Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew

This is the title of one of my favorite books about adoption. It is written by an adoptee who tells the painfully honest truth about the rejection and abandonment she felt growing up, even though she had a wonderful adoptive family. These twenty "things" really helped me to better understand my own sister who was adopted. The most surprising "thing" to me on this list was "Birthdays may be difficult for me." I had never thought of the fact that while most of us see birthdays as a day to celebrate life, to an adopted child a birthday can represent the day of his or her greatest rejection. I think knowing these truths (even though they may not be true for all adopted children) can help parents better understand and help their adopted children work through their grief and loss.

In honor of National Adoption Month, I wanted to share these twenty things. I hope it will be a help to someone:

Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew:

1. "I suffered a profound loss before I was adopted. You are not responsible."

2. "I need to be taught that I have special needs arising from adoption loss, of which I need not be ashamed."

3. "If I don't grieve my loss, my ability to receive love from you and others will be hindered."

4. "My unresolved grief may surface in anger towards you."

5. "I need your help in grieving my loss. Teach me how to get in touch with my feelings about my adoption and then validate them."

6. "Just because I don't talk about my birth family doesn't mean I don't think about them."

7. "I want you to take the initiative in opening conversations about my birth family."

8. "I need to know the truth about my conception, birth, and family history, no matter how painful the details may be."

9. "I am afraid I was 'given away' by my birth mother because I was a bad baby. I need you to help me dump my toxic shame."

10. "I am afraid you will abandon me."

11. "I may appear more 'whole' than I actually am. I need your help to uncover the parts of myself that I keep hidden so I integrate all the elements of my identity.

12. "I need to gain a sense of personal power."

13. "Please don't say I look or act just like you. I need you to acknowledge and celebrate our differences."

14. "Let me be my own person...But don't let me cut myself off from you."

15. "Please respect my privacy regarding adoption. Don't tell other people without my consent."

16. "Birthdays may be difficult for me."

17. "Not knowing my full medical history can be distressing at times."

18. "I am afraid I will be too much for you to handle."

19. "When I act out my fears in obnoxious ways, please hang in there with me, and respond wisely."

20. "Even if I decide to search out my birth family, I will always want you to be my parents."

To learn more about this book, click here.


Birthmother said...

I am a birthmother in an open adoption this makes so much sense. I have had to help answer these some of these questions over the years

kirsten said...

Thanks for printing that....

AZmomto8 said...


I often wonder how having Ds affects them in understanding adoption.

Thanks for printing that out, it is important for us to remember how much their world changed when we adopted them, even if we see it as better, they still miss their old homes and caregivers.

Charissa said...

I wonder the same thing. Often I think having Down Syndrome might make them immune to some of these issues. Thanks for pointing that out.

Christina L said...

Good info to have. I will definitely have to get that book. All of the info makes sense; it doesn't make it any easier to take. However, it is better to be informed than not.