|Don’t Say||Do Say|
A Child's Understanding of Adoption
- Children exhibit no understand of adoption
Age 5 1/2
- Children fail to differentiate between adoption and birth; instead fusing the two concepts together. May think that all children are adopted.
- Children clearly differentiate between adoption and birth as alternative paths to parenthood, and they accept that the adoptive family relationship is permanent, but they do not understand why. Many rely on a sense of faith or notions of possession to justify the permanence.
- Children differentiate between adoption and birth but are unsure about the permanence of the adoptive parent-child relationship. Biological parents are seen as having the potential for reclaiming guardianship over the child at some future but unspecified time.
- Children’s descriptions of the adoptive family relationship are characterized by a quasi-legal sense of permanence. Specifically, they refer to “signing papers,” or invoke some authority such as a judge, lawyer, doctor, or social worker who in some vague way “makes” the parent-child relationship permanent.
- The adoption relationship is now characterized as permanent, involving the legal transfer of rights and/or responsibilities for the child from the biological parents to the adoptive parents.
Source: Brodzinsky, D.M., Singer, L.M., & Bbraff, A.M. (1984). Children’s understanding of adoption. Child Development, 55, 869-878.