This morning as I drove my daughters to school Savannah (my middle schooler) brought up the discussion of genetics. She was primping herself in the visor mirror and pondering “What will I look like when I grow up?”
NOTE : THIS IS HOW YOUR CHILD BRINGS UP IMPORTANT ADOPTION CONVERSATIONS SO BE AWARE OF THEM AND READY TO TALK ABOUT THEM.
To give you some personal context to this topic let me tell you that everyone assumes Savannah is my biological daughter because we have similar physical characteristics. I can’t count the number of shocked faces I’ve seen when I inform them she’s adopted. Savannah especially enjoys bewildering people and is usually the first to correct someone “Nope I’m adopted.” When your child hits puberty these thoughts drastically increase due to their constantly changing body. For children who aren’t adopted they can look to their parents for some clues as to their future selves.
I don’t have to dream at all about my future self. My physical characteristics are a carbon copy of my mother who is a carbon copy of hers. Having adopted children has taught me what a gift it is to see a glimpse of my future self as opposed to the mystery that surrounds my kids. Even my little sister Joquena who doesn’t have our mother’s genetic makeup can look to our father’s side of the family to see where her physical characteristics are headed as she ages.
Your adopted child feels anxiety about their body image when thinking about their future selves and it is your job to encourage them. Here are some ways to offer encouragement if you don’t know what their biological parents look like.
“I know you’ll be very beautiful/handsome when you grow up because you’re so cute now.”
“Your great smile will always be the same no matter what age you are.”
“I don’t know if you’ll be short or tall, but I know you’ll be the perfect height when you grow up.”
“Well if you don’t like your hair color you can change that when you’re an adult.”
“No matter what you look like you can always choose your own style.”
“The most important thing about how you look is how you feel about yourself. You have a kind and caring soul and you always will.”
Understand that curiosity is natural and your child isn’t obsessing about this, but it does cross their mind from time to time. Your adopted child may never know their biological parents so, it’s important for you as their parent to express how beautiful their physical traits are. Remember your child’s physical attributes you love so much were given to them by their birth parents and that is what your child sees every time they look in the mirror.
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