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Adoption Blog: Straight to Bunk Beds

Story Telling
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There are many excellent resources available on talking to your children about adoption. Most center on the concept of starting early and making it a part of everyday life. Sharing with your child age-appropriate information, honestly and openly, is recommended by the experts and parents who have been there.

When we received our referral, we asked a ton of questions. When we were sent an e-mail with answers to our questions, we asked some more. While we were in our son’s birth country, we yet again asked questions of everyone who would listen. We wanted to prepare ourselves for the day when he would begin asking questions about his birth home.

But we took something for granted: Our son already knows the answers to most of the questions we had asked because he is old enough to remember. Adopting a nine year old changes the rules a little bit.

Rather than relying on us to slowly unfold information about his adoption and birth family at age appropriate times, our son is slowly unfolding this information to us. We are working backwards.

This situation is not without perks. For instance, we can use a “Timeline of Your Life” assignment at school to encourage our son to fill in gaps that we have missed. We can also use the assignment as an opportunity to talk to him about sharing his story—about the fact that it is his story to share, or not to share. He has the choice to include deeply personal details, or just fluffy details on the page (moved to an orphanage vs. took a trip to the beach).

He is just getting to the point of English-language mastery that allows him to share these stories with us. When he came home seven months ago, his command of the English language did not allow for more than simple, functional conversations. Now we are moving quicker into detailed stories about the past, present, and future.

As he shares with us, we are keenly aware of a few things. One, he has a lot of story to tell, so we have to be ready to listen at any time. He has been bottling up these stories for so long! But we are also treading water in some cases where his story does not match the information we’ve been given.

Were we given incorrect information? Possibly, although we do feel confident that (most of) the information we received from our agency and lawyers was accurate.

Is he remembering incorrectly? Maybe. We are all capable of twisting our memories into a reality that didn’t quite exist.

Is he making up stories? Maybe occasionally—sometimes to impress us, sometimes to see what we will believe.

Is he basing his memories on a story he had been told about his own past, before he could really remember it for himself? Probably, but we will never know for sure. If I could go back and ask his caregivers, I would. I’d love to know how (and what) he was told about his story.

Adopting an older child with a language barrier can make it tricky to talk early about adoption. We know that the balance is tipping in our favor right now. His command of the English language is improving at a quick rate, allowing for deeper conversations. Meanwhile, his comfort level with us as a family unit is increasing at the same rate. We expect to have lots more of these conversations in the near future.


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1 Comments

Thank you for sharing.  We feel God is leading us to a group of siblings and that would mean we may have some of the same issues you do so thank you so much for opening up.

melissa

By Stanekfam on Wednesday, February 02, 2011 at 10:08 pm.

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