Preadolescence & Adolescence (12- to 18-year-olds)
These are the years when children assert their independence and distance themselves from parents in an effort to form their own identity -- whether adopted or not. If information is lacking, the task of identity formation becomes more complicated. Parents can assist their adolescents through this process by understanding their need for information, helping them get it, and giving them the freedom to explore. While a natural part of the individuation process, this exploration is usually where conflict arises in families. The most important thing is to keep the lines of communication open.
There is no right way to talk about adoption. What is important is to hear what your child is saying, allow him his feelings, and be available to help him with the struggle.
Ronny Diamond, CSW, is the director of Spence-Chapin Adoption Resource Center.