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What Adopted Children Ages Two to Five years old (and their Parents) Need to Know At Different Ages
What Adopted Children Ages Two to Five years old (and their Parents) Need to Know At Different Ages and Stages
Parents of adopted kids often ask, “Why is my child acting like that? Is it because of development? Adoption? Race? Something else?” In a society which values sameness and fitting-in above all else, parents must help their children deal with the reality of adoptism and/or racism in order to teach them not to become victims to it. Children need to deal with the feelings of loss and anxiety that are often part of the adoption experience while at the same time fighting for the legitimacy and enduring status of their family. Preschoolers are very concrete thinkers. They are just beginning to learn about things like “same and different” and are beginning to apply their new ideas and understandings to everything, including friends and family. For this age group, the idea of “difference” doesn’t bring with it the uncomfortable feelings that it can evoke in parents. When a child learns that another child was adopted by his or her parents it is just another piece of information; when they notice racial features and differences, they are simply categorizing as they are learning to do with shapes and colors. Parents and adults have a wonderful opportunity to introduce preschoolers to the full range of family structures and use respectful adoption, race and identity language to set the stage for these kids to view their own identity - or their classmate’s – in a positiveway.
Beth Hall is the white adoptive mother of a Latina daughter and an African American son (both now young adults), and grew up with an adopted sister. She co-founded Pact in 1991 to combat the discrimination she witnessed against adopted children of color and their birth families. Since that time, she has facilitated the placement of over 1000 infants of color into strong, loving homes. She is the co-author, with Gail Steinberg, of the book Inside Transracial Adoption, as well as numerous articles on adoption and race. She is a nationally known advocate for adopted children of color who regularly lectures and leads workshops on ethical, non-racist adoption practices. In 2010 she received the Outstanding Practitioner in Adoption Award from the Adoption Initiative at St. John's University.
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