Adopting a child is an act of kindness, but also of courage, putting a responsibility on the parents` shoulders which isn`t exactly easy. Although is very tempting the thought of finally having a family, it`s also a very complex task that the couple needs to assume.
Beyond offering the perfect environment for the growth and harmonious development of the new family member, the adoptive parents need to prepare the right answer to the question:”How did I come into this world?” in advance. Sooner or later, any child has this curiosity.
Table of Contents
- 1 Do I Really Need to Tell My Child He`s Adopted?
- 2 Your Child Is Allowed to Ask Questions
- 3 About Adoption, Puberty
- 4 About Adoption, Adolescence
- 5 Your Own Emotions
Do I Really Need to Tell My Child He`s Adopted?
In the past, psychologists believed that a child should never know that he was adopted. The explanation offered was that discovering the truth could have irreversible effects in the long term on the person adopted. The sense of belonging, the picture of a perfect family, security – all these could be affected.
However, with time passing, there were some major changes in mentality. Experts in psychology have come to the conclusion that is unfair for the adoptive parents of the child to hide information about his origin. Moreover, such decisions impose perpetuating lies within the family, a behavior that isn`t natural. Lastly but not least, the decision of not telling the child that he`s adopted won`t exclude the possibility for him finding out accidentally from elsewhere. Although it may seem impossible, this scenario takes a lot of adoptive families by surprise, and the outcome isn`t exactly a happy one.
So, however difficult the moment of truth would be when telling the child about his background, he`s still entitled to know. When and how, depends only on the parents.
How to Tell a Child about Adoption?
Although adults find it obvious, children frequently believe that they`re either born or adopted. It`s essential, when talking to them about the adoption, to help them be aware that first of all they were born, and also that all children, regardless if they are adopted or not, are first conceived and born in the same manner. First comes the birth, then the adoption.
Usually, after 5 years old, children start to ask more and more questions, the surrounding world being full of mysteries for them. One of the curiosities to which they seek for answers is:”From where do babies come?” This is a good time to talk about the adoption and his biological parents. Of course, this first conversation needs to be worn carefully, and your speech should tailored according to your child`s abilities to understand.
Waiting until he becomes a teenager to reveal him he was adopted isn`t really advisable. Dr. Steven Nickman says: “Disclosure during that period of time might bring devastating results when it comes to your child`s self-esteem or to the faith of the parents.”
What You Need to Say?
- Your explanations should be honest, direct and simple.
- Tell him that he wasn`t born to you.
- Explain to him that he came from another parents who weren`t able to offer him a good home. Then tell him your personal reasons for which you wanted to adopt a child.
- Explain him your reasons about how much you wanted him and describe briefly to him the entire process you have gone through for him to become your child.
Your Child Is Allowed to Ask Questions
For instance, he may want to know “Where are my parents?” or “What happened to my real parents?” You could share a bit of that info with him, but you don`t have to go into too many details. Your explanations should be appropriate to his level of maturity and answer his questions briefly.
About Adoption, Early Childhood
A first aspect that you need to consider before talking to your child about adoption is his age. No matter how mature he may seem to you, he`s a child and you need to make your speech in a way that would be easy for him to follow. Instead of a rigid and boring monologue, tell him a story about his past. Psychologists encourage even expressions like “Once upon a time …”, if normally you know your child would show interest to such an opening.
The second aspect that you need to consider is the truth. Be objective throughout the conversation and maintain the veracity of the facts. However tempting it may seem to omit certain aspects or sweeten reality appealing to imagination, keep in mind that it`s the child`s right to know the truth. – Read more!
Give the necessary support to your child to understand the issue of adoption. Show yourself always available to any of his questions. Repeat him certain information, if necessary, so that he may not feel confused. For instance, it`s possible for him to not be able to assimilate from the beginning the idea of having 2 mothers, 2 fathers and 2 families.
Also, there`s the risk that in his mind to take place certain comparisons, connections that generate fear and uncertainty. There are questions that arise, such as:”If my real mother left him, will me second one leave me too?”.
Offer your child the necessary time to accept the idea that he was adopted, but don`t forget to often remember him how much you appreciate him being a member of the family.
About Adoption, Puberty
If you didn`t talked to your child by now about his roots, it`s time. At this age, he still shows interest to what you have to say and he`s willing to listen to you. Also, he also doesn`t have that impulsive temperament yet specific to teenagers and, no matter how much it may affect him that the family in which he grew isn`t the biological one, he`ll make efforts in accepting the situation.
Around 9 – 10 years old, the child starts to understand the significance of social context and reasoning behind the decision of adopting, so be sure that the information you give him are properly received. Moreover, the child has the necessary time to assimilate the new data until adolescence, when gradually each person defines his identity.
At puberty, each individual registers a big leap in the cognitive level. Psychologists consider that this is the best period to share your child sensitive information and give him difficult news. It`s the stage in which he`s malleable in the way he thinks and open to changes.
On the other hand, you should expect a lot of questions specific related to his biological family or the parents who gave him birth. He`ll expect from you to outline him his past in a punctual story, but detailed, and offer him some certainty. – Read more in this article
About Adoption, Adolescence
Adolescence isn`t exactly the ideal period for your child to receive radical news! It`s the time when each individual tries to discover themselves, find his place and purpose. The child becomes more sensitive, irritable and exhibits a continuous stage of nervousness, whether or not has real reasons. The timing to talk to him about adoption needs to be scheduled very carefully, and the language used should be as neutral as possible.
The teenager considers he passed over his childhood and doesn`t like to be talked to him in an overly sweet manner. Treat him as an adult and offer him the time and intimacy that he needs to get passed this moment.
Immediately after he find out he was adopted, the teenager shows an explosion of feelings. The thought that his biological family failed in raising him might make him feel he`s doomed to a mediocre life. All the failures he had may associate them, inevitably, with his environment of origin and, at least for a period of time, his confidence will be seriously shaken. Don`t insist to convince him that he`s wrong, as it may be possible to turn him against you. – More info!
Offer him the space he needs, the liberty to adjust to the new context and the necessary intimacy to assimilate the new information. Don`t rush him and put him to unnecessary pressure. In time, he`ll understand the beauty of the act of adoption and, even if he may never tell you, in his mind he`ll thank you for what you offer him.
Your Own Emotions
Frequently, parents that are hesitant to tell their children about them being adopted might find it hard to accept themselves that their son/daughter isn`t their real child. At times, they may feel embarrassed because they weren`t able to have their own children, and they avoid offering explanations to their child about his adoption, so that they won`t need to revisit the issue.
Sometimes, parents are reluctant to talk to their children about their adoption because they try to protect their feelings, as they might become sensitive when finding they were adopted. They may be afraid of their children`s lack of approval. They may think, “What if my daughter says, ‘[I want to move and live with my real mother’?” Even though this is often an uncommon reaction, and not something that most children are serious, parents may still hesitate.
Remember that it`s essential for the youngster to have knowledge about the adoption until entering school. An honest discussion about such crucial issues can offer strength to your relationship, building a strong long-term bond that is based on trust. So, if you are still reluctant about whether or not to tell your child he`s adopted, try to get over it and do it!