How to talk to adopted children whether to explain adoption or about other difficult subjects depends on encouraging safe communications. Parents that understand the real, underlying reason for a child’s emotional reaction will be able to address the child’s core issue and talk to the child with empathy instead of bewilderment or anger.
Adoption, abandonment, birthparents, loss, grief and fear are themes that can produce anxiety, outbursts or dead silence—not the kind of conversation starters that families like to bring up at the dinner table. However, it is exactly this type of subject matter that impacts adoptive families on a regular basis, and parents can either ignore the issues, or learn to look at an adoption related talk as an incredible opportunity for building family intimacy. Adoptive parents can use the power of talk to connect with their child, explain adoption to their child, create history for their child and help heal their child.
Adopted children have experienced some important losses in their short lifetimes. They have lost birthparents, extended family, history and heritage. Internationally adopted children have lost a country, a language and ethnic identification. Adoptees may feel personal shame from their perception surrounding the circumstances of their losses, and may react strongly to triggered feelings of rejection or abandonment.
Understanding ‘what’ adopted children need from their parents (and why) is key to actively encouraging conversation about the type of topics that tend to make children unhappy and parents uncomfortable.