With a younger child, the tween-teen years may seem miles away. But believe it or not, now is the time to lay the foundation to navigate those challenging years.
Here is some insight into what your kids want you to know so you can best support them as they grow.
Adopted kids are different
Because your child has a birth family, because you may be a conspicuous family, because your child may wonder why they were “given away” and because much of society doesn’t understand adoption...your child is different. For now, it is important to help your child understand and celebrate simple differences and different kinds of families. Your child may show pride in being different and sharing the parts of their adoption story that they know. But as they approach middle school, most children are more interested in “fitting in” than being different. It becomes harder for kids to talk about differences. This is normal and to be expected.
So what can you do NOW to help them THEN?
Recognize and celebrate the similarities and differences in your family – even if you’re not a "conspicuous" adoptive family. Strengthen connections to your child’s culture and adult mentors of your child’s background. Provide your child with opportunities to develop an interest or skill they feel good about…perhaps related to their birth family or culture. Continue to value the relationship with your child’s birth family whether or not you have an open adoption relationship.
Remember that how you talk about adoption NOW will help your child weather the tween/teen years.
Be aware that how you celebrate differences NOW will help your child value and be comfortable with differences THEN.
Creating an ongoing conversation about adoption NOW will help your child talk to you about their feelings THEN.
Learn from those who have been there
It’s often so difficult to gain insight into what your child is thinking and feeling – or what they may encounter as they get older. So join OUR conversation. On April 12, I’ll be joined by domestically and internationally adopted adults. We’ll talk about their feelings at different stages of their lives. They’ll answer your questions. And we’ll get comfortable having these conversations – so you can be comfortable doing the same at home.