Some Don’ts for Adoptive Parents

The Don’ts of Being an Adoptive Parent

When you have adopted a child, whether as an infant, toddler or teenager, whether domestically or internationally, whether through an open or closed process, the joy you experience can lead you to engage in some behaviors that may be detrimental to your adopted child or to your relationship with them. Here are some things you should try to avoid.

Don’t Tell the World about Your Child’s Life Before You’ve Adopted Them

It’s their story, not yours, and your knowledge of what they experienced is second-hand at best. No one else needs to know what might have been the reasons the child was put up for adoption. Spreading your version of the story can make it difficult for your adopted child, especially as he or she ages, to have any story other than yours. And your interpretation of their life before you usually just fulfills your own personal agenda.

Don’t Buy Into the Cultural Assumption that You Have “Saved” the Child

This attitude automatically assumes that the child was destined for a life of misery and want—you may not know that. To the extent that you maintain that attitude, you can be disparaging the child’s birthparents. Your child may not have enough of an understanding of his or her birthparents to love them, but there’s nothing to be gained by making them feel like they were unloved or in danger before you came along.

Don’t Expect Anything from Your Child because You Adopted Them

Raising a child is hard work—period. It doesn’t matter if they are biologically tied to you, and it doesn’t matter what their life was like before you (or yours, for that matter). You need to treat your child just as you would treat a biological child. This means that, regardless of how difficult they may be, they are still your child. They are not with you on trial…you don’t get to return them if things don’t go exactly as you planned—which they never will.

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