Fantasy vs. Reality: Part One


FantasySometime 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?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Sally Bacchetta February 24, 2010 at 11:46 am

Great topic as usual, Judy. Our kids are a ways from the tween years, but it’s something I think about a lot. Our daughter is just now starting to dig a little deeper with her questions, and our only plan is to continue being as honest and open as we can. We’re fortunate to have met both our kids’ birth mothers and to have some (limited) contact with them, so at least we can speak with a degree of certainty about their decisions to pursue adoption. I don’t know that there’s really any way to prepare for the time you write about. Adoption changes our kids’ lives. It does, and there are questions that come with that for which there are not easy or comfortable answers. My hope is to give our kids enough of a foundation to find their way through intact. And you, of course, must never retire! :)


Christina February 23, 2010 at 9:13 am

To the question why doesn’t my bmom mom love or does my bmom love me, I have always given the answer “your bmom does love you, she loves you the best way that she knows how and her love may not be what you want it to be or what you need it to be , but she does love you and she did what she thought in her heart what was best for you.



Meg February 23, 2010 at 9:13 am

Hi Judy,
One of our adoptive parents emailed me today directing me to your blog. I looked for your email address, but was unable to locate it. I’d enjoy talking to you about your work. My email address is included. Please contact me when you’re able.
Warmly, Meg


Judy February 23, 2010 at 9:22 am

Hi Meg,
Will do.


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