Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Adoption - When to Let Them Know
Ligia asked me a question a few weeks back about when to tell an adopted child the truth about their origins. I know quite a few adoptive families, grew up among some, and know some now. I've seen parents who have tried different methods of dealing with the subject, but the families that I saw with the happiest, most well-adjusted children were those that were completely honest from the beginning.
This is what I witnessed growing up as a missionary's daughter in Korea, where a number of other American missionaries had adopted either Korean or American babies. From what I remember, they treated the fact that they were adopted as a wonderful, beautiful experience that made those children uniquely special. My mother explained it to me so eloquently about how special a child is who has been specifically chosen by his or her adoptive parents because they were loved and wanted, yet many children who are born into families are not always loved. Her explanation even made the little 5 year-old me feel jealous and wish I had been adopted too. I was so disappointed that I wasn't!
Those parents who took orphans into their households, were proud to tell their little ones from the time they could understand, what a blessed day it was when they brought them home from the orphanage, and when they joined their family. They never lied or pretended that they were their biological parents, and never once implied that there was anything wrong with being adopted, which of course there isn't! They didn't raise them to feel pity or shame for their past, just to know the truth, and the most important truth was that they were just as loved and as precious as the rest of their biological children.
Hiding the truth and pretending only makes it worse when they do find out, because: 1. They will never fully trust that you are telling the truth about anything. 2. They will feel that you think their past is something shameful which could lead to a lot of resentment and insecurity. 3. They will see you as weak because you didn't have the courage to do what was right from the start.
If God asks us never to "bear false witness" in the 10 commandments, why should we do it to the children we have chosen to love?