After adopting a child, there are some natural insecurities and fears that many parents face. After the long, often painful struggle to become parents, the thought that something could come along and take it all away is a common and unbearable notion. Frequently, a large number of the fears and insecurities that parents of adopted children face are focused on the children’s birth parents.
The period of time between when a child has been given up for adoption and when that adoption becomes final can be a very unnerving one for parents of adopted children. There is the very real possibility that one or both of the birth parents could have a change of heart and want to “take the baby back.” This possibility can lead to some very natural feelings of anxiety in the adoptive parents- feelings that do not necessarily go away when the adoption is final.
It is important that adopted children experience a sense of wholeness in their family. Growing up with the perception that their parents have negative feelings or fears about where they “came from” can transfer a good deal of those negative feelings and fears to the child. Although these feelings are natural, it is very important that the parents of adopted children confront them so that they can move beyond them and provide a solid and healthy emotional base for their children.
Some of the behaviors that parents who are experiencing feelings of fear and anxiety about the birth parents of their adopted children tend to exhibit include refusals to discuss the birth parents, evasive answers, downplaying or dismissing the children’s need or desire for information, over protectiveness, negative comments about the birth parents, and the providing of misinformation to their children. All of these behaviors can for or feed an insecure and confused worldview in children as they grow and develop. If you are experiencing these negative feelings about your children’s birth parents, it is possible that you are exhibiting some or all of these behaviors with out even realizing it.
Hiding your feelings from your children is unlikely to be successful, as children perceive more than most adults realize. More importantly, children also perceive more than they have the ability to understand, which heightens the insecurities and confusion even further. It is important that you work through them. Whether the method that works best for you is talking through them with friends in similar situations or in support groups for adoptive families, through the use of psychotherapy, by seeking counseling by a rabbi, priest, or other religious leader, or by any other method, the most important thing is that you start the journey to address the feelings you have about your adopted children’s birth parents. Some adoptive parents choose to contact the agency they used for the adoption, so that they might obtain reassuring information about the birth parents of their children.
Confronting your feelings about the birth parents will not guarantee that there will never be a problem, but you should not let that stop you from working toward some resolution to your fears. Providing your children with a healthy worldview, psychologically and emotionally, is crucial to their feelings of wholeness in your family. If you are experiencing feelings of fear and anxiety surrounding your children’s birth parents, please understand that those feelings are natural, and are shared by many adoptive parents. Confronting and resolving them will not only remove the negative element from the lives of your adopted children, but from your life as well.