Adopted? We’ll tell you…eventually

16 Nov

On a certain message board I peruse every so often, there’s a “discussion” about when the right time to tell a child they’re adopted is. The person writing the article states that their 6 year old doesn’t know, and that basically, he’s sick of people,”experts” telling him she should have a basic understanding of where she came from by now. He’ll tell her when he’s good and ready is what the message seems to be.

I’m adopted. I believe I was adopted somewhere between 3 and 6 months of age. My parents are the people who raised me, wiped my ass, vouched for me in the principal’s office, and gave me shit for swearing (oops-sorry Dad). Never, EVER have I doubted the love my parents have for me. And never have I not known I was adopted.

There was never one moment of not knowing, never some grand conversation about storks or nice people who couldn’t keep me. These were continual conversations, but also conversations akin to talking about my elbows. Adoption was how the got me, I don’t look like them, and someday, I might want to see the people I do look like. Period. You are OUR child, but your past, and the people who made you, that’s a bit of a story.

The thought of being any age and suddenly finding out your parents aren’t exactly your parents is incredibly scary to me as an adoptee. You build your identity around who you believe you come from. My non-identifying information had pegged me as Dutch-French, as so I developed some assumptions about my genetic heritage.

Yeah, turns out it’s Dutch-English. I had made my identity, in part, based in who I thought I was. And suddenly, I wasn’t that person anymore. I was someone else, and it took awhile to assimilate just that tiny piece into my brain, and personality. Which can be trying when you’re 18.

So imagine being 10 or so, and suddenly your parents say “Hey, you know how you’re kinda tall and we kinda aren’t? Well, there’s a good reason for that.”

BOOM. goes your brain. BOOM. goes your identity.

I’m not who I think I am. My parents lied to me, didn’t tell me the truth. My parents aren’t my parents.

Who do you think will handle this better? This kid who has always known, or the kid that wakes up one day thinking she has her mother’s eyes only to realize the next day that the people she thought were like her really aren’t?

Isn’t that a cruel sick joke to play on a child?

17 Responses to “Adopted? We’ll tell you…eventually”

  1. Squirrel November 16, 2006 at 6:36 pm #

    I completely agree with you on this one! I waited until my son was 5 to tell him that his “dad” wasn’t his real dad, that my ex husband was his real father. That’s what everyone told me to do. My son is now 15 and is none worse the wear for it , but that conversation was heartbreaking for us both. I should have just brought it up in little conversations right from the beginning like your parents did.

  2. plainjanemom November 16, 2006 at 7:30 pm #

    Our son Mike (almost 5) knows he’s adopted. We don’t talk about it all the time, it just is what it is. “Talking about your elbows” is a great way to put it.

    I never wanted there to be THE BIG DAY where we sprung the news on him. That family sounds like they’re setting themselves up for some hard times in the future.

  3. katsplace November 16, 2006 at 8:06 pm #

    I prefer the way your family handled it. It doesn’t have to be a major revelation, it can just be another part of who you are.

    I grew up with several adopted kids who found out later – in their teens. It was hell for each of them and you can almost mark their behavior and problems based on when they were told.

  4. LGirl November 16, 2006 at 8:36 pm #

    yup ! My Friend married a man whose wife had passed away after the birth of their second child. My Friend adopted the girls when they were 1 1/2 and 4 years old. They have never known any other Mother but They have never hidden the fact that the girls came from their other Mother’s tummy.
    I do believe that it needs to be kept in terms that the children can understand and in a way that doesn’t scare them.But it shouldn’t be kept as some dark secret. because over time it will actually become one.

  5. thordora November 17, 2006 at 9:00 am #

    I told my father about this today, and he was just like “Dude is setting himself up for a WORLD of pain” He couldn’t understand it either.

    The more I think about it, the more I get annoyed for that child.

  6. ann adams November 17, 2006 at 10:38 am #

    I sat on my response to that post overnight. I was afraid of what I might say if I wrote something without having a chance to think.

    In the end, I wrote what I would have said the night before only I managed to be courteous somehow.

    I hope he read all the responses. I went through finding out from friends – first that I was adopted and then years later who my birth mother (and father) were.

  7. thordora November 17, 2006 at 10:41 am #

    I REALLY hope he takes some of it to heart. I felt sick reading his post. Maybe it will work out ok-but do any of us know cases like that which didn’t fall apart?

  8. Missy November 17, 2006 at 12:17 pm #

    I always knew I was adopted. How can it be any other way without heartache and trauma?

  9. Eden November 17, 2006 at 2:57 pm #

    It’s not about being adopted. It’s about being upfront and honest with your child. I don’t think any deception, no matter how well-intentioned, is a good thing.

    It also adds to the stigma of adoption, as though being adopted is something shameful. I don’t get where this dude is coming from at all (I do think that his addition to the team is indicative of the turn the site has taken, if this is his attitude).

  10. mssisyphus November 17, 2006 at 3:52 pm #

    I hate that guy. His post made my blood boil. And now that he’s recanted, I totally think he did it to make a splash on his first post.

    It’s definitely indicative of how BB is going. The young guy is also bugging me. I kind of want to tell him to get off of my lawn.

  11. thordora November 17, 2006 at 4:06 pm #

    His responses have been rude-he sets this out there, gets some opinions, gets pissed off, and then throws out all these new facts….not impressed. I browse at BB, but anymore….unbelievable some of the tripe…

  12. Mona November 17, 2006 at 7:16 pm #

    That post also pissed me off. I cannot believe he can sit high on his Huffy Bike with all that BS. My husband was adopted and his parents told him when he was five. He told me that he doesn’t know if there was ever a time when he would be *ready* for that kind of info, but luckily he had parents who loved him. Thanks for writing this.

  13. thordora November 17, 2006 at 10:43 pm #

    Got any diapers we can mail him Mona? 🙂

  14. Izzy November 19, 2006 at 8:43 pm #

    Just wanted to say, as someone who didn’t find out they were adopted until they were 34, I concur. Tell your kids when they’re little.

  15. Maria P. November 21, 2006 at 2:05 am #

    As you say, I cannot imagine just having that bomb dropped on you one day.

    I wish I could say more but alas I was not adopted and I have not adopted any children, yet. 🙂

  16. Beth November 26, 2006 at 1:35 am #

    Wow. Just, Wow. That guy is an idiot. He’s just buying trouble if you ask me.
    I always knew I was adopted. Even before I knew what adopted meant, I knew I was adopted. My mom and dad didn’t do much right but they were honest with me about who I was and where I came from and that has made all the difference.

  17. thordora November 26, 2006 at 8:00 am #

    Dude eventually came out and said “whoa, I meant I’m not giving her all the details!” but the way the post in question had been written did NOT support that statement.

    But it still bothers me that someone people DO think this way. Because I’m like you Beth-I’ve always just known.

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