#8 – Child’s awareness of being adopted

March 30, 2011 at 12:04 am | Posted in Identity issues, Raising the adopted child | Leave a comment
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This issue comes up a lot in discussions in support groups.  Many adoptive parents think that just because their child does not bring up the subject of adoption, he doesn’t think about it.  This may be a good example of  “if we don’t think about it, it won’t exist”.   We as adoptive parents are so busy parenting that the issue of our adopting a biological or adopted child is not an issue to us.  We’re just busy being a parent.  When our child spills his milk for the third time, we don’t react differently depending on whether he is adopted or biological!

Adult adoptees now tell us that when they were growing up, they thought about their being adopted at least daily.  They didn’t bring the subject up because they felt their parents didn’t want to talk about it, they felt their parents were indeed awkward talking about it.

There was an informal survey done years ago in a high school with about 15 adopted teens.  These were just normal kids with no particular problems.  They answered the question as to how often they thought about their adoptive status, and they gave two answers only – “all the time” or “once a day”.  Their parents said these kids never talked about adoption, and they were very surprised that this was such a constant issue with their child.

We need to be sensitive to conversation with our adopted children.  Society often reminds our children (and us) that they are not linked biologically to our families.  How often do you hear, “He looks just like his Dad,”  “She has her mother’s eyes,” etc.   Every time differences in talents, looks, likes and dislikes are discussed, the child may feel he is different because he is adopted.

There is inclusive wording and exclusive wording we use every day.  We need to concentrate of wording that reminds our children they may be different from us and each other, but we are always going to be a loving family – and we need to cheer on the differences, encouraging our children to forge their own identity letting them know we will love whatever that identity turns out to be.   They need to find themselves – and we need to help them.

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