Wednesday, April 13, 2011

DON'T let this be you!

Here's an "Ask Rene" letter at Good Enough Mother (a parenting but not adoptive-parenting site):
Hi Rene,

Our daughter Kelly is adopted – but she still doesn’t know. Now that she’s getting older (she’s almost 15) we’re wondering when – and even if – we should tell her.

We always planned on telling her but my husband and I kept putting it off – and now we’re wondering if it’s in her best interests to tell her. Kelly can act out and be dramatic and we’re worried this will devastate her.

We have one other daughter, Shelly, who is 13 and our biological daughter. The two girls fight constantly and if this comes out we think it might create an even bigger rift between them.

Are we taking the easy way out by staying silent? Or does Kelly have a right to know? And if we do tell her – how should we handle it?

Adoptive Mom, Maryland
ARRRRGGGGGGGG!  Why do people DO this?!  Is there ANY expert alive today who hasn't said a MILLION times, you MUST tell your children they are adopted.  And it's BEST to tell them FROM THE BEGINNING.  Because when you don't, you end up having a 15-year-old who doesn't know and who will NEVER trust you again and who WILL act out and has every reason to because you've now made it a HUGE EFFING DEAL when it didn't have to be, or you end up with a 15-year-old who DOES know because she heard it from Great-Aunt Mildred who didn't realize what IDIOTS her parents are and figured she knew, so now she DEFINITELY doesn't trust a thing her parents say and it is ANY WONDER that she's acting out?!


I think Rene gave appropriate advice.  The only thing I would add is that it might be a good idea, if you've waited this long, to have a family therapist on speed dial! And I do mean a FAMILY therapist, because these parents have some serious issues about adoption if they haven't been able to talk to Kelly about hers for 15 years and probably need therapy worse than Kelly does. Poor Kelly.


Reena said...

Whoah! Wow!


Yeah-- Family therapist on speed dial!

My 4-year old is currently in the habit of reciting her history-- what we know of it-- without any prompting. She talks about being born in China, living in an orphanage, having and Ayi who took care of her and friends in the orphanage. Mommy and Daddy came and adopted her.

I started talking to her about being adopted, living in an orphanage with an Ayi who cared for her, and also having a first mom in China the very first night I rocked her to sleep.

Melissa said...

The girl probably already has a feeling she is adopted. Most of us have a feeling that we just don't quite fit in with the rest of our family no matter how much our parents love us. This poor girl is going to need some serious long term therapy. The parents made a bad decision that will impact every part of her life from now on. Ugh!

birthmothertalks said...

That is really bad. It makes me very sad for the young girl who has been lied to all her life.

loretta said...

I think that long ago it was the norm to never tell an adopted child that they were in fact adopted - and parents who were open about it were viewed as crazy, different, strange folks.

Of course, we learned from that behavior and now it's the norm to be honest and up front. I actually wonder how many of us in our 30s and 40s were adopted and never told!

Telling your 15 year old - whoa, I can't even imagine the turmoil that would cause for them. Think about being a 15 year old girl for a moment, hormones, peer pressure, mean girls, society expectations, and then add onto that finding out that you're adopted and your parents have been lying to you for 15 years. Not a pretty picture.

Rene Syler said...

Hi Malinda! thanks so much for finding and using the question. I'd love for you to leave a comment if you haven't already, speaking from your own experience. Totally agree on the therapist too.
Best to you!

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one that has an inkling that this question was fictictious?? Born more of a blogger's desire to catapult this potential issue to a forefront than of actual circumstance?

Just sayin'.....


Rene Syler said...

Hi Becky:

I am the blogger and no it was not a fictitious question. I write about a lot of things and it is my sincere hope and invitation that you would come peek around. More importantly leave your comments on my site where the person who wrote to me might see.

Respectfully yours
Rene Syler

Truly Blessed said...

I can vouch for the fact that Kelly will probably never trust her parents (or extended family) ever again when she finally finds out the news...this is exactly what happened when my next door neighbor found out as a 35 year old man that he had been adopted as an infant. He found himself questioning EVERYTHING his parents and extended family had ever told him and the hurt he experienced has been ongoing for the last 20 years.

Parents -- PLEASE tell your children the truth!

Von said...

Sad to say these adopters already blew it around 13 or 14 years ago.She suspects as most adoptee's do, will feel betrayed, not worthy of being told the truth and a multitude of other things.Therapist on speed dial...good idea the relationship is blown.
Loretta is wasn't the morm years ago to not tell, it was only done by people who should never have been approved to be adopters.

choose joy said...

@Loretta, I was adopted 40 years ago from an orphanage. It would have been easy for my parents to hide that fact as they were living/teaching English in an Eastern European country for years without seeing any of their family back in the States. They could have just returned home with me and let everyone assume I was biological. But I grew up knowing I was adopted and upon returning to the US, hooked up with many other adoptees, all of whom knew as well. It was actually talked about quite openly and easily. This case is ridiculously sad but I know it does happen. Our son, adopted from foster care, has a rare genetic condition. His sister's family will not tell her she's a carrier of this horrible disease because they don't want her to know she's adopted. I don't think it ever was the "norm" but it still does happen.

Rene Syler said...

Malinda thanks for leaving a comment on the site. My only experience with adoption is through my husband. But like many of you, I find it unfathomable that parents would keep that a secret. Why? And as I said in my response to you, it feels as though they're making it something to hide or be ashamed of, which of course we know adoption is not. Thank God my husband's parents were not like that and he grew up (born in '48) knowing he was adopted from the time he was a small child. Malinda, I want to extend an invitation to you or any of your readers who would like to write a guest posting on your (their) experience. See, I'm not an expert on this, never claimed to be. People write me for my take on stuff. But I'm smart enough to surround myself with people who ARE experts and smart enough to ask to be enlightened. Feel free to email me at I'd love to know what you want people to know about adoption, hear your story and use it as a chance to educate people who think not telling their kids is okay. All are welcome, even the lady who thought it was a made up question. Thanks again and here's to happy, healthy kids!

Wash Their Worries Away said...

I totally agree, how terrible. I was wondering if you could write a blog about a foundation that I have recently started. I am a senior at Washington State University, and am raising money for an All-Boys Orphanage in Egypt (adopting from Egypt is basically illegal). I would really appreciate it, if you would follow my blog: Thanks!

Von said...

Why ever would 'anonymnous' think this was a made up question, even iof it were there are so many, many examples of this from all generations and for all sort of reasons but mostly the need to pretend, not coming to terms with infertility,shame and the wish for a 'clean slate' baby.This is but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to deception in adoption.

Anonymous said...

All you have to do is google "late discovery adoptee" to view how horrific it is on the adoptee to find out their entire life was based on lies - talk about a house of cards.

We adoptees are impacted by lack of real accurate current family health history (some more than others) but to assume your family health history is XYZ puts you even more at risk when you are actually ABC...

Incredible...I would not wish to be in the AP's shoes when the truth comes out - my feelings would be shaken to my very core and I doubt I would feel the same way. Very glad I got parents who believed truth was important and that secrets and lies destroyed...

Anonymous said...

Thank you Rene for clarifying.

Please let me add this as Anon. Becky; I was in no way implying that adoption has not or could not be kept secret, but rather the oddity of why these parents, determined to keep this secret from their daughter Kelly for son long, would be seeking anonymous advice from someone with so little adoption experience and why now?? They also seemed to almost talk themselves out of telling her just in the question alone. Strange.

There seemed to be a disconnect to me. Also I am a trained journalist and please know, for those interested, that those "Dear Whoever, please help or advise" questions are often fictictious or a conglamorate of related inquiries. Sometimes simply pure fiction.

I do apologize if I ruffled feathers; I need to remember that things like body language and such are lost on this forum.

I feel for that girl.

Anon. Becky

Anonymous said...

Anon Becky:

I also thought the same as you, questioning whether the original scenario was true or staged by the columnist.

Another Anon.

Anonymous said...

Anon Becky:

I also thought the same as you, questioning whether the original scenario was true or staged by the columnist.

Another Anon.

LilySea said...

I'd tell her IN the therapist's office. What fools.