Q: We adopted our 7-year-old son at birth. We have always discussed his adoption openly, and he seems to understand adoption and accept it well. Recently, however, he’s begun asking me rather vague questions, such as, “Where am I?” or “Where do I belong?”
I do not want to attribute every element of his development to adoption, but I wonder if that might be behind these questions. He is very bright, and understands that he knows the answers on a surface level, but that he is really asking something else. He just can’t explain what he is actually asking.
A: It’s impossible to know whether or not your son’s questions relate to adoption. However, you might start by assuring him that he belongs with you. “You belong here and we belong together. We are a family forever and ever.” You can add that, whether children are born or adopted into their family, they belong to that family in the same way. “We know you understand this, but you can still be curious. Are you wondering about your birth mother?”
At about age 7, children begin to understand adoption as not only getting a new family, but losing the first one. Sometimes questions like your son’s come from wondering whether they could also lose this family. This is a time when showing a child the legal adoption documents with the official stamp can make the permanence of adoption concrete and real.