Talking with Young Children about Adoption by Mary WatkinsAbsolutely one of the best books Ive read regarding adoption. The first half of the book is very clinical and took me quite awhile to get through, but I went slow on purpose so as to permanently embed the info into my brain. The authors did an excellent job at discussing bias in adoption research, dissecting study after study and explaining what they really meant. They had the perfect balance of reality and compassion/emotion in discussing adoption research. They werent afraid to tackle difficult topics and so many times I felt myself saying Yes! Thats EXACTLY how I feel! They articulated so many thoughts and feelings I have had as parent of an adopted child.
The second half of the book was vignettes of real scenarios talking with children about adoption. It covered a broad range of ages and situations. I love how they included charts to show what types of questions are common at what stages of development and what could be the underlying feeling of a child behind certain words, phrases and concerns. They also included various responses from parents.
This book is 20 years old, but still contains excellent information for any family touched by adoption. I would absolutely love it if the authors updated it with more current research as adoption has changed so dramatically in the last two decades.
Respectful Ways to Talk about Adoption: A List of Do's & Dont's
What your kids want to know about their adoption, and how to talk about it. Feelings about being adopted influence a child's sense of self-worth and esteem. Adoptive parents are caught in the paradox of helping their child understand what it means to be adopted while knowing that in the process, the child may feel rejected, sad, and hurt. Parents worry about how best to talk about adoption. A child's curiosity can be a signal for a parent.
The language we use to talk about adoption can have significant positive or negative impacts on children and their families. The list below present respectful ways to talk about adoption with families and children, as well as language and phrases to avoid. DO: Treat siblings who joined families by birth or adoption equally. They are loved equally by their parents and experience all of the joys and trials of any sibling relationship. Most birth parents have thought long and hard about their decision to place a child for adoption. DO: Recognize that families come in all shapes and sizes.
As an adoptive parent, you can make this natural process easier by:
The director of an adoption agency in New York City was leading a workshop with adoptive parents and kids. The parents and kids were in separate rooms. He asked the adoptive parents to raise their hands if their kids ever mention their adoption. No one raised their hand. When the director asked the kids if they thought about their birth parents, every child raised their hand. Do talk about adoption regularly—and well before your child understands it.
Most adoptive parents understand the importance of talking to their adopted child about their adoption story and adoption identity. However, no matter how much preparation they do, some adoptive parents still wonder exactly how to talk to their child about adoption in a positive way that they can understand. Instead, tell younger children that their birth mother could not give them the care she needed to and instead choose to place them with a loving family who could. As children grow up, they may be faced with negative connotations about adoption. They may be teased at school or overhear other misconceptions about how adoption works. Sure, adoption is a bittersweet experience, and you can acknowledge that, but also make sure your child understands how wonderful the adoption process was — because it brought him or her to you.