You might have had this beautiful child since they were teeny tiny. You would trade anything in this world to have birthed him yourself. Sometimes you might even forget they were adopted. Adoption is love, it is truly beautiful this way. Adoption is also about loss and it is painful. The reality is, you did not give birth to them. They have a birth mother that they need to know about, regardless of how hard it may be to disclose it.
Regardless of the circumstance, that leads to adoption, it is natural for adopted children to wonder about their birth mother at some point in their lives. Adoptive parents often have conflicted feelings towards their children’s birth mother. Thus, making it more difficult for the parents to navigate questions and disclosures about the birth mother. Adoptive parents must choose their words wisely as they can have a huge impact on the child’s self- esteem, self-worth as well as their trust of the adoptive parent. It is never okay for adoptive parents to make disparaging remarks about a child’s first family. This hurts the child.
Adoptive parents should strive to be a trusted source of information for their children. Parents that communicate to the child that they are uncomfortable or threatened with the topic of the birth mother, are creating an environment in which the child will avoid asking questions and openly discussing their feelings about the birth mother. This is harmful, the child can feel isolated, guilty and confused. Adoptive parents that communicate honest age-appropriate information about the child’s birth mother, are more likely to encourage the child to discuss their feelings and thoughts openly. This is preferred as young children tend to form their conclusions about events that occurred if no adult is available to clarify. Adopted children need as much support as possible to process and heal.
It is strongly recommended, that parents talk about birth mothers as early as possible. This is never an easy task but the key is to be open and honest. In infant or toddler adoption, children will need to learn that their adoptive mother is not their birth mother. Parents will have to disclose, that the “mother who carried them in her belly could not take care of them”. This can be done around age 3 or 4 as this is when they begin to verbalize their curiosity about the world.
Here are some tips to get started:
Begin to look for opportunities to discuss pregnancy; when seeing a pregnant woman or attending baby showers.
Talk about what babies need to be safe and well taken care of, emphasis on basic needs.
Make sure you emphasize that they are safe with you.
When creating their baby book, include a bit about adoption when you look through it with them; “while you were in your birth mommy’s belly, we were waiting for you..”.
As children grow the topic will need to be revisited, parents will gradually need to share more about the circumstances that lead to their adoption. If you have already planted the seeds for this discussion, it makes for a slightly easier starting point.
If you are finding that you need more guidance in this area, reach out to an adoption therapist for support.
Adoption is my passion, professionally and personally. I am doing a series this month for National Adoption Awareness Month, follow me on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/andreavargaslmhc/and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/andreavargaslmhc/
and stay tuned for more on adoption.