Telling the Truth to Your Adopted or Foster Child: Making Sense of the Past by Betsy Keefer SmalleyTelling a child he or she is adopted can be a trying task, but this is only the first step. After becoming aware that he or she is adopted, the child will question the details of the adoption. The truth may reveal details that are painful and sometimes traumatic: a parent is in prison, a drug addict, or even a rapist. In Telling the Truth to Your Adopted or Foster Child, Keefer and Schooler demonstrate that in even the most difficult situations, foster and adoptive parents must not withhold or distort information about the past. Though sometimes including difficult truths, communication between a caregiver or parent and foster or adopted child can help a child grow up into an emotionally and psychologically healthy adult.
Providing help for parents or caregivers wishing to productively communicate with their child, Keefer and Schooler answer such questions as: How do I share difficult information about my childs adoption in a sensitive manner? When is the right time to tell my child the whole truth? How do I find further information on my childs history? Age appropriate guidelines will make an arduous task organized and easier. Detailed descriptions of actual cases help the parent or caregiver find ways to discover the truth (particularly in closed and international adoption cases), organize the truth, and explain the truth gently to a toddler, child, or young adult that may be horrified by it. Parents, teachers, counselors, and other caregivers will come away from this reading with a sharper knowledge of how to make sense of the past for foster and adopted children of all ages.
Adopted At The Age Of One - No Different From A Biological Child
How to tell your child that they are adopted
For some parents, telling their child that he is adopted is a formidable, anxiety-provoking task, and thus they put it off or avoid it. However, at some point adopted youngsters need to be told about their origins, ideally even before middle childhood. For example, he might want to know "What happened to my first mommy and daddy? Where are they? At the time of the adoption you should have been given some basic information about your child's biological parents—from medical issues a family history of heart disease, for example to personal characteristics.
Most often, I like to answer with a true story. A friend of mine who is a social worker was placing an infant into the arms of her adoptive parents. The new mother leaned over to the social worker and whispered,. It was the right answer; I think we should be honest from the start. The details can be filled in over time, in an age-appropriate way. But I like to tell the story about my social worker friend for another reason: Why was the adoptive mom whispering? We keep secrets about things we are embarrassed about or ashamed of.
Find the right time to discuss this sensitive subject. Adoptive parents must determine what and when they will tell their children about their adoption. 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 and to tell a child, between the ages of 2 and 4 that he is adopted. However, some child welfare experts believe that when children are placed for adoption before the age of 2 and are of the same race as the parents, there probably is little to be gained by telling them about their adoption until they are at least 4 or 5 years old. Before that time, they will hear the words but will not understand the concept. Steven Nickman suggests that the ideal time for telling children about their adoption appears to be between the ages of 6 and 8. By the time children are 6 years old, they usually feel established enough in their family not to feel threatened by learning about adoption.
At the start of every adoption journey, prospective adoptive parents must consider how and when they will share their adoption story with their child. We will admit, this can feel a bit nerve-racking at first. If you are considering adoption or have recently adopted a baby, you may have some similar questions about starting this conversation at home. You may be wondering things like:. It is completely normal to feel a bit nervous about having the adoption conversation with your little one.