This is one I’ve gotten so many times. I think that’s because there are so many different answers that are told, which to me is just not fair.
I realize that some adoptee’s are never told, some have known since the beginning, some aren’t told until a heath crisis occurs, some find out when they are “of age” (18), or some find out in their first true fight with their parents and etc… the list could go on and on.
My answer: I’ve always known.
I can’t tell you an exact age because I was too little to remember. But my parents never hid it, we just always knew. We have home videos when I was just learning how to talk and my parents ask my brother and I in the video “Why are you special?” and our toddler reply was “because we are DOPTED.” They never wanted to hide it from us and for that I am grateful.
I know that there are so many different reasons adoptive parents might withhold or hide that information from an adopted child. With that in mind I have one thing to add….please don’t.
Why? Well for one it isn’t your information to withhold and also because it does not matter your reason of withholding that information from them, they will in their own timing feel or recognize that something is off. Dealing with that knowledge will always be easier if you understand, process and know it from the beginning. I am 28 yrs old and I am still processing it on an ongoing basis.
Parents- it does not matter how much you love them, how fun their life is, how many toys they have, how many vacations they go on, what clothes they had or how many likes on instagram their family photographs have with you proclaiming your love for them. They will in their own timing feel it and when they do, wouldn’t you rather be the parent that told them from the start than be the ones who were dishonest with them?
Honesty is like gold to an adopted child. Trust issues are ingrained in us the minute we are taken from our biological mother. So be the reason they learn to trust someone.
I consider myself very lucky to have always known. Because I truly can think of nothing worse as an adoptee than finding out later in life, OR the unthinkable of never knowing.
I understand that some parents might not want to tell their child, or think that they are protecting them by not telling them. I can’t stress enough how untrue that is. To me if you love your child, if you want them to become their most authentic self, if you want them to trust you & others, if you want them to embrace their differences, if you want them to love themselves, you & others then it is vital that you tell them.
If your child’s story or situation seems too difficult to explain to a very young child then do it in a way that you’re telling them without having to go into detail. Then as the years go on you can add more information in ways that are appropriate.
When I was young “ADOPTED” was just a word, I didn’t fully understand it. It never made me feel different until I started getting the assignments at school where it asks you what characteristics such as eye color or hair color you got from mom or your dad etc… I remember trying not to cry on a few occasions as I watched the other kids fill out their forms as fast as they read them. Whereas I wrote the same thing I still write on medical forms as an adult, “No family history, I’m adopted.”
As I got older and kids at school would say “don’t you think that’s weird to you that you’re adopted?” then I started to question it a little more. As I did, my parents would give me bits of information that would answer my questions and fill up my cup until the next time I raised questions about it. Knowing that I could go to them and receive more information meant the world to me.
The older I got the more details I was given. I truly believe my parents did this in the best way they could of even if a few times as a teenager I felt cheated when I’d learn something new they hadn’t told me before. It’s not that they were hiding it, they were just waiting till they felt I was ready for that information. Thinking you’re ready for certain information will always be different for a teenager than a parent. That’s just how it is because we know it all as teens right? Are there times I wish I would of had information sooner? Yes. Do I now understand why they didn’t give me certain parts yet? Yes. Timing is a tricky thing because WHEN is the right time to tell them more? There is no one answer for that. But I think your parental intuition will guide you.
For example… I went through a dark time as a teenager. I was going through many hardships and trying to hide that I was struggling from everyone. It was during this time that my parents revealed to us letters from my biological grandmother. My birth mom’s mother had written my parents a handful of letters & one directed to me. She had written things that I desperately needed to hear at the time. I read and re-read them over and over and ultimately it encouraged me to change my path. Had I read these letters before this time I don’t think it would of impacted me the way that it did.
Each age will bring it’s own set of challenges as you acknowledge being adopted and that’s okay. It’s easier to embrace that KNOWING that you are, than it would be to turn each age and face those challenges if you don’t even understand why they are there in the first place.
I’ve learned while on my adopted ride that there is a time for everything. But if you are an adoptive parent I believe there is only one time to tell them and that is from the start. Please give them that respect.
I know people will have opposing thoughts on this and that’s fine.
This is just my experience as an adoptee who’s lived it, take it or leave it.
Lastly to my parents.. t h a n k y o u for never hiding it from me.