Adoptive parents are proud parents, wanting to share the emotions, wonder, and joy of their child. Often, what they feel is akin to wishing to share aspects of creating and bringing a child into the world—the labor and delivery, milestones, and bumps in the road.
But, there is a big difference. Their child is adopted.
Regardless of the situation, adopting parents have not experienced creating and bringing their child into the world. They may have missed some milestones, like a first tooth, the first day of school, or the first time their daughter had her period. Sometimes, they feel compelled to share their child’s story because they yearn for the deepest connection with their child, or validation from other parents.
My perspective? Don’t share.
Your child’s story is hers. You are the gatekeeper of her story—all of it, including the painful truths and the missing pieces. Gatekeeping a sacred task.
Yes, your child’s story can be difficult to navigate. However, your child needs the facts with as little emotion and judgment as you can render. Adopted kids can have some tough, tough stuff to explore and work through. Issues such as abandonment; abuse (substance, sexual—including rape, neglect, physical, and emotional); poverty; international and cultural policies; birth parent mental health; and birth parent criminal activity. Talking about and coming to terms with issues such as these is hard work.
These topics are for “in the house” discussions, meaning they stay with you and your child. Keeping these talks in the house isn’t about shame, but privacy. Many adopted people face working through the deep-seated belief that they are never going to be good enough.
In our world today, we overshare. In our world today, people attack via media and social media, often anonymously. There are those who, not connected to adoption, marginalize adopted people. They perpetuate the notion that they are “less than.”
Advocate for your child by not sharing. Her story is hers. If and when your child wishes to share, then, well that’s up to her. It is your responsibility to help her navigate the feelings she experiences and answer her questions, even if you have to respond, “I don’t know, honey.” Additionally, it is your responsibility to arm her with “tools” so that she can handle curious peers, teachers, coaches, and other parents.
Can you use some guidance, talking points or tools? What To Expect From Your Adopted Tween is a guide I wrote to gently and compassionately assist you with parenting your adopted child. This e-book that will help you prepare for these issues and conversations.
For Discussion: Are you uncomfortable with aspects of your child’s story and sharing it—all of it—with her? If so, ask yourself why this is the case.
~Photo Credit: NliveN, LLC