The Cradle Blog

Answering Tough Questions About Your Child's Birth Country

Countries open and close programs, change rules about who can adopt, and seem to be cavalier about the well-being of their orphaned children. It is typical for children already home to have questions and concerns surrounding these changes. Judy Stigger, LCSW, Adoption Therapist at The Center for Lifelong Adoption Support Services at The Cradle, offers some advice on how to talk to children.

The first step is to listen to what your kids already know about the country’s situation. Be thoughtful about what they need to know and what else they might hear. Every child is different, but you know your child best. Then address the emotions they are experiencing.

Survivor Guilt: I got to come here, why can’t those kids? I have a great family, why can’t they have one too?

Acknowledge their feelings – it is sad that other children won’t find parents and parents won’t find their children. Express your joy that your child is a part of your family. Share her concern for others.

Find a way for your family to get involved. Helping someone doesn’t have to be specific to the situation of concern, the country of birth or the age of the children involved. Think carefully about what activity you choose; you’re giving your child a voice and your activity should be based on what your child is most concerned about. A few suggestions:

  • Write a letter to the Russian Consulate
  • Do a school project about kids in your child’s birth country
  • Find an organization that supports kids in your child’s home country
  • Volunteer at a shelter for homeless children

Cultural Embarrassment – Why didn’t China let my mom keep me?

Remember your child shares something with the people from her home country. So when the government institutes a new policy or rules, or closes a program, kids may feel some shame or embarrassment.

Explain that people understand things differently. Countries take pride in raising their own children. We may feel that it’s more important that every child finds a loving family, no matter where that is, but most likely, the people making these decisions are doing what they think is best.

Find parts of your child’s culture they can, or already do, take pride in. Find ways to celebrate and incorporate those aspects of her home country into your family’s life.

Again, this is a conversation that is very specific to your child: her home country, her age, what she understands and what she is feeling. If you would like some guidance in handling these issues or starting the conversation, we would be happy to help.