Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on adoption.
Why are some people so thoughtless. I need a rant please.(24 Posts)
Our DD has been in f*ster care with us since she was 6 months old, she is now 10. If people use the "real mum" thing with me I say, I may not be her birthmum but I am very real.
I was talking to an AM who's a few months into placement recently, and she referred to her daughter's "real family". I was quite surprised by this, and said that surely she was the "real family" which made her roll her eyes a bit - maybe some people just have no idea that this can be offensive, given that it seems not everyone would care?
For the record, I would not like to hear it myself, which was why I corrected her.
DS is generally very compliant and feels compelled to answer questions, he does need reminding from time to time that it is quite acceptable to say I don't discuss that in public.
" my mum/dad says I don't have to talk about it if I don't want to " yes this one is great I have taught DS but they do need reminding from time to time as it generally goes quiet for months at a time then DS or I are hijacked by an unexpected intrusive question - then we're both scrabbling around in our brains for a suitable response!
Other useful phrases for your child to memorise are
" my mum/dad says I don't have to talk about it if I don't want to "
" my mum/dad says if you need to know anything about it you've to ask her/him "
I think these are polite enough to be used to an adult as well. Often children are flummoxed when a teacher or another parents asks them an inappropriate question
My sister has two adopted children and she uses the terms "birth Mummy" and "forever mummy". Her children were young when placed for adoption (4 months and 9 months). They know their birth mummies loved them but for lots of reasons were not able to care for them at that time. They are very well adjusted little girls but always refer back to their Mum and Dad if children make comments.
We haven't had the 'real mum' issue. But we have had children asking the DDs why they were adopted. We've gone for recommending the truth "birth parents couldn't keep me safe and cared for" followed by "it's private" for further details.
I don't believe either of my girls has ever been picked on / teased for being adopted, but they have been asked about it.
Elder DD got a lot of questions when she started secondary (we presume primary friends mentioned it as an interesting fact to others). We tried to show her how a "mind your own business" response could come across as very unfriendly and talked her through a simple response plus subject change.
Younger DD, is now in Y3, and I tend to assume that all her classmates parents know by now as we don't keep it a secret. (And the whole school may know for all I know). She and I do get occasional questions that I answer as they arise, again simple without detail.
I think it is important to give children some answers, and to help them be 'comfortable' they are adopted. I feel if the child feels it is a non-issue then it is less likely to be seen as an issue by the other children.
We have explained adoption in the past as some people are good at growing babies in their tummies, but not very good at looking after them so, as it is really important that children are kept safe and cared for, the children need to go to different forever parents.
I know some children can be hurtful and aim to wound other children with comments, but equally they are often just clumsy with words. It's the mother in that situation that should be ashamed of herself - hopefully she learnt her lesson and will not be so tactless in the presence of her daughter again.
I'm adopted and I told my son when he was 5 or 6ish. A year or so later when looking at a picture of my mum, he said "oh theres grandma, your mum, but she's not your real mum is she?" He said it totally innocently and meant no harm, was just clumsy and rehearsing something that must have confused him a bit. It stung though and my eyes filled with tears.
I think it's something that adopted people - or maybe just me! - carry with them as a very delicate part of their identify. I hugged him because he was upset that he'd upset me and I told him what I really feel deep down inside me - that the person who is my real mum is the one who wrapped me up in a blanket when I was too tiny to keep myself warm, who kissed my little head and face, who loved me, fed me, wiped my smelly bottom, taught me to ride a bike, helped me tuck my dolls up in their pram for a walk to the park and taught me how to pass that love on to my own two babies. I adore my mum, she's real, her love for me is real and unconditional and that's what counts.
I can understand your DD being upset, well done that you told the teacher, that's good sensitivity to her needs.
NonnaMai, I got you and cedar mixed up there, but my last post is for both of you!
I agree Kew, DS gave us permission to tell people that he is adopted because he, " Is proud". If he hadn't, we wouldn't. I don't mention it as a rule, unless it has some bearing on the subject (and I'm not talking to a blabbermouth).
Cedar, DS had this at school in a small group situation with a TA. A girl in his group insisted that I wasn't his real mum after he'd opened up to the group that he is adopted. He stood his ground and kept repeating that I AM his real mum until she backed off... the TA did nothing to intervene, I think she should have, so I complained to the school. I now work there, so they obviously weren't offended!
I agree with Kew again on the 'stick to poke with', children can be incredibly hurtful,especially when they are feeling hurt and want to deflect it away from themselves.
Sorry your DD is having to cope with this.
Thanks everyone, some great advice there. I like "she doesn't think I'm real how silly" dd would think that was very amusing.
I will look at some of those books. Thanks
some people will always be a pain - she's just chosen adoption to be the stick to poke your DD with!
Thanks kew. I thought telling her to come and talk to me might shut her up!! Most of her friends have been great but this girl is a pain generally!
Cedar - adoption can be used as a stick to beat children with around that age and I think your DD dealt with it well. Good for her!
I would actually get her to say that it isn't her information to share but if she'll ask you to talk to her mum about it or she can ask your DS directly as it will be his choice what he sahres and with whom (I wouldn;t recommend this but its obviously not feasible in your case so should make the point). When you can say exactly the same if it proves necessary!
Sorry Hecs I missed your question May I ask how people can explain adoption in a sensitive and supportive way? I know I would really like to know how is the best way to explain it.
I'm sure you will get as many answers are there are adopters! But my "rules" are:
- don't explain it unless its absolutely necessary. Generally I think there are only two situations where it is necessary - when you are around a friend/family whilst they adopt and your child is old enough to notice (and understand) that the child has appeared as if by magic half grown! Or if someone has discussed with your child the adoption and they've raised it.
- say that not everyone can look after a child and children need to be looked after so sometimes a child gets a new family who can look after them. Explain that its forever.
No more detail necessary in my mind - reasons are private and unless your child is prepared to share something private with other child as well then there's no reasonable expectation that they have to (or should) know more.
I have had a situation a bit like this recently. Not sure if i have dealt with it right or not!
I have birth daughter who is 10 and adopte son who is 2. One of the girls in dd class has been asking ddi why Ds was taken away from his birth mum. It has upset dd she said to her it wasnt any of her business!! I have told to say the same thing again if asked again or if she won't stop asking to tell her to come and ask me instead. This girl has upset dd in the past and i think its just another thing to say to upset her. I know her mum i am not sure whether to talk to her or not. All dd friends know Ds is adopted as he was 20 months when he came to us. Any advise about how to deal with this would be great. Thanks
I've never heard a four year old ask about adoption unless they are adopted or they have an adopted sibling. How would a four year old even know whether a child was adopted or not certainly no-one in DS's reception class ever appeared on their rader.
IME at this age it definitely comes from the parent but quite often not because they are gossiping but because they are soooo determined to do the "Isn't adoption lovely and fluffy" talk with their child that they have no idea what private minefield they might be treading in.
DS has a mother (briefly) before me, neither of us is either real or unreal. But it is a VERY common use of words so you need to get used to it and practice your replies.
In the same situation I have said very firmly "I am very real - you don't think I'm pretend do you?" if child continues digging then I add even more firmly "that is private DS does not discuss that at school". I would also make eye contact with the parent and smile nicely whilst you say "we only discuss private things if people are prepared to share their private thing that they don't feel like airing publically first".
Its important for DD to hear you give her permission to NOT discuss it - I tell DS that it is normal that people are curious because they might not know anyone else adopted, that it is quite normal for us but interesting to them but just because someone is interested doesn't mean you have to discuss it with them.
"why do you ask?" often works a treat too followed by "its private we don't discuss it unless we are all sharing private things".
"Silly" is also an excellent word - say to DD "she doesn't think I'm real - how silly!"
My DD aged 6 has already made the difference between me and her bm, calling BM her 'real mum'. It is not a term she has learned from me but I do not think it is from school either - I think it is just a way children express these things. It may be that the child asked about what adopted means. One way to deal with this is to have some adoption related story books in the class room which you can ask to be included in their regular story routine. This will help explain and normalise it for all children in the class. Also talk to the other mum and explain why it upset your DD and give her some examples of how you explain it. Most people don't mean to be intentionally ignorant so I would offer the opportunity to discuss it so she can also understand better.
I have been asked very bluntly by friends of DD1 why I adopted her (I say because I wanted to be a mummy) and why she has no daddy (I say all familys are different which is also what dd says).
When DD has been upset in the past (when she has been asked if DD2 is her 'real' sister) I tell her some people must be very silly if they need to ask that as DD2 is certainly very real and not pretending to be her sister; and we go thru what a real sister is and agree yes, DD2 is her real sister. You could do the same with your DD for a 'real mummy' and also teach her some responses to give to others like 'that is private and i don't want to talk about it' or 'all families are different'.
I really recommend many of Todd Parr's books like The Family Book, the Mommy book, It's ok to be different etc. He has one especially on adoption and I cannot for the life of me remember which it is. They are bold, beautiful and great fun. My kids love them and the Family Book simply has adoption in there amongst all the other normal family permutations. We all want our kids to feel comfortable and strong when dealing with invasive or upsetting comments - intentional or otherwise - and i have found the books very helpful in opening discussions about all sorts of family circumstances as well as their own adoptions. It has also helped explain things friends are going through like divorce.
If something similar happens again don't get into a 'yes I am' type conversation as this will go nowhere. Say something like 'really? what do you think a real mummy is? what things does your mummy do for you?' and then you can show the child you do all of these things too, you just didn't carry DD in your tummy first.
Of course you're her real mum and I don't blame you at all for being upset. I was just wondering if maybe she didn't say you weren't, that's just the child's interpretation of what she did say? Of course, there's no way for you to know either way, I just wondered if believing that might make it less upsetting for you?
May I ask how people can explain adoption in a sensitive and supportive way? I know I would really like to know how is the best way to explain it.
Yes that may well have been the case. I am feeling very sensitive at the moment because dd was so upset by it. It's the wording that makes me mad, "not her real mum" . I am her real mum.
I do understand that it may be hard for others to know how to explain adoption.
Do you think it's possible that the child had asked about adoption? You say your daughter knows she is adopted, maybe she said something and the child asked about it? and the mother was trying to explain the difference?
Perhaps she didn't even put it in those terms but that's the child's understanding?
I was standing outside DDs classroom this morning waiting for the doors to open and Talking to another mum when her 4 year old dd came up to us and said to her mum
Mum, LittleNonnas mum isn't her real mum is she. I replied yes I am her real mum.
Child said "no, remember mum you told me that LittleNonnas mum wasn't, her real mum.
Child's mum was squirming in embarrassment. My dd didn't know what to do. She got very clingy and refused to go into school. Eventually her best friends lovely mum came and distracted dd while I spoke to her teacher and explained why she was upset. Dd knows all about her adoption and is happy to talk about it when she wants to.
What sort of mother thinks it's ok to gossip to her kids about something so sensitive. Stupid cow. I'm livid.
This women isn't a friend as such, she knows dd is adopted because my adult dd used to go out with a member of her family.
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