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Debra Shiveley Welch

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Should I Tell My Child He's Adopted?
by Debra Shiveley Welch   
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Last edited: Saturday, August 29, 2009
Posted: Wednesday, February 06, 2008

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My son came home at seven-days-of age. Fifteen years later, I am still in Nursery Nirvana. From the moment I first held him in my arms, I have felt a deep pride in him and how he came to be my son - and he knows it.

My son came home at seven-days-of age.  Fifteen years later, I am still in Nursery Nirvana.  From the moment I first held him in my arms, I have felt a deep pride in him and how he came to be my son - and he knows it.


We have always discussed adoption naturally and openly, and with great joy.  I call him my Very Special Child and even wrote a book by that title for him.  He is giving a copy of it today as a present to a young girl who is also adopted, because he is proud of it and is proud to share his specialness with others.


In discussing your child’s adoption openly, just like you would discuss your child's birth had you carried him or her, you make it a common every day thing: I have two eyes, two ears, a nose, I'm adopted, I'm a boy, I live in biggy.  On the other hand, by hiding it, you make it seem like something to be ashamed of, something to push to the back of the closet, something that you wish had never happened.


More importantly, you are basing your entire relationship on a lie - a lie of omission.  How is your child going to trust you in any other area of life if you have deceived them about the very core of your relationship?


I have a cousin who was adopted and his parents never told him.  He found out on his own at age fourteen.  He ran away from home and refused to speak to his parents.  They reconciled, after a fashion, but their relationship was damaged irrevocably.  My cousin never trusted his parents again.


I say speak of adoption to your child.  Show them the pride you have in choosing them out of all of the other children in the world.  Encourage them to adopt when they decide to have children.  Tell them openly about waiting for them, praying for them and that glorious moment when you finally got THE call.  My son knows the story backwards and forwards and loves to tell it to others.  When he speaks of it, his face lights up and he smiles.  He even wrote a book about it which is coming out soon.  Here is a quote from it which I think clearly makes my case:


From Just Chris by Christopher Shiveley Welch


I am adopted.  That feels good.  I like being adopted.  If it weren’t for my parents, I don’t know what I’d be like.  They are here for me.  My mom and dad tell me that I am beautiful, so I believe that I am.  They tell me I’m a good kid, so I accept that I am.  They tell me that I’m loved, so I know that I am.

            I have learning differences.  Mom says I am not learning disabled, I just learn differently, and that’s okay.  I don’t mind having differences.  I just want to learn.

            Mom says that a child sees themselves in their parent’s eyes.  I want to put this poem of my mom’s in here:


I am your mirror.  When you look into my eyes,

You see how beautiful you are.

When you enter a room, my heart lifts up to meet you;

A smile of greeting lights me up from within.


I am your mirror.  When you look into my eyes,

You see love, as my soul embraces yours,

Revealing to you just how wonderful you are:

My friend, my heart, my son.


From “Mirroring”[1]


            Mom uses this poem a lot in her interviews.  She tells people about adopting special needs kids and that makes me feel good.  I know she is so happy that she adopted me and she just wants people to know how it can make them happy too.

[1] Son of My Soul – The Adoption of Christopher, Debra Shiveley Welch, Saga Books, page 118



Web Site: Debra Shiveley Welch

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Reviewed by Marilyn Rice
This was so good to hear, especially these words, "Show them the pride you have in choosing them out of all of the other children in the world." While I was not adopted, I was raised by my mother and my daddy, who is not my biological father. I have always known this and when I was little I thought the term, Step Father was a wonderful and special term. In my mind I could see my daddy picking, not only my mother out of all the other women in the world, but picking me along with my four brothers and sisters to be his child. To me he had married all of us. I felt very special. Sadly to say, I learned that not all of my friends thought that a Step Father was like your "Real" real father, that he was the one who loved you and picked you out from everyone else and he was like the best dad in the world. Once when a friend of mine told me she could never love a step father as much as her real father, I asked this question. "Do you mean to tell me if you found out today that your father was not your "Real" father that you'd just stop loveing him the way you do now? I was only about twelve years old and I don't even remember the girls name. But I hope she never forgot what I said. I think I should call my dad and let him know that he is still my night in shinning armor. *Smile*
Thanks again for sharing,
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