By Mercy

Adoption is to take someone else’s child into your home and legally become her  parent.

Adoptive parenting ought to be a privilege and not a sacrilege, and treating your God-sent child rightly includes being transparent and open about matters of her existence. It is needless sacrificing your loving relationship with your child on the altar of falsehood and secrecy. Be open and ready to answer her questions, no matter how mind-boggling they sound. Do not shut him out. You need to settle your uneasiness about adoption before talking to your child about it.

Do not wait too long before telling your child. There is a risk of an outsider (maybe a niece or a nephew) revealing it to your child. It is better to be transparent, but do not tell too much too soon. Discussing adoption with your child should be done nicely but gradually at the right age when your child can understand the complexity of it.

At What Age Should You Tell Your Child About  (Her) Adoption?
Many agree it should be prior to adolescence. A child in the age bracket (8  11 years old) can understand adoption. Telling your child too late can cause permanent emotional damage, since the child will wonder why you kept the  information of his existence secret from him, destroying his trust and loyalty. When you decide to discuss, you should not be driven by anxiety to telling the truth.

Another school of thought believes that telling the child between ages (5-8) removes sacredness on the topic of adoption and the child becomes aware of his situation early enough and grows with the fact. Some others believe talking adoption with a toddler is unnecessary and such revelations will not add to her growth.  A baby will not understand the topic any way.

How Do You Prepare To Discuss Adoption With Your Child?
First, you must sort out your own feelings about your child birth parents before telling the child about her adoption. Do you feel judgmental, superior or disapproving of the birth parents? Psychologists say: “Accept them as normal people and project this to your child during your conversations. Children tend to see issues in terms of good and bad, there is no middle grounds for them as such do not to describe the birth parents as bad people because the child might conclude that she herself is equally bad”. Always present the birth parents as normal people and not as abusive, poor, drug addict or criminals. The message to your child is that they could not parent him.

What Do You Reveal When Telling Your Child About His Adoption?
A five-year old would understand if you show her a pregnant woman and say ‘ you did not grow in my stomach like the baby growing in that lady’s tummy.

When you decide to tell the child, keep the explanation  simple. “Do not tell the child about the dirty details surrounding his birth(maybe he was left to die in a garbage bin) or the reasons of poverty, drugs or criminality that made her birth parent give her up for adoption.

“Only reveal these details when the child becomes an adult and asks about the circumstances of her birth”, says an adoption expert. “Do not reveal the agony of what you went through before you decided to adopt. The point is to communicate how much your child is wanted by her family. Tell her how excited you were when you first saw her and make your point with deliberate overtures of excitement. That positive energy will be appreciated by your child and will stay in her memory for ever”.

How Do You Work Your Child Through His/Her Emotions?

A child may wonder what her birth parents look like. You can show her picture if you have one. If she wonders if they are alive or healthy, just reassure  her  that her birth parents are healthy.

A mother was at a loss over what to do each time his teenage son expresses hate for his birth mother who abandoned him at an orphanage. The child expert told the mother to hold her son and reassure him of the love and acceptance of his present family and talk him out of feeling hatred towards his birth mother.

A common fear expressed by adopted children is if a birth parent would attempt to reclaim them. The child needs to be reassured that, that will not happen and that you are there for her. She may express anger at her birth parents. Assure the child that it is not their fault and that they just could not parent her, and that    was why they chose adoption.

What To Tell Your Adopted Child If He/She Is Already A Teenager
The teenager (11  17 years) wants to be alone free and independent and there is a burning quest to break away and become an adult. So he is  most likely to ask probing questions about his birth parents. The adolescent is ready to hear all or most of the information and you need to be open for conversations when they come.

Experts say questions on the circumstances of birth and adoption such as having been left to die at a dustbin, or poor, abusive, drug addicts and criminal birth parents should be dicussed when your child becomes an adult. The relevant point is letting your child know that his birth parent could not handle being a parent, and that is why they chose adoption.

Telling a teenager about her adoption for the first time is considered late and the teenager would most likely withdraw into depression from the heartbreaking news, but revealing to the teenager is better done now than later.


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.