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Supporting your adopted child

You’ve got a lot to look forward to as your adopted child grows up. You’ve also got your fair share of difficult questions to answer, uncomfortable situations and complicated emotions as your child explores their identity as an adopted person

While you’ve always got our support at ASC, here are some of the most common scenarios we’ve heard from adoptive parents over the years. We hope that these can point you in the right direction, and get you thinking about how you’ll handle questions about your child’s story.

Explaining your adopted child’s story

There may be parts of your child’s story that are difficult to explain. Perhaps they were born addicted to heroin. Perhaps their birth father is in jail for a violent crime. Or perhaps their birth parents didn’t want any contact, and your child asks why.

Your child deserves to know every part of their story — even the “not so pretty” parts. As adoptive parents, you must decide when your child is ready to deal with this information and how it should be shared.

Our advice is to start the groundwork as soon as you can. Talk early and often about the names of both birth parents, if you know them. Share the story of why your child’s birth mom chose adoption. As your child ages and develops, add more to the story in terms they can understand.
Think about it in terms of building blocks. You’ll start with information that’s easy for a young child to understand, then add age-appropriate details as your child gets older. Eventually the story will grow to include the “not so pretty” things that are hard to say, but they’ll be easier to understand in the context of what you’ve already shared with your child.
  • Toddler: Mama Sabrina didn’t have enough help to raise a baby.
  • Preteen: Mama Sabrina didn’t have a job, so she didn’t have money to raise a baby.
  • Teen: Sabrina was facing homelessness during her pregnancy.
Here are some resources to help you think about sharing your adopted child’s story with them.
Fielding questions about reunion

Reunion with your adopted child’s birth family

A lot of adoptive parents tell us that before their adopted child reaches their teen years, they start asking about reunion with their birth family. They wonder if there’s some way they can start communicating with them for the first time if there’s never been any contact, or about re-establishing contact if it’s been lost over the years.

In some cases, an adopted child’s birth parents may be over the moon to hear from them, and are excited to connect. If that’s the case, we can help all parties establish what they want from the relationship and set boundaries for it.

But in our experience, some birth parents aren’t ready or able to reunite with their child. They may be going through a chaotic and exhausting time in their life. They may not have had an adequate way to process the grief of placement, and feel overwhelmed.
What if my child’s birth family doesn’t want to reunite?

Handling your adopted child’s loss

How do you tell a child that they can’t have contact with their birth parents right now? It’s natural for a parent to want to protect their child from loss and pain, but unfortunately there’s nothing you can do to fix those feelings or make them go away.

The only way you can help your child in this case is to give them space to grieve their loss. Sit with them and hold them while they cry. Give them permission to be angry, and offer ways to show anger in a manner that’s okay in your home.

Our advice to all adoptive parents is to start looking for an adoption-informed therapist before you need one. Educate yourself and your family members on adoptee grief and loss. Honor their birth mom in your house from day one, and accept the decisions she’s made. And don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at ASC for support when you need it.
Supporting your child’s whole story

Support for transracial adoptees

If you worked with ASC in 2021 or later and your race is different from that of your adopted child, you were asked to do specific education on becoming a transracial family. Included in that education was instruction by the Be the Bridge transracial adoption program.

Be the Bridge helped you prepare your home, family and community to support your child’s specific racial and ethnic identity, but your child may still feel a disconnect from the people who share their birth culture.

Just like being an adopted person is part of their story, so is their racial and cultural background. It’s an important part of who they are, and as their adoptive parents you can open the door to help them explore it.

We’ve put together a list of resources for you and your child to read, listen and follow to become better informed on being a transracial family. We can also help your child connect to others online or in your area who share their heritage.

More Support For You And Your Adopted Child.