Every adoption story is different and if you are an adoptive parent you have probably been through the trials of how and when to tell your kid their story. There are many different choices that you will have to make. If they are young enough to not understand, do you tell them then? Or, do you wait till they are at a more mature age where you think they would understand more? These struggles are things every noble adoptive parent faces – you are not alone. Below are steps and suggestions on how and when to approach your child with their story. As the strong adoptive parents you are, following these guidelines will help you grow your relationship, build honesty and gain trust.
“Nichole and her husband have been wanting to extend her family for years, but have had trouble succeeding. When they finally found a perfect match, they welcomed home their new baby boy. He was so young, so little, and had such a bright and wonderful future ahead. As they looked into his eyes, they worried about his future and how they might share his story. They wanted to always be open and honest with him as he grew up.”
Be honest with your kids about their story.
As soon as you can, tell your kids about their adoption. You may think that it is best to wait until they are older because you think they will be more mature to handle the news. Unfortunately, waiting to tell them does not end up well in most cases. This leaves the children feeling outraged and a wave of distrust to the two people they believed in most. First, you realize your parents are not your birth parents, and they haven’t told you. Now you are filled with millions of questions. Who are my parents? Why did they leave me? Who am I? This leaves them with a sudden identity crisis.
The Vaneck family chose a really creative way to start to share their son’s adoption story starting at a young age. They made a story book of him, his original mother, and his story of coming to a new home. As he has grown older it has made it easier for him to be open to asking questions and trusting his parents more.
There are no two adoption cases that are the same, but honesty is going to be the best way to connect and love the person you were blessed to take care of and love. If they are older when they join your family, it’s important to reassure your child that they are loved and wanted. It’s common for children to feel sad or confused when they know they are adopted, but it’s important to confront these feelings.
- Reassure them that they were not a mistake
- You could say something along the lines of
“You are loved, you are chosen. We had the gift to help them take care of you.”
- Reassure them that they aren’t a burden or replacement
- You could saying something like
“You weren’t put on earth just to replace someone else.” and “You are a gift to this world.”
You do not need to portray birth parents in a negative light.
There is no need to make the birth parents out to be villians. You can focus on the positive aspects of their lives and personas, such as the fact that they are caring individuals who want to do what is best for their children. You can also emphasize that your adoptive family loves you just as much now as they did when you were born, and will love every new bit of you that comes next. Stress that while the birth parents may not have been able to give their child the home they deserve, they did give the adopting parents the best gift possible – the child themself.
The Vaneck family always spoke about their son’s mother in a positive way. They educated him as he was older more about him and his mother’s unique story. His mother was way too young, and did not have the financial capability to take care of him. She chose a trusting set of parents to let him have a beautiful life with. Because they have kept their relationship so open, one day their son will have the choice to meet his mother.
Adoption is a story that is always unfolding.
Adoption is not an open and shut case. It’s not one that’s over in a day or a week or even a year. Adoption is also not something that you can give your child and then leave them alone with it to figure out on their own. It’s not an instruction manual they can read themselves, nor should it be presented that way.
As your child grows, they will continue to learn more about the world around them. As they do this, they may want to know more about their birth parents and adoptive family. This is normal—it’s important for children to feel secure and have a sense of belonging in order to be happy. And when it comes time for your child to learn that information, you can help them make sense of it all by telling them about your own adoption story. .
Having support groups and a counselor will help them grow into their identity. Therapists say that getting kids involved with sports, fun hobbies, or social activities helps them to adapt more easily.
Assure them that you will be there for them throughout this process and every step of the way, and it’s important to remember why: because you love them! Adoption is not bad, it’s a gift and a blessing, remind them of that.
You are doing great!
Remember, life is full of surprises and changes and it is okay not to know everything. It is okay to seek help. You are a great parent and your kids love you. As long as you are supporting, honest and helping your child through their life changes, you will be successful.