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Old 05-19-2011, 12:20 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
36,398 posts, read 40,882,869 times
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We have some neighbors who are very sweet and so kind. They have 2 girls, one biological 12 year old and one 5 adoption from China.

We have 3 adopted girls, from Korea and Vietnam plus one bio son.

When I first met this woman I casually asked what adoption agency they used. This is a common topic among international adoption parents. She kind of whispered "We haven't told Baby X about that yet." She was 3 at the time. Ok i didn't say anything further.

Baby X is now starting kindergarten in the fall. In a phone conversation recently I asked "How is the adoption talk going?" She told me "We decided there just hasn't been a good time to tell her, what with her changing baby sitters last year, her grandmother being sick bla bla bla."

I hope my voice didn't sound as shocked as I was but before I could catch myself I said "Surely she knows she doesn't look like everybody else in her family. You know kids talk in school and she's gonna have some questions real soon" .
We went on to other topics but it has bothered me so much. This is a couple in their 40's- not an 80 year old who thinks adoption is shameful and should be kept quiet.

I know people parent in all kinds of ways but I think they are making a big mistake. She sounds like it is some big one time traumatic talk which will blow the child away. I'm afraid if they keep delaying it will blow the kid away.

Now. I will not do a thing. I will not say another word about it. I realize this is none of my business.

We started telling our children from day one they were adopted by showing them pictures of their arrival at the airport, the referral pictures we got of them, my trips all over the world to pick them up, how much they were loved by their birth families and how lucky we were to be able to parent them. I think they are very well adjusted.

OK I feel better now. Just had to get this off my chest. I simply feel any secret attitude sends the message of something wrong and shameful. And adoption is none of those things.
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Old 05-19-2011, 12:24 PM
 
43,012 posts, read 87,817,172 times
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I can understand your frustration. The fact she's a different race makes it all the more important. She'll hear it from someone other than her parents first.

I can't imagine what your neighbor is thinking. Hopefully she'll tell her daughter this summer, before she starts kindergarten.
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Old 05-19-2011, 12:26 PM
 
Location: here
24,291 posts, read 28,250,888 times
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I think the way you did it is the way to go. I would want my child to always have known, not feel like they were hit with a ton of bricks at a later age. I can't imagine not telling a child who is a different ethnicity! What happens when some one says something about it in the child's presence, assuming the child knows? Can you imagine?
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Old 05-19-2011, 12:53 PM
 
32,538 posts, read 28,853,735 times
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Wow. That stumps me. Between adoption and marriage my extended family is very racially mixed. By five all the kids are comparing their skin colors and talking about who looks like who. Surely the daughter has had that experience by now. It's not like the parents can keep it a secret.
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Old 05-19-2011, 12:58 PM
 
Location: In a house
13,262 posts, read 34,045,550 times
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1. I congratulate you on how you've supported your childrens' differences and helped them appreciate them.
2. I feel sad for the neighbor's kid, who will be told this news as an "event" rather than a natural process.

3. You can smack me in the head, but I just couldn't help thinking of the first line of the movie The Jerk when I read the OP, from Steve Martin: "I was born a poor black child..." and having a giggle over it.
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Old 05-19-2011, 01:03 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
36,398 posts, read 40,882,869 times
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yeah that is a funny movie.
I've just determined to be here if and when my neighbor needs me. I'm kinda outspoken and it is hard to keep quiet but it would ruin a good friendship if I ever spoke up about it again.
Thanks all.
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Old 05-19-2011, 01:16 PM
 
Location: Geneva, IL
12,976 posts, read 11,625,062 times
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I don't know how the issue has not been raised by now, and one thing's for sure it will be whether she likes it or not. Mine and DH's biological children have different skin tones, and it has been a topic of discussion for years, raised by them. I suspect she thinks it will be a more difficult discussion than it need be, and the longer she waits, it certainly gets more complicated.
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Old 05-19-2011, 01:44 PM
 
4,541 posts, read 9,404,980 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by no kudzu View Post
We started telling our children from day one they were adopted by showing them pictures of their arrival at the airport, the referral pictures we got of them, my trips all over the world to pick them up, how much they were loved by their birth families and how lucky we were to be able to parent them. I think they are very well adjusted.
That's how my brother and sil have handled it with their daughter. It's not like it's a horrible secret - she was wanted so badly, waited for for so long - those are only good things!

That's really too bad because the longer they put it off, the more it will seem like it was something that is bad. They should be celebrating it with her!

Oh well - like you said, different strokes I guess.
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Old 05-19-2011, 01:51 PM
 
Location: Hillsborough
2,825 posts, read 5,893,676 times
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Does the neighbor child know/understand that your children are adopted? I would think that would raise questions for her. I wonder if the kids have talked about it amongst themselves - like if your kids assume that she knows that she's adopted and discuss it with her since it is something they have in common.

For the record, I think the way you've handled it is good. It's how my parents handled it with my sisters as well. We talked about it as just the way our family was right from the beginning.
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Old 05-19-2011, 02:44 PM
 
9,206 posts, read 17,757,342 times
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This is only anecdotal info, but I was a therapist for years before going into mgmt, and saw lots of adults for therapy who had been adopted as infants or children.

My co-workers (other therapists) and I used to talk about this, and between us, we probably had 35-40 adult clients who had been adopted. They were all in therapy for various reasons, some had an actual mental illness like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression, but many were just in therapy for time-limited issues like a loss, family or couples therapy, or acute problems with anxiety.

We all had agreed that none of us ever heard an adult have problems with the fact that they were adopted, if they were told about it at a young age, and grew up knowing. But the ones who had parents who withheld the info from them, and they learned about it at a later age, or God-forbid from someone outside the family, invariably had problems, and even felt traumatized by it. We even considered publishing somethng jointly about this, but never got around to it.

When they found out about it, they were not only dealing with the fact that they were adopted, and that there are birth parents out there (the usual stuff) but they also had to deal with feeling betrayed by their parents who had kept this secret from them. I had one client whose parents had kept his adoption a secret and he accidentally found out about it in his mid-thirties, from a former childhood schoolmate. The sense of betrayal that this guy went through was immense. He actually experienced PTSD-like symptoms and a severe depression directly as a result of this.

I wondered why anyone would do this to their kid. The man's one parent was already deceased, but the remaining parent thought they had done nothing wrong, and that the guy was over-reacting. What they didn't realize is that we develop our identities as we grow up, and by the time we're an adult, our identity is pretty much formed. While the info could have been integrated when the guy was still young, and his identity not fully formed, but the time he was 35, this was a huge blow, and it was like the rug had been pulled out from under him.
My co-workers had a few clients who had not learned they were adopted until their teens, and they were similarly traumatized. I think the teens are when your sense of self is the most fragile to begin with, and you are already dealing with emotional separation form parents, and figuring out about trust. Then bam! you learn that something you've relied on as fact all your life is not true.

I really hope your neighbors learn this and start sharing the info with their daughter soon.
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