Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Knowledge is Power - Part 2 (It's All About The Child)

During our adoption class, one thing one of the social workers (who happened to be our social worker) kept saying was that it’s all about the child and that parents were going to have to do things that make them uncomfortable.

I think that, sometimes, adoptive parents lose track of the fact that the adoption is all about the child. Sometimes, we get caught up in the excitement and forget there are so many other issues that we have to address. It is a glorious moment when your child arrives and you are entirely wrapped up in the moment, but we can’t forget that the story didn’t start with us.

The social worker asked, “When does your child’s story start?” There was silence in the room and I could see the wheels turning. There is an urge to have your child’s story start with you, but the reality is that your child’s story started long before you. It started with your child’s birth parents and your child’s birth (even though you weren’t there).

When we adopted my son, I honestly didn’t realize that this was a big issue; however, I think it’s because my story didn’t start with the people I call Mom and Dad either. Though I admit I’ve been pretty bad about putting together my son’s lifebook (everything is bought and sitting in my closet), we talk about it all the time. Some of the conservations we have been awkward and a little uncomfortable as he tries to sort out the reality of birth parents that he’s never met and live in a place he can’t remember, but I want him to learn the truth from me so that he knows that he can come to me with questions.

Here are some things that stuck out to me:

1. Your child’s life starts at their birth. Make sure you have as much information as possible to share.

2. Be careful how you talk about a child’s birth parents. Be as positive as you can.

3. Don’t lie to your child. If there is negative information about their past, give it to them in terms that they can understand, but never withhold information.

4. Your child’s story is their story to share. Try to limit the amount of information that is known by family and friends.

5. You want them to learn the truth from you and not from someone else, no matter how difficult the truth is.

Power to the child!


mrkmommy said...

First off, I am glad you are back. We seem to be going along the same time line for our second adoption with you. Our homestudy should be done this week.

I don't think the full scope of "their story didn't start with you" and what it means to the child hit me until 2 weeks ago. I rented Snow Dogs. It looked cute and I had NO IDEA what it was about. Guess what, its about adoption, who knew.

So, of course, we started talking about it with our 3 kids (6, 5, 3). Only our 3 year old is adopted. Now she knows she has another family in China and that we came and picked her up. But it came out that we were not there the moment she was born and she started to cry. The impact of us not being a part of her life from the first moment was very hard for her and she felt betrayed by me for not being there for her. It was really difficult to watch in her eyes and emotions. Sigh!

Just when you think you have armed yourself with all the information you need you discover that it is just the tip of the iceberg.

Tiffany J said...

I'm so glad you're back! My stay in Korea is almost over (I'm heading home May 2nd!)and it's been a bittersweet ride. I think the first time I learned information about my adoption I was probably in either middle or high school.

I remember it hitting me like a ton of bricks. Up until then I had known I was adopted from Seoul and all about my plane ride over. However, finding out about the "why" and "how" was for me life changing. I'm able to talk about it now and am actually proud of their choice (they were young workers and decided to have me but not get married) knowing the fate of a child of divorce in Korea is a life of abandonment and that domestic abuse is high.

I have no desire to try and find my birth parents at the moment. I'd want to wait until I'm better at Korean for better communication. Not to mention the adoption agencies my parents went through are horrible at getting back at you with information. not regarding adopting...plus it wasn't a priority with me.

Since you have first hand experience I'm sure you know what it's like. I suppose in some funny way explaining to a child about their adoption is like explaining to the people here who ask me how I have an Asian face and am from America...it's hard and confusing.

Emily said...

Stumbled across your blog in search of KAs adopting Koreans. Do you know if, under any circumstance, a KA is allowed to adopt a child domestically? (F4 visa? Just a wild guess--I'm thinking not). I'm glad I found your blog and hope to follow it often. My husband and I are both KAs and, though we're not thinking kids at the moment, adoption is something we want to do. Anyway--thanks for the blog!

Mo said...

If you are talking about going to Korea and adopting there, you can do it. There is a residency requirement for adopting in-country. I think you have to stay two years. This may have changed. I haven't talked to anyone about this in years.

Wife to the Rockstar said...

Love this post. I would really like to use it on my Adoption blog as a guest post. Go check out adoptionconnect.blogspot.com and let me know if you would like to be a guest blogger!

Sue Merriam said...

So true...I'll never forget the time a cousin came to visit. She got my oldest son alone and told him some awful things about his birth mom. I was trying to spare him until he was older, and I felt he could handle the truth.

Now I realize I should have told him in a kinder way he could understand.

Thanks for the advice.