Editor’s Note: November is National Adoption Month. This article first appeared in the Arkansas Baptist Children’s Home & Family Ministries quarterly magazine called Outlook.
Adoption is complex and with those complexities, the way in which adoptive parents approach their child’s adoption is a vital part of how a child is able to process his or her story. The goal of Connected Adoptions is to provide child-centered infant adoptions where the needs of the child guide every step. One of the greatest needs a child has is to experience openness with their story. When adoption is child-centered, there is safety in honesty, which means our waiting families are prepared to help a child navigate their story with transparency.
The honesty that occurs with open infant adoption creates security within family relationships and brings value to the birth mother. We want to champion her bravery and love for the child. Child-centered adoption is essential for a child to process their story in a healthy way because it helps alleviate doubts, feelings of abandonment, and bitterness. By embracing openness, the relationship between adoptive parents and child is strengthened. Ellen Sullivan, Connected Foster Care staff member, shares her own adoption story and the impact of her parents sharing openly with her about her adoption as she grew up. Her adoptive parents prayerfully felt a desire to adopt and Ellen was the answered prayer for her family. “I now understand that God was walking before me, taking care of things, and answering prayers for everyone involved.”
Ellen grew up with the understanding that her birth mother did not abandon herm, but chose the best possible path for her future. Her mother wanted her to do more than survive, but thrive, and Ellen respects her for her decision. Ellen knew from the beginning of her journey that she was loved by two families which allowed her to accept herself and her story and love both her adoptive parents and birth mother.
To practically help a family share openly about a child’s adoption, Connected Adoptions helps adoptive families receive information on the child’s medical history, social history, personality traits, temperament, and talents and giftings. This is a part of the child’s story. These details must be embraced in order for the adoptive parents to know the child better, and for the child to know themselves better.
“To deny their children the right to know this information is to deny them a huge part of who they are,” states Becky Bruns, Adoption Specialist with Connected Adoptions. Sadly, some adopted children find this information out the wrong way, without the guidance of their adoptive parents because they did not openly share the information with them. “When a child, or any of us, doesn’t know the truth, they can and will make up their own story with assumptions that can be very far from the truth,” continues Becky. When a family approaches adoption with the child at the center, it cultivates an environment where the child is able to embrace the beauty of their story.