“Are you going to tell your kids they’re adopted?”
It’s one of those should-be-socially-unacceptable questions that people ask that can really catch an adoptive mom off guard. Especially when those little adopted ones are within hearing distance, which means if they didn’t know, by golly they do now!
The question doesn’t come from a bad place but a curious one, and while I understand that, it’s still one that can give you pause if you haven’t thought it through.
In our case, we adopted three of our four children from foster care at elementary school ages; old enough to comprehend, at least for the most part, the process that was happening. Before being adopted, they knew that their birth parents had made choices that made them unsafe to parent them and that my husband and I were excited for them to become a part of our family. Since then, we have acknowledged our adoption anniversary each year and we have friends that have also adopted, so it’s not weird around our house.
Given all that, the obvious answer to us is, “Yes! Of course we have told our kids they’re adopted!” We pray our kids understand the beauty of adoption and that it’s most definitely not something to hide or shy away from. We also want them to trust us, to believe that what we’re telling them about their family, faith and life in general are true. And, ultimately, they are a part of our family regardless of how that happened.
That being said, this response isn’t so apparent to some, which is why people ask about it in the first place. I get that. And as an adoptive parent you need to think about it too, because telling those precious adopted kids has an impact on you and them.
Telling your kids they’re adopted means swallowing the fact that your future may include birth parents and/or relatives. Adopted kids, regardless of the age they are adopted, are likely going to want to meet and/or get to know their birth family. This is one I’m still gearing myself up for.
Telling them means explaining that two people who should have been able to care for them, were not able to. Their birth mom or dad, or both, dropped the ball and now it’s your job to be there to pick it up and make it right. (Of course each adoption is different and this is not the case in all adoptions.)
Telling them means that they’ll have questions, sometimes difficult ones and memories will surface, sometimes when you’re not prepared for it. You’ll have to make sense of it all for them and help them understand that their questions and memories are valid and work through it all with them.
Telling them is an important step for you to consider because just wait, someone somewhere is going to ask you and you need to be ready with that response.
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