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

constant control battles were wearing for everyone in the family (need for control).

One of Anne's most difficult challenges has been identity formation. She is not certain about her ethnicity, and her appearance really does not confirm any ancestry. She knows that she is a multiracial person, but does not know exactly what constitutes "multi." She could be African American, but also appears to have Native American or Hispanic ancestors. During her adolescence, she identified with several different ethnicities, and, as an adult, still has questions about her roots (identity confusion).

Anne shares, however, that her greatest struggles revolve around fears of future abandonment. She commented that she worried incessantly about losing significant people. She tried to push people away from her to avoid the pain of being rejected. In other words, she tried to "quit before she got fired." The adult Anne comments that she worries about losing those who are close to her, and she still overreacts to losses and separations. For example, when in the military, Anne found it too painful and panic-inducing to be far away from her parents. She was married and had a child at the time, but missed her parents so much she received an honorable discharge due to intense anxiety around separation from her parents.


CONCLUSION
When caring parents consider the discomfort of talking about adoption and the very real dangers of not talking about adoption issues, they must conclude that:
1. Parents need to talk openly and honestly with the child in an age-appropriate way about the adoption, the birth family, and the circumstances of the adoption; and
2. Parents need the tools and knowledge to talk about adoption effectively.

QUESTIONS
1. How would a child's "unrealistic fantasies" impact his relationship with his adoptive parents?
2. What are signs that an adolescent may be struggling with identity confusion as it relates to adoption?
3. What are signs that an adolescent may be struggling with loyalty issues as it relates to adoption?
4. What behaviors and feelings might a parent see if a child is struggling with fear of future abandonment?
5. What behaviors and feelings might a parent see if a child is struggling with control issues?

-35-

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