Ask Amy: My Friends’ 9-Year-Old Doesn’t Know He’s Adopted Yet


dear amy: Our good friends, a married couple, have a child. He is a son they adopted and is about to turn 10. Just a few days ago, the mother mentioned that her son still “has no idea” that he is adopted. Years ago, dad told us something about telling him when he’s in high school.

At that time, I vehemently refused, replying that current wisdom advocates tell adoptees basically from the beginning about their origins. He shut me up hard, so I let it go.

With each passing year, my anxiety for them grows and I worry about the fallout when this bomb inevitably detonates in their family. I know it’s none of my business, but damn. Any advice besides keeping my mouth shut?

They are loving parents and the boy is very much loved.

Nervous: I shared your question with Ashley Fetters Maloy, an adoptee and reporter for The Washington Post, who wrote about this topic for an article published in the Atlantic.

“You’re right that current wisdom (and now some research!) supports the idea that adoptees should know in advance about their adoptions. You are also right to be concerned about the potential damage to the parent-child relationship if the child’s adoption is not openly discussed early in the child’s life.

“From the age of 5 or 6, a child already makes assumptions, or even asks his parents to tell him stories, about the day he was born or how his mother’s pregnancy was.

“Amanda Baden, a professor and researcher at Montclair State University who specializes in adoption, explained to me a few years ago that when an older child discovers that they are adopted, they may also discover that they have been lied to or deceived—and that many people, even beyond of their parents, actively participated in this deception.

“That said: just because your friend’s child will likely one day find out that you and other family friends knew his adoption status all along doesn’t mean it’s your job to let him know. It’s still their parents’ news to deliver – and likewise, the consequences will be theirs.”

Ashley and I agree that, as you have already shared your opinion and doubts, it is now time for you to stop and continue to offer this family only your supportive friendship.

dear amy: I was deceived. I signed up for PayPal recently so I didn’t know the procedure when I got a message from what I thought was PayPal. It said I was helping to catch hackers!

I indirectly gave away money by buying Target gift cards, scratching the silver on the back of the gift cards, and giving the numbers to the scammer.

I can hear the resounding “Nooooo!” Now I’m stuck with the hindsight of seeing the red flags for all the things I should have done and shouldn’t have done. To follow up, I have contacted the police, Target and the bank and will be investigating the matter further.

I’m down a few thousand dollars and I’ve learned a very valuable lesson that I’d like to pass on to your readers.

scaled: Thanks for using your experience to try to help others. Now you really are helping to catch hackers.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has very helpful information about fraud and scams on their website, (Search for “frauds and scams.”)

dear amy: Talking about the experience detailed by “Traitor“, who is recovering from addiction and frustrated with his wife’s lack of confidence, I’ve been where this man’s wife was.

My husband was an alcoholic, now 20+ years in recovery, and while he was still a heavy drinker, I took the car keys away. I also had a hard time trusting his recovery, and this was a recurring topic in couples therapy.

One day our therapist asked me to imagine giving him the keys as a healing gesture, a sign that I was committed to repairing and continuing our marriage. Until that moment, I thought he owned all the shame and blame for our messed up situation.

I realized that he couldn’t do it alone and that I should participate with much more commitment and grace. It worked; we are closer than ever and I have developed an admiration for their hard fight and willingness to change.

Recovered: Two words that describe a healthy relationship: commitment and grace.

© 2023 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.

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