Explaining to your adopted child that they were relinquished/freely given up.

(59 Posts)
Anewfie Thu 20-Mar-14 19:57:23

I will soon need to start explaining to my adopted child that they were relinquished (freely given up) at birth. Does anyone have any experience, advice or resources on this subject they would share with me? To complicate things even more there are 2 half siblings who are older than my child and being raised by the BC. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

LikesAChallenge Thu 20-Mar-14 20:01:53

What's the BC?

Dosey Thu 20-Mar-14 20:08:33

Hi there. I am adopted and my parents never really went down the line of my real parents not wanting me. They emphasised how much I was wanted and loved by my adopted parents. It wasnt until I was much older and more so when I had children and became a mum myself that I questioned my real mothers actions. My mum and dad have always been very open and honest about my past and answered my questions the best they could.

Saying that though my own children who are 7 and 8 don't know my story yet because I don't know how I would answer their questions about what happened to my real mum. She committed suicide and I don't know if they need to know just yet.

Keep me posted how you get on. I have probably just confused you even more now! Let me know how you get on. I could maybe take some tips from you.

sandiy Thu 20-Mar-14 20:08:33

Friends adopted their child from china,Obviously these baby's are abandoned they have loads of resources about explaining and supporting children and families.From the agency's support groups etc.
Does your child have a story book of their life some social workers organise these,I know that as part of caring for babies for adoption in my old job we used to make little books and boxes containing things like first babygro ,blanket etc which may also be useful.Hopefully you still have some post adoption support happening so social worker should be able to help.

Anewfie Thu 20-Mar-14 20:08:48

Oops! That should have been BM (new to this & not use to abbreviations)

Anewfie Thu 20-Mar-14 20:11:31

Yes, I do have the life story book and the foster carer was an absolute star saving momentos of my Child's time with them. But I'm concerned about how to explain that the blunt truth that she simply wasn't wanted.

HolidayCriminal Thu 20-Mar-14 20:12:15

I have family members who willingly gave up newborns & toddlers, with anguish, but they felt it best. Seems so sad that it should be so weird in England.

quietlysuggests Thu 20-Mar-14 20:14:49

Why would you ever tell her the "blunt truth that she was not wanted?"
What is wrong with "I don't know love, I'm sure they had their reasons"

Let her grow up with the fantasy that they wanted her but couldn't keep her for external reasons.
Don't tell her the truth.

HolidayCriminal Thu 20-Mar-14 20:16:49

Do you know that she "simply wasn't wanted" is the full truth?

MrsJiggs Thu 20-Mar-14 20:21:09

The truth we've been told and which is written in the reports that the child may see at 18, pretty much imply that the child wasn't wanted but of course do not implicitly say this.

namechangesforthehardstuff Thu 20-Mar-14 20:41:42

Is 'they weren't able to look after you' true?

Kewcumber Thu 20-Mar-14 21:15:44

DS was voluntarily relinquished and I have very little information why other than practicalities. I also don't know if he has younger siblings who were kept in different circumstances but no older ones.

What I tell him is very straightforward although at 8 he is happy with that and it may become a bigger issue for him in the future.

I tell him that his BM did not feel she was able to look after him because she was young and had no job and no family support and that some people are really not able to look after a baby and that babies need looking after immediately and can't wait for when you are ready.

He asks me if it makes me sad that she couldn't look after him and I tell him that yes, it makes me sad for her. Sad that she felt she had no other choice and that with a different family or in a different country or with a husband etc etc she might have made different choices but she made the one that she felt was right at the time.

KristinaM Thu 20-Mar-14 22:59:14

Obviously I don't know your children's story, OP, but I would have thought that saying that they "simply weren't wanted " is a gross oversimplification of the reality. Also please remember that the SW reports are not the whole truth and many of them contain factual errors and statements that are misleading . They are written for a specific purpose,not to explain to a child with story of their birth family and how they came to be adopted.

Even if,for example,the BM actually said that she didn't want them, I think I would want to look at the wider circumstances in which such a statement was made eg relationship problems, addiction, mental health problems, etc

KristinaM Thu 20-Mar-14 23:02:54

It's like saying to a woman who flees a violent partner " oh well, you CHOSE to become homeless " or " you broke up your marriage " . It's might be technically correct but it's a total misrepresentation of what happened

* Anewfie* I am approved to adopt and matched but not yet met our little one. It is terribly scary to think we will need to tell them all we can in an age appropriate way about what led to their being in our family and not with their birth family.

However old your little one is I don't think it is ever too young to start drip feeding in the reality in a totally age appropriate way for them. The fact that your little one has half siblings who were able to stay with their birth mum will make it harder too. There may well be lots of different reasons why she could cope in the past and could not when your little one came along. Maybe for others there are situations where a birth mum subsequently gets into a better situation and is able to keep another child later in life. So all situations will be different and hopefully you will know something about her life.

You will hopefully know something about why she chose as she did, or indeed how much choice she had about the whole decision. I'm sorry I can't offer concrete advice as we are not there yet. Our training and preparation are all quite recent. There are various books on the subject and one is called Talking about adoption.

www.baaf.org.uk/bookshop/talking-about-adoption-5th-edition

The BAAF website may have other helpful books.

quietlysuggests I don't think not telling a child the truth is a good idea. When they are older they will be able to access records about themselves and if the 'truth' is in those files they will get to see them. Although of course if you don't know the truth you cannot share it!

I agree with Kristina that it is right to think around those circumstances and what might have been going on around the time for the birth mum. There might have been pressure etc to give up a baby, she may have been very young, there might have been all kinds of factors and it would be good to explore these in an age appropriate way. But I don't think that out and out fantasy would help and better to say what you know if you know something.

HolidayCriminal Fri 21-Mar-14 08:31:31

All 3 of the women in my family who relinquished believed that abortion was wrong & a selfish act; they were unplanned pregnancies with poor support & impossible dads. They feel they gave the babies the gift of life.

One of these women is raising 2 half siblings now (1 older, 1 younger). She is a pretty messed up person (by own admission) but is trying her best. On paper it may look like she just didn't want the baby that she gave away, but in her mind, at the time, she was trying very hard to do the best for that baby that she didn't feel she could possibly provide.

How much of the story do you know? I know a woman who considered giving up a baby at birth she has older children that would continue living with her. It was in no way shale or form not wanting that baby. She has health problems and when she found out she was pregnant she wanted a termination. She was scanned asap and actually found out that she was passed 24 weeks. She had no idea. She did a lot of soul searching she is a lone parent and had been abandoned by her children's father for another woman and she simply did not know how she would cope.

On paper if she had chosen to relinquish the child I'm sure it may look like a simple case of not wanted but trust me it was the hardest decision making process she had ever gone through.

NigellasDealer Fri 21-Mar-14 08:42:38

But I'm concerned about how to explain that the blunt truth that she simply wasn't wanted
why would you even be thinking about 'explaining' that to her if you love her?
how do you even know that?

MrsJiggs Fri 21-Mar-14 11:29:28

I am not comfortable hiding the truth of my child's background from her and it's because I love that I am trying to learn how best to explain this to her.

I also understand that the birth mother will have gone through a tremendous amount of thinking and likely toing and froing before making her decision and that it is likely to be the hardest decision she's will ever make and one she lives with every day.

Kewcumber Fri 21-Mar-14 11:37:28

Quietly Don't tell her the truth

I can see why this would be tempting but its really a terrible idea to keep big secrets from a child like this.

I can quite believe that ds will go through a stage of fantasizing about his birth parents I'm sure that's pretty normal but its not my job to facilitate that. My job is to give him support to access who he really is and part of that is understanding why he came to be where he is. Not in a blunt "they didn't want you so discarded you" way but in a way which helps him genuinely make sense of his birth and adoption, helps him think of his brht parents as real people who weren't perfect and might have made some difficult choices which impacted him and we might think in our situation that there were the wrong choices but that in their mind at that time it was perhaps the only credible choice.

DS needs to trust me 100%, to know that I will always tell him the truth (age appropriately) about his history because it is his not mine and I don't have a right to protect him from his own life however tempting it might seem by withholding information. Its his life, he is entitled to know 100% of it and to know that he can always be open and honest with me and I will respect him enough to do the same. What happens when OP's child gets information at 18 which make it clear other children were kept but they weren't, and they look at you and say "you've always known this and NEVER mentioned it?!"

You need to start (around 2ish) with simple - X gave birth to you but she couldn;t look after you so we were lucky enough to have you instead. Then each year expand the story slightly, add siblings, talk about why people sometimes can;t cope.

OP is asking how to do it because I'm sure she isn't really planning to just say "you were surplus to requirements"

Kewcumber Fri 21-Mar-14 11:38:19

MRsJiggs are you the OP namechanged? Just trying to keep track!

MrsJiggs Fri 21-Mar-14 11:46:00

Kewcumber, yes I am the one who started this thread - suddenly realised I needed a name change!

Kewcumber Fri 21-Mar-14 11:48:26

I thought you were but thought I'd better check.

How old is DC?

Kewcumber Fri 21-Mar-14 11:49:06

DC = child (or dear child but often said through gritted teeth!) in case you're not familiar with the acronyms yet...

MrsJiggs Fri 21-Mar-14 11:51:22

Kewcumber, I agree with you about being completely open with DS - it's the only option for me. I've done a lot of reading about how to talk to adopted kids and find most of the material uses example where the reason for adoption is being placed in care after the parents were unable to demonstrate the proper level of care to children - I haven't find any examples of freely given babies.

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