When you are thinking about adopting, it’s a good idea to talk to other adoptive parents, to learn about their experiences, so that you can best prepare to have a successful relationship with your adopted child. But what if you could ask your adopted child for advice, to learn what they need from you? Here are some observations adoptees have made that can help facilitate the process.
Adoption is Not a Magic Pill for the Child
Many adoptive parents have the perception that the adopted child must have been “in an unhealthy relationship” or must have been sad or suffering. They then assume that, because the child has been adopted by a “good” family, the child should no longer be sad or experience pain. This simply isn’t the case. While some children come from troubled family situations, others do not. Regardless of what their life was like prior to the adoption, there will still be a sense of loss. The most important thing you can do is provide a safe place for the child to feel all of his or her emotions.
It’s Not In the Child’s Best Interests to Pretend that the Past Never Happened
Your adopted child needs to make sense of his or her story. Regardless of their age, they will feel a sense of loss. The only way they will ever move past that sense of loss is to fully understand it. That comes from talking about it. If your child is young, there may come a point where, as they start to incorporate their story, they need to repeat it to anyone who hasn’t heard it before. That’s natural and you need to let it happen. You may get frustrated hearing the story over and over, but you need to let your child tell the story until it feels natural to them.
Many Adopted Children Struggle with Issues of Identity, Self-Worth and Shame
Especially with younger children, it’s typical for adoptees to construe the biological parent’s decision to put them up for adoption as “the child’s fault.” Accordingly, it’s not unusual for an adopted child to worry that they might be abandoned again. Experts say this can manifest in a couple different ways. The child may act out, seeing if there are limits where they might be sent away again. Conversely, they may be hyper-cooperative, trying not to do anything that would cause them to be abandoned again.
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