Visit Prompts Sharing of Adoptive Children’s History


An adoptive parent stopped by our offices for a visit with her two adopted children. One child was adopted several years ago from Eastern Europe, the second was adopted from Africa. It always makes my day to see firsthand the benefits of adoption to our children and families.

Over the years in working in adoption, I have had many “heartfelt” experiences involving visiting children in orphanages as well as adopted children after they came home to their new families. This visit though, brought new tears to my eyes as well as to the other MLJ team members present.

Every adopted child has a history. Some children know their history well including memories of their birth family, time spent in an orphanage, the trip to the U.S. or Canada and all the painful or scary feelings they had while going through these experiences. Other children, if abandoned early in life may not know their histories, have no memory of a biological family or only remember their time in an orphanage and/or foster care.  Of our two visitors this day, one child had vivid memories of his past and was willing to share some of them with us. The other child only had memories of of being in an orphanage and foster care.  These memories can be painful and hard to listen to for an adoptive parent. Following are a few tips for adoptive parents to remember:

  • Your adopted child had a history prior to coming to their new family and it should not be ignored. Encourage your child to share memories and feelings when they are ready.
  • Your child may or may not be ready to discuss the past with you. If they are ready to share, listen and ask questions when appropriate. If they are not ready, then don’t push. They will let you know when they are ready to talk to you about it.
  • Be supportive, interested and validate their feelings.
  • Remember the re-telling of their past is emotional and even painful for them.
  • Acknowledge that your child has a right to emotions they feel regarding their history.
  • Answer their questions if you know the answers, if you do not, then simply say you don’t know but offer to see if you can find out the truth for them.
  • Most importantly let your child know that it was not his or her fault that they were abandoned or relinquished by their birth parents – they did nothing wrong.

33886_437756089419_152691439419_4915597_5345330_nI am honored to say I and the rest of the MLJ team are a small part of these children’s history and memories. I was honored by their visit and the opportunity to listen to their memories, stories of their pasts and the feelings that accompanied what they went through. They were both very engaging and eager to share with us. I know in my heart these children will do well and have much to offer the world.

A huge thank you to this family for allowing the MLJ team to be present in their lives.  My heart is overjoyed to see how far these children have come and how their lives have been changed.

For more information on our international adoption programs, please contact us.



Sonja Brown works as the International Program Director for MLJ Adoptions’ programs in Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti and Samoa. Sonja is also proud to work directly with our Individualized Country Program families who are adopting from countries where no adoption service providers currently operate.