It is the fear of many adoptive parents that their child will struggle with the concept of adoption. So, the question becomes 1) how can you tell if your child is having an issue with being adopted and 2) what can you do about it?
One of the best things you can do is be open and honest with your child. Adoption is not something to hide. It is something to celebrate. “It’s important to keep in mind that adoption is not abnormal, nor should discussions about it be stressful for adoptive parents,” writes Dr. Kathleen L. Whitten, Ph.D. So, talk to your children about adoption early and often.
“Parents have to be proactive, intentional truth-tellers,” says Jayne Schooler, author and adoption advocate. And keep the conversation going. This will help normalize the situation and make it easier for them to come forward if they are having an issue.
Establish a Trusting Environment
Let your child know that it is okay to come to you with questions about adoption.
“Adopted children will ask the questions about adoption that they feel they have permission to ask,” says Schooler. “Parents have to think about how they communicate and what kind of environment they are establishing.”
Allow the Conversation to Grow
The conversation about adoption shouldn’t be a one-time discussion. It should be a continued dialogue that evolves and matures over time as your child grows.
“You have to start out from the beginning with a clear plan,” says Chuck Johnson, president and CEO of NCFA and a former adoption agency director. “Lay the foundation by teaching children what adoption is, gradually share more age-appropriate information until the child reaches a full understanding, and continue the process throughout his life.”
It is also important to think about how you communicate. Positive Adoption Language, first created in 1979, is the preferred language used by Adoption Makes Family. Positive Adoption Language encourages respect for the emotions of all parties during the adoption process. “Positive adoption vocabulary helps to ensure that adoption is viewed as a wonderful way to build families,” says Angela Tucker, The Adopted Life.
Positive adoption language should be weaved into every conversation you have regarding adoption, whether you are discussing your personal experience or talking about the birth parents. Staying positive will help make conversations about adoption easier and more organic.
Even if you are open and honest, issues can still arise. When this happens, it is important to meet these issues head-on. And a great way to do this is family counseling. Sometimes, utilizing a third party to facilitate the conversation allows parents and children to have meaningful conversations that they may otherwise not have.
Need Someone to Talk to?
If you are looking for help, advice, or just need someone to talk to, Adoption Makes Family is here to listen! We are a non-profit (501-C3) licensed adoption agency based in Maryland. Our adoption counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for your convenience. If you would like our advice or just need to talk, please give us a call at any time.
24-Hour Hotline 410-683-2100
If you have any questions, you can contact us by phone at 410-683-2100, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our online contact form.