Do They Know?
Ten years after adopting our twin girls, the question that still surprises me the most is, "Do they know they're adopted?" followed closely by "When did you tell them?"
The question is surprising to me because, in this day and age, I can't imagine why anyone would keep adoption secret
. Or even that anyone would have an actual sit-down conversation with their children to disclose "the truth." We've told our children that they are adopted about 47,000 times since they joined our family and I expect we'll mention it another 470,000 times before we leave this early plane. There's nothing embarrassing, weird, or evil about adoption, so why not just let it be a part of our family's history?
But then I ran an adoption support group at a twins club convention, and one of the moms there had decided not to tell her children the circumstances of their birth and the other was on the fence.
It's not my place to tell anyone how to run their family; if you want to keep this information secret, that's between you and your child(ren.) In most of those cases biological parents aren't known (although some embryo adoption organizations do keep those records), so it's difficult to have any sort of open relationship with biological relatives.
But that doesn't mean they don't exist. And the truth always has a way of coming out.
During our group discussion I posed what I believe to be the most important question in dealing with any adoption (or frankly, child-rearing) issue about which you lie or conceal the truth: What are you going to say when your children find out the truth? For me, this includes everything from the existence of Santa (I lied to preserve some magic in your childhood) to high school hijinks (gotta tell the truth about this one if only to serve as a cautionary tale to my daughters) to the choices their birthmom has made since placing them with us (shared gently, as they have gotten older).
If you think you've got a good reason for concealing the truth and you can handle the emotions of your child when he or she finds out, then go ahead and keep the truth to yourself. I'm not sure if egg donation or embryo donation is a good enough reason to keep the truth to yourself, though.
Both women in the workshop believed that telling would only confuse the children (and what adoptive parent hasn't worried about that once or a million times?) because they don't have a way to find out additional information about their biological families. It would only make them feel less connected to their family, one of the moms said, and it would serve no additional purpose.
So I asked myself if we would speak about adoption in our house if Banana and Little Bit's adoptions were closed. Or if their birthparents were completely unavailable. Or if their birthparents were predators or deviants. Or if there was no way they would ever find out.
And for me, the answer was always yes. The truth is the truth, and we all come from a gene pool that is both pristine and polluted -- it is what you do with this body and soul you've been given
that's important. As humans, we have a right to know as much as we can about that -- even if it is simply that you are not biologically related to your parents. For me, that should be true if your parents worked through an agency, a country, a lawyer, or a test tube.
Agree or disagree?
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