By Jennifer Norton
Adoption is prevalent throughout the Bible, so one would surmise it would be easy to talk about. In reality, the topic still brings some conversations to a grinding halt. Education is key at these junctures. Adoptive parents are taught that speaking about the adoption journey to their children helps create a sense of belonging and normalcy to their story. It is good to equip kids with the knowledge and confidence that when faced with a question about their adoption, it will be answered easily and without embarrassed hesitation. There is nothing to be ashamed about, God knits families together differently and that, is a miracle in itself.
Adoption is becoming more common whether it be through foster care, private adoption, international or through kinship (family adopting another family member). Parents who find out that their child’s friend is adopted creates a little anxiety as they wonder how to talk about this with their kids without offending the adoptive family. Remember, the adoptive child is often aware that they are adopted. If the adoptive child is old enough, let them tell as much or as little of their story as they feel comfortable with. Different situations and ages will garner different reactions. Small kids might think it is pretty cool while teenagers don’t want to be seen as different than their peers. We experienced both ends of the spectrum. Our daughter wanted me to write down her given name and proceeded to tell the entirety of the first and second grade about her story. This was different for our 13-year old foster daughter, who wanted to walk about 15 paces behind us as to not draw attention. Both reactions are very normal.
In an effort to provide a few tips when talking about adoption, here are a few that stick out in my mind;
- Try to keep the conversation light and natural.
- Do not try to delve too deep into their story since it is a very personal topic and frankly, it is no one’s business but their own. Often times there are parts of the story that are required to not be discussed especially when foster care is involved.
- Never put a negative light on adoption by speaking badly about their birth parents, as you don’t know what feelings might be harbored. A perfect example of what not to say is “Why didn’t the parents want to keep the child?” Nothing will ruffle feathers more than that comment.
- Always remember, we are all adopted into God’s family.