“So where are your ‘real’ parents?”
That is usually one of many questions that children, being naturally curious, ask when they discover that their friend was adopted. It is also common for them to wonder what adoption means and the process behind it.
While there has been increased awareness and acceptance of families formed through adoption, there are still many in Singapore who do not have friends who were adopted or have adopted children. Hence, many are often clueless, and sometimes insensitive, about how to talk about adoption positively, and what not to ask an adopted child, especially in the absence of his/her parents. While seemingly harmless, some of these questions or comments may negatively affect adoptive children emotionally and psychologically. Hence, there is a need to educate the larger community to help them better understand and embrace adoption more positively.
Being adopted is not a shameful thing nor should it be kept a secret. Thankfully, with more education and advocacy, there has been a steady shift towards seeing adoption as a positive way to form a family and understanding the importance of being open with an adopted child about their birth history and dual heritage. Doing so can help build their self-esteem and sense of identity.
While you may not be an adoptive parent yourself, your child can benefit by understanding adoption. Guiding your child in understanding adoption can help expand his/her worldview, develop empathy, and help him/her be more accepting of people with different family backgrounds.
As we approach World Adoption Day in November, we hope this article will help you better understand adoption and provide some tips on how to start the conversation with your child. Watching movies such as ‘Kungfu Panda’ or ‘Despicable Me’ and reading children’s books on adoption are also ways to get the conversation going.
TALKING ABOUT ADOPTION WITH YOUR CHILD
What is Adoption?
Explain to your child that adoption is one of many ways to form a family. Children may live with the family they were born into or with a family who adopts them. Let your child know that, sometimes, a parent who gives birth is not able to raise the child and has no family member or friend who can help her care for the child. So, she looks for another family that would be able to care for the child. That family adopts the child and becomes his “forever family”. When explaining this, let your child know that children who are adopted will forever be part of their family and loved by their parents, just like how your child will forever be loved by you.
When discussing adoption, it is important to use positive adoption language and not cast adopted children as “special” or “different”. Help your child see that adoption is another wonderful way to build a family. Below is a short list of positive words to use:
Keep the conversation to a more general discussion about adoption, even if you know the specific circumstances of your child’s friend who was adopted. While adoption is not a secret, every child’s adoption story is personal and is his/hers to share. Some children are comfortable talking to friends, classmates and teachers about their adoption, while others prefer to keep it private and not discuss it outside of their own family.
The “Why” Questions
Your child may have more questions after you have explained what adoption means. Here are some ways to respond to questions children commonly ask about adoption.
MYTHS AND TRUTHS ABOUT ADOPTION
Finally, there are many misconceptions about adoption. To better understand this topic, we need to differentiate fact from fiction. Here’s a list of common misconceptions about adoption and the truth behind them.
Got any questions on adoption or looking to expand your family through adoption? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
TOUCH Adoption believes that every child is a precious gift and deserves a permanent and loving home. The first agency in Singapore to be accredited by the Ministry of Social and Family Development to provide home study reports, TOUCH Adoption seeks to help prospective adopters in their adoption process, as well as prepare them for their role as adoptive parents.