What Every Adopter Should Know By An Adoptee

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What Every Adopter Should Know By An Adoptee

Postby Larry » Tue Aug 15, 2006 9:01 pm

Hey, This post is a little long, but please read it and let me know if you have any suggestions - it would be a huge help! Cheers

(N.B. This is a slightly edit version of the posts that appear in both the 'Adoptees' and 'Talk Adpotion' threads.)

This is my first time on the message boards here so I feel like I should say 'Hi', and make myself known. So, Hi, and my name is Larry.

Anyway, I am actually here in somewhat of a professional capacity - my editor at 'Adoption UK' has asked me to write a piece entitled 'What Every Adopter Should Know, By An Adoptee'. I felt it would be most appropriate to post this topic in this thread (although it is posted in other areas too) as it is for adopted people (adoptees), and so you would be the people who could help me the most.

The article is meant to address issues such as concerns about being adopted; the problems with being adopted (from your experience at school / college etc - I know that for some of you that is a while back, hence I have posted the same topic in the youth board as well); how you dealt with these and any other problems that surrounded adoption, and other such questions. I have also been asked to look into how parents help their children to feel more safe and secure when it comes to adoption (perhaps, if you are of a youngish age, you could ask your adoptive parents how they helped you overcome this issue - if indeed it ever was an issue for you in the first place?!) Perhaps, also covering subjects such as loss, grief and truth from an adoptees' angle.

Basically, i've been asked to write an article that gives 'advice' to adopters that has been written by an adoptee (me). To use the word of my editor, an article that gives 'advice from someone who has been there, done that and got the t-shirt!'

If any of you have any suggestions or comments about this, or wish to share your own experiences, please feel free to let me know via either the private message system here, by posting back (if you are that open); by emailing me at: larryaduk@hotmail.com; by letting Adoption UK know, and perhaps even After Adoption as they may be able to pass it onto me; or if you can contact me on: 07734204740. I would say that the deadline for this article is early September, so if I could request for all contributions to be submitted by say 27th August, that would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance

Larry xx
Larry Baker

Youth Development Editor - Adoption UK
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Postby wakey wakey » Sun Aug 20, 2006 6:46 pm

Hi Larry,
I'm an older adoptee but I would have liked my parents to initiate conversations about adoption.As a compliant adoptee I was very wary of upsetting my parents and I somehow sensed that beyond telling me about how I had been chosen they were not comfortable talking anty further about adoption.I suppose I would say if your child is not asking questions don't assume it is because they don't have issues.
When I got to reunion I asked my parents if they were OK about me searching.Really I don't think they wanted me to but they used the excuse that they were worried I could be hurt.I think really they felt hurt themselves but were not able to be honest with me.If I had to search again I'm not sure I would involve my adoptive parents-I ended up dealing with my own feelings and worrying about thier feelings and my birth parents feelings-it's just too much to handle.
If I could say one thing to adoptive parents it would be assume thier is a gap in your adopted child's life that you just can't fill.You can be brilliant parents, you can empathise,weep with your child,put up with all they throw at you, be completely loved by your child, but adoption is based on a huge irreplaceable loss.It is not your job to be the replacement, but it is your job to learn, adapt, persevere through the hard times and sacrifice as every parent needs to.Please don't put it on your child that they owe you alone thelove a child has for a parent-an adopted child should be able to love both mothers and fathers(if they want to.)
Adoptive parents need to see that thier childs feelings may change over time.To become more interested in finding ones root and even developing relationships with birth family is not a sign of the adoptee being maladjusted-it could be a sign that they are working through grief issues in a healthy way.
However much your child may spit venom at thier birth parents at times do not spit venom yourself.Sometimes an adoptee will feel the genetic link very strongly.If the birth parent was criminal, evil, dishonset,etc the adoptee may fear that they will inevitably turn out the same way.Empathise with your chil'd feelings-allow them thier anger, even if they keep going over the same stuff over and over again.DON'T say think of the people who are worse off then you-think of how good your life is.It inhibits thier grieving and makes them feel guilty and abnormal.However, do not allow an adoptee to escape taking responsiblity for thier own actions.Whatever thier past they still have thier own choices and it is possible to overcome adoption issues rather than stay a victim.
I think this is quite disjointed, but hope it gives you some ideas
wakey wakey
wakey wakey
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Postby marzxxx » Mon Aug 21, 2006 10:01 pm

Adopters should really prepare themselves for the future by openly and honestly discussing issues with their children. It isn't healthy to keep things bottled up, and it's even worse when an individual feels as if they are going to cause problems if they open up and ask questions. After all, whether adopters like it or not, the child they adopted does have a history outside the adoptive family unit and it is very unfair to keep the child from it. Seems to me this over protection does more harm than good.
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What adopters should know

Postby alabasium » Sat Mar 08, 2008 10:36 am

I am an adoptee who would say that adopters need to understand that we have the additional developmental task of working out what adoption means for us, when we are a child. This simply means that we need to mesh the thought of coming from our first family with that of our second family.

Open communication led by the child will facilitate this. If the child appears not to want to talk about it, it may be that they are feeling disloyal to their adoptive parents but still give 'open' opportunities (maybe if it's come up on a soap opera or leave a magazine article out etc).
Be there for your child 100% if they want to trace or maintain contact. Don't do what my (adoptive) mum did when I told her I'd traced which was to say she didn't want it mentioned again :evil:

Hear your child when they tell you that it ISN'T ABOUT YOU if they show an interest in their first family! It doesn't mean they love you any less (in some circumstances) but it is important to them to know their roots - not a reflection that you have failed them somehow. Hear them when they tell you that "if you don't recognise the 'early' parts of my history then you are denying an essential part of me, making me feel that you don't love all of me and thereby gradually eroding the relationship we have'.

'Claim' your child as this will make them feel safe and contained but not to the exclusion of the fact they have a first family. Show a supportive, realistic, honest interest. Be present through their pain.

Don't be in denial that your child is actually adopted - they are not your birth child. This doesn't mean you are not their parent, but you are not their birth family. For some that will mean something far more profound than for others. For example, I feel that my mum has lived for so long in denial that she actually thinks that I really am her birth child and by denying the contact with my birth mother (I didn't even want to tell her that much about it and it isn't very frequent anyway!) it makes me feel like she can't love the whole of me - very difficult. The one person I wanted to run to and feel safe with during my tracing was my (adoptive) mum!

Consider telling a key person at school that your child's adopted so staff can be sensitive around times such as (the much loathed) Mother's Day or family photos lesson - but don't allow school to 'label' child as damaged.

Build your child's resilience - don't make them a sickening victim of their past. Being adopted can also mean (through experiences such as tracing, understanding your own psychology, managing a range of complex demanding needs) that you are strong and brave and aware of difficult feelings and complex relationships. :D

Probably don't tell the child they are 'lucky' to be adopted. Adoption isn't about luck.

Sometimes revel in the relationship you have with your child. Be bright and sunny at times and not always intense and focused on adoption as a key issue - there may be others! Have fun. Build a sense of curiousity and delight in your child (some may have had it crushed out of them at an early age, through trauma caused by neglect and abuse). Enjoy them!

Recognise that if you can be open about the first family that you too are brave and strong - there is of course, a demand placed on your here too. It takes a lot to manage your own feelings, that of the first family and your precious child during contact I would think, but recognise your own strengths and feed this positivity back into the relationship.

For me personally, the one last and most important thing I would have told my (adoptive) mum and oh well, actually my birth mother too whilst I'm at it - is be attuned to me, hear my voice rather than your own. Don't expect me to manage both your sets of needs - I am the child in this (or was when I was younger!) so don't expect me to 'manage up' and look after the pair of you, because if I do that, who looks after me?

I look forward to reading the article...
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Postby Diane » Sat Mar 08, 2008 12:34 pm

The one person I wanted to run to and feel safe with during my tracing was my (adoptive) mum!


I have often said this and thankfully my Mum and Dad walked that extra mile with me. I made a huge difference to me and them.
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Postby j-h-g-5 » Tue Mar 11, 2008 7:49 pm

Adopters should really prepare themselves for the future by openly and honestly discussing issues with their children. It isn't healthy to keep things bottled up, and it's even worse when an individual feels as if they are going to cause problems if they open up and ask questions. After all, whether adopters like it or not, the child they adopted does have a history outside the adoptive family unit and it is very unfair to keep the child from it. Seems to me this over protection does more harm than good.

that post above is probably one of the single most important piece of advice that anybody could give to a prospective adopter. my thoughts entirely.
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Postby Josie » Tue Mar 11, 2008 8:43 pm

Alabasium's entire post is spot on.
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Postby UaintSeenMe » Wed Mar 12, 2008 12:09 am

well since you are asking for "personal opinions" here I wanted to give mine, but it would be such a long post that i felt i should cut it as much as possible, so for any prospective adopter i can summarise MY whole feelings down in to one word....

Adoption is the only trauma in the world where its victims are expected by the whole of society to be grateful.
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Postby morris » Wed Mar 12, 2008 2:24 pm

Hi!: I was adoted very early in my life and was told that I was adopted when I was about 12 years old, nothing more was spoken about it despite many many times probing for information, a stoney wall of silence , I never found any information untill my A / father died ,when I was in my 60s, and I found adoption papers ,and all was revealed ,So I must stress be honest , be open , be truthfull, and aways be prepard to answer the difficult questions that at some time will arise, the questions are only natural But most of all treat them as a normal human being , just because they have been adopted dosent make them any different, love and affection must be unlimited :!:

life is for living so enjoy it :lol: :lol:
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Postby morris » Wed Mar 12, 2008 2:43 pm

Hi!:If you give the child all of the above & they ask questions it doesnt mean that their feelings toward you have changed, it is just a normal progress of life ie: learning,and for an adopted child they want to know what happened before your association with them, its like a closed door , you want to open it to find out what is on the other side ,

life is for living so enjoy it :lol: :lol:
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Postby dhelliwell23 » Wed Apr 30, 2008 12:08 pm

Hi i am 20 yrs old and adopted

one thing i really want to stress to any parents who have adopted kids or are thinking about it is not to be alarmed by your child taking an intrest in there birth parents or relatives, you hold your hands behind your back and obviously people will want to know what is behind there this is much the same with adopted children.
If they seem distant or don't want to talk about issuses relating to adoption then they are probably trying to protect you as they don't know how you will percive and react their intrest.
Finally do not worry that they will forget you if they seek out their birth relatives this will only happen if the adoptive parents deny them this right, it will breed resentment, you may have dealt with years of problems but do not give up from my experiance adoptees are more emotianlly switched on than you may think, they know the impacts their actions have on you and others, try to put aside your cares and empathise with theirs this will reassure them that they are not doing anything wrong and result in them being more open.
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