QUESTION:

We adopted my son at birth and now he is 7-years old. He used to like to hear about his adoption and the day my husband and I brought him home but recently he does not have any interest in hearing his adoption story or talking about adoption. In the past few years his birth mom has given birth to 2 children, both whom she kept. I have shared pictures of the children with my son and said, “Your birth mom had a baby and this is him.” My son is not interested at all. There are no questions whatsoever.

Would you suggest that I call these children his siblings or sister/brother? I am wondering if I should be saying anything different to him. Let me know if you have any suggestions. I could use some advice.

 

ANSWER:

Thanks for reaching out. It’s normal for 7-year-olds to not want to hear their adoption story, even if they’ve been interested in the past. Developmentally they are at a stage when they want to be more “like” their peers rather than different. Additionally, it’s also a time when adoption becomes less of a “word” as the developing brain begins to make meaning and attempt to understand adoption more figuratively.

This is often around the age the grief and loss piece begins to emerge. (Grief in kids doesn’t always look like grief…sometimes it looks like anger, defiance, limit testing, or sensitivity). Your son may be trying to understand that his first mom has other children that she did choose to parent and perhaps grieving as he does so. It’s hard for adults to understand the complexities of adoption so imagine how difficult it might be for him. You can put words to his possible feelings….not telling him what he feels but being curious about his experience. That might sound like: “You know, it makes sense that you might have a lot of different feelings about ______(birth/first mom’s name) having other babies.” Assure him it’s ok to feel however he does. Keep the photos handy when he becomes more curious. Also let your son decide how he wants to refer to the children…for now, just use their names if you know them. Continue bringing up adoption in a general sense and also allow your son to have some control over where, what and when he wants to talk and share the details of his story.