When talking to your child about their adoption story and you are discussing the circumstances around the placement, be honest with your child, but keep it age appropriate. Again, try to incorporate examples from every day life to make it easier to understand. For example, if your child’s birthmother was young, you could use an example of a young neighbor or cousin and talk about how “Amy is still living at home with her parents. She goes to school, has homework, is on the cheerleading squad, etc. Could you imagine her trying to raise you right now?” That’s going to make more sense to your child than just saying “She was too young to take care of you”. Your child is going to also realize that if she was young when she had him/her, she’s not young anymore and could possibly care for him/her now. It’s important to stress the permanency of adoption and that she knew it was a forever decision then and was, and still is, happy with her decision. If ongoing contact is part of your adoption, this is only going to be reinforced through visits and contact. If financial burden was part of your child’s adoption story, it’s ok to share that with your child, but don’t over emphasize it because the next time you tell your child you can’t afford something, they could begin to worry that you cannot afford to care for them and they may be placed for adoption again.
It’s important to bring up the subject of your child’s adoption periodically, especially if it’s not something they do on their own. It doesn’t have to be made into a big discussion, but a simple thought said aloud, perhaps wondering what their birthparents are doing now or commenting that your child is especially gifted in a certain area and perhaps they share that trait with their birthmother/father. Bringing up the subject is going to give your child permission to bring it up. It will let your child know they can talk to you about their adoption story and ask you questions. It’s also important to let your child know that you cared and continue to care for their birthparents. This is going to give your child permission to care for or love their birthparents and birthfamily. Some children may be afraid of hurting you by loving them, so it’s important to allow them to acknowledge how they feel.
It’s also important for both parents (if you are a two-parent household) to bring up the subject with your child. It’s going to be natural for your child to come to one of you over the other for different subjects (math homework, sports, friends, etc) and that’s ok. However, it’s important for your child to know that they can talk to either one of you, even if they prefer to always come to one of you.
To be continued…