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fibbing about birth parents
Posted: 24 July 2010 11:12 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  3

We’ve been pretty up front with our daughter regarding the circumstances of her adoption - age appropriate we think - she is adopted from China, and we received her in 2003 when she was 11 months old

1) we don’t know who your birth mother was
2) she was unable to take care of you and took you to an orphanage
3) it’s very sad that we don’t know who she is and we are sure she misses you every day

But we’ve recently found out that she told her school mates that her “real” parents died in an earthquake in China.

When we found this out, we sat her down, and gave her a chat about fibbing. Told her that if anyone asks about her birth parents, she can either tell the story she knows (we don’t know who they are) or tell who ever is asking to mind their own business. And btw, we are her “real” parents.

Any insight as to why she would lie about this? We are listening to alot of Harry Potter these days (books on tape). While we’ve never told her she was abandoned (which she was) - the truth that my mom took me to an orphanage sucks for sure.

would love shared experiences

with thanks

Posted: 25 July 2010 09:50 AM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  28

Do not have direct experience as our children are younger and adopted via domestic open adoptions. However…

She may not be fibbing. At least not in her mind. Children in that age range frequently have vivid imaginations and the line between fantasy and reality can become blurred.

When I was that age I also frequently told “fibs.” But I didn’t recognize them as lies. For instance, people would ask me what my name was and the answer varied dramatically. Sometimes I would tell them my real name, but sometimes I would tell them that my name was Katherine or Felicia or Jane or whatever. When I would do this, my mother would ask, “Why did you tell them that?” And I would say something along the lines of, “Because today that is who I am.” My mother also spoke with my teachers at school about this so they understood that I really did believe what I was saying. (Fortunately I had very understanding teachers who recognized that some children are like this.)

When I would read books, what happened to the characters in the books was so real to me that I didn’t recognize it as not happening to me. I would tell people the stories from the books as if it had actually happened to me in real life. I was the same way with day dreams. I day dreamed a lot and didn’t always understand that what I day dreamed had not actually happened. If someone said I was lying, I would vehemently deny it and it made me very, very upset. Some children are just like this and they grow out of it eventually. Imaginings and day dreams are children’s way of processing information and figuring out how the world works and where they fit into it.

My suggestion is this, instead of lecturing to her or punishing her, ask her open ended questions. Encourage her to talk about it and fill in whatever blanks you can. Gently guide her and help her to distinguish fact from fantasy. She is processing the truth about her adoption in the best way she can and accusing her of lying may just make her clam up about it and not want to talk about it at all anymore. Which may lead to bigger problems down the road.

You may also wish to find a therapist in the area that has experience with international adoptions. They can help her (and you) through this process.

Posted: 25 July 2010 04:03 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  43

This sounds hard! But also sounds like a great opportunity to talk about her experience of her situation. A therapist may be helpful if they are knowledgable about adoption. I would definitely explore the ideas rather than tell her ideas. For instance, “real” parents…. maybe even take the high road and drop the word real like: there are all kinds of parents: you had a parent who gave birth to you in China but you also have parents at home like me… something’s a parents does is put their child to bed at night, take them to the park, give them hugs, cook for them… we are both REAL.

Also at this age she may be responding to uneducated (about adoption) children who ask, if you’re adopted then who are your REAL parents. In that case talking to the teacher or even doing an adoption presentation at the school (with your kids consent) could help. I have heard of other adoptive parents doing that to great effect.

Lastly this is most likely an emotional expression, she is not to be chided for fibbing but to be loved for struggling to process this. It is probably easier to understand being placed for adoption because there was a crises like an earthquake instead of my birthmother was poor. I didn’t really understand that kind of poverty at her age. Maybe they are talking about Haiti in school and the children who have been orphaned and she is also feeling for them and just got it combined in her head with her story.

Kids are so tricky because they don’t express themselves in direct ways. Do what you can to keep exploring safely the ideas by talking, drawing, etc. That being said I get that it’s hard on you, too to hear stuff like that.

Good luck!!

Posted: 25 July 2010 04:33 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  3

thanks for these responses.

Really helpful

Just to be clear, we didn’t discipline Eleanor for fibbing, but asked why she felt she needed to tell a story - esp as we are really open about the details of her arrival in our family

later in the day we also had a chat about her feelings and how she wishes she was Harry Potter, etc. (of course, I wonder if we are the Dursleys!!) and that not knowing who her brith parents are or where they are is hard and makes her sad.

with many thanks for all your support


Posted: 25 July 2010 04:56 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  43

Oh good I wasn’t sure if you showed her you were upset about the fib. It looks like you took great approach. Parenting an adopted child adds a whole other layer to each developmental stage. It sounds like you are doing a great job.

Posted: 25 July 2010 05:15 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  3

I was totally upset (but didn’t show it) - and wanted to smack the kid who announced to me that Eleanor’s “real” parents had died in an earthquake - in front of her father, who did nothing (probably was a bit stunned)

ugh. At that moment I calmly told her that that was not true, and that sadly we didn’t know where Eleanor’s birth parents were and wasn’t that sad, but that we were her real parents.

Eleanor’s a really tough little girl - very sporty - it takes alot to upset her. There are plenty of other adopted kids at her school - so it’s not a big deal.

But really hard when you can’t say where your birth parents are, for sure.