Saturday, January 22, 2011

Questions Adopted Kids Ask

This article offers a quick primer on the kinds of questions adopted kids might ask their adoptive parents.  I don't disagree with any of the advice, but I think this part is subject to misinterpretation:

It is completely normal for adopted kids to have questions about their birth family. Since the child has a life before adoption, adoptive parents need to respect that history and the easiest way to do that is to provide age-appropriate, honest information in response to questions. [very good so far]

•Who is my real mom/dad?
•Why didn’t my birth parents want me?
•Do you know what my birth parents look like?
•What should I call my birth parents?
•Do my birth parents love me?
•Can I learn about my birth country?
[yep, very typical questions, I've gotten most of them from my kids]

Depending on the circumstances, adopted kids may wonder if their birth parents will come back to claim them and that is the underlying issue to these questions. [whoa, nelly, we're veering off the cliff!] Adoptive parents can use any question to reassure their child’s permanency in the family and by doing so, build parent-child trust.
I agree SOMETIMES questions about birth parents are concerns about permanency of the adoptive family -- but sometimes questions about birth parents are questions about birth parents!  I don't see how it would "build parent-child trust" to turn questions about birth parents into questions about the adoptive family.  I can just imagine the conversation that this part of the article gives adoptive parents permission to have:

Kid:  Did my birth mother love me?

AP:  Oh yes, but not enough to come back and get you.  You're mine forever!

[Trust built -- NOT!]

I've said before that Maya often asks questions about permanency.  I've blogged before about a question she asked -- "If I ran off to look for my birth parents, what would you do?" -- as a mixed birth-parent/permanency question based on Maya's history of asking "if I ran off what would you do" questions generally.  So I agree that sometimes a birth parent question can be a permanency question. But then there's Zoe, whose birth parent questions are just about birth parents.  She doesn't have any doubts about permanency, completely sure that she's stuck with me forever! 

So while such a question might be about permanency, I don't think we can assume that that's "the underlying issue" of birth parent questions. The danger in doing that is to make your child think that you're not open to birth parent questions, because you seem to deflect each one.  So, sure, address permanency, but make that a separate issue from birth parents.


Von said...

That of course will suit some adopters and shut down the subject, very convenienently.Many hypothetical or suggested questions and answers reflect the insecurities of adopters and are about what they want the adoptee to know.

Amanda said...

I agree with you.

I asked those questions, not because I questioned my security in my Adoptive Family, but because I wanted to know more about myself and my family pre-adoption.

And I agree that they shouldn't be turned into answers about the Adoptive Family.

Did I have underlying insecurities about permanency? Absolutely. But I didn't talk about those. I was afraid I would hurt my parents' feelings. My fears about permanency had nothing to do with fearing my Original Family would take me back (my Adoptive Mom did have those fears though). My fears came from trying to make sense of how one family is supposed to be permanent but another one isn't. What if my third family (I had a foster family, three total families by 5 months old) wasn't permanent either?? Why do I have any reason, from experience, to believe they are?

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