When I was going through the home study process, my social worker told me to read several books about adoption. One of these books talked about birthdays being a sad time for adopted children. According to the author, for children placed for adoption as a newborn, a child’s birthday is also the day that his birthmother “abandoned” him. The author said to keep an eye out for bad behavior around a child’s birthday because this could indicate that a child is struggling with adoption issues. The child might not want to celebrate the day that he was taken from his birthfamily.
I did not know whether to believe this or not. Birthdays are generally happy times for kids, especially when they know that they will be receiving a lot of presents. However, this thought is always in the back of my mind when my son’s birthday rolls around. If he ever does have issues that are triggered by his birthday, I want to be in tune with those issues.
So far, I have not seen any changes in my son’s demeanor around his birthday other than sheer excitement over turning a year older. Perhaps he will have issues when he gets older, or perhaps he is just not one of the kids who thinks about their birthdays in that manner. My son is very much an “in the moment” kid and does not get introspective very often.
It seems to me that saying all kids will do anything in a certain way or at a certain time is an overgeneralization. Yes, I can believe that some adopted children might very well have an issue around their birthdays. However, to assume that all adopted children will have an issue seems a bit too all encompassing to me. I can understand an older adopted child having issues around a birthday, especially if the child was removed from her birthfamily around her birthday or had painful birthdays while in foster care. However, extending this concern to a child who was adopted as a newborn seems a little bit of a stretch. Nevertheless, this thought does run through my head every year when my son’s birthday rolls around.
What has your experience been? Does your adopted child have adoption issues surrounding his birthday?
Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt