Adoption Isn’t Easy!

We had a caller on the New Life Live radio/TV program recently who said, “I don’t like my adopted son.  What can I do?”  Her pain stirred up the listening audience and we had a number of others who had been adopted as infants call in with support and advice.

The caller told us about her frustrations.  Her son was 9, and was always angry, oppositional, and constantly created problems within the family.  We understood her struggle with liking him because of the behavioral problems, but we wanted her to go deeper in understanding the issues.

As we talked, we found out that when her son was 4, out of the blue he asked his mother if he had been in “her belly.”  She gave him an honest and direct answer, telling him he had been adopted.    But it seemed that from that point on he had developed the behavioral issues she had described.  I’m not sure she had made that connection before.

It wasn’t that many years ago that adoptive parents were told to keep the adoption a secret.  I’ve talked with many adults who weren’t told they were adopted until they were about 18. They often had problems associated with the secrecy.   Fortunately, that piece of advice has been proven destructive, and now adoptive parents are told to talk about it early, and to always put it in the context of “You were chosen by us!”

Maybe all that little boy, who asked the mother who called us, wanted to know if he was in anyone’s belly before he was born.  And if he had known earlier that he was adopted, all might have been fine.  But it wasn’t.

Our advice to her was to understand how he is struggling with acceptance and that he needs lots and lots of love, of holding, and affirmation of who he is.  The callers who responded affirmed the same thing –lots and lots of love.  Not easy with his behavior issues, but the only way to heal the adoption wound in that little guy.

Question:  How do you feel about telling kids early in life they were adopted?

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2 Responses to Adoption Isn’t Easy!

  1. Trish says:

    Years ago, I got some really good advice with regard to talking to your child about a disability, which I think would apply here as well. The suggestion was that whatever your decision about when to tell the child, you should use the words in conversation so they are familiar to the child and have a positive connotation before they are ever applied to him. So, in our case, when I told my son about his autism diagnosis, it wasn’t the first time he had heard the words and he had a positive framework to put them in.

    Regarding the age, I would think for a typically developing child that you would want to make it part of their story from the beginning, using age-appropriate language, of course. Not telling them because of your fears (whatever they are) would probably just make them more likely to come true!

  2. Amy says:

    Dave, I heard that call. I loved that call. I shared that call with my adoptive family group. We have two girls adopted from birth. 6 & 1. We talk openly about it from birth. There are no secrets. My daughter NEVER has asked a question bc there is nothing to ask. She knows it all. She is completely okay with it bc she knows. She is our daughter, I’m her mom. That’s it! It’s important to share from birth. The secrecy is negative, and destructive, almost like adoption is bad. I recommend the movie “October Baby”. This is about adoption, abortion, loss, but clearly healing and shows the power of forgiveness! Blessings!

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