In the course of my lifetime I have had many friends. Several of my friends have been adopted. Some of them knew from birth that they had been adopted while others did not find out until they were 16 and 18 years of age.
For my friends that knew from the beginning of time that they had been adopted, it was a very easy thing for them to deal with. One friends mother had been in a tragic accident leaving her unable to have children. Another friends parents were unable to conceive after trying for many many years. Another family had suffered through many many miscarriages.
For these friends, it was easy to accept that they had been adopted and they felt pretty special that they had been the ones chosen by these families to be their children. They had been told the truth from the beginning and they also knew that when the time came they could search for their birth parents with their adopted parents help.
Another family chose not to tell their child she had been adopted until she was 16. My friend had several siblings older and younger than she, but they were not adopted. This family also cared for many foster children over the years. When my friend was only a few months old she came to live with the family that would eventually adopt her. In order to protect her they did not tell her she had been adopted until her 16th birthday.
Apparently my friends biological parents were addicted to drugs and my friend had been addicted when she was born. She was sent immediately to foster care upon her birth. Her foster family took turns holding her and rocking her as she went through withdrawal from the drugs she had been born addicted to. She was a very loving child and no one wanted to part with her. They applied to adopt her and thankfully the birth parents saw that their child would have a good home and gave their consent for her to be adopted.
My friend took this news well and though she had some questions she accepted the news and continued on with a very happy life. It was not until she was much older that she searched for and found out the full information on her biological parents lives and she was very grateful that she had been adopted into the loving family that she had been especially chosen by.
My other friend did not find out until after high school graduation that she had been adopted. Again, there were many siblings both older and younger than she was.
My friends mother had been married a 2nd time. The step father had decided it was okay if he had a relationship with my friends older sisters. One of them became pregnant at 14.
Since they lived in a state that had very very strict rules regarding incest and teen pregnancy, the man would have served a life sentence in prison, his wife did not want to see him go to prison. Thus his wife moved with her daughters to another area of the house and began to pretend that she was pregnant. The daughter meanwhile began to hide from everyone . If someone came to the door she hid in an upstairs bedroom.
When the time came for the daughter to deliver, the mother took her daughter to a hospital in another state and the daughter, using her mothers birth certificate to prove her identity, posed as her mother. Thus when my friend was born, she was given her grandmothers name as her mother and the father was listed as “unknown”. The step father was quietly divorced and the family moved to another state to continue with their lives.
The family hid this for many many years until the father of my friend passed away from a disease he had. When he passed away (when my friend was a senior in high school) the grandmother finally set my friend down and told her the truth.
It was a very devastating time for my friend. My friend took it very hard and it took her years to understand all of the dynamics surrounding her own birth. She and her mother, who she had always viewed as her older sister, had many years to catch up on.
Watching this as I have grown up I have always felt that children do need to know the circumstances surrounding their adoptions. If the information is very traumatic as it was in my 2nd friends case, I think simply telling the child that s/he was adopted is sufficient until they are of age where they can understand the circumstances. Answering questions with as much honesty as possible is important.
Children are inquisitive by nature and they always want to know “why?”. Though sometimes we will never understand all of the dynamics of something I do feel that it is important for children to know if they were adopted. They are specially chosen to form a family and that they are just as important as a biological child.
In addition to the knowledge of being adopted is the need for medical knowledge. Sometimes there are genetic diseases that need to be considered in ones life and knowledge is a great preventative medicine in those cases. If a person never knew s/he was adopted and did not have said medical information it could at times mean a life or death matter.
By giving our children this information we are protecting them in another fashion and we are showing them that we do believe in honesty. After all, isn’t honesty one of the things we are trying to teach our children?