Fri | Nov 16, 2018

Dear Counsellor: Dealing with adoption issues

Published:Tuesday | January 5, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Q: For the past two years, our adopted child has been very restless. She did very well at grade 11 but had to repeat grade 12. We adopted the child when she was only months old. We were then approaching our 50s and childless as a couple. The funny thing is that my husband and I love children, so we grabbed the opportunity to adopt. When she was about 11, we told her that she had been adopted, and that went well.

We took very good care and she was comfortable; however, two years ago, a student told her that we were not her parents, and although she knew that we were not her biological parents, it somehow hurt her, perhaps because not many persons knew, based on how we behave as a family. We were a happy and cohesive family.

In addition, about nine months ago, someone claiming to be an aunt contacted her and told her that her biological mother was overseas, though her dad had died. The aunt told her that she had four other siblings. She is very interested in meeting her brothers and sisters but not interested in her biological mother.

We are not sure what to do, but we are not averse to her meeting her biological siblings or even her mother. What is the way forward?

A: Congratulations on being such wonderful parents! Not only have you provided the comforts of this life, but you have given emotional support and displayed an understanding heart. Children in high school can be tough. Perhaps that child was trying to intimidate your daughter and it worked. You and your husband need to assure your child that you love her and that you cannot do anything about not being her biological parents. Tell her you are thankful that she came into your lives. Inform her that you think the world of her.

The aunt should have spoken to you first, however, since she has contacted your daughter and this has heightened her curiosity, then try and facilitate the meeting. This must be handled carefully since she is not interested in meeting her mother but wants to meet her siblings. As far as possible, please ensure that there is no resentment towards her biological mother and prepare her for a mature encounter.

You need to find out whether she wants to have the meeting here or overseas and whether she wants you and/or your husband to be present. Let her decide, and take no offence if she does not want you to be there.

Finally, surround her with love after the encounter because she might have more questions than answers.