The topic we’re speaking on at this year’s Tapestry Conference is Why does my child’s birth family really matter? It’s a question that all foster and adoptive parents should consider. Let’s be honest, it’s a question that all parents should consider because it is central to who your child is and who they become. We cannot escape that both nature and nurture play a part in our kid’s development. Where they come from plays a part in where they’re going.
There are many challenges to parenting, but adoption has brought a few more to light that we didn’t consider before we adopted. Our son Tyler was three and a half years old when he came home. He brought a small photo album, mostly pictures of him and his foster family, with him. There is one picture of him when he was two with his birth mother. That’s the youngest version of Tyler we have ever seen. We never considered or understood how difficult it would be not knowing what our son looked like as a baby. We have no baby pictures of him. None. As he gets older (he’ll be 11 this month) the lack of baby pictures has become an issue for him too.
Even though Tyler has not seen his birth mother since he was two he still knows her and longs to know what he looked like as a baby. For him part of his identity is missing. It probably explains why he tries so hard to connect with babies. I think he longs to see himself in them.
We have realized over the years that our kid’s birth families should matter to us because they matter to them. They’re part of their story. They’re part of their genetics. They are literally in their DNA and we wouldn’t have our kids if it weren’t for them. We should replace our adversarial attitudes with gratitude toward them and gratitude for them. They’re not perfect but then neither are any of us.
No matter the reason your kids (foster or adopted) are in your home there is someone in their birth family that they really miss. Sometimes it’s one parent that your kids were really bonded to, or sometimes it’s a grandparent. We’ve had both scenarios. Most recently we’ve had this happen with J. He recently told Kayla that he misses his grandmother. He hasn’t talked about his family for nine months but then out of the blue he tells us that he misses his grandma. That was our reminder that even though he never speaks about them, he always thinks about them.
And why does he think about his birth family? Because they are important to him. They’re important to all of our kids and that’s one of the reasons they need to be important to us.