#42 – Need for birth information

January 31, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Posted in adoption issues, Adoptive parenting do's, Identity issues, Raising the adopted child | Leave a comment
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An adoptive mother emailed me how upsetting it was when her 8 year old son asked her about any birth information she may have.  This mother asked me if perhaps she wasn’t a good enough mother and may have been doing something wrong.

It is understandably upsetting when our adopted children first inquire about their birth information.  An adoptive parent’s instinctive reaction often is the thought ‘Why?  Isn’t our family enough for you?’  We might even feel resentment and a little anger thinking our child may be wishing for another family to grow up in.

Adult adoptees have told us over and over that this is not the case.  It doesn’t seem to matter if a person grows up in a loving adoptive family or one that they don’t like.  Oddly enough, this has nothing to do with the request for information.  This is hard for adoptive parents to fathom because they think if they create the “perfect” family, their child will never think of his or her birth family.  Wrong!  That birth family will always be a part of their child’s identity – and the child knows it.

The need for birth information is nothing more than expressing curiosity about a part of the adoptee that is missing.  Many, but not all, feel the need to have this information in order to feel complete, to feel normal.  After all, their friends know all about the families they were born into, why shouldn’t an adoptee know all about the family they were born into?  It doesn’t matter that they don’t live with that family.  Their birth family is still a part of their identity no matter where people live.

When an adopted child is young, it is wise for adoptive parents to realize that their child will absorb information about their birth family and attach to it.  It is a part of them, of who they are.  We must, therefore, be discreet about the information we may know and filter out any facts which could impact negatively on our children.  Some adoptees have said that once they knew their birthparents were drug addicts, they knew they would be, too.  They felt this was a part of who they were.  Some said they wanted to relate to their birth parents and used this behavior to do so.

All negative information can be excluded or filtered through a screen of understanding and compassion.  An example of this would be to say the birth parent(s) may not have had a strong family to support them or had personal problems they were too young to handle, or something along this line.  This tells your child this information may be a part of their family history, but they do not need to adopt this behavior because they are growing up in a different family environment than their birth parents did.

So – if your child asks about his birth family, don’t take it personally.  He is just curious about his background, as perhaps you are, as well, about your background.  It has nothing to do with your quality of parenting or the love you feel for each other.

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