Common issues facing teens who were adopted

Adopted children when they become teenagers learn to use the A word at times to try to wound their parents. So as parents understand that at some point the child is going to say, “I hate you. You’re not my real mother. I want to go live with my real mother.” And that devastates the adopted parents.

Understand that’s the same thing as your kids saying, “you’re the dumbest mother I ever met in the world.” She’s just trying to explain her anger and frustration over whatever the issue is. Do not take this personally. If your child has not had contact with the bio family, encourage that. Another issue is that parents get hung up, they think they’re going to lose their child back to the biological family. That really never ever happens. The child growing up in an adoptive family identifies the parents who adopted them as their parents. Kids don’t know the labels. They know the feelings. So they have been parented by you and your adoptive partner.

The bio parent is somebody they need to get to know because they want to know their roots. That’s a normal urge. Encourage that, as you would other things in their life. That’s okay. Don’t get threatened by it. If you get threatened by it, the kid starts to feel, “oh something’s wrong.” Now you’re adding an air of mystery to the adoption. You want to get rid of all mystery. Encourage contact. Encourage your child to keep an adoption book, pictures of the bio family if you have it, contacts with the bio family, if it’s safe.

Finally use the word “chosen” instead of adoption. Say, “adoption’s a good word. I have a better one. Sweetie, you’re chosen. We chose you. We really thought you were terrific. And you know something, we think you chose us. Most parents are stuck with whoever came out of mom’s belly. And this was an act of choice. It’s very special.”


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