I can’t stress enough how important it for parents to share all of their child’s birth history and related facts with them prior to adolescence, in age-appropriate language. Yes, the hard truths are difficult to share because adoptive parents have so much emotion invested in the adoption journey and love their children so deeply. But to not share the difficult truths leave children unprepared and open to injury by others and questioning why their parents, who love them and have their best interests at heart, didn’t tell them The Truth(s).
This week more surfaced about the child trafficking in the Hunan Province of China. Our daughters were born in China, so this story has indeed been, as the article infers, “chilling.” Adopting parents were assured by officials that the country’s adoption policies and practices were ethical. Now, over a decade later, it turns out maybe not so much. (Please read this response from Dr. Jane Aronson as well.)
Are we surprised? In retrospect, no. Especially with what China’s history has been and how closed China was and still is, after all China remains a communist country and, culturally, problem-solving situations are often deferred to “saving face.” Are we saddened? Very much so.
We mulled over the “What ifs?,” as in what if it was discovered that the adoption policies or situations of how (mostly) girls came to be abandoned and place in a welfare institute or foster home were not as originally presented? How would we share this information with our daughter(s) and when? We felt telling the truth, no matter how difficult and painful, framed within the context of our girls birth country history and culture was best.
Adoptive parents should have a broad and deep understanding about the history, policies, and culture that their child’s birthroots are planted in—be it international, domestic, or foster-to-adopt; open or closed; transracial or same-race. Being knowledgeable provides a framework in which parents can tell their child’s story—the good, the bad and the ugly. Begin early and add in the detail as your child is equipped to handle it.
Parents: How do you feel about sharing the full spectrum of facts of your child’s story with them? How do you feel about sharing the difficult truths? Are their facts or stories you hold back because you are afraid of hurting your child or have difficulty coming to terms with yourself?