One unique aspect of adopting an older child is the fact that your child will have connections and relationships with other adults who may have acted in the role of a parent, whether it be a biological, foster, or adoptive parent. In a time of stress, it is a very real possibility that your child will utter the phrases "You're not my real mom or dad" or "I'd rather live with my real family". As a parent, this can sting, but it is important to be prepared to respond in a way that offers support and puts your child's needs before your feelings.
Creating a Family featured an article featuring a mom who requesting advice after her daughter recently said she wanted to go back to live with her real family and that her adoptive mom wasn't really her "mommy". In response, one adult adoptee shared:
"I don’t know if there are right words, but I will share some of the things my mom would say to me when similar situations came up. My mom was my mother’s best friend, and even though CPS was not involved there were times I felt like I wanted my old family.My mom says for the first year I cried a lot. She says she used to calm me by telling me that even when things seem so scary and uncertain, she would always be there for me and I didn’t have to be afraid by myself.I can remember times when she would say that she hoped one day my mother would get better, that she would be in a safe place and not be sick anymore (my mother is a hard core addict). But until that day she and I could pray together that my mother finds her way to that safe healthy place. – I actually remember these words very vividly because I used to draw safe, healthy places for my mother to find.I went through a period where I didn’t call my mom “mom” (I was around 9 or 10). It wasn’t that I didn’t feel like I loved her or she loved me, I just was trying to reconcile some inner feelings, and I had a hard time getting through it when calling her mom. I’m an adult now so I can look back and realize that I was trying to wall myself off from being hurt. My adoption has been finalized for about a year, and my mother had made one of her random drop in visits.Acknowledge your daughter’s feelings. My mom ALWAYS told me that it was OK to feel my feelings even if they were angry or they might make her feel sad. I was still allowed to always feel them, and she would always listen no matter what.My mom also spent a lot of time talking about the good things she remembered about my mother – this helped me see her as a real person who wasn’t always struggling and this helped me a lot..."
To read the rest of the article, click here: https://creatingafamily.org/adoption-category/adoptees-help-adopted-parent-answer-youre-not-real-mom/. If you or someone you know is interested in older child adoption, email Alex Williams at awilliams [at] barkerfoundation.org or call 301-664-9664 for more information.