One Story within Your Child’s Story

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Although I shared my personal story with my kids in age-appropriate language while talking about their adoptions,Story Time they didn’t hear it. But as they moved into tweens and teens they began to understand that adoption was more complex than what they took away from their story at younger ages.

They realized the converging and intersecting paths brought us to family. In seeking answers about themselves they had more questions of me. Key was what motivated me to adopt. My children were transfixed that I suffered loss as well (fertility, a child) and I found them very empathetic.

But my role was to circle the wagon around and back to them and focus on how they were feeling, help them express and validate it. Sharing my loss opened my kids because we shared the common thread of loss.  

Children are centered on themselves so it was no surprise that the adoptive parents’ “why” gets lost within their adoption story. And your “why” is part of their story, so it needs to be shared. 

Parents: Do you share your loss(es) with your child (in age-appropriate) language? How have they responded?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Fiona March 16, 2010 at 11:33 am

Hi Judy
I’ve found that talking to our kids about why we wanted to adopt has helped them to make sense of adoption and also helps dispel the ‘child catcher myth’ that we stole them from their birth family…!

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Iris Arenson-Fuller March 16, 2010 at 9:55 am

Judy, you are so right about how we sometimes think that kids are listening to and hearing the stories we tell about their adoptions, but until they are truly ready for them, they don’t hear them. (That doesn’t mean not to but just not to assume things) I remember being a young mom/adoptive parent and making a point of telling my daughter’s story to my (then) two kids in different creative ways. We began to tell the story as a song when she was just an infant. Well at about four or five, when we thought she knew the story of her origins well, she told a guest her version and got everything all confused. “I grew in the social worker’s tummy and then she told the lady I was borned to that she needed to find me a new mommy and daddy and maybe they should be white people because my first mom was black and it was time for another color family And my mommy and daddy had a lot of toys and decided if they made another baby it would take the baby too long to play with them so it would be better to ‘dopt me.” Heaven knows where that all came from. We almost fell over with laughter but it taught us not to make presumptions about understanding, to find age-appropriate ways to bring up their stories and to always answer questions, deepen their understanding, share our own perspectives and validate them as you say.

Good article.

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