This year, I was able to spend National Adoption Day (November 17th) with over 100 kid and teen adoptees at a conference for adoptive families. I’m always impacted by the kids’ and parents’ feedback after opportunities to participate in group activities with other adopted children and teens. I heard a mother of an adolescent say, “this is the first time in her life she’s been proud to be adopted,” and I heard a 10-year old say, “it’s a lot less pressure to be with other adopted kids, I can just be myself and not have to worry.”
Peer relationships have such a profound impact on how children and teens see themselves. As a result, groups with same-age peers are a powerful way for adopted children and teens to have positive social experiences and be in a space where everyone was adopted just like them. In these groups, there is a feeling of belonging and being understood that kids don’t often have the opportunity to experience.
It is for these reasons that Bridgepointe Therapy will be hosting a series of groups for adopted children and teens on Saturdays in January 2019 at our adoption therapy office in Charleston, SC. The focus of these groups will be how to handle questions or comments from peers or adults about adoption. Often, kids are asked personal questions about their adoption story or may be singled out to say something about adoption if the topic arises in class. This can make children and teens feel uncomfortable and forced to share private information about their history.
Often times, other children and even adults ask intrusive questions, use insensitive adoption-language or highlight a child’s adoption history in a public way. Even when others have good intentions, adoptees are often left trying to answer or respond while experiencing strong feelings of sadness, embarrassment, shame or anger. Your adopted child may even be getting asked questions by peers and not telling you about it because of how troubling the experience may be.
Common questions that adopted children and teens are asked include:
- Why were you adopted?
- How come your “real parents” didn’t want you?
- Are you REALLY adopted?! (As if adoption is such a strange thing)
- Why don’t you look like your parents?
- Why did your parents give you up?
These questions can be extremely private and might be questions that you haven’t fully explored with your child due to their age or difficult information about their adoption history. While some children are comfortable and happy talking about adoption and their adoption story, many others may feel forced to share more than they are comfortable disclosing, feel “different” or the questions may bring up sadness about missing their birth family or birth culture.
The purpose of the Bridgepointe Therapy Adoption Groups is to prepare children and teens for handling these questions, helping them understand why others ask questions about adoption and practice strategies for dealing with these difficult situations. In addition to these hands-on skills, children and teens will also benefit from the adoption groups by having fun with other adopted peers and exploring feelings and experiences related to being adopted in a safe space. For more information about supporting your child in how to handle questions, read PACT’s article with ideas for parents.
Bridgepointe Therapy Adoption Groups for Kids and Teens will be held in Charleston, SC on Saturdays in January 2019:
January 12th 10am-12pm: 2nd – 4th Grades
January 19th 10am-12pm: 3rd-5th Grades
January 26th 10am-12pm: 6th-8th Grades
The registration fee is $60 and includes materials and a snack. Register early to ensure your child’s space in the group! Registration will cap at 8 participants per Saturday. Contact Emily for more information or to register.