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

CHAPTER EIGHT
Sharing the Hard Stuff: The Adoptive Parent's Challenge

If we aren't straight with our children about their past, they will pick up on it and fantasize something that may be much worse.

Carol Williams, University of North Carolina

She approached the adoption speaker tentatively, waiting until the last person asked his question and the room cleared. She wanted no one to hear her question.

"Excuse me," she said to the speaker, "I need to ask you something. My son is seven years old, almost eight. He came to us through a public agency at the age of seven months. We were told that he is the product of an incestuous relationship between a brother and sister. He doesn't seem to have any major problems or difficulties. This is something we never have to tell him, right?"

This adoptive mom, like hundreds of adoptive parents, holds a secret to her child's past. She looks at the information from every angle, inside and out, upside down and right side up, hoping to find a way to avoid disclosing it. Yet the moment of disclosure is inevitable, unavoidable.

Imparting such information is difficult. The details seem far too painful. Yet, those distressing pieces--the missing pieces--are often the parts of a puzzle that bring understanding to a child and fill in the blanks in an otherwise jumbled perception of his past.

For many children, learning the difficult facts comes as a relief. Es-

-97-

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