Tag Archives: Birthdays as triggers in adopted children


Man oh man, birthdays…

They should be full of joy. But sometimes, if your child has been adopted, they can be wrought full of buckets of tears and an ache so deep, that you can’t get to the bottom of it.  So you snuggle your child up to you, so close that nothing can fit in between the two of you, and listen, trying to absorb the pain. Then, when your child can control the sobbing, you begin to speak quietly, offering out a few “pebbles.” And then you shut your mouth and listen. Perhaps your child begins to speak or maybe the crying starts all over again until your child falls asleep in your arms, spent.

And then it’s your turn, to wipe the profuse tears that have soaked your clothing and your child’s hair. To say silent prayers for strength and wisdom and to thank God for this incredible miracle that has become your child. To ask for guidance in helping your child come to terms with the great loss and grief over that loss.

Some years are better than others. This was a tough one, but not as difficult has many that have passed.

I share this tidbit of “education” with you, my friends, who are not adoptive parents and those of you who are; a birthday is one of the key triggers for the child who as been adopted. What does that mean? It means that in order to have a birthday a child was born. And if that child was adopted he or she was born to someone else and perhaps, like in our family, another country and of a different culture. Upon being adopted that child lost those connections. Forever. The event of a birthday is a reminder of those profound losses.

In advocating for any child who has been adopted, I share this with you to help you be aware, in hopes that you will have compassion for him or her on their birthday. While you may not get the response you expect when them wishing them a “Happy Birthday!” please take it in stride and smile, wishing them well.


Filed under Adoption Issues, Growing Tweens & Teens, Multicultural Families, The International Mom

G-Dog’s Birthday

P9060130Greyson was bouncing off the wall long before November, his birthday month, arrived. As soon as Mark’s birthday passed, it became all about him and turning eight. Because of family commitments, Greyson will get to enjoy his birthday for over a week and drive us all a little crazy with his excitement.

I have written about birthdays as triggers for grief in the adopted child, but my youngest doesn’t seem to be affected. Instead he is overcome with the need to be reassured that he is important, that he matters and fits into us, his family. This need stems in part from being the youngest and from being adopted. Sure, he’s turning eight, but his quest for identity is in “full speed ahead.” He can speak of nothing else. The focus on him consumes him.

I realize that questions will come up. They always do. At the oddest times. But we’re prepared, having had many conversations about adoptions since he was very young, often with all of us joining in. Questions are part of parenting children who were adopted.

My advice for adoptive parents: Lay the ground work early to make the questions down the road easier to answer…talk about adoption early and keep the communication channel wide open.

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Filed under Adoption Issues, Adoptive Mom's Perspective, International Adoption, Multicultural Families, The International Mom