A message for my teen about her adoption. And her past.

This New Year’s Eve, I’ll be giving my teen a link to her past and giving her information about her adoption.

How to talk to your teen about adoption | roundandroundrosie.com


My daughter is growing up faster than I ever imagined. She’s a teen now, a full fledged adult in training. Yes, she’s got the mood swing and sometimes surly teen attitude, but she’s also becoming more interested and curious about her adoption.

Now that she’s a teen, I’d like to give her a gift this New Year’s Eve. I’d like to give her more information about her background.

She’s never been interested in knowing more about her adoption. Of course, she knows she was adopted. She’s Asian, her father and I are whiter than white. We’ve been a part of many adoption groups and events. Several of her friends are adopted. We talk about adoption openly and often but she’s never seemed to care. She’s never seemed curious about her birth family or roots.

But since we adopted my daughter from China when she was a year old, I’ve kept the topic alive. Wondering out loud if she got her thick, beautiful hair from her birth mother, if her birth father liked to draw too. Just in case she wanted to discuss her adoption, I’ve kept the doors open. Kept a space open for when she was ready.

She now seems ready. A few weeks ago, she didn’t change the subject when I brought up her biological parents. She asked questions. I’ve kept the doors open for these discussions, and I feel with all my heart, that she might be ready to step through that doorway to her past.

And so, on this New Year’s Eve, I’m going to give my daughter a special gift. Tonight, we’ll mark the New Year by looking back. I’m going to haul the big box full of

Tonight, we’ll mark the New Year by looking back. I’m going to haul out the big box of mementos from China. The many documents and dossiers we had to prepare to adopt her.

And most importantly, I’ll open the small box of her adoption treasures. The few items that link her to her past. Her past before us. Her life in an orphanage in rural southern China.The tiny pink onesie she was wearing the day we adopted her. The layers of baby shirt and leggings that hid her thin frame. The trinkets we bought in Guangzhou. The Baby Gap denim jacket she wore. The finding ad from the newspaper with a tiny black and white photo of an abandoned baby girl in a row of many other female infants.

There are still some documents I’m holding back. I don’t know if I’m ready to discuss the exact details of my daughter’s finding place and circumstances. Maybe when she’s 15 or 16, we can talk about larger issues. The one child policy. The importance of sons. She’ll let me know when that time is right. She’ll let me know when she wants to learn even more about her adoption story.

I don’t know when the time will be right to wade into discussions of culture and discrimination. But I know, my daughter will guide me. She’ll let me know when she’s mature enough and ready to process that.

And so on the eve of 2017, we are welcoming in the new year with a look back. Not to the past year, but to her past life.

In order to move forward, we are embracing her past.


  1. Marlene says

    We’ve waded the waters of the one child policy and bay preferences. I think it actually helped her understand her adoption story better because it provided her with context. Anyways, no doubt there’s more to come…

  2. says

    I can understand how painful it must be to relate to your daughter the circumstances of her birth etc – but her subsequent adoption as a baby by you must fill her with joy that somebody cared & loves her unconditionally as a mother does. You’re right that she should know her background – it’s vitally important – but just as important is the love that you have for her is laid bare – and she’ll appreciate you for being honest & open & unconditionally loving her.
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  3. says

    What a great gift to her. And so important to be sure she understands her culture. My sister in law was adopted, she was african american and her adoptive family white. She hated being different, mostly because she wanted to know who she was and who she was supposed to be. In our discussions I”ve caught on her adoptive mother was not as forthcoming or as educated as you on her upbringing and culture.

    She was so desperate to learn answers she went out to find the bio mom, and the results from that connection was further tragic so only made matters worse. It only built her resentment to meet siblings and wonder why not me?

    She wants to know about her heritage her culture, they live in one of the whitest areas of Texas. I tried to suggest this year she attend a HBCU for her masters, as I am a huge Grambling fan and attend all of the events. The culture is so warm and inviting, and I think she needs that sense of belonging. I don’t know if she will consider it, but I really hope she does.

    You are an amazing mother! And a beyond amazing adoptive mother, you go beyond love, and that’s beautiful!

  4. says

    Knowing her past and heritage at first may bring some pain (like why her birth parents gave her up), but she trusts you and will come to understand the whys. She will come out the other side strong and the better person for it. So cool you saved the heirlooms that she can connect with her past. I think you are doing everything right, Rosie!

  5. says

    Lovely idea for NYE. Of course I know about the one child policy, and that it was responsible for many adoptions of girls from China, but strangely I had never really considered the complexities of discussing that at some point with those girls. But your daughter, and the other girls in the world to whom this applies, are always going to know that they were chosen and so wanted by their families who adopted them.

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