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Tell Your Adopted Child How God Brought You Together

  • 2002 5 Jan
Tell Your Adopted Child How God Brought You Together
Numerous parents wonder when is the "right" time to tell a child about his or her adoption. Children will vary in how naturally they talk about their adoptions. Some will incessantly ask questions. Others will recoil at the topic. Experience has shown that parents who begin discussing their children's adoptions at once help them grow comfortable with the topic.

I can remember being bounced up and down on my dad's lap when I was a tiny little girl. He would always ask the identical question, which became a fun ritual for us: "What would I do if I didn't have a little girl like you?"

And I would always return the same answer: "You'd come and find me, Daddy!" I may not have been able to articulate what adoption was, but I knew it was very special. I knew I was very much loved.

With our own children we have done the same. Even while on the changing table I have acknowledged to my babies, "Didn't Jesus love us an awful lot to bring us together across so many miles!" or "You needed a mommy and daddy and we needed a little girl!" They don't have to understand the legal issues of adoption to know that Mom and Dad think it is amazing. And because modeling is a principle of life that is always in effect whether we realize it or not, if we as moms and dads think adoption is extraordinary, our adopted kids will grow up feeling that adoption is awesome too.

What will we tell our children about adoption? All parents have the honor of telling their children the miracle of the story of how it came to be that they became a family. The story needs no exaggeration or embellishment, just the truth. Everyone has a story. I do. You do. Each child in our family has a different story. Our birth children love to hear their own delivery stories, and they are all unique. And our adopted kids have special stories of their own. ...

The history and the pain are all part of the marvel of bringing an adoptive family together. Your child needs to become aware of this miracle. Adopted children's stories are no less of a wonder than the wonder of birth. In fact, the miraculous stories of adoption are often more incredible.

Families who have both birth children and adopted children will be able to emphasize both the uniqueness of each member of their family and the fact that they were definitely intended to become a family together by understanding how God brought each of them together. Feelings of competition or inferiority diminish when our children understand how special they each are and that each was clearly brought into this family - to love and take care of each other.

What if the circumstances of a child's background are cruel? What if a child was abandoned or deserted? What can we then report to our children? Once again we need to explain the truth to them. I would never encourage a parent to lie to his child. If we do, we will have difficulty teaching our children to trust others, including us.

Nor would I devastate a child by asserting, "Your parents didn't love you!" The same movie can be made for a "G" rating, appropriate for children, or an "R" rating, depending on what is emphasized. Although it would not be ethical to change our children's stories, we have a responsibility to tell the stories in a way that will respect children's ages and dignity.

Despite the conditions of our children's backgrounds, we can learn to emphasize the positive. In a world where abortion is an option available to most women, >all adopted children can be told that their mothers chose to give them the gift of life, perhaps at great hardship to themselves. Even if she was able to provide nothing more than this, still the favor to you and your child is astonishing.

Even the child who was deserted in a train station can be told genuinely, "Your parents wanted better for you than they could provide." The same could be said to the child whose mother delivered him or her and ran away from a maternity hospital without any means of identification. These parents would not have left their children where they could be found by someone else if they had not wanted better for them than they could provide.

Further, every adopted child, no matter how desolate the background, can concentrate on the family that was built through the circumstances of his or her adoption. Every family can emphasize the miracle of their child's being found.

Excerpted from Adopting for Good: A Guide for People Considering Adoption, copyright 1997 by Jorie Kincaid. Used by permission. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill.,, 1-800-843-4587.

Jorie Kincaid is the founder and director of Orphans Overseas in Portland, Or. She and her husband Ron have four biological children and three adopted children.

If you have an adopted child, have you told him or her how God brought you together? If so, how did that experience draw you closer as parent and child? If you're adopted yourself, how did your parents share your adoption story? Visit the Books forum to respond, or read what others have to say. Just click on the link below.