- Don’t hide or lie to your child about his/her adoption.
- Be physically and mentally present for your child.
- Be supportive and loving.
- Share your feelings and fears with them.
The first rule of adopting a child is no secrecy. Do not hide the fact that your child is adopted.
Don’t wait till he or she hears it from whispers in the corridor, or from a distant relative. Once your child is old enough (6-7 years is a good time), break the news to them. It is terribly devastating to find out that you are adopted much less find out in unsuitable circumstances.
Secrecy and gossiping about a child is always obvious to the child. Why allow your child to hear such heart-breaking news from an outsider? It is always better to break the news to adoptees in a controlled way with much care, patience and love. Do it early, so they can deal with the emotions and move on with their lives. There is no need to hide their adoption from them, as it is bound to be exposed eventually.
But now, the deed is done and now your child has found out that he/she is adopted. They are upset, torn, lost and frightened; they are angry with you for not telling them. But you love them and you don’t know what to do. Here are some tips;
Your child is going through a difficult time. They are experiencing abandonment issues, a fractured self-esteem and a sense of betrayal from the parents they once trusted. This is the time you lavish them with love. If they need to vent out at you, let them. You have to be the punching bag for whatever storm is brewing in them.
It is difficult to think that you were once unwanted or discarded. As a parent, you need to be there for them in this trying time. Don’t hush them up when they talk about their feelings. Instead, answer their questions as truthfully as you can. They should not feel bad or guilty for asking you about their adoption history. You need to put aside your own fears and anxieties, and focus on their own feelings.
Talk to them
Explain your reasons to them; tell them why you kept their adoption secret. Maybe you didn’t want them to feel unwanted or you didn’t want them to go looking for their biological parents. You need to bare yourself before them, be vulnerable. Show them your fears and acknowledge your mistakes.
There is a natural inclination in all of us to define ourselves by our roots. Don’t make them feel guilty when they start asking about their ‘real parents’. Tell them their adoption history, answer their questions and share any documents you may have. If they want to look up their ‘real parents’, do it with them, no matter how painful or frightful it might feel. You won’t lose your child. They might be angry right now, but that is normal, it doesn’t mean they hate you.
This is the most parents can do to show their love. Be patient with your child as he/she goes through the healing process. It may take a long time, but keep encouraging, supporting and loving them. Never get frustrated with them or make statements like “snap out of it, this is life”. It will worsen their hopelessness and make you feel sad or guilty.