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Old 02-09-2013, 07:06 AM
 
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As the title said, this is just one adoptee's view of how to tell children about their adoption. Others may feel differently and I would be interested hearing their perspectives.

1) First of all, I do feel they must actually be told they are adopted (something I think most of us agree with on here).

2) The earlier one tells their child they are adopted, the better. Many adoptees say they can't remember when they were told, they just always remember knowing and that is probably the best.

3) When it comes to actually telling them their story, be factual (age appropriately of course). When the child asks "why was I adopted", he is usually asking "why was I relinquished" and thus presenting the facts as you know them (agree appropriately of course) is the best way to go, without embellishment or personal opinion. Sometimes the truth may be difficult, eg with an international adoption, the child might have been abandoned or, in foster care, have been abused. Even with so-called "good" backgrounds, it can be hard for a young child to understand, eg if their bmom sounds nice, they might wonder why she didn't raise them. I personally would to put the situation in a time and place perspective and state only the things you actually know. Don't try to interpret them yourself but allow them to discuss it and to work out different viewpoints themselves. If you need a "covers all events" statement, I am not sure what the best thing to say is. Perhaps in the case of voluntary domestic adoption, one could say "she wasn't sure that she could raise you safely/securely" or "she wasn't in a position to be able to parent effectively" or some such thing.

4) I personally think one should keep separate the telling of why you adopted them. One could follow on but one could ask whether their child wants to hear why you adopted them and then proceed to tell your tale - this keeps the relinquishment separate from the adoption. I personally feel that it is important for the child to know that their adoptive parents' love for them is not a replacement love and separating the tales can help the child understand that they are two separate events.

5) Re abortion, one thing I as an adoptee get sick of is the assumption that I was "saved from abortion". I have no idea if my bmother even thought about it. It is not necessary to tell your child that she was saved from being aborted. Even saying "she chose to give you life and place you for adoption" can give a child the impression that her bmother's thought processes were something like "Hmm, how shall I get rid of this kid - should I abort it or give it away". There is no reason for abortion to even be mentioned in the telling of their story - it isn't relevant.

6) In regards to telling one's story about how one adopted your child, I personally dislike tales implying that the bmother was a vessel used to carry one's child or that God put one's child in the wrong tummy - it comes across to me as implying that some people are there to be used.

I suppose I am all about making sure that they are told their story in a non-directional way so that they can eventually control their own story. Again, as I said above, this is my view and don't expect anyone to share but just wondered what other things people felt are important when telling an adopted child their story.
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Old 02-09-2013, 07:49 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by susankate View Post
1) First of all, I do feel they must actually be told they are adopted (something I think most of us agree with on here).

2) The earlier one tells their child they are adopted, the better. Many adoptees say they can't remember when they were told, they just always remember knowing and that is probably the best.
Agree. I can't remember not knowing I was adopted & I believe that was definitely for the best. My brother was told a bit older (3 or 4) & he recalls feeling lied to.

Quote:
3) When it comes to actually telling them their story, be factual (age appropriately of course). When the child asks "why was I adopted", he is usually asking "why was I relinquished" and thus presenting the facts as you know them (agree appropriately of course) is the best way to go, without embellishment or personal opinion. Sometimes the truth may be difficult, eg with an international adoption, the child might have been abandoned or, in foster care, have been abused. Even with so-called "good" backgrounds, it can be hard for a young child to understand, eg if their bmom sounds nice, they might wonder why she didn't raise them. I personally would to put the situation in a time and place perspective and state only the things you actually know. Don't try to interpret them yourself but allow them to discuss it and to work out different viewpoints themselves. If you need a "covers all events" statement, I am not sure what the best thing to say is. Perhaps in the case of voluntary domestic adoption, one could say "she wasn't sure that she could raise you safely/securely" or "she wasn't in a position to be able to parent effectively" or some such thing.
I actually don't like parents giving any reason why we were given away unless they have a letter from the mother/father specifically stating why or they met them in person/heard in their own words why.

If the truth is that you just don't know, that is what you should say. You can then help them explore their thoughts/feelings on this lack of information by talking about parents in general, like: "Sometimes parents are not able to raise a child they gave birth to."

Most likely this will be followed by a, "Why?" You can then explore in age appropriate ways various reasons why some parents may not be able to raise a child, or how children come to be available for adoption. Help processing the lack of info & these hard truths is what children who are adopted really need.

At the end of these conversations be sure to say something like, "I'm sorry we don't know more information & your other mother/father could not be here to answer these questions for you. How does that make you feel?"

This will help the child feel validated, supported, & encouraged to open up.

Last edited by thethreefoldme; 02-09-2013 at 08:31 AM..
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Old 02-09-2013, 09:02 AM
 
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I agree with all your points Susankate. We've been very factual with our children on the issues of adoption. They have always known and we've never romantacized things like God putting a child in the wrong tummy (barf!!!!!). That just isn't my style at all. We did share all the nitty gritty details with our daughter last year, a bit earlier than we would have liked but this was necessary. She knows everything. Both my husband and I are careful to never say a negative thing about their biological parents and stand firm on this point.

As to the abortion discussion, this frankly didn't even cross our minds in any adoption discussions nor was it relevant in our situation. They weren't newborns and removed from their families for severe abuse and neglect. I never seen our kids as being saved. We've had the wonderful opportunity to provide a stable and loving home and thank goodness we were successful in navigating an international adoption.

I think one should just be honest above everything else. We have told our adoption story which isn't that interesting but we also share the stories of meeting them for the first time, share the photos, have some good airplane stories my daughter likes to hear on occasion. As I've mentioned before, my daughter really doesn't like to dwell on the adoption and we've respected her wishes and have just moved on with life. I know this can change with time.

Good thread.
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Old 02-09-2013, 11:51 AM
 
Location: Bella Vista, Ark
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We too were open and factual. We used the term "adoption" as if it was a normal thing and the kids knew our oldest was a natural born child, by thatI mean she came into our lives by mommy carrying her, the other two knew they came in after someone else carried them. We never hid a thing from them and as they matured more details were given as to the circumstances of the adoption. As for abortion, of course it wasn't an option, in the days when we adopted, but I would never have said anything about abortion versus adoption..When our kids were young, there was a book about adoption we referred to: the term aften used to explain adoption to them: some babies are carried in mommy tummy under her heart, you were carried in our heart. of course this came when they were old enough to know, they did not literally come from our physical hearts.

Nita
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Old 02-09-2013, 11:56 AM
 
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excellent topic and responses-- as a birthmom,susankates points are ones i hoped my adopted child was given by her parents
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Old 02-09-2013, 12:16 PM
 
Location: Bella Vista, Ark
72,086 posts, read 83,768,361 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thethreefoldme View Post
Agree. I can't remember not knowing I was adopted & I believe that was definitely for the best. My brother was told a bit older (3 or 4) & he recalls feeling lied to.

I actually don't like parents giving any reason why we were given away unless they have a letter from the mother/father specifically stating why or they met them in person/heard in their own words why.

If the truth is that you just don't know, that is what you should say. You can then help them explore their thoughts/feelings on this lack of information by talking about parents in general, like: "Sometimes parents are not able to raise a child they gave birth to."

Most likely this will be followed by a, "Why?" You can then explore in age appropriate ways various reasons why some parents may not be able to raise a child, or how children come to be available for adoption. Help processing the lack of info & these hard truths is what children who are adopted really need.

At the end of these conversations be sure to say something like, "I'm sorry we don't know more information & your other mother/father could not be here to answer these questions for you. How does that make you feel?"

This will help the child feel validated, supported, & encouraged to open up.
Our social worker actually wouldn't tell us if the biological mother was even married because she felt this had little to do with anything and she believed, like you are saying, why a child is given up isn't really important. We did have letters about their background, but it said nothing about the circumstances surronding their mothers decision.
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Old 02-09-2013, 04:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by nmnita View Post
Our social worker actually wouldn't tell us if the biological mother was even married because she felt this had little to do with anything and she believed, like you are saying, why a child is given up isn't really important. We did have letters about their background, but it said nothing about the circumstances surronding their mothers decision.
I don't think Threefoldme is saying that the reasons why a child is given up aren't important. In fact, I think every child would want to know why - however, they want facts not someone's conjecture on why. For example, if a child's information says her mother was a college student and that is all then one should just say "your mother was a college student" not embellish it to say "your mother was a college student, she wanted to finish her education before parenting" because that is conjecture.

Btw, I don't know what other adoptees think but when it comes to the information I received about my bmother when I received my OBC in the late 80s, a couple of things were given as the reasons for my adoption but bit that made me think she might care about her baby was when it said "she had very mixed feelings about the adoption" so any personal things like that are worth telling one's child.
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Old 02-10-2013, 04:38 AM
 
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Originally Posted by nmnita View Post
Our social worker actually wouldn't tell us if the biological mother was even married because she felt this had little to do with anything and she believed, like you are saying, why a child is given up isn't really important. We did have letters about their background, but it said nothing about the circumstances surronding their mothers decision.
I never said it wasn't important. Your social worker couldn't have been more wrong.

Of course it is extremely important. As someone who was adopted as an infant & had very little information about why I was given up I can tell you from experience that not-knowing impacted me greatly as a child.

I wanted to know, in my mother & father's own words, why. Why couldn't they keep me & why if they could not raise me were they not still in my life somehow? Why did no one else in the family want to keep me or know me? Why didn't they care or want to know how I was doing in my new family?

I say it's better to be honest with your child if you don't know the truth & then help your child grieve that loss of information -- that is not saying the truth doesn't matter.

Last edited by thethreefoldme; 02-10-2013 at 05:01 AM..
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Old 02-10-2013, 04:54 AM
 
1,014 posts, read 988,013 times
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Originally Posted by susankate View Post
For example, if a child's information says her mother was a college student and that is all then one should just say "your mother was a college student" not embellish it to say "your mother was a college student, she wanted to finish her education before parenting" because that is conjecture.
Thank you, Susankate. This is exactly what I meant. Great example.

My father was in the military. So one day when I was asking my mom twenty-million questions she could not answer she said, "Well, he probably couldn't keep you because he was in the military."

I was glad to finally have an answer, but how do you think it felt every time I met a friend who was raised by a father in the military? Later I find out this couldn't be farther from the truth, anyway. He had already been in & out of the military by the time I was born.

Quote:
Btw, I don't know what other adoptees think but when it comes to the information I received about my bmother when I received my OBC in the late 80s, a couple of things were given as the reasons for my adoption but bit that made me think she might care about her baby was when it said "she had very mixed feelings about the adoption" so any personal things like that are worth telling one's child.
State still won't allow me access to my original birth certificate (despite being reunited with both my mother & my father), but the lady at the agency did tell me it mentioned in the file that my mother was very conflicted. That blew my mind... I really wasn't expecting to hear that.
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Old 02-10-2013, 06:11 PM
 
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Originally Posted by thethreefoldme View Post
Thank you, Susankate. This is exactly what I meant. Great example.

My father was in the military. So one day when I was asking my mom twenty-million questions she could not answer she said, "Well, he probably couldn't keep you because he was in the military."

I was glad to finally have an answer, but how do you think it felt every time I met a friend who was raised by a father in the military? Later I find out this couldn't be farther from the truth, anyway. He had already been in & out of the military by the time I was born.



State still won't allow me access to my original birth certificate (despite being reunited with both my mother & my father), but the lady at the agency did tell me it mentioned in the file that my mother was very conflicted. That blew my mind... I really wasn't expecting to hear that.
Another thing also is that most of the information provided is secondhand in that it is written down by the social workers and thus their own views can inadvertantly be reflected in the information.
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