When the baby is adopted
If the new baby is a “chosen” child, he, too, should be welcomed for the kind of little person he will be, just as an “own” child should be accepted for his own sake. An adopted child may even have an advantage over an “own” child in starting out with the sex the parents wanted. This child is the anticipated boy or the
longed-for little girl, who may even have been chosen with the “right” color of eyes or hair. As he grows up he will need the kind of understanding and guidance all children need. But he will also need help in understanding and accepting his being an adopted child.
It is always best to let an adopted child know very early about his adoption — that he was a wanted child. The longer his parents wait to tell him, the harder it may become. Very likely, too, neighbors, relatives, or other children may tell him first. Then the news will be a great shock. Despite his affection for his adoptive parents, questions will arise in his mind to worry him.
If adopted children are happy with their new parents, they are usually very proud of being “chosen” children. A little child can be told the story of his adoption when he is two or three years old and begins to like stories. His mother and father can tell him how much they wanted a baby and how they saw him and loved him so much that they took him home to live with them — that he is their “chosen” child. It is usually not until much later that an adopted child thinks to ask about his own parents. When that times comes, if he is still fairly young he should be reassured that they would have liked to take care of him but could not do so, and were glad because the new mother and father loved him and wanted him so much. When he is older he may need more information about his parents, and his questions should be answered as honestly as possible.
When the adopted child is to arrive, it is also best to send out announcements to friends and relatives so that they, too, know that the baby is to be a “chosen” one. In this way there is no secrecy from the very beginning. The little one is made as welcome as any other baby in the family.
What does a baby inherit?
There is still much for us to learn about heredity and there is still much disagreement about what can be inherited. It is known that both parents contribute equally to the heredity of their child, but there is no way of knowing or choosing which of the father’s characteristics will be inherited or which of the mother’s, and of course there is inheritance through the parents from grandparents and earlier ancestors. No two children in the family inherit just the same characteristics unless they are identical twins. Every child is different.
It is known that heredity determines such physical traits as the color of the child’s eyes, the color of his hair, his blood type, the form of his features, and the structure of his body. Heredity determines, for instance, whether a child will be slender and small, or large-boned and tall, or stocky and short. It also determines whether a child will learn and respond rapidly or slowly. Heredity seems to set the limits of intelligence and determines how much can be mastered and learned. Certain defects, such as color-blindness, are inherited, as well as special abilities, such as talents in music and mathematics. Differences in temperament also seem to be present at birth. Even in a nursery of newborn babies, one sees differences in the way the babies act. Some are very active, others lie quietly in their cribs.
Beyond these points, little else is known of what is really inherited. It is sometimes very difficult to tell whether heredity or environment is responsible for certain characteristics which a child develops, for the two so soon influence each other in the child’s life. Environment determines how far the child’s native capacity will be developed. A child may be born with many possibilities which are never put to use if his home, neighborhood, or school environment should be inadequate. It is through the environment that children are helped or hindered in developing the possibilities they have at birth. And it is also through the environment they provide for their children that parents are able to pass on those things they have learned in life and have valued. The personality of the child depends in some part upon the capacity he inherited, but more fully upon the environment in which he grows up. (Continue below to page 4)