When talking about the emotional rollercoaster that is the world of adoption, the child must of course be recognized as well. After all, they are the centerpieces of adoption!
As mentioned before, adoption had drastically changed. Whereas adoptions use to be completely closed, most current adoptions have at least some level of openness to them. That level can range anywhere from the adoptive family receiving medical background information, to the birth parents choosing a family, to pictures and letters, to face-to-face contact between your child and his or her birth parents, and everything in between.
While this is helpful for the birth parents and the adoptive family, this week’s focus is on the child.
From the outside looking in, people think having contact with your birth parents would be confusing. I’ve read some posts that go so far as to say “How would they know who their parents are?” The answer is simple.
“Whoever raises that child are his/her parents.”
Birth parents are just like extended family. The child can grow up hearing that “so and so” is their birth mother, just as they know “so and so” is their aunt or cousin or uncle. They’ll hear it, have a face to put with that title and know that person is family and important. Then as they grow and learn, they gain understanding of what that actually means, just like they do with every other family member.
The truth of the matter is that the “old way” of adoptions is more confusing and traumatizing to a child.
Often times, children who were adopted didn’t find out until they were teenagers or adults. Imagine if it were you, and out of the blue you find out your parents aren’t your biological parents. Do you think you might feel hurt and betrayed? That’s why Christian Family Services trains our adoptive families to tell their child from “Day 1” that they are adopted. That way, it’s never a shock or surprise or something they feel ashamed of. They’ll grow up hearing they’re adopted just as they’ll grow up hearing they’re loved, and as they grow, they’ll learn the meaning behind both of those words.
Under the “old way” even children who did always know they were adopted still had no information about their birth parents, genetic heritage, or family medical history. They were left wondering who they look like, where their artistic or athletic ability comes from, if they should be worried about a family history of heart disease and why their birth parents placed them for adoption.
While we must recognize not every person who is adopted feels the same way, we must also recognize that many do have those questions and want (sometimes need) answers.
It’s normal to want to know where you came from. It’s normal to want to know your genetic history. This next statement can’t be stressed enough.
A child, or adult, searching for information about their background or birth family does not mean they don’t love their parents.
Even with open adoptions, a child may grow up to want more contact with his/her birth parents than the adoptive parents initially agreed upon, and that’s okay. However, open and semi-open adoptions provide answers and information from the start that the previous adoptee generations are still searching for. Remember, this is about the child.
Can children ever have too many people who love them?