Adoption....

Jennifer - posted on 12/16/2011 ( 13 moms have responded )

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Adoption is a big thing in my family. I have an adopted brother, my husband was adopted, so was his first wife, and I've adopted my step-kids. We are open and talk about it from time to time, but most people, even close friends don't know which of our six kids are his, mine or ours. So, my issue is some family friends who adopted a little boy. He is in my duaghters 1st grade class, and they are friends. The topic of him being adopted, his 'issues', and all he went through, is discussed regularly. To the point I'm uncomfortable. Is this normal? Is it healthy? To be clear, the boy does not bring it up, it is his parents and older sisters. At first I thought they were just 'getting use to it', but it has been 4 years now. Any thoughts? Can I tell the family that they make me uncomfortable talking about it too much, or would that be too rude? I just don't understand it I guess, but my daughter has also asked why they talk about it so much.

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Jamie - posted on 12/20/2011

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Maybe instead of saying that it makes you feel uncomfortable you should start asking questions to your friend about why she is talking openly about it.

A lot of adoption specialists actually recommend an open dialogue about the child's past, including trauma, so that they don't try to repress the memories and turn them into something even more damaging.

My son was adopted and we agree with out adoption specialist that the best way to have him develop a healthy idea of his past and present is to meld the two. Every adoption is different, but in our situation our son knows he has two mothers, we talk about the trauma of adoption frequently, and also the uniqueness and beauty of adoption.

The biggest thing with adoptive kids with attachment issues is control. If they know their strengths and weaknesses, and what caused some of their uncontrollable behaviors, they will be empowered by the knowledge of why their brain works the way it does. If they understand it is from the adoption and not something they did they will hopefully will be empowered and understand that they are good, kind, and blameless. And children need to hear this frequently, not just once and tucked away....

The guilt from behavioral issues is great in children.

So, it may be that she's trying to listen to all the latest psychology about adoption. Which may be right or wrong....it's always changing, but it is definitely the recommended way to deal with trauma as of right now.

Jurnee - posted on 12/18/2011

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I was adopted, and it is sometimes mentioned, but not all the time. And truly if my family had been bringing it up constantly it would have seemed weird. Like Elfrieda said , I also know people who give too muc personal info on thier children in front of others. comparing or embaressing them. Like Joe is so good at school, but John just wont study. Hopefully hell try to be more like his brother. I always feel bad for those kids.

Elfrieda - posted on 12/18/2011

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Because you are an insider when it comes to adopting kids, it might be very helpful for you to have a quiet word with that boy's parents. Like you say, that doesn't seem normal or healthy for the boy's identity, even if the parents don't mean any harm.



Two of my cousins were adopted, and I don't remember much talk about it at all, just the younger sister would vent to me about HOW GLAD she was that she WASN'T REALLY related to her sister when she was in the angry 13-year-old stage. :)



My other cousin is in contact with some of her birth relatives, but she doesn't talk about it, except to mention that her son was the spitting image of one of the boys in that family.



Actually, at our Oma's 90th birthday party, she was talking about how stubborn-ness is an inherited trait in the whole family, and her husband laughed and asked how she ended up with it. One of my other cousins said it must be one of those "taught genetics" and we all laughed.



But some parents just talk way too much about their kids' personal info. My sister-in-law tells us (constantly) all about her three sons and how they are different from each other and the strengths and weaknesses of each, and one is "athletic" and one is "such a good reader" and the other is "my husband's clone, he is not my fault!" And all of this is right in front of the boys. I think it's horrible that she compares them and talks about all their cute (but embarrassing to them) problems and dreams. They're not adopted, but I'll bet if they were, she would be doing the same thing you're describing.

Tam - posted on 12/17/2011

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I don't know any children that are adopted, but I have several adult friends who were. It normally comes up with an off-hand remark about their adoption, and then that's it. But I've never seen anyone but the adopted person bring it up. In fact, I've been comfortable enough to ask about it (especially since my husband and I are considering adopting sometime) and they seem to love telling me.

Sometimes, for people on the outside like me, it's a whole new thing. Until I actively sought out information on it, I knew absolutely nothing. It was a mystery of government and assumptions about what children were like if they got too 'old' in the system. Do you know how many people think that once a child is beyond the age of four, they are irreparably 'damaged' by whatever nebulous experiences they may have had at the hands of some faceless evil caretaker?

Of course, after research, my husband and I decided if we ever adopt, we'll adopt and older child so as to skip all the major growing pains like diapers and formula. :p

But I guess my point is, the parents might be patting themselves on the back, they may be trying to inform everyone a little on what happens in the system (subconsciously, maybe?) or they may still be adjusting, as strange as that sounds. I know a few parents who have biological children and even YEARS after the birth, they are still amazed and not-quite-used to the new addition to the family. Perhaps for some people, the shock of having a whole new person complete with experiences and personalities of their own, takes more time to sink in.

Though I agree. Perhaps a gentle word to the parents about the potential to alienate the child would be good. Every kid likes to be special, but not necessarily labeled as 'different'.

By the way, I may have to pick your brain on the adoption thing. I still want to do it, though with my pregnancy we had to push the plans back a little bit.

Tinker1987 - posted on 12/16/2011

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I do find that odd, my fiance is adopted and his mother brings it up a few times a year,it kind of annoys him, its something he doesnt think about but is reminded of. not that its something to be ashamed of but he doesnt appreciate the Label. she always asks if he has interst in finding his birth parents or sibling,but he gets ticked off and tells her to be quiet... i think they might want to easeup on discussing it when he gets older,he might not appreciate it either, i think if the child is concerned he would bring it up himself.

Kellie - posted on 12/16/2011

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Sometimes what we don't remember impact us more than what we do remember Jennifer. My Uncle Sexually Abused me for a few years when I was young, I've blocked 90% of it out, what I didn't remember affected me more than what I did remember, your imagination can be your biggest enemy!

I think that their communication is just totally open, some people are like that, others are a little to a lot more closed and only discuss things if they arise. They most likely think they are helping this boy by making it super open to him and having no secrets or (bugger I had another word and it's gone!), but I think their goal would be to make him super comfortable by making the topic freely accessible to him.

Merry - posted on 12/16/2011

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I think that's really odd. My brother is adopted and we always were open about it but at some point the adopted child is going to hope you all stop bringing it up! They really shouldn't be discussing his adoption so muc in front of him to others, it might make him feel less of a family member and be embarressed. No one likes others discussing their issues!

Jennifer - posted on 12/16/2011

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That's a good point, Rebecca. I really witness no problems, although he was abused, it was mainly neglect. He has ADHD, but is not medicated. He is more talkitive and wiggly, but behavior wise is really good. I feel like the ADHD is more genetic, but mom is a teacher, and it is often discussed how ADHD and other behavior problems are prevalant in 'bad families'(being in special ed, I see this too, but feel many of these adults have the same problem, and are not being and never have been treated, hence the situation continues!) Maybe she feels she is being judged. My son was 7 when I got him, and he had been neglected and abused, he actually has real memories of it, and the horrid battle we went through to keep him. This boy doesn't remember specifics, just hears the talk. He is more like my daughter, who was 2 when I got her. She has vague fears, but can't remember what happened, she fears I will leave her. We've talked about stuff, but not everyday, and only when she wants to. I just feel weird about listening to them talk. To me, it is this boys private information. I just don't know how to say it, and don't want to offend! My son calls me by my first name, so he sometimes gets asked by friends just meeting us, but that is on him. To be honest, the only time I talk about it with anyone is to give advice on the process. Well, I mention it here frequently, to explain 'stepkids' and what not- but my kids don't see this!

Tracey - posted on 12/16/2011

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If they are good friends you should point out that they make you uncomfortable, otherwise they will carry on talking about it making you feel worse every time you see them.

Becky - posted on 12/16/2011

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After 4 years, that is a little odd. He should be a member of their family now, without the distinction of how he became one. To me, if they are always talking about it, it signifies that they have not fully accepted him as a member of their family, that they still feel like he is different or a bit of an outsider. Which is very sad. Like Rebecca said, I can see if they were bringing it up once in a while to explain some behavior or issue they were struggling with, but talking about it all the time is not really normal. I've never come accross that in years of working in adoptions, in a family who is doing well. When parents do focus on it, it usually means they are struggling, and maybe need some support from a professional.

[deleted account]

I see your point. From my perspective, I was informally adopted by my dad (step-dad). I even used his last name all through school until it became a legal issue to get my driver's license.

He always called me his daughter and whenever people would remark about how much we looked alike (we do, it's really weird), he never skipped a beat, he'd throw his arm around me and pinch my nose and say, "Yep, she's lucky like that, but thank goodness she got her mother's nose, right?!" My mother and him are divorced now, but I'm his daughter period and when he talks about his family, I'm always included without the distinction of not being biologically related. Likewise, most people have no idea that he isn't my biological father.

My point is this, it's really important to be open, everyone should know their own story and where they come from...BUT, I think that it's equally important for the adopting parents to not constantly make that distinction because the child will always feel like they are on the outside of the family.

But, because you too have adopted children, I think that it is well within your right to ask that they curb that discussion around your family.

[deleted account]

I think it depends on what the "issues" that are being discussed are. If it's merely them pointing out that he's adopted, I think it's not normal. If it's them discussing his personal history which impacts his behavior, then I think it's normal. Some adopted children have horrible experiences in their background and it can be a huge challenge for them going forward. Our next door neigbors daughter is adopted and her adoption is discussed openly in the neighborhood and with her, in part because the girl has major issues and it comes up a lot. She's been with the family about 4 or 5 years as well.

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