We don't know each other, are paths have probably never even crossed but I have some things I want to say. Why, your probably asking. Well I was once the child your child is today. Maybe I just want you to hear the things I wish my adoptive parents had heard. I don't know, all I do know though is I care enough to say what a child cant.
Adoption hurts. It hurts real bad and it is a lonely hurt. How does a child who hurting for the loss of their mum and the life they cannot have find away to tell you, you the mum and dad who they love, and who loves them, how can they do it. They cant and they don't, and do you know why? fear of hurting you. So you see we cry inside and we pretend we have no interest in our past and that we learn to smile when you tell us how happy and special it was the day you got us, for you adoption day was all those things and more. For the child it was the day they lost what should have been but couldn't be. The day they stopped being who they where. Does that make sense. A day of grief.
There are no simple answers when it comes to helping your adopted child grieve. We all face grief at some point in our lives, how best we cope with it very much depends on the support around us. It is automatic to want to heal the pain of grief in our child. As an adoptive parent you will want to provide that same love and understanding to your adopted child. This is where your needs and wants may well differ from what your child wants and needs.
When you adopt a child undoubtedly, you want to feel the child is truly yours. In every way equal, No different from if you had given birth to them. You want them to feel the same. It is not the same and you may well have to go through a grief process of your own to come to terms with that.
The grief process can be broken down into stages. Typically Shock, disbelief, sadness, extreme sense of loss and bewilderment. Understanding, acceptance and ultimately moving on. What order the process takes is not important nor does it have a time span. Arriving at the point of acceptance and moving on is the point at which we heal.
An adopted child will go through this process many times. Acceptance and moving on, for many does not happen until adulthood. Occasionally never happening at all.
So, how can you help them?
Firstly, understand that whatever your child is feeling is real. They have no control over it and it is in no way a reflection on how they feel about you. Telling your child about their adoption really needs doing at a young age. It will probably seem exciting to them when you first tell and they will probably ask one hundred and one questions at one hundred and one miles per hour. Don’t make it sound like a fairy tale to them. Or use words like special or chosen. Your child needs to grow up knowing that they are special for no other reason than being who they are!
Life will probably settle down quickly after you have told your young child. The novelty will soon wear off. For that, you will be thankful and proud at how well you have all dealt with it.
Be prepared. All the talks you had with them when they were little where exactly that. Talks with a little child. As they get a bit older, they want to know every thing all over again. Tell them all over again. Find out as much as possible about their parents and background before hand. Being great parents will not stop them having a need to know. Their need to know is about them, it is that simple. Don’t think you have failed as a parent. Allow them the freedom to discover and understand without guilt.
Questions and feelings of identity and sense of belonging will surface again. The threshold of adulthood brings romances and thoughts of futures. This for an adoptee also brings thoughts of their beginnings once again. Ask yourself this one question. Could you dream of a future if you did not have a past? The two go hand in hand.
If, as a young adult your child speaks of their past or maybe even talks of tracing family to you, celebrate. Only a parent can instill that much trust and faith into a child. Nothing or no one can replace what you build together but you can chose to share what ever the future holds.
a child that couldn't be