Adoption used to be a difficult subject for families to discuss — now, the stigma has largely vanished but there are still problems that crop up.
If you’re adopting a child, here are some things to consider:
1. Be ready to answer unexpected questions.
At some point, your adopted child may start to ask questions about his or her biological parents. You don’t want to make up an answer on the fly — that can lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings.
Try to anticipate as many questions as you can. If one comes up that you haven’t counted on, consider answering with something neutral, like, “I know this is an important question. I promise I’ll talk to you about it tomorrow after I’ve had some time to think.”
That gives you and your partner or spouse time to discuss the question and frame your answer according to your child’s level of understanding.
2. Teach your child early how to respond to nosy people.
Frankly, people are far nosier than they should be. Sadly, this includes adults as well as other children.
Teach your child early appropriate responses to the questions they’re bound to hear, particularly, “Where are your real parents?” Good answers include, “My real parents are at work or home. I don’t know my birth parents.” If the other person persists, teach your child to say, “It’s really a private matter. Let’s talk about something else.”
That helps reinforce the idea that you are your child’s “real” parents — both to your child and to others.
3. Bring up the subject on your own.
Don’t assume that your adopted child isn’t interested or doesn’t have questions simply because he or she doesn’t ask. Your child may be afraid to hurt your feelings by asking — or may even have built a huge fantasy world up around his or her birth parents.
It’s important to talk to your child from time to time about how he or she feels about being adopted and listen to the answers without judgment.
As your child approaches adulthood, he or she may have questions about the legal processes that occur during adoption — including whether or not there’s a way for him or her to send a message to any known birth parent. Keep your records on hand for when (or if) the time comes.