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Talking about the Hard Truths of Adoption- Part 1

July 24, 2012

Back in April, I gave a popular presentation on talking about the “hard truths of adoption” with our adopted children. The response to that presentation was overwhelming and it became really clear to me that this is a huge topic that so many adoptive parents are struggling with. The reality is that many, if not most, adopted children have a piece of their history that “isn’t pretty.” Sometimes these hard truths are really big- criminal activity, drugs and alcohol, or physical abuse. Sometimes we have to do some guessing about the hard truths- such as what was the orphanage really like? Sometimes the hard truth is abstract and hard for even adults to understand- poverty or racial issues. When a woman is faced with the choice to parent or not, and ultimately chooses adoption, we can assume that there are some hard truths involved.

As parents, we want nothing more than to shield our children from everything painful. I have experienced this myself and I know all the parents I work with struggle with this, also. If you’ve ever talked to me about how to protect our children from the hurts, you’ve heard me say “You can’t. You can only support and love them through the process, allow them to feel their feelings, and pick up the pieces together.” Not only can we not protect our children from the hurts, we really shouldn’t protect our children from the hurts.

I am going to present a series of blog articles about how to talk to our kiddos about the hard truths. I’ll touch on:

  • Why on earth do we want to share the bad stuff? Can’t we just ignore it? My child doesn’t know or remember anyway.
  • What type of information is appropriate to share with children based on their developmental age.

If you have any specific questions, feel free to leave me a comment and I’ll try to address your questions in the upcoming articles.


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Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a child and family therapist in Austin, Texas specializing in adoption, trauma, and attachment counseling.

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