing up. Below is a list of just a few of these sentiments:
- Birthdays or “Gotcha Days” may be difficult for me.
- I am afraid you, too, will abandon me.
- I want you to initiate conversations about my birth parents, placement and adoption story.
- Don’t overreact every time I act out…it isn’t always adoption related. Sometimes I’m just being a normal kid.
- Please don’t act weird when I ask questions about my birth parents. I’m just curious.
- Don’t introduce me as your “adopted child.” I’m just your child.
- My curiosity about my birth parents or desire to search for them is not a rejection of you as my parents.
- It’s normal for adoptees to struggle with issues of self-worth, identity, control, and shame.
- Be my advocate. Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for a lifelong commitment to me and my adoption.
- Adoption is not a secret or something to be ashamed of.
At Adoption Matters, we are committed to our families for the life of your adoption. If we can ever help you get connected with counseling and other adoption related resources that would benefit your family, please let us know