Welcome to No Place Like Home.

This blog is a place for information, answers and support for families who are considering international adoption, waiting or are home with their children. My name is Kimberley and I am the coordinator of this site. This blog is truly a network of families who are willing to support others along their journey to their child. The blogs listed on my sidebar are arranged by country and these families have volunteered to act as a resource to anyone who needs one. These are amazing people who are dedicated to helping families who are on the journey to their children in another country. If you are looking for someone to talk with or if you have a blog and would like to be available to help others, please feel free to e-mail me at timnkim@gmail.com.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

When Should I tell My Child He Was Adopted?

This is a conversation that I know I am going to need to have with my daughter one day. I am curious as to how any of you have handled it. I think it would benefit others to learn from your experiences. Please leave a comment.

This is an article from Laura Christianson's blog Exploring Adoption. It is on my sidebar.

When Should I Tell My Child He Was Adopted?

Brokenheart_2 Readers ask me this question on a weekly basis. Here are two of the most recent permutations:

My husband and I adopted our first two sons from birth. We brought each of them home from the hospital and we had always planned on it being a “known” thing that they were adopted. Our oldest son, who is bi-racial, is now 6; and the other is 5. Neither of them have ever asked ANY questions and we just haven’t felt right about sitting them down and having the “talk” with them.

We have never lied to them about anything, but nothing has ever come up. We want to talk to them, but just don’t know the right way to do it. We love them with every fiber of our being! I have since birthed two children and I can assure you there is absolutely no difference in the love! We have prayed so hard for God to prepare their hearts when we do tell them so they won’t see it as a negative thing. Any advice?

And another one:

I’m the mom of a 2 ½-year-old adopted daughter. When is the best time to tell her the truth?

There’s no time like the present when the issue is talking with your child about adoption. Children up to about age 7 have very little concept of what it means to be adopted, so of course they’re not going to ask questions about it. But that doesn’t mean you should wait until they’re 10 or 15 or 18 or 30 to tell them they were adopted.

Adoption is not a dirty little secret that needs to be covered up. It’s not weird or strange. In simplest terms, “adoption” describes a legal means by which a child enters a family.

And while “adoption” will always be a part of your child’s identity, it does not encompass the entirety of who your child is. By fearing to tell your child he/she was adopted, you are falling prey to the very stereotype you hoped to avoid: you are announcing to your child that adoption is weird and strange. Your child will certainly pick up on those vibes, and will assume, by association, that he or she must be weird or strange.

Parents: You are an adult. It is your responsibility to discuss adoption with your child, openly and honestly, in age appropriate ways, from the minute your child enters your family. Just as you should talk with your child about sex in age appropriate ways as he grows (rather than having “the talk” when he’s 16 and hoping you’re not too late), talking about adoption should be done on a regular basis.

If you’re kicking yourself because you realize you’ve waited too long to begin discussing adoption with your child, don’t give up hope. Don’t assume that if you tell your child now, he’s going to hate you for the rest of his life (chances are, he may resent you for a while, but in the long run, he’ll appreciate you telling him).

And don’t avoid telling your child because she came from a situation in which she was abused…or her birth parents are in prison…or she was conceived during a rape…or any of the other excuses parents use to avoid sharing the awful truth. When your child is 3 or 6, she doesn’t need to know the gory details of her past. But you can explain to her that you adopted her, and reiterate how happy you are that she’s a part of your family and that you have the privilege of parenting her. As your child matures, you should reveal additional pieces of her history until she has the whole picture.

Kids are perceptive. If you’re trying to hide something, they’ll know it. And they’ll dig until they discover what you’re hiding. Wouldn’t you rather they learned the truth from you, as opposed to a cousin, a friend on the playground, or a complete stranger?

Kids are resilient. They can handle the truth and bounce back much easier than adults can. Begin bringing up adoption as a part of your everyday conversation, and gently begin to discuss your child’s adoption with him or her. You’ll all be glad you did.

9 comments:

The Byrd Family said...

Lottie (from China) has been home with us almost three years and was 9 months old when we adopted her and brought her home. She is now 3 1/2 and has only mentioned little things like...

*Was her friend (bio) from China (she has blonde hair)? I told her that no, she grew in her Mommy's tummy. Then she asked, "Did I grow in your tummy?" and I told her no, you grew in another Mommy's tummy. And she just skipped off to play.

*She doesn't even notice our eyes, hair etc. are completely different.

*She does not like to look at adoption books and if she sees an orphanage type setting in a book she says, "I don't yike those people...I want to always be with you Mommy"

Just wanted to give our story and what Lottie has said, obviously she has no clue where "China" is or what a "country" is for that matter and we have a long way to go with her story. She DOES love to look at her scrapbook we made her about her journey.

Emma Jane (from South Korea) has asked nothing and is the same age as Lottie. She has a much easier story, she lived with her birthmother for 19 months...she was only 17 and couldn't afford her healthcare. We have her name, I send her pictures and letters several times a year to the agency praying she goes back to check on Emma Jane....she is our family...without her...we would not have our little Emma Jane. I pray one day we can all reunite and get to meet each other if that is what Emma Jane desires.

The Byrd Family said...

Well, I shouldn't say she has an "easier" story. None of this is easy but it will maybe let us put a face to her past one day.

Also, Emma Jane was a special needs child born at 27 weeks with asthma. If you are adopting there are so, so, so many special needs children that need homes. Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions!!

Meredith Teagarden said...

I talk with Jane about the day we first held her all the time. I practice telling her the story for my sake as well as hers, so that it will be a natural conversation that takes place as she grasps more and more of her own her story, and to help me talk without crying about part of my story too!

I love this idea!!

CC said...

We've talked about it since they day our children came home from Korea (as babies). Before they were 2, I had created Lifebooks for each of them, retelling their stories as much as I know. We read it from time to time. We don't want our kids to ever remember one conversation as being the "first" time it was ever mentioned.

BTW, thanks for your kind comments on my blog today. I'd love to be listed!

Annette said...

We've never hid the fact that Isabella is adopted from Russia. From the first day home, she has heard the word adoption, even if she didn't know what it meant. I would say things like, "I'm so happy we adopted you" or "I'm so glad God sent you to us". It's something she heard from a very early start, so it has never been foreign to her. As she got a little older, I used to tell her a story of the little Russian girl who lived in the big baby house with all the other babies, and how she prayed to God everynight for a mommy and daddy. She knows this story by heart and still loves to hear it. She knows it's her story. Get her used to hearing you say it, as early as you can... it really is so much easier and they don't even seem to be phased by it... I think we sweat it more than they do!
Annette

LaLa said...

We talk about China all the time. I sing a song each night (I got it from Jazzie and Tahlia's mama) and it is to the tune of You are my Sunshine and she LOVES it.

It goes:
Mama and Daddy got on an airplane
We went to China to bring you home
When we first saw you, we knew we loved you
Now you'll never be alone

We also look at her lifebook all the time and she loves to tell that she cried really hard when I held her b/c she just met me : )

Of course she has no real concept of any of it but like others I tell the story anyway for me to practice : )

Jewels of My Heart said...

With Hannah who is now two and a half... I talk to her about how she was born in China and how happy Mama was the day I first held her in my arms... I tell her who I prayed to hold her in my arms since I was a small girl... I think it is time to start sharing more of her story with her so that it becomes a part of her..... a special knowledge of how Jesus brought her to us.
With Nicholas who was four and a half.... from the very beginning I have shared his story with him... of how he lived in Russia in a big house with lost of other children... Jesus loves him very much and watched over him. Mommy was very sad because I loved him so much but didn't know how to find him... I only knew in my heart that he was somewhere in Russia.... so I prayed and prayed and one day Jesus helped us to find him and now he is with Mommy and Daddy forever..... when he was little he would tell me his story....(he loved to hear it over and over) I lived in Russia and was very sad.... I would cry because I didn't know where you were... (me, his Mommy) Jesus took care of me and one day He helped me find you.....
The adoption of our children is a precious gift from God... they are miracles... answers to our prayers... adoption should be embraced as the beautiful gift it is.... after all, when we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior we are ADOPTED by our Father in heaven.
Share with your children their very special, miraculous story from the beginning.

Somewhere In The Sun said...

I wholeheartedly agree with the article. We talk about adoption all the time. Our children ARE adopted. That will not change. It is up to us as parents to teach them about adoption just like we do everything else.

It took Jackson a long time to understand why we didn't send Ben, who is bio, to live with another family when he was born. He thought that everyone was adopted.

You have to tell them about adoption over and over. And over and over. They forget and they also can only understand so much at different ages. Adoption is awesome and my kids know that. Hopefully, they will always feel that way!

~Lynn

Waiting for Mia Hope! said...

We have been telling Mikayla that she was adopted since day one and how special she is because of it! She seems to be very proud to be adopted from China. She loves the country of China but she has stated that she loves being an American! Your blog is awesome and so is Verna!!!