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How To Anticipate Times of Identity Sensitivity in Adoptees and Foster Kids

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There are times in the life of a young adoptee or foster child when questions about identity may trigger unusual behaviors. Parents can help by being aware of these times, and making themselves emotionally available to their children.
  1. Birthdays: These are not only a mark of getting older but also times when an adoptee or foster child may be reminded of birth parents, other foster families, and other previous birthdays.
  2. Mother's Day/Father's Day: At these times, adoptees and foster children may become absorbed with thoughts of identity, belonging, and family.
  3. Entering school: This can be a time of unusual behaviors for all children as they take on yet another identity: student.
  4. Comments from peers: The first times children hear those first questions or comments from uninformed peers on their own, they may struggle to express their answers and perhaps deal with hurtful words.
  5. When they discover "where babies come from": Parents should be prepared for age-appropriate truthful explanations. Even under the best circumstances, identity confusion can result.
  6. School projects / assignments: Family trees and other projects dealing with heredity and ancestors may not be inclusive of adoptive and foster family relationships.
  7. Adolescence: The beginning of puberty is traditionally a time of identity crisis, and adoption and foster care issues can add another layer of confusion.
  8. Medical appointments and times of illness: Questions of identity are very common for adoptees at these times due to separate or unknown medical histories and how these are talked about, remarked upon, or conveyed.
  9. Times of family upheaval: Change or loss, such as divorce, death, or a move may trigger old insecurities and fears about a child's identity as a permanent or temporary member of a family.
  10. Adulthood: When the minor adoptee becomes an adult, questions of identity can rise to the surface in unexpected ways.

Credits: by Nancy S. Ashe

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