More and more adoptive parents are openly admitting that they haven’t told their child they are adopted and intend to wait to tell till the child is old enough to understand. I know I’ve brought this up many times over the years, but this comment left under an article written by an adoptee about the hard truths in adoption (loss, abandonment, grief) sparked this post.
This is so true. After the struggles we have had, we were ready for adopting a child because of the numerous losses. We are lucky that we got our daughter straight from the hospital when she was 11 days old. We plan on telling her she was adopted when she is older and will be able to understand the meaning. It took us 21 long and grueling months but we now have the child we always wanted. It finally feels complete after seeing our names on our daughter’s birth cerificate (even though we had to send it back as our names were misspelled when our daughter’s was spelled correctly).
The comment above was posted on an open Adoption Page on Facebook. Which also means that their friends probably saw it on their Newsfeed, so any who went to that post is now in the unenviable position of keeping that secret from the child.
By not telling your child you are withholding her truth, so being adopted can just be her norm and something she’s always known, if you ever get to that day you’ll tell, there are any number of negative reactions that she may experience, and to me, no positives. None. But lets say that mythical day does come, what age will she understand, when she’s 8, 13, the day she moves out, her wedding day, the day she says she’s pregnant and the doctor wants to know what her mom’s pregnancy was like? Do you honestly think any of those ages is better? That sitting her down for the big reveal (or confession) is better than always having known?
In regards to medical history like the question posed above, when I got sick if I hadn’t known I was adopted, I would have given mom and dad’s family medical histories (and yes, I can tell it by rote) and my doctors would have been pointed in the wrong direction. At least being able to say I didn’t know, that I was adopted, didn’t misdirect them, bias their field of enquiry looking into a family health history that was no relation to me. That alone should be reason enough to tell because everyone gets sick and the first questions asked is family health history. And how will you respond if your child gets sick and the doctor asks in front of your child? Will you lie and give your own to cover not telling?
For those who think waiting is the way to do it because the child can’t understand what adoption is, that’s one of the points of telling early, it’s just a word that is part of your baby’s growing vocabulary that is used by mom and dad about you and them. Just like grandma is just a word used by mom and dad about that other person who comes to visit, yet over time you learn what grandma means to you, your mom, your dad. If you wait to use the terms adopted, adoption, what other terms won’t you use because your child isn’t old enough to understand? If you can’t understand that waiting till they are old enough to understand is faulty thinking, perhaps it’s your own lack of comfort with adoption, your child being adopted, and if so, you need to do your own work on that, and not visit it on your child.
Tell your child they are adopted before they are even old enough to have an inkling of what you are saying, and tell them often, it allows you time to get comfortable with the words so by the time your child starts asking questions, you answer in a way that tells them it’s no big deal. Waiting is not the answer.