20 Things Kids Wish their Adoptive Parents Knew

-Arunima Bhattacharya

20 thingsWhen we were getting ready to bring home our daughter, we hardly found anyone who could ‘understand’ why we were up to this. We got support from family and friends. At the same time, there were those who were concerned about the whole ‘experiment’. In india, after all, it is not very common to find parents in the better part of their 30s, adopting a year old girl in spite of having a healthy two-year old son.

We took the plunge knowing the pros and cons of the situation. But, the words of an insensible neighbour kept haunting me. He said, ‘I know many people personally who have adopted but, these kids are never straight!’

I understood what he said and it scared me, but it did not affect our decision because by then, I had a long list of commonly known reasons against adoption. I had this list after research, discussions, counseling and a lot of introspection. But, somehow I knew what this person meant and I wanted to know the reason for his words being true. Unless you know the reason, you cannot fight it – sometimes, the only way out is through it.

I started reading books, articles and experiences on adoption. I found a book by Sherrie Eldridge which set me on the right path. I do not know how my daughter is going to be when she grows up, but ignorance will definitely not help any of us. Few of the pages of this book gave me goose bumps, but knowing the possible nature of blows, surely can help us set our strategies.

So, here is a list of what I learnt, things that our babies would want us, as adoptive parents, to know –

  1. I suffered a profound loss before I was adopted, I don’t blame you for it
  2. I need to be taught that I have special needs arising from that loss, of which I need not be ashamed
  3. If I don’t grieve my loss, my ability to receive love from you and others will be hindered
  4. I need your help in grieving my loss. Teach me how to get in touch with my feelings about my adoption and validate them
  5. I am afraid that I was ‘given away’ by my birth mother because I was a bad baby. I need you to help me overcome this feeling
  6. I am afraid that you will abandon me
  7. I am afraid that I will be too much for you to handle
  8. Just because I don’t speak about my birth family, doesn’t mean that I don’t think about them
  9. I want you to take the initiative in starting conversations about my birth family
  10. I need to know the truth about my conception, birth and family history, no matter how painful the details may be
  11. Not knowing my complete background can be distressing, at times
  12. I may appear more ‘whole’ that I actually am. I need your help to uncover the parts of myself that I keep hidden so that I can integrate the elements of my identity
  13. I need to gain a sense of personal power
  14. Don’t just focus on me looking or acting just like you. I need you to acknowledge and celebrate our differences
  15. Let me be my own person, but don’t let me cut myself off from you
  16. Please respect my privacy regarding my adoption, don’t tell people about it, without my consent
  17. Birthdays / homecoming days may be difficult for me
  18. My unresolved grief may surface in the form of anger towards you
  19. When I act out my fears in obnoxious ways, please hang in there with me and respond wisely
  20. Even if I decide to search for my birth family, I will always want you to be my parents


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