Telling the Truth to Your Adopted or Foster Child: Making Sense of the Past

By Betsy Keefer; Jayne E. Schooler et al. | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER TWO
Truth or Consequences: A Great Debate

Children are afraid of the dark. Adults are afraid of the light.

If I tell my child about his birth father, he will be hurt and angry. It is best that he doesn't know the truth.

If I tell the children the whole story regarding their parents, they will have a better understanding of why they are in foster care.

Jennifer, age fifteen, was adopted shortly after birth into a family with two birth children, both several years older than she. At the time of the adoption, the social workers told her parents that Jennifer's birth mother was a patient in a psychiatric hospital. The mother claimed to have been impregnated following a rape by an African American man, also a patient at the hospital. Because Jennifer did not appear to be biracial, her adoptive parents never told her the birth mother's story about her father. Their older children overheard their discussions and did learn some of the information shared by the social worker. When Jennifer began struggling with her identity, the parents asked a therapist if they had been right to withhold this information from Jennifer, citing as an excuse the mother's lack of credibility. After some exploratory discussion with Jennifer, the therapist discovered that the older siblings had told her years before that she was biracial. She had been struggling alone, with no parental support or guidance, with this information (or, potentially, mis

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