Talking with Young Children about Adoption

ISBN-10: 0300063172

ISBN-13: 9780300063172

Edition: N/A

Authors: Mary Watkins, Susan M. Fisher

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Current wisdom holds that adoptive parents should talk with their child about adoption as early as possible. But no guidelines exist to prepare parents for the various ways their children might respond when these conversations take place. In this wise and sympathetic book, a clinical psychologist and a psychiatrist, both adoptive mothers, discuss how young children make sense of the fact that they are adopted, how it might appear in their play, and what worries they and their parents may have. Accounts by twenty adoptive parents of conversations about adoption with their children, from ages two to ten, graphically convey what the process of sharing about adoption is like. The book will be of invaluable help to parents, teachers, mental health professionals, and lawyers as they deal with the concerns young children have about being adopted. Mary Watkins and Susan Fisher begin by discussing parental fantasies and concerns that interfere with talking about adoption with their children. They then review the often outdated and disheartening adoption research, showing how its results can be distorted by apprehension and bias. They next discuss how adoption conversation evolves between parents and young children, what the child at various developmental stages does and does not understand, what kinds of questions the young child has, and how these questions reflect more general developmental issues. The heart of the book consists of the stories from families--nuclear, single- parent, lesbian, and interracial families, families with adopted children only, families with both biological and adopted children, families that adopted a child after first foster-parenting. These stories make it clear how early sharing about adoption establishes a family atmosphere in which worries and concerns can freely arise and be addressed, allowing the fact of adoption to strengthen family understanding, honesty, and intimacy. An appendix lists by age the adoption comments, related questions, and play sequences of children.
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Book details

List price: $23.00
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 2/22/1995
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 270
Size: 6.50" wide x 9.50" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 0.836
Language: English

MARY WATKINS is Professor of Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, California, where she also serves as director of Community and Ecopsychological Fieldwork and Research. Her previous books, widely read, include Toward Psychologies of Liberation, coauthored with Helene Shulman, and Invisible Guests: The Development of Imaginal Dialogues.

Introduction: From Telling to Sharing: Changes in Adoption Practice
Adoption and the World of the Parent
Adoption Research
Adoption and the World of the Young Child
Stories of Parents and Children Talking Together about Adoption
Teddy and Anna
Teddy: I don't want [my birthfather] to find me. He'd take me away. He'd change his mind.
Anna: You know, [in adoption] somebody wins and somebody loses.
Laura and Maya
Laura: Mommy, you're not really really my mommy, are you?
Maya: Let's call [my birthmom] Forsythia.
Jeff and Melissa
Jeff: Why didn't my real mom want me? ... I think she didn't like me.
Melissa: I was always wanted. My parents who adopted me wanted me even before I was born.
Ian and Elizabeth
Ian: How fast did you go, Mommy, to get me in the car?
Elizabeth: Then I was in Daddy's tummy!
Mehera: Adopting means you love a baby very much and go find her.
Kathy and Aaron
Kathy: Who is right, Mom, my birthmom or Jane [who will keeps her baby]?
Aaron: It's okay, Mom. You have me now.
Daniel Joo Bin: Family Lost and Found
Daniel: You're Oma. That means "Mother" in Korean.
Virginia and Jonathan
Virginia: Mom, why would a lady who grew a baby give the baby away?
Jonathan: I so sad I didn't grow in your uterus, Mommy.
Nora: Some kids have lots of mothers.
Max and Lani: Twins in an Open Adoption
Max: Okay, Sis, first I'll marry our friend; then I'll marry you, and one can be the birthmom and one can be the adopted mom.
Lani: I wish I had been in your womb.
Paul and Steven
Paul: Joey is lucky because his mom is three things - his mom, his birthmother, and his teacher. Why can't you be three things?
Steven: When will I ever see my sister again?
Margaret and William: Adoption as "No Big Deal"
A Birth and Adoptive Father
Richard: Where the kid came from seems sort of bookish, abstract.
Appendix A: Two Families Who Decided Not to Talk with Their Young Children about Adoption
Eric: One-Time Telling
Jeremy and Chloe: Deciding to Postpone Telling until Latency
Appendix B: Adoptive Comments, Questions, and Play Sequences of Adopted Children in the Stories, Arranged by Age
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