Adopted kids need to know the truth about their identity, and you can help unravel it to them without hurting them.
Many children who know or find out that they are adopted at birth or at an age when they are unaware yet of the world experience loads of personal struggles. These are both internal and external. Internally, these adopted kids go through mental and emotional difficulties especially with regards to digesting and accepting the truth. Externally, their social relationships are adversely affected, mainly with the family they grew up with. Without a doubt, there are tons of challenges that adopted kids experience.
That is probably why many adoptive parents decide to keep the adoption truth as a secret. While they think that they do this to ‘protect’ the kids, they are actually making the poorest decision that might look like safekeeping but is really going to be a long-term regret.
The revelation is crucial, but it does not have to be dramatic like the ones you watch in those tear-jerking TV series and movies. It must be done truthfully, calmly and carefully in the right timing because if not, you will cause your kids’ hearts to ache and suffer. The shock and confusion that you will inflict upon them is something you will not be able to comprehend.
The matter of adoption is a sensitive topic in the family, especially for the adopted kids, when it is not being talked about. That’s when the revelation becomes extra hard and seemingly impossible to do.
If you are an adoptive parent or soon to be one, this list is to help you know how disclosing the truth to adopted kids must be done properly, so you will not ruin their lives and the relationships you have with them. Know the 5 worst ways to reveal to adopted kids that they are adopted! Of course, you will be enlightened of what to do instead. Read on!
1 – TELLING IT TO THEM WHEN THEY ARE ALREADY GROWN-UPS
You are familiar with those dramas you watch on television where the adopted protagonists (who is a teenager or a young adult) finally finds out about the truth that the parents they have are not their real parents. Splashed with an intense background music, they get surprised, drown in tears and release their anger in many ways. They get disappointed and distant for a while to the people who kept the truth from them.
When the series’ storyline is like that, you can almost predict the happenings. Sadly, it happens in real life, too, but the difference is that it’s more difficult and more unpredictable.
Telling the adopted children that they are adopted ONLY when they become grown-ups is never a good idea. Why? They already have established a personal identity as they are in the middle of living their lives. Their dreams are jotted down on their paper pads, and their plans are noted. If suddenly, the news that they are adopted is broken out to them, how do you think they’d react and feel? It’s like they are working on a tough project, and only by the time they are halfway to finishing it, they are informed that they were given the wrong instructions. It’s discombobulating and disappointing like the whole world falls over their backs.
If you are planning to eventually reveal to your adopted kids that they are adopted at birth, don’t wait any longer for them to create a strong sense of who they are. Start them early and young. Do it as early as possible because the earlier they know, the bigger the chances that you can prevent any unwanted destruction. You must not be afraid to make it a normal family conversation from their very young age, so the truth won’t be hard to swallow.
2 – SAYING IT LIKE ADOPTION IS A BAD THING
There are several unique reasons why biological parents let their offspring go and be adopted by someone. Often, people believe that all the reasons are negative. While sometimes, some cases are out of unfriendly causes, know that not all adoption stories are like them.
When you make up your mind to tell your adopted kids that you are not their real parents, do not say it in such a way that you display adoption as a bad thing. Some adoptive parents tend to complicate details and narrate the adoption background in ways that the real parents’ image is being damaged in the eyes of the children. Do not discuss adoption like it’s the worst thing that can happen to young children like them.
Make them understand how adoption gives hope to people who deserve more love and want to spread more love. It binds loving families together. Let them know and feel that they are not unwanted and not abandoned. The love and care adoptive parents give them must prove that.
3 – DISCLOSING IT IN THE MIDDLE OF AN ARGUMENT
Here’s another familiar scene from dramas that actually happens in real life, but it’s one of the worst ways to disclose adoption truths.
You know those settings when the dad is so mad and frustrated at his daughter (who is adopted), and they get into a heated quarrel, but amid it, he uncontrollably spits out that the kid is “just adopted”, so she has no right to disrespectfully talk back to him. That’s completely a frame from a heavy family drama, and you must not let that happen to you in real life.
You must not let your heavy and gloomy emotions push you to harshly reveal the truth in the middle of an argument. Be calm and composed that even when your emotions are overtaking you and making you want to say hard revelations, you will not hurt your adopted children. Making critical moves while you are angry, sad or displeased will make you regretful in the end. Do it when your mind and heart are well.
4 – SAYING THAT YOU REGRET ADOPTING THEM
This may be a segment connected to the previous number. When you are pointing out the negative attitudes of the adopted children while you are in a disagreement you might tactlessly mention how you regret adopting them. It might just slip out of your mouth before you know it, but it will definitely shake the world of your adopted children.
“If I knew you’d be a wickedly mean person like this, I shouldn’t have accepted you from your mother.”
It’s a reality that though many families, couples or singles who take in one or more kids to adopt end up happily and peacefully, many also don’t. In case you experience the latter, please be aware that expressing your regret about accepting them in your life is one of the most painful ways to reveal adoption truths.
At some point in your life, before the wrangles happened and before personalities changed, you were thankful for the gift of an adopted child, so don’t speak loudly to them of your half-truth regrets, especially out of your broken emotions. You are still the parents they have always known and loved and the other way around.
5 – WAITING FOR THEM TO HEAR IT FROM SOMEONE ELSE’S MOUTH
Gossips around the family and in the neighborhood are very unhealthy. Sometimes though, it’s when truths tightly sealed are finally opened.
It’s a dreadful pain for the adopted children to find out the real stories from other people’s mouths. Furthermore, it makes them feel like they were cluelessly deceived and lied to as everyone knows it except for them. This can wound and leave a scar on their relationship with you, their adoptive parents. They might see you differently from that time on – someone they don’t know anymore.
It is best to tell them the truth early, properly and privately by yourself before other endlessly busy lips reach their ears. This is to prevent further problems and trust wreckages. Being sincerely honest may not be the easiest but it is the best way.
DO IT BEST
Regardless of your relationship’s state with your adopted children, care about how they will react and respond to the revelation about their identity. Though the shock is inevitable, at least help them bear the heavy emotions that they might experience. They will never be ready for the knowledge of it, especially if they are already grown-ups, but do your best to avoid the worst ways to reveal that they are adopted.
If you are uncertain about how to go about an adoption, there are adoption lawyers ready to help you understand the whole matter. These lawyers are educated on all adoption laws that apply in your area and will guide you depending on your adoption case.
Do you need professional tips and pieces of advice before you reveal the truth to your adopted children? You can always get in touch with expert adoption counselors and social workers. They can aid you as you begin and continue the adoptive parent life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Nicole Ann Pore is a writer, an events host and a voice over artist. She finds quality and well-researched writing as a worthwhile avenue to enlighten and delight others about things that matter. For her, it’s restoring and fulfilling to the heart and a great way to clear the mind while loading it up with fresh learning. Film critiquing and filmmaking are among her interests too. Giving all the glory to God, Nicole graduated Cum Laude from De La Salle University Manila, Philippines with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Arts.