Adoption and Middle Childhood

Children tend to become more curious about adoption during the middle childhood years -- approximately ages seven to 11. During the information-gathering years of elementary school, children are interested in many details about themselves, such as whether their birth parents were married, whether they have any biological brothers or sisters, how old their birth parents are and where they live.

This is also a time of realizing that most other children live with at least one biological relative and of understanding that the way they joined their families is somewhat unusual. It is not uncommon for them to experience hurt, anger or sadness at what may feel like abandonment or rejection. They may grieve for the loss of connections to their birth relatives -- even though they are happy to be in their adoptive families. Because they do not fully understand why they could not remain with their birth parents, they may feel that their security in their adoptive family is shaky.

This may not all be immediately apparent, however. Children in the middle years might not initiate discussions about adoption with their parents, while their new problem-solving capabilities could lead to erroneous conclusions about how and why they were placed for adoption. They might find the topic too painful to bring up. And because around this time they develop the ability to think without using words, they may not even know that their sometimes confusing, sometimes uncomfortable feelings are related to being adopted.

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