Sunday, April 25, 2010

Through Their Eyes

Another mom addressed the issue of what to call birth relatives and how do we include or exclude them in the lives of adopted kids.

1. Each kid is different and the situation of their lives is unique to that kid so the subject needs to be dealt with differently in each case.

2. No matter what you decide to do be consistent with it for that kid.

3. Be honest with the kid. This may be a really tough one since some of them have lived through some really really awful situations and being honest can hurt. If you are not honest and they eventually figure out that you were not then you will have another set of issues to deal with and this could have been avoided. The kid needs to know the positives that the birth family brought about as well. I find myself having to really do some searching to find positive things about some of these people but they are there if you look hard enough. Lauren has beautiful blonde hair, huge blue eyes and a body that most women could only wish for in their wildest dreams, her birth parents gave her those qualities and she knows that.

4. Think about where the kid is emotionally, intellectually, socially, and physically when talking to them about this. Only give them as much as they are asking for or are capable of handling. You can build on the information as they mature.

5. When they ask do not avoid the subject. If they are asking they want to know so talk to them about it. This is the one subject that Hanna ever wants to talk about with either her dad or I so we talk and talk and talk, hoping that at some point we will be able to get through her need to do this and become comfortable with herself and the situation she is living in now.

We have four adopted kids who all have different stories. We use there first names when talking about there families. We have only one kid (Allen) who has any contact with birth family. For him it has neither been a positive or negative, he just does not function at a level where he is able to be concerned about such things. For his birth family it has been a huge success in that they have us as a support and they clearly can see that this is where he belongs. It gives his birth mom a sense of peace so we continue the relationship for her. This is the only one that was a voluntary placement. For Lauren and Hanna, who can not have contact for safety reasons the fact that Allen does have it causes some issues. We are often reminding them why they can not have this sort of relationship. Lauren does understand the safety issue, but Hanna (who does remember) does not find anything that this family has done to be unsafe, she just can not accept the facts for what they are and if she had her way she would be living on the streets with them. She is not at a point where she is able to accept reality so for now this is difficult. We deal with this one step at a time.

Birth parents have and always will be a part of an adopted kid`s life as well as the lives of the adoptive family. There is just no getting around it, you do not have adopted kids without birth families. Make the situation as healthy as possible for the kids. It is not about you it is about the kids so keep thinking about how this looks through their eyes and do what is best for them.


  1. Sound advice. Sometimes, the birth parents make it difficult to find something positive to say. I am working om it.

  2. after a lot of struggle, we have a relatively healthy open adoption relationship with the children's first family (we like the term first mom and first family a little better than bio mom or bio family but we use them interchangably)

    however, the children do not see first mom. She is not emotionally well and has been violent and unpredictable in previous visits. Instead I make sure she gets regular packets from the children which include current snapshots, school photos, report cards, colored pictures, etc. If a time comes when she is stable, we will readdress visits with her again.

    otherwise, the kids see their full extended maternal family regularly. their aunt actually lived with us last fall and until two weeks ago, was employed by our company.