Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Life Stories: Special Guest, Jenna Hatfield

I invited Jenna Hatfield, of's Birth/First Parent Blog and her involving personal blog, Family Living; Hatfield Style, to give a first-mom perspective on all of the questions I asked in "A Love Like No Other: Life Stories". She graciously took the time to help enlighten us. I'd like to thank her for adding to the discussion.

Take it away, Jenna...

Is it presumptuous to search for your child?

I don't know if you're referring to the adoptive family searching for the child's first family or the first family searching for the child. Either way, each family is unique and has to understand the consequences of those actions and accept any fall-out.

What part of your child's story is okay to share with family, friends or the general public, and what part should be reserved for them?

Very personal information, such as how the child was conceived, should be reserved for only those who "need" to know. Others are on a case by case basis.

How much information about or interaction with the first family is crucial to fostering a positive self-image?

This will vary. Some families find it extremely crucial. Others think that the first family is useless. A happy medium can create a well-rounded child.

What is the research on this issue?

The Evan B Donaldson Adoption Institute just did a report on birth parents rights that shows that most parents who voluntarily place their children for adoption are positive role models. Another report by another agency was just released showing that most adolescent adoptees want more interaction with their birth families.

How do adoptees cope with the "what could've been?" questions about their first family?

Hopefully they have a supportive adoptive family and a supportive birth family that can help them field those questions without worry of offending one side or the other.

How adoptive families cope with being the "second" family, as a child's curiosity about their first family increases?

You have to be secure in your role as a parent. It's that simple.

No matter how much you know, how are first families handled in lifebooks?

Again, I've seen it vary. Some families know absolutely nothing and include absolutely nothing. Some know everything and include everything. Some know everything and include what they find pertinent. It's a personal choice but all information should be at least kept for the child to view at a later date.


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