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?