The Teen Doctor

Answers to your questions about adolescents

My Teen Is Asking About His Birth Parents

I feel like an inadequate mother

Dear Dr. G.,

I always wanted to have kids so when my husband and I tried unsuccessfully to conceive for 5 years we then decided to adopt. We adopted two children at infancy-one is now 14 and the other is 10. They are both boys and we love them so much. Up until recently we haven't really had anything but joy from our sons but since he turned 14 our older son is acting out. When he gets mad at me and my husband he says"You aren't my real parents" and "I wish you never adopted me." This hurts us so much. We have no idea what to do when our son says this and we feel totally helpless, sad, and incompetent. Do you have any suggestions before I go totally gray? 

A Sad Mother

 

Dear Mother, 

First, I want to tell you that this is an excellent question and I am delighted that you are opening up the dialogue about teens and adoption issues. It is common as all kids become teens for them to start wondering about identity issues such as who they are and who they will become. This issue is even more complicated for adopted kids who may be wondering what their birth parents were like, why they gave them up, and how they would have been different if they were raised by their biological parents. 

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It seems to me that your 14 year old is exactly at the age when young teens start asking questions about their identity, adoption, and where they came from. Your son may have difficulty asking these questions directly so he makes these statements when he is mad and he feels like he has nothing left to lose.

My suggestion to you and your husband is that you sit down with your 14 year old and ask him what he would like to know about his birth parents. In a calm, gentle, and supportive manner tell him what you know. He will be so grateful and by providing him with this information you will all start feeling better.

Don't make the common mistake of thinking that you are somehow inadequate as a parent and that is why your son wants to know about his birth parents. Remind yourself that he is curious and has a right to be curious. Let him know that if he wants to search for his birth parents at some point that you will help him. This may be hard for you but it will make your son feel even closer to you.

If there are any adoption support groups in your area consider joining them for additional support. I wish you luck and love in this tricky but necessary journey.

 

Dr. G. 

For more articles like this please see my website:

drbarbaragreenberg.com

Barbara Greenberg, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of adolescents and their well-intentioned but exhausted parents.

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