The adoptive status of children must be addressed early on, and be ongoing. How children view and process adoption changes as they move through the developmental stages.
Children who are the same race as their adoptive parents comprise a healthy percentage of adoptions, regardless if their adoption was domestic or international. Children who are the same race as their parents risk becoming “invisible,” potentially being denied as having been adopted. These children are also at an increased risk of losing their birth history (culture) and ties (birth parents and birth families), the foundation of who they are.
I’ve worked with some parents, and know others, who feel it may not be so terribly important to discuss adoption with their child because they do in fact resemble their adoptive parents, sometimes a great deal. It’s easier to “let it go” since their children don’t “look adopted.” I’ve also worked with parents who avoid talking about their child’s status because they find it too uncomfortable. This is wrong.
To ignore your child’s adoptive status, is to ignore a part of them, a very central part of who they are. To ignore part of your child negates the importance their birth identity, which is necessary for identity formation. Ignoring your child’s birth identity forces your child to bury it and increases their risk for emotional issues, substance abuse, and promiscuity. Ignoring your child’s birth identity communicates that you don’t feel that your child and her thoughts and feelings about having been adopted matter enough to tackle the topic of adoption.
Adolescence is tough enough. Adoption can make it more complex. Focus on the whole child. This isn’t about you, but how you parent your child and address her needs, how you help and support her.
Parents: Have you ever found yourself avoiding the topic of adoption when the opportunity presented itself? If so, why? Imagine being denied who you are. How would that affect you?