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
for parents and adopted youth, the parents were advised to share exactly what the agency had told them: his birth mother, an unreliable source, reported that the birth father was African American. When they did so, Jordan commented, "Oh, I've known that for years. The girls told me all about it." While the parents had agonized over what information to share, their older children had done it for them--not nearly as well as the parents would have handled it. Though the adoptive parents believed that Jordan would eventually ask about his race/ethnicity, he never had. Jordan struggled with identity issues without the support and guidance his parents could have given him.
SUMMARY
Keeping lines of communication open is vital to adoptive family health. Observation of the ten commandments of truth telling can aid a family in assuring they are creating an emotionally healthy environment in which their child can develop a healthy sense of self and an experience of honest healthy family relationships.
QUESTIONS
1. Discuss ways that adoptive parents can initiate conversation about adoption.
2. Discuss the consequences of "lying with good intentions" to an adopted child about the past or a birth family member.
3. Why is it important to allow a child to express anger toward the birth family without joining in?
4. What does this statement mean to you personally--Don't try to "fix" the pain of adoption?
5. Do you find it hard to refrain from value judgments on the information about your child's history? What judgments are particularly hard for you to give up? Why?

NOTES
1.
Adapted from the work of the Parenthesis Post Adoption Program, Columbus, Ohio, 1988.
2.
Randolph Severson, "Talking to Your Adopted Adolescent about Adoption," in A Collection of the Best Articles on Talking with Kids About Adoption: Best of PACT Press ( San Francisco: PACT Press, 1998), 33.
3.
Holly van Gulden, "Talking with Children About Difficult Birth History," in A Collection of the Best Articles on Talking with Kids About Adoption: Best of PACT Press ( San Francisco: PACT Press, 1998), 36-37.
4.
Beth Hall, "Grief," in A Collection of the Best Articles on Talking with Kids About Adoption: Best of PACT Press ( San Francisco: PACT Press, 1998), 20-22.

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