When your child wants to meet her birth family

Gregory Keck, PhD Attachment Therapist & Adoption Expert, shares advice for adoptive parents on what to do when your adopted child wants to meet his or her birth parents
What To Do When Your Child Wants To Meet Their Birth Family
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When your child wants to meet her birth family

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Every child probably has some interest in their birth family, whether or not they ever knew them as an infant adoptees or people who've been abandoned in other countries. Certainly, the kids that have been in foster care have known their birth families and many of those families aren't really safe for them to be involved with, so I think every parent needs to make the decision: "Is this the family that we would want this child to be around, are they safe, are they drug addicts, are they prostitutes, are they gonna come try to take her or him from school" so he needs to do a safety assessment first. The world that caused adoption for all practical purposes is gone today, every kid can get online, every kid can get Facebook and we have kids who we're working with and find people that unfortunately they shouldn't be finding online, so people who adopt with the hope of not having birth family contact, those days are primarily gone. So, if and when the child has an interest, and I think we should follow the child's lead, if they wanna meet their birth family and it seems like a safe situation, I think parents would have make some gains by helping the child do that and helping them do a search if the child wants to do that or the adolescent. I've seen very different configurations as a young man I'm working with now, he routinely spends time with his birth mother and his birth father, who are not married, perhaps once a month and it's very comfortable arrangement for the adoptive family, for the birth family and for the kid. There's another 15 year old I'm thinking of who was really driven to meet his birth mother, he met her once and that was enough and he didn't really want another contact with her and even though his adoptive parent felt that they really should contact with her, you know, she agreed to meet with her, he said: "I just wanted to see her, I just wanted to meet her and just know her, I don't really want any other involvement." So I think there's a wide variation of what birth family needs and issues are hard for adoptive kids. Many kids don't have any desire at all; my younger son was adopted when he was 14, he knows his birth family, they've tried to contact him and he absolutely wants no contact with them at all. Other kids really want that contact and want to have a relationship with them, so I think we just need to, it can't be parents idea like we both meet your birth family, I think we need to wait and follow the child's lead.

Gregory Keck, PhD Attachment Therapist & Adoption Expert, shares advice for adoptive parents on what to do when your adopted child wants to meet his or her birth parents

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Gregory Keck, PhD

Founder & Director, Attachment & Bonding Center of Ohio

Gregory C. Keck, Ph.D., is the founder and director of the Attachment & Bonding Center of Ohio. He is an internationally known psychologist and trainer who addresses the issues of trauma, adoption, and post-adoption challenges. He and his staff provide attachment therapy for adoptive families whose children have experienced serious early childhood maltreatment prior to adoption. In 2012, he received the National Association of Social Workers State of Ohio Lifetime Achievement Award. He is the parent of two sons who were adopted in adolescence.

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