Ok so in my very layman, laid back, lackluster review of the book I happened upon at the library last week, today I will discuss Chapter 3 of Parenting your Internationally Adopted Child.
This chapter seemed like a no brainer to me. The title is "Identity and Your Child's Complex Background". I think this is something most of us have down pat. Basically they say that in order for your child to be able to construct their own positive identity, they must be able to tell their own story. In order to tell their own history, we must share everything we know with them.
Our kids are older, and therefore we probably have more information than most families. In that sense, we are so lucky. We have close relationships and ties with their immediate family and have met those who remain in Ethiopia. Josh is old enough to tell us stories about Ethiopia. Of hyenas and their two little brothers who were adopted to Germany. Jameson doesn't remember as much, and therefore relies on Josh to fill in the details. Thank God they have each other.
Before we ever picked up the kids, my good friend Julie gave me a book about creating Lifebooks for your adoptive kids. This was a great resource for me when I prepared to visit with their grandmother. I used that book to make a list of things I knew they would want to know later on. The information I got from grandma is invaluable to us, and I know I never would have been able to think of all the questions on my own.
As a person adopted as an infant, I can guarantee that any information you can give your child will help to shape them and give them a sense of identity. I know that what little information I had about my birth parents made me feel like I came from "something," I didn't just show up in this family without any history. My mom always told me that my birth mother was good in English... how she knew this, I have no idea. But I have often wondered if I always loved English, creative writing and reading because she truly was good at English, or just because I thought she was.
Tell your child's story to them as many times and as often as you think they need to hear it. Teach them about Ethiopia. Tell them whatever history you know. Even if it hurts you. Even if it makes you feel inadequate. Even if you want to just put all that behind you. Remember that your child didn't just show up. They had a history. They had a beginning. Remember to share that openly with them.