If your child’s birthparents close off contact at some point, it’s important to let your child know that they are always welcome back. Let them know that their birthparents still have your phone number or address and if you’ve moved, that you’ve provided the agency with your new information so they can get it when they are ready. Even if you’ve had to establish some boundaries with the birthparents, you likely haven’t said, “Don’t visit”, you’ve more likely said, “When you are ready/able/stable, you are welcome to visit again”.
Your child should have all the information about their adoption story before they are 12. You don’t necessarily have to tell them every single detail in adult language by that time, but there shouldn’t be any surprises after that age. Once children are teenagers, they have a wide range of emotions and trust issues. If they learn new alarming information regarding their story, they may misinterpret it, embody it, or not believe you. You will need to continue to process their adoption story over and over again as they age and mature. What satisfied them when they were 3 is not going to satisfy them when they are 5, 8, 12, etc.
Giving your child the power to decide whom to share their adoption story with is very empowering. Not everyone needs to know they were adopted. Let them decide whom to share with and you may be surprised by their choices. It’s important to teach your child the difference between secrets and private matters as well. Secrets can often be bad, whereas private matters are just things that are not shared with everyone. For example, the cashier at Wal-Mart doesn’t need to know your whole adoption story if you do not want to share it, so that’s a private matter. There’s nothing wrong with keeping things private and you are proud to share their story with those people who are important in your lives, but you needn’t be pressured to indulge curious onlookers.
To be continued…