Adoptees have two sets of parents. This can be confusing to a young adoptee. An adoptive parent shares how her adopted son reacts to seeing pictures of his birth parents.
At an early age, I introduced both of my kids to pictures of their birth parents. I talked about adoption at birth, but I held off on the pictures until they could hold on to them without damaging the pictures. My son is 19 months and I have shown him his pictures 3 times. The first two times he just stared and was mesmerized before trying to rip them. They were put away for a few months and then I tried again.
Excited To See Pictures Of His Birth Parents
This time he was excited to look at them, and took time to carefully look at each picture. It was very cute and interesting to watch his face as he carefully examined each picture of his birth parents. I narrated each picture, “That is baby C with your birth mother K. That is you as a baby with your brother J. That is you as a baby with your brother J. L. That is your birth father, S, holding you as a baby.” He sat still, but babbled away until we got to the picture of him with his birth father. He immediately started pointing at the picture and shouting, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!” I was shocked! I didn’t tell him he was wrong, of course, because it is his biological dad. I just told him that was S is his birth father. However, he was insistent on calling him “Daddy” and would not put that picture down. I was flabbergasted that he was making the connection at such a young age. After this, I continued showing him the rest of the pictures.
The last picture included his birth parents, two of his half siblings, my daughter, my husband, my son, and me. I was holding my daughter. My son’s birth mother was holding him. Upon seeing the picture, my son instantly pointed to me and shouted, “Mom!” This made my heart swell! Then he slowly pointed to everyone else waiting for me to narrate. I was waiting for him to call his birth mother “Mom” but surprisingly, he didn’t. When I told him his birth mother’s name, he responded with “Keees,” which is close enough for a child his age. When he came to my husband, he said, “Daddy” and “Nenna” (what he calls his sister) for his sister. He waited with his finger pointed at his birth father for me to go on. It was almost like he was confused seeing both of his fathers in the same picture. He just kept pointing to his birth father but didn’t call him “Daddy” in that particular picture. Then he quickly picked up the picture of himself and his birth father and again exclaimed, “Daddy!” He lay down on the floor with that picture and the one of both his birth and adoptive family. He laid there for about 5 minutes quietly staring at the pictures. How I wished I could’ve heard his thoughts!
Adoptees May Be Confused By Two Sets Of Parents
As I thought about this, I realized that my son’s confused expression when faced with both of his fathers in one picture probably illustrates how a lot of adoptees feel about having birth parents and adoptive parents: confused. I know many adoptees have told me that having two families can be confusing, and even painful, because they don’t want one family to feel like they love the other family more. I don’t want my kids to feel that way. It may be hard for us to hear our children call another “Mom” or “Dad”, titles that we hold so near and dear to our hearts. However, that is their right if they choose to do so. They have two sets of parents. They didn’t ask for that, but that is what they were given.