Most days, children don’t think about adoption. But when they do, they know it means they are different. It means a parent had to create an adoption plan for you before you could be with your forever family.
While most Birth Parents make an adoption plan to provide a better life for a child, some children are removed from their parents due to abuse or neglect. Children sometimes feel they had to have been bad, that something was wrong with them or that they were unlovable. Some feel something is missing in their lives. They have a longing for birth information and birth family and need to fill that “gap” in their history to feel complete. Many are not allowed access to their original birth certificate or birth information.
Whether they need more information or choose to search for Birth Parents, children struggle with feelings towards them. Adoptive Parents typically try to make things nice for their child. They say things like “You were born in my heart.” Or “We were meant to be together.” Children may wonder what life would have been like if they still lived with their Birth Parents or imagine life with another family who would have adopted them. They often wonder if they have birth siblings and where they are. This internal struggle can be emotionally taxing and distracting for a child.
As adopted kids mature and try to fit in, they may try to blend their identity to include Birth and Adoptive Families. They may try out various groups of friends—dressing, emulating and dating those of the same racial, ethnic or religious background—and watching to see how their Adoptive Parents react.
As they think about having children, they may become more interested in their birth and medical history. They are excited about having a blood relative, but have concerns over hereditary illnesses.
Being adopted means your early life was different, but does not mean you should be referred to as an adopted child or adult all of your life. However, adopted children are ambassadors of adoption, whether they like it or not. From an early age, they are asked questions and hear comments from peers and adults. Children need to learn what to do. They may choose to correct people or answer their questions; they may choose not to respond and walk away. Adoption is their personal story and whatever they choose to share is their choice and it’s okay.
Adopted children want their parents (and others) to be sensitive to their concerns and questions and want to be able to talk about their adoption, when they choose. Mostly, they want to be thought of just like other kids.
ANLC strongly encourages Adoptive Families to be as open, honest, and respectful to their children when it comes to discussing adoption. When given the right approach, adopted children feel prideful about being adopted, and feel a great appreciation for their Birth Parents and Adoptive Family for allowing them to live a life full of endless opportunities.