Let’s think about adoption: A lady has a baby and, for her own reasons, chooses adoption for the child. The child is adopted by a family and raised by that family. In this context, it makes complete, logical sense that an adopted person would wonder if the family that adopted them would choose another family for them. It already happened once, right? Who is to say it couldn’t happen again?
Interestingly, this was a question that never occurred to me as a child. Maybe it is because I knew I was adopted, but I never felt adopted. I understood at a young age that my birth mom had chosen another family for me, but I never wondered or feared that my adoptive family would follow in her footsteps. I always felt I was a Kulak (my family) and was loved unconditionally. I fit into the family; I have never felt like an outsider. When I was younger, I thought my birth mom didn’t love me, and therefore gave me away. I was chosen by the Kulaks in love, though, and I was loved and cared for, so maybe that is why I never thought they would choose another family for me.
But sometimes children adopted as infants and loved and adored throughout their childhood will still wonder about this. So how do you bring your child peace of mind when they wonder if you might need to find them a new family someday?
I reached out to some adoption groups on Facebook to see what people had to say in response to the question posed above. I received multiple responses, and many of them did not give the answers I was looking for. I did receive a few responses, however, that gave insight into different ways to respond to the question.
One lady I received a response from is an adoptee herself. She said that growing up adopted, she feared that she would be “abandoned again.” She said she always had the fear of not being wanted. She said she felt as soon as she started to get close to someone, they would leave. She said these fears have not dissipated and still show up in her relationships. I asked her if she had any words of wisdom she would give adoptive parents if they had to talk to their children who have this fear. She gave an interesting response: She said if the adoptive parents have biological children, “Don’t show either child favoritism. And also let all the kids know they are all equal no matter what happens.”
I received a Facebook message that stated the following: “I think any adoptive parent would be wise to consider the paradox of telling a child that what has already happened cannot happen. There is not an easy answer. A lot will depend on the particular child and their age at adoption and/or telling of adoption. Personally, as an infant adoptee, I was often worried I would wake up one day with new parents and no memory of my adoptive parents, the only parents I had known and loved. It was terrifying, and I’m still not sure how it could be avoided given the very concrete mind of the preschooler.”
One respondent told me she has an adoption prayer hanging over each of her child’s beds. “Not flesh of my flesh, nor bone of my bone, but still miraculously my own. Never forget for a minute, you didn’t grow under my heart but in it! We came and got you, God chose you to be ours, we are never leaving you, the child Almighty God meant me to know.” This poem is a great resource for some adopted children to turn to when they are feeling scared, or worried or fearful they may be chosen again. This poem can also be altered for those who may not believe in God.
Another statement an adoptee shared with me on Facebook: “My parents always told me that they were so fortunate because they got to choose me and that most parents weren’t so lucky. They also said that they knew right from the beginning that I would always be theirs.” Sometimes, a simple statement gives children the confidence that they will not be chosen again.
I will end this article with a conversation I had with a very dear friend of mine. She said it was such a hard concept to wrap her head around as an adoptive parent, because she never thought for one minuscule second that her child was not her own. So, I asked her, what would she say to her child, if her child ever expressed fear about being placed into another family. She said she would tell her daughter that she had wanted a baby so much, and had made the decision she would do anything she had to adopt a child. She explained that she would tell her daughter she used the utmost determination to adopt her daughter, and she knows her daughter was meant for her and nobody else. She would do her hardest to get across her determination and strength she used to adopt her daughter. This is practical advice, and I think sharing with your adopted child how much you wanted them to become your child may help them realize you would never destroy that determination and love by giving them to another family.
This is a difficult and complex question . . . just like adoption is often a difficult and complex thing.