When and how should you tell your child he/she is adopted? Here's everything you need to know before you tell your child about his/her adoption.
The journey of adoption is different from one family to the other. As you decide to go through this process you will be supported by counselors and care groups, that will help you to deal with the situation for the future of your family. You will need this support system to be guided through the different aspects of bringing up your adopted child. Nobody has been an expert in this area, so don’t feel shy to seek help whenever you require it. You need this support as much as your child needs you. Let’s look at a few concepts that most parents deal with.
Finding the right moment to tell your child
Many personal accounts quote that they told their child about their adoption when they were in the ages of 6-8 years old. They say that their expert sources and adoption counsellors suggest the same time period too. Even if you introduce the word to children, they may not be able to grasp its complete understanding at younger ages of 2-4 years.
One mother recalls her experience with this process. She waited for her daughter’s elaborate Barbie-themed birthday party to break the news of her adoption. Narrating the adoption story will help the child to understand how his/her birth took place. Whether adopted or not, children should understand the concept that the adoption came after birth.
Demystify the word the term adoption
From a very young age, children tend to imitate and reciprocate to their parents’ language styles. Hence, it is very important to choose the right way to communicate around them.
Many adoption workers advise parents to introduce the word "adoption" as early as possible so that it becomes a comfortable part of a child's vocabulary.
When it comes to adopted children, the term ‘adoption’ should not be ignored at all. Child welfare experts suggest that it has to be portrayed in a very positive tone and must be discussed around the family table. This strategy of communication can be used even before you tell the child about his/her history.
You can include the word ‘adopt’ or ‘adoption’ in stories and other forms of narratives with happy endings. You can be a little creative and cautious at the same time. Your adoption counselors can lead you with great examples. While you do work around this exercise, also remember not to force it into your routine. Try to break into the subject at a gradual pace. For instance, you can bring one story in a week that is easily comprehensible to the child, especially when he/she is alert.
Let history remain as it does
The process of adoption does not rub away the child’s history. We have to remember that the birth parents of the child are still in the big picture. It is not right to simply ignore their existence even in their absence of the child’s growth. As adoptive parents, it is a great responsibility to try and simplify the relationship between your child and his/her birth parents. You can overcome this challenge by trying to speak about their birth parents with confidence and love.
Birth parents are a part of your child’s life - whether you choose to keep it open, closed, or even if you have very little information about them. You should remember that they are the reason you have your child. At no circumstances should you criticize or ignore the presence of birth parents. During the period of adoption, you may/may not get all the access to the information of the birth parents. Never lie to your child about his/her birth parents. If you think it is too much information for them to take in at one go, be patient and break out the information over a period of time. Bring out the easy ones first before you dive into the hard part of the story.
The Q&A session
Lend your ears to their questions at all times. This is an open-ended process. It goes back and forth, day in and day out. Never expect children so young to understand everything that you tell them at once. Be composed and confident when you respond to their queries. Some parents find it hard to keep a straight face when they have to answer uncomfortable questions. One method to overcome this challenge is by talking about it to your partner or adoption counselors. They can advise and correct your gestures and words when facing your child.
Children’s curiosity only grows bigger and bigger as their days go by. Giving false information about any detail will raise a red flag in the future. If you think you cannot answer them at that moment or it is too difficult to answer them at that moment, you can lovingly tell them that you will get back to them as soon as possible.
If your adopted child is of a different race or has very different physical features from your family, you must be cognizant of signs that he or she is aware of the difference. Your child may have noticed it, or someone else may have commented on it. You will want to explain to your child that the birth process is the same for everyone but acknowledge that people in different cultures have distinguishing physical features and their own rich heritage. Sometimes children who look different from the rest of their family need to be assured that their parents love them.
Children will also portray a range of emotions of different kinds. Do not be surprised by their reactions to their adoption story. For instance, some children immediately react by portraying hatred towards their birth parents. In such cases, we have to correct their way of thinking. We have to give them the freedom to express their range of thoughts.
Adoption story is not a one-time narrative. Remember that things like this will never leave their mind. There can be outside sources like a conversation with friends that can trigger this subject once again. When narrating this story, it also instils a sense of confidence within them. Teach them to be brave when other people discuss things such as adoption in public.