#12 – The “other” parents –

April 4, 2011 at 10:07 am | Posted in Differences -adopted child and biological child, Open adoption | Leave a comment
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This is frequently a very awkward subject.  Adoptive parents are often uncomfortable talking about their child’s birth parents.

Two kinds of adoption exist today – open and closed.  In both cases birth parents are a genuine part of an adopted child’s world.  In one case they are literally in the child’s life, and in the other case they are phantoms never to be seen, but in all scenarios they are a piece of your child’s identity and life.  Your child knows this.

When there were only closed adoptions, adoptive parents couldn’t talk about birth parents because adoption agencies didn’t share information. The thinking was that the past would no longer be a part of a child’s life.  Now we know better.  Even though birth parents were not talked about, they were thought about – by all parties.

In all adoptions, open or closed, birth parents are an issue.  After all, every adopted child has four parents.  In closed adoptions there are only discussions , while in open adoptions there is a range of personal involvement from birth parents.  Adoptive parents deal with the aftermath of meetings with birth parents, and it is not unusual for the child to be confused and upset after such meetings.  If this is the ongoing case with personal meetings, contact can be limited to cards, letters, and phone calls.

No matter what the arrangement, adoptive parents need to appreciate that their child needs a positive image of his birth parents. A child’s mind thinks they can not be worthy if they come from unworthy people.  If adoptive parents know negative facts about their child’s birth parent, this information can be couched or kept back until their child is old enough to deal with it and not be upset by it.

As children grow and find their talents and gifts, differences from their adoptive family may become more pronounced and obvious.  This is natural and normal.  It’s nice when all members of a family enjoy sports or music or reading together, but in adoptive families there are often more differences than similarities.  For the child’s sake, all differences (assuming they are healthy) should be respected.

One of a parent’s main jobs is to encourage their children to find their own way in this world.  It may be very different from our way, but that is one of the joys of an adopted family – guiding individuals to develop fully.

We need to acknowledge our child’s individuality while reinforcing the cohesiveness of our families.  There is something very beautiful about a loving family living in harmony, guiding our children into becoming the unique human beings they are capable of becoming.  To do this our children need positive images from their past (birth parents), as well as positive reinforcement from us, the parents.

Questions? Contact me at btblomquist@gmail.com

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