Tag Archives: adoption

Reasons To Choose Or Not To Choose Adoption

Deciding whether to parent or make an adoption plan can be a difficult decision. There are many factors that play into finding the right fit for your situation. Am I financially ready to parent? Will my family & friends support my decision? Better yet, does my partner support the idea of adoption? These are all very important questions to consider. Although it can be overwhelming, take your time to research and weigh all of options. Down below are reasons to choose or not to choose adoption.

 

  • I’m not emotionally ready.

Like all new experiences adoption may seem scary at first. This is a normal feeling to have and you will overcome with time. The best thing to do at this point is get all the research you can. The internet is a great source of information. Read adoption blogs by expectant/birth parents. Research the advantages of open adoption. You will discover that open adoption can be a happy journey. Most adoptive parents respect their birth mothers enough to view them as additional family members. Both adoptive & birth parents join together in the best interest of the child.

  • The belief of taking responsibility for your own actions.

Fact of the matter is making an adoption plan takes great responsibility. By setting aside your own needs and wants to consider what is best for your child is taking full responsibility. You may have already considered your financial status, your educational future (if deciding to further your education), and support from your partner or family. These things factor into whether you should choose an adoption plan. The next big step is choosing a family that will give your child a loving, safe, & secure environment. Not to mention choosing a family that aligns with what you would like to provide your child. Completing these tasks mean that you love your child and that you are taking responsibility for their care & happiness.

  • My partner doesn’t like the idea of making an adoption plan.

Your partner may not feel comfortable making an adoption plan. If at any point he doesn’t feel ready to parent or able to financially/emotionally support the child, adoption may be an option. Discuss the concerns that may arise. Don’t hesitate to reach out to an adoption agency to go over your options, rights, and questions.

  • I was raised that if I get pregnant I keep the baby.

Family values can either persuade or dissuade your decision on adoption. It is important to remember that this is your choice to make. What works for one person may not work for others. Everyone’s situation is unique in its own way.

 

  • Wanting someone to love you.

There is nothing that can compare to a child’s love. However, having a child that will love you isn’t always in the best interest of the child. You have to prioritize the child’s needs over your own. Placing them with a secure and stable family is the most important aspect.

 

Consider these aspects when deciding if adoption is right for you or not. Make sure to do your research on adoption and other options that may be available to you. Talk them over with your partner and/or someone that you trust. If you choose open adoption, be aware that you are not leaving your child, but expanding your family. Find an adoption agency that best fits you and talk to a social worker about any concerns.

 

 

Surviving The Wait

Bottles? Check. Diapers? Check. Bassinet? Check. Baby? Not so much. Adoption can be a beautiful and rewarding process. In some cases, adoption can be as quick as a few months. Then there are other cases, where the adoption wait can go from months to years. This can be a nerve-racking experience. Adoptive parents go through every inch of red tape by filling out the application and completing the mounds of paperwork. Don’t forget about getting fingerprinted for the required clearances. Finally, the home study is completed, your profile has been created, and you are available to be shown to expecting parents. For many waiting families, this can sometimes be the hardest part of the process.

You may be thinking; we’ve done everything we were asked to do and now we wait. The paperwork, though time consuming was the easy part because it was in our control, but now the unknowns begin, we cannot control how long we wait.

During this stage, many things will go through your head. Should we prepare the nursery? Do we start or continue buying baby supplies/clothes? What do I tell my employer? Will we even be placed with a child? It is normal to feel this way. Sometimes it isn’t just the wait that is out of our control. There can be outside factors that are impacting your wait as well. Most of the time, families are waiting for an expectant mother to pick their family. Then after a family is picked there are still many unknowns to be answered. That leaves families to wonder, “what can we do?” Here are a few tips on surviving the wait!

                    Get Involved

One of the best ways to survive the wait is to get involved. Read adoption articles, magazines, books, & blogs. It’s good to familiarize yourself with what is going on in the adoption world. If you are open to adopting a child of another race, now is the time to begin educating yourself about the complexities of transracial adoption. Read stories about other adoptions, so you know you are not alone in the process. Ask your agency if they offer support groups. These support groups can be very helpful. You can talk to other adoptive parents that are waiting too. It’s healthy to have a place where you can be honest about your feelings and hear what others are going through.

Keep your profile, home study, and clearances current and up to date if you have been waiting for a while.  Now is the time to stay connected with your social worker. Don’t be afraid to call to check in, share what you are struggling with and ask any questions that you may have thought of since your last contact. Your social worker is there for you.

                 Write A Journal

This might sound crazy, but share a journal with your spouse. When your child gets older it will be rewarding to share with him/her your experiences while waiting to be placed. This is a great way to express your feelings and thoughts while going through the adoption process. Let immediate family and friends write an entry as well. Most of the time, it’s not just prospective adoptive parents that are struggling with the wait. Family and friends anticipate the arrival of the child too. Entries from family and friends give the “outside looking in” perspective. These added entries show how much you and your family want and love the child that is being adopted.

Make sure to add in any accomplishments that lead you to the next step in the adoption process, it can help you visualize how far you have come in the process already. Add pictures of you preparing for the nursery/baby room, shopping for baby supplies/items, and family gatherings. Imagine years from now when you and your family look back over these journal entries, videos, and pictures how much love and appreciation will fill the room. You will not only be able to tell your child how much you love them and couldn’t wait for them to get here, but letting them see it in a tangible form. There are some things that words alone cannot describe.

If you are struggling with the wait, writing can be therapeutic. One adoptive mother explains, “I often felt alone during the wait. I mean my husband was waiting too but we handle our emotions differently. It was hard for outsiders to understand my struggle with all the unknowns. When I came across another woman’s blog post about her struggle during the wait, it made me feel connected. She was saying exactly what I was feeling and it felt good to know others were thinking what I was too. It actually sparked me starting my own blog and I cannot tell you how helpful it was to write about my journey while I waited.”

 

Learn About Other Member of the Adoption Triad

Learning about adoptees and birth parents can be both enlightening and beneficial. Your perspective is only one part of the equation on this journey and it is vital to seek out and listen to voices from the other member of the adoption triad.

Read blogs by women who have placed their child for adoption. You’ll find out that there are more myths than facts. Not all birth mothers come from low income, broken families. Not all birth mothers are homeless and addicted to drugs. No, birth mothers are not “giving up” their baby and “taking the easy way out”. Take the time to learn the circumstances of birth parents. For one second, consider the mother that has the onerous task of choosing the family that will adopt her child. It can be a happy and disheartening moment all at once. No one wakes up and says they are going to place their child for an adoption today. The circumstances of life lead both adoptive parents and birth mothers to adoption. Read articles and stories of birth mothers to understand their side of the story that few get to hear.

Additionally, explore the voices of adoptees. You will be raising a child who came into your family through adoption and so it will be helpful to hear from those who have experienced it so you can better understand your child’s point of view. Challenge yourself, even when it may be hard to listen, to truly hear adoptees. The challenges and joys they experience. When you know the common struggles adoptees face, you will be better equipped to parent your child

    Talk to Your Employer/ Travel Options

Nine times out of ten you are going to need time off for your adoption process. Talk to your employer as soon as possible to let them know what’s going on. Let them know you might need 2-3 weeks of time off when your placement occurs. Ask your employer if they offer reimbursement of adoption expenses. Some employers do and some do not, but it never hurts to ask.

Research your travel options. Find the cheapest and easiest way to travel when you are ready to leave. It’s difficult to get exact prices, being as though you don’t know the dates you will be traveling. However, you can get an approximate estimate. Look up hotels and car rentals (if you’ll be needing one). If you choose to fly, research which city is best to fly out of, in the event you are not flying out of your residential city. If you are adopting an infant, check the state laws to find out when a newborn can legally board an aircraft. It varies from state to state and you don’t want to find out the day your family is trying to go home.

                             

                Get Some House Work Done

Do you remember that “To-Do List” that’s been collecting dust on your refrigerator? Well, you might want to put some work in to finish most of it before the baby comes. Get some quotes for that bathroom you have been wanting to remodel. D.I.Y. type of person? Price out the materials and tools you will need to remodel that bathroom. If the spare bedroom needs a fresh coat of paint, now is as good a time as any. Things will change when the baby arrives. Taking care of baby becomes priority #1 and getting sleep will be priority #1.5.

 

                                All of This Goes to Say

Much easier said than done, but enjoy the process. Good things come to those who wait. Use these tips to help keep you busy or get your mind off waiting. One day you will look back and appreciate the time you spent waiting for the new addition that made your family whole!

Feel the Love: How to Bond with Your Adopted Child

Smith & Sons (2)

The best things in life are unseen, that’s why we close our eyes during a kiss, a laugh and a dream and bonding is no exception- you can’t see it, but you can feel it. Bonding with your child is important and becomes almost critical if the child was adopted. Although we know adoption isn’t a birth mothers rejection, oftentime’s to adoptee’s it can feel that way. Is it important to reassure your child that they can depend on you and are safe and loved. Bonding is a process that cannot be rushed. A deep meaningful relationship can only develop through shared experiences, trust, and time. It’s essential for children to feel accepted, cherished, and loved in the purest form- unconditional and true. Remember, a family isn’t made from blood, it’s made from love.

“A family isn’t made from blood, it’s made from love.”

The Science Behind Bonding

Attachment is a strong, affectionate bond we have with special people in our lives that lead us to experience pleasure when we interact with them. We often feel comforted by those we have an attachment to in the times of stress. The beginning stages of bonding starts earlier and simpler than many think. According to famous Psychologist Bowlby, babies are born equipped with behaviors like crying, babbling and smiling to ensure adult attention and adults are actually biologically programmed to respond to infant signals. When a parent performs small steps such as holding their children close, singing sweetly to them, comforting them and rocking them softly to sleep, their child knows that their parent is dependable which creates a secure base for the child to begin exploring the world and feel loved while doing so. These things along with keeping a calm voice, skin-to-skin contact, and carrying your child are the beginning steps to making your adoptive baby feel safe, secure, loved and cherished beyond belief.

Vera Falhberg, pediatrician and specialist in the field of adoption attachments, categorizes the following as long-term effects from positive attachment:

  • Helps a child to sort out perceptions of the world in which he lives
  • Encourages the development of logical thinking
  • Develops social emotions in a child
  • Cultivates the formation of a conscience
  • Helps an individual cope with stress, frustration, worries, and fears
  • Fashions an appropriate balance between dependence and independence
  • Sets the stage for the unfolding of healthy future relationshipsUntitled design

The Importance of Comfort

Making sure your child has comfort is a nurturing, everyday desire all parents have. Comfort increases productivity and boosts self-esteem in children and who doesn’t want that? Contact-Comfort takes it a step further and examines the relationship between physical and emotional comfort with love and security. For example, we’ve all seen the reaction that a crying baby can have due to being picked up by its mother; the child relaxes and stops crying. This is believed to be a result of its first feeling of safety and security derived from this close contact. A famous experiment that is a true testimony of the importance of comfort was conducted by Harry Harlow in 1959. The experiment focused around baby monkeys that were separated from their birth mothers and reared to two mother-like figures; one terry cloth covered doll and one wire meshed doll. The babies held on tightly to the terry cloth covered dolls for security and comfort despite the fact that the wire meshed doll had a bottle attached to it. This experiment demonstrated the importance of a warm and comfortable environment to help a child thrive rather than a cold, uncomforting one.

Building Comfort for your Child

We suggest having an age-appropriate crib or bed, warm sheets and blankets, a few pieces of child size furniture and some toys they might enjoy. You may feel the need to over-indulge with bold prints and glitter, but decorating with too many bright colors may be too overwhelming. Decorating with soft, warm colors will put your child at ease and displaying few attractive toys that are soft and fuzzy will calm your child and help them feel right at home. Another tip we suggest is carrying you child in the front of your body, closest to your heart. The Moby wrap can help you keep your child close and aid in bonding while also freeing your hands.

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Ready, Set, Bond!

True bonding is not measured by time spent together or the favors done for each other but by the comfort you find when you realize you have each other. Now that you have some background knowledge on the importance of bonding, let’s put our theories and science to work. Here are some tips we offer to help promote a healthy bond between you and your child.

Be Sensitive and Empathetic

Empathy is all about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with someone else’s heart, and seeing through someone else eyes. Be sensitive to the needs of your child and handle with care and compassion. If your infant is crying, take time to rock them gently and sing to them softly.

Sit and Play

Playfulness decreases any feelings of threat and harm. Sit alongside your child and follow their lead. Find activities that will interest your child and stimulate them emotionally and intellectually. “I see you” is a great game to play that promotes eye contact and helps the child become familiar with your facial features and laugh.

Be Predictable

Keeping rituals and routines help let the child let him know what’s expected of them as well as what they can expect from you. Try to keep feeding times the same; the earlier your child realizes that when they’re hungry you will feed them the better it is for all. As soon as your baby shows signs of hunger, sit in a cozy spot with a drink of water, a nursing pillow and soft music playing. If your baby is easily distracted when feeding, you might try going in a quiet room with the lights low, says Jim Sears, M.D., author of The Baby Book.

Skin-to-Skin Connection

Child or infant massages are a way for you to gently nurture and spend time with your baby. They promote parent – to child interact and are often soothing and calming to your child.

Relax and Enjoy It!

Bonding is not like instant glue which suddenly and irrevocable cements the parent-child relationship together forever. Bonding is a life-long process of parent-child interaction. Take a deep breath and enjoy bonding with you child; not only will this make you feel better, but also help your child relax.

What are some rituals your family does to promote healthy relationships?

 

Adopting When Your Partner is Reluctant

So you are 100% on board with the adoption process, you are ready to submit your application and get started creating your profile, but your partner isn’t as enthusiastic as you are. What do you do?

Reluctnat Adoption

“It is common for people to be in different places about adoption, yet it is something we do not often talk about,” says Jill Smolowe, an adoptive parent and author of an adoption memoir, An Empty Lap. “That makes the person suffering through it feel alone. I thought my marriage was flawed in some fundamental way when my husband and I couldn’t agree, and yet I struggled in isolation.” In this blog post we will explore some tactics to handle adopting with a partner who is reluctant about the process.

Reluctant Partner v. Reluctant Relatives

 

Reluctant Parent-To-Be

Imbalance can be frustrating when you are ready to have a baby in your arms, but your partner continues to raise concerns about parenthood. As Adoptive Families explains, reluctance to become a parent often centers around what must be given up, or anxiety about meeting expectations. Ask yourself and your spouse these hard questions, knowing that some may be unanswerable until you’re living with the changes a child brings. Many spouses aren’t reluctant about parenthood but parenthood through adoption – maybe it’s all the infertility treatments that have taken a toll emotionally, financially and physically that adds to a partner’s reluctance. Bottom line, really try to get down past the symptoms and to the root of the fears and concerns where they can then be understood better and addressed.

Questions to Ask

  • Age: Will my age negatively affect my ability to parent?  Will I have enough energy? Enough patience? Enough love?
  • Money: How can I save for a college education when I need to save for retirement? Will we ever get to take a vacation again?
  • Time: Will a child be too disruptive? Will I have to curb my work hours? Do I want to?
  • Family: Will my parents reject a child who comes into the family through adoption? Will my children from a prior marriage resent me for starting a new family? Will I repeat my parenting mistakes?
  • The unknown: Who will the child be? What genetic surprises might be in store? Will I be able to love an adopted child as much as a biological one?

The key is to acknowledge your spouse’s concerns and fears, and take them seriously. Join a support group for couples considering adoption. Hearing other’s reservations may help both of you consider different angles and explore what’s fueling the reluctance. Speak with your social worker to find ways to balance out the concerns – for example if your spouse is mostly concerned with openness or how to fill out the profile key, don’t push them to accept a situation they might ultimately be uncomfortable with, there needs to be a balance of both partners’ needs and wants.

Reluctant Relatives

Announcing to your family members that you will be growing your family through adoption, sometimes you will be faced with hesitant or unenthusiastic reactions to the news. It can be a shock to have loved ones question your adoption decision and it is important to remember that they most likely are coming from a place of caring and have the best intentions.

The Power of Education

  • Share the research you’ve completed for yourself about adoption and educate your loved ones on the steps in the process.
  • Gift your family members books about adoption.
  • Suggest that your relatives attend a support group or meeting with your adoption social worker so they can ask questions and learn more about adoption.

Waiting for your relatives to come around might be a tactic you will have to implement if your family isn’t supportive during your waiting period. Many families find that if there were doubts in the minds of their family prior to placement, once their child finally comes home those doubts are erased.

Communication is Key

There are no magic answers as one adoptive mother explained.

What worked for us, may not work for you.  We kept the lines of communication open; talking about it more than he wanted, but less than I wanted.  I asked his permission to share my research with him.  I tried to understand his concerns more than I tried to convince him.  After about a year, he became more comfortable with the time and financial commitment.  He loved me enough and valued my happiness enough to take the risk.  We compromised on what special needs or disabilities we were willing to consider.  And we slowly moved forward.  For what it’s worth, our daughter has been the apple of his eye from the moment he first held her, and he says he has never regretted his decision for one minute.”

Resources

https://www.adoptivefamilies.com/store/audio/expert-audio-reluctant-spouse-partners-relatives-randolph

 

 

 

Adopting a Child with Special Needs: What Does It Mean and Why it Could Be the Right Choice For You

There are so many children with special needs waiting to be adopted into loving families. For some adoption agencies, children with special needs are often thought to be more difficult to place than other children, but for other agencies all it takes is finding a family that is equipped with the resources to care for and the room in their hearts to love a special needs child.

Adopting A child With final
Adoption.com explained some of the legislation surrounding this area of adoption. The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (P.L. 105-89) has focused more attention on finding homes for children with special needs and making sure they receive the post adoption services they need. Congress enacted the law to ensure that children in foster care, who cannot be reunited with their birth parents, are freed for adoption and placed with permanent families as quickly as possible. We will continue to outline some of the important points to know if you are considering a special needs adoption.

What Does Special Needs Mean?

Love Without Boundaries: Adopt Special Needs outlined different types of special needs that infants and children may have. It is highly recommended to speak with an experienced and trusted physician for more in-depth analysis of each condition. Here is the list they compiled:

  • Alcohol and drug exposure: drug exposure and fetal alcohol syndrome
  • Blood conditions: hemophilia, lead poisoning, and thalassemia
  • Chromosome disorders: down syndrome and turner syndrome
  • Congenital heart defects: atrial septal defect, complete transposition of the great arteries, double outlet right ventricle, endocardial cushion defect, patent foramen ovale, pulmonary atresia, and tetralogy of fallot
  • Craniofacial conditions: cleft lip and palate, hemifacial microsomia, and microtia
  • Development needs: autism spectrum disorder, institutional autism
  • Digestive system conditions: imperforate anus, gastroschisis, megacolon, and pyloric stenosis
  • Infectious diseases: congenital syphilis, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV, meningitis, polio, and tuberculosis
  • Metabolic disorders: diabetes, failure to thrive, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, and phenylketonuria
  • Neurological conditions: apraxia of speech, arachnoid cyst, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, hydrocephalus, and spina bifida
  • Orthopedic conditions: amniotic band syndrome, arthrogryposis, brachial plexus injury, club feet, dwarfism, fibular/tibular hemimelia, funnel chest/pigeon breast, hip dysplasia, osteogenesis imperfecta, radial club hand, rickets, syndactyly, and torticollis
  • Sensory conditions: blindness/visual impairment, cataracts, deafness, glaucoma, microphthalmia, nystagmus, ptosis, sensory processing disorder, and strabismus
  • Skin conditions: albinism, burns, congenital blue nevus, congenital nevus birthmark, eczema, ichthyosis, and scabies
  • Urogential conditions: ambiguous genitalia, anorchism, concealed penis, cryptorchidism, hypospadias, and polycystic kidney disease
  • Vascular conditions: hemangioma and lymphedema

It is important to not only discuss with a medical professional, but to consider all options as a family. There may be certain conditions you feel capable of caring for, but others you don’t. The adoption process whether you are open to special needs or not is all about doing what fits best and feels right for you and your family.

Understanding a Child with Special Needs

Sometimes parents, whose children have special needs, the path to understanding can begin before the child is even born. Adoption.com explains that chromosomal differences such as Down Syndrome can be detected prenatally, and other developmental disabilities can be predicted with varying rates of accuracy based on the parents’ genetic history and previous children. However, that is not always the case. Parents might discover their child has some special needs once they are a few years old or once they start going to school. If you think your child might have some special needs, but don’t really know where to start or how to determine exactly what they may be, there are some early steps to take.

  1. Evaluate your child’s medical history/academic history if that is available to you. If there are medical clues that indicate a particular special need you might not have noticed before. Review medical records if you have them or reach out to your social worker or child’s birth family to see if you can get a more detailed copy of records.
  2. Establish the special need and to what degree your child’s needs are. As described above, special needs come in many shapes and sizes. Whether your child has physical impairments that are easier to spot, or cognitive disabilities that are harder to pin point, talking to a child psychologist or any specialist might help you to understand what obstacles your child might have in the future and what you can do to help prepare your child to overcome them.
  3. Support you child and don’t be afraid to let other’s help you. No one wants to feel different than their peers and children can become very upset at the thought of being different. Being a support system for them and having a supportive friend group is beneficial to every child, but especially a child with special needs. Seeking professional or emotional support as a parent is also important.

Knowledge is power and by actively working to understand your child’s special need, you will be able to provide the best care possible.

Real Adoptive Parents and Their Experiences with Special Needs Children

In an Adoption.com article, adoptive mother Joy Lundberg expresses what it was like to have adopted a child with special needs. “We learned so much about what can be done to help children with disabilities. Most of all we’ve learned to focus on her abilities instead. We discovered that our love for her is her greatest asset, and ours. She is indeed a special child. And some days she still drives me crazy. But then I hug my husband and we remember to laugh at the humorous moments. When they’re not staring us in the face, we look for them, and we find them.”

Other Resources:

http://www.lovewithoutboundaries.com/adoption/realistic-expectations/
http://phdinspecialeducation.com/special-needs-parenting-handbook/
http://www.specialeducationguide.com/

Adopting a Substance Exposed Child

Adopting a Substance Exposed Child

 

Substance abuse amongst pregnant women is more prevalent than one may believe. About 1 in 5 women will use an illicit drug or substance during pregnancy. Detecting the effects of substance abuse on an infant or child may be difficult because oftentimes the symptoms presented are subtle and similar to that of other illnesses.

Symptoms of Substance Abuse during Pregnancy

Babies who are born to moms who abuse substances during their pregnancies can encounter an array of complications. Some of these complications include:

  • Premature Birth
  • Low Birth weight
  • Heart Defects
  • Birth Defects
  • Infections
  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome ( NAS)

Babies who are born to moms who abuse substances during pregnancy may also encounter other problems later on in life. Some of these include:

  • Learning and Behavior Problems
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Slower Than Average Growth Rate
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome ( SIDS)
  • Sensory Integration issues

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Adoption Process

Prenatal exposure to substances can affect all types of adoptions: Infant or older child, domestic or international; public, private, or independent.

Some initial steps that can be taken when going through the adoption process are as follows:

  • Ask for a complete medical history and details about exposures: what substances were taken, for how long, whether or not the child can be or was born addicted, results of neonatal and subsequent testing, developmental aptitudes, etc.
  • Seek independent medical evaluations
  • Learn about prenatal exposures, what they are and potential effects.
  • Examine your attitudes and work with adoption and/or counseling professionals if you need help assessing your own abilities and capabilities.

Most agencies will offer you access to, information about, or assist you in finding resources to help you before, during, and after the adoption process. Here some resources that may be helpful for you to utilize:

 

  • Adoption and/or medical subsidies
  • Continuing to seek out information about support and/or educational services
  • Health and child development follow-ups throughout the preschool years
  • Special education services, including tutoring for those children who are underperforming
  • Counseling Services, including assessment and intervention for neuropsychological problems
  • Support groups for parents
  • Behavioral Management Services, including education and guidance for dealing with children throughout various developmental stages
  • Respite care
  • Legal assistance for parents in finalizing the adoption and pursuing services

It is Important to Remember..

Remember that every child responds to substance abuse differently and there is no way to predict how your child may be affected. However, if impairment is present, don’t assume that there is nothing that can be done to help your child. The greatest asset to you is assessing the needs of your child and intervening early on.

Children with developmental delays can and should be referred to federal early intervention programs or programs offered by adoption agencies and local school systems. Mental health professionals can also assist parents in coping with their child’s difficult behaviors and helping children attach to their caregivers.

Although parenting a child who has been exposed to prenatal drug use can be challenging to even the most skilled parent, research shows that when parents work with professionals and provide a loving and stimulating home, most children are able to thrive and adjust well.

Explaining Adoption to Your Child in Age Appropriate Ways

The process of explaining adoption to your child can be emotional. Feelings can range from fearful to joyful as you think of how to explain adoption to your child in ways that they can understand. While navigating this process, it is important to use age appropriate language in order to convey concepts that may be difficult for your child to understand. Here are some helpful tips to make this process just a little easier at any developmental level.

 

Talking to Infants about Adoption

Most experts suggest that parents talk openly about their child’s adoption, even during infancy, to set a good tone for later on, when their children are older and will want to explore their feelings on these issues more deeply.
One parent describes telling his one year old daughter she was adopted through a story he created about a squirrel. He told his daughter that the squirrel’s parents didn’t have enough nuts to give her, but found another mother and father who did have enough. Although his daughter could not yet grasp the fact that she was adopted, the story was a good way to introduce the concept.
Experts believe that it is important to begin using the word “adoption” early on and regularly. Although the word shouldn’t be the primary focus of the conversation, it is important to incorporate the word so that it feels natural to use and does not become taboo.

 

Talking to Children Ages 1-5 about Adoption

At this age, your child may be starting to understand the basic concept of reproduction. They may begin to ask questions about where babies come from and may wonder whether or not they were “in mommy’s tummy”. If your child is asking this question, you can say something such as “You grew inside your birth mother’s tummy, and then you came to live with us.”

Family Speaking About Adoption
It is important to take cues from your child. If they do not seem that into their adoption story, don’t dwell on the subject. It is also important to be patient. Even if your child acknowledges that they were adopted, they may not fully understand the concept until they develop a deeper understanding of conception and pregnancy.
At this age, children generally have positive emotions towards their adoption, and it is perfectly natural for them to be inquisitive about the story of their birth. So don’t become frustrated if your child does not seem to get it or continues to ask questions, even if they are the same questions over and over.

 

Talking to Children Ages 6-12 about Adoption

Don’t be surprised if your child, who was so excited to talk about their adoption story during ages 1-5, no longer seems to want to talk about their adoption during ages 6-12. Just because they are no longer talking about it doesn’t mean that they are no longer thinking about it. At this age, children often begin to have a better grasp on the concept of adoption and are now beginning to realize the relinquishment aspect of adoption. A child’s normal response to understanding relinquishment is sadness, grief over the loss of their birthparents, and feelings of rejection along with the desire to understand why their birthparents would decide not to parent.
School-aged children are also seeking approval and acceptance from their classmates at this age. They want to fit in and be like their friends, not stand out. Adopted children may feel as though they stand out simply because they are adopted. Your child may be faced with the attitudes of other children towards their adoption and questions from classmates that may not be as accepting as ones that they are used to. School assignments, such as creating a family tree, may create additional anxiety for your child. It is important to work with your child, as they enter school, to create a plan on how to respond to questions, comments, and assignments that may be difficult to handle.

Family with Older Adopted Children
Watching your child grieve can be difficult, but it is important to understand that your child’s feelings are not about you. Feelings of loss and sadness are not a sign of rejection for their adoptive family.
If the adoption is open, having your child write letters to their birth family can be a helpful way to have their questions about relinquishment answered, or to simply give them the opportunity to speak with them. In such cases, it is also important to work with the birth family to prepare them to discuss some topics that may be difficult or painful to talk about. You will also want to talk about how to best support your child’s needs for security and reassurance.
Remember not to force your child to talk about their adoption if they don’t want to, but to keep the lines of communication open and positive. You should send signals affirming to your child that it’s okay to talk about it. For instance, you could say, “You did great at your basketball game today. You’re a very good athlete. I wonder if your birthmother was also good at sports.”

 

Talking to Children Ages 12-21 about Adoption

The primary focus of most adolescents is developing their sense of self identity and thinking of who they would like to become. Adopted teens are no different, but their experiences may be more difficult because of their emotions towards their adoption.
You child may associate their relinquishment with a loss of a part of their identity, which they are trying to develop and express. Feelings of anger and frustration may surface as they are trying to reprocess the impact of their relinquishment on their self worth and belonging. This may cause them to struggle with their desire for greater independence with anxiety about separation from their adoptive parents and fear about whether or not they can succeed on their own.

 

Key Points

  1. Keep Communication open – Your children need to know that they are able to discuss these subjects when they are ready, not necessarily when you think it’s a good time. Be available and willing to listen.
  2. Consult books and online resources- Know that you are not alone. There are a number of resources and families out there that are affected by adoption. Many of them have, or have had, the same questions as you. Books and resources can answer these questions and provide helpful advice.
  3. Join a support group – it can be helpful to join a support group to talk to other adoptive parents about their experiences. Talking with other families about their adoption processes and understanding that you are not alone can help provide encouragement during difficult times.
  4. Remember that your child is an individual- Accept your child for who they are. Don’t pressure your child to respond in a particular way. Give your child permission to be themselves, especially when it comes to interest, goals, and feelings.

Remember to reassure your child that you love them, are committed to them, and that they hold an important place in your family.