Life Advice



Ask Amy: ‘Best of’ column concerns adoption

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

– Also Distressed

Dear Distressed: Adoption is not only between the parents and the child. Keeping this a secret affects the entire family system.

Adoption can be a painful and emotional subject for parents, in part because they cannot imagine that the child they chose to join their family wasn’t always in their family. They also worry about any future complications regarding the child’s curiosity about — or contact with — biological relatives. – July 2012

Dear Amy: “Distressed Sister” was a 16-year-old sister of an adopted sibling whose mother required her to keep the adoption a secret.

It makes me cringe to think of what that child has missed.

My son has known of his adoption since he was old enough to understand the concept.

This is what he understands: He was chosen; he has two birthdays (he brings cupcakes to school on his birthday and cookies on his “gotcha day”); he didn’t have to get stuck with my short, nonathletic genes; he gets to celebrate both Mother’s Day and Birth Mother’s Day (the day before Mother’s Day); and he’s loved within an inch of his life by not only his adoptive family, but by his birth mother and her family.

He also benefits hugely by a positive relationship between our two families.


Being adopted is nothing to be ashamed of! It’s something to be celebrated.

– Joseph’s Mom

Dear Mom: Not all adoptees have access to their birth family the way your son does, but all adoptees should be told the truth about their lives – starting in an age-appropriate way when they are very young.

This subject will come up in various contexts throughout a child’s life, whether or not the child chooses to raise it. Parents (and other relatives) should always convey that they are open and honest, even when the subject is painful to discuss. – July 2012


(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

©2022 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.




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