Sometime around the age of six years (this varies with cognitive development) a child may begin to understand just what adoption means. To have been adopted by one family means that the child was relinquished by another. The child suffered loss.
When your child was younger, they most likely enjoyed hearing the story of how they were adopted. Mine did. And then, as they became tweens, they didn’t. What was fun to hear when they were young and sounded like fantastical adventures—“exotic” birth countries, travel by plane, becoming U.S. citizens—became otherwise as they grew to see that within their adoption stories, they had lost their birth parents, ties to their birth histories, and connections to their birth cultures.
It is at this point in the child’s development that the “black-white” questions surface:
“Why didn’t my birth mother keep me?”
“What is wrong with me that I was given away?”
“What was wrong with my birth mother that she would give me up?”
Parents: How do you add “gray” into your child’s “black-white” perspective? How do you help your child develop an empathetic and nonjudgmental viewpoint of adoption and all it encompasses?