Questions Your Adopted Teen Might Ask
When adopted teens enter their adolescent years and their thinking transfers from concrete to abstract, they might ask the question, “Why did my mother give me up?” This is the time when most kids are trying to “find themselves.” The concept and understanding of who they are and who they are not. Adoption is a mystery and a source of confusion for most teens.
Transition happens around the 7th or 8th-grade year when life is tough for any teen. Having to deal with these challenging and deep issues at a time they have to transition into early adolescence would be a heavy overload for anyone. Thus, identity issues come to the surface.
When asking about adoption, a lot of teens hear, “Your mother did what was right,” “She loved you enough to give you up,” or “Your mother wasn’t in a good place and felt like you should be,” or, “Your mother wasn’t able to provide what she wanted you to have,” or, “Your mother was a mess, and didn’t want you to be.”
None of the above answers is wrong. The teen may still answer any of the above questions with, “but she still gave me away and left.”
Sometimes It’s Ok to Say “I Don’t Know”
Adopted kids usually take 10 – 15 years of abstract thinking to begin to process what this adoption is all about. Most don’t resolve the issue until they reach their mid-twenties. If this is true, parents, during those teen years, must be content to allow the loss to be a part of their child’s life. With timing, these issues will be dealt with. Not all of them have to be resolved in the teen years, no matter how much we want them to have all the answers. At times, more trouble can be caused by the tendency to answer every question a teen poses than to reply, “You know, I don’t know.” Oddly, showing your teen that you don’t know all the answers to life will give them the license to live with some unknowns in theirs.
It’s Okay to Get Outside Help
If you are an adoptive parent, your role is to continue to parent them with the same kind of love you’ve always held. Don’t respond negatively because your feelings are hurt. Please don’t say you’re giving up as their parent.
Adopted teens need both time and stability to work through their issues. It is often a stage they can work through and come out on the other side even more appreciative of their adoptive parents. In the meantime, they need their parents to remain steady and calm while they turn their world upside down in a quest to understand their history. They may need professional help sorting it all out when the truth is finally revealed.
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Whether your daughter is struggling with an eating disorder, risky use, emotional trauma, or any other emotional or behavioral issue – we believe that your daughter is able to overcome and emerge as an emotionally intelligent girl who is ready for a second chance. When a teen arrives at Re-Creation Retreat we realize that there is a lot of work to do… she needs to walk through a difficult journey of self-discovery. She needs to be equipped and provided with new tools. She also needs to be loved back to wholeness, and told that “she is able”. Finally, from day one we work toward eventually reunited with her family or to be prepared to enter adulthood as an independent young woman.
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