As you raise your adopted child, she is yours in every sense of the word. At the same time, however, there is an aspect to her life—the fact that she has biological parents elsewhere—that may make it necessary for you to "share" her at some point with her past.
The majority of adoptions of older children and many infant adoptions are "open," and the adoptive parents have met or even know the birth parents, who may live nearby. Sometimes birth relatives have continuing contact with the children.
When the Questions Begin
During the school-age years, your youngster will probably have questions, fantasies, and feelings about her biological parents. Most adoptive families can deal with these matters well. Children at this time tend to feel more psychological and emotional conflict about being adopted. At various times they may test and challenge their adoptive parents with statements like "My real parents wouldn't. . ." But adoptive parents often become anxious if their child says this.
At this age, children sometimes say such things in the heat of an argument, to manipulate their mother and father and to try to get their way. Don't panic over these kinds of challenges; they are a normal part of your child adapting to and accepting her unique family circumstances. Non-adopted children test their parents with similar kinds of statements too.
In adolescence and young adulthood, your child may become interested in learning more about her biological mother and father and even may consider searching for them. This may be a function of curiosity, or she may want to get a sense of completion about her own identity.
There are avenues available for pursuing this search, usually through:
- Support groups
- State-mandated confidential intermediaries
- Adoption agency
Although you might feel threatened by her desire to learn more about her birth parents or even to meet them, remember that her interest is normal and appropriate for her developmental stage. We all want to know where we came from, and what our roots are. Most adopted children and young adults understand that they do not really belong with their biological parents.