4 Challenges All Adoptive Parents Face
Adopting a child is a beautiful process, but it's not without its issues. Follow these tips for dealing with the ups and downs of adoption.
Raising a family isn't for the faint of the heart. Any parent will tell you that raising children is the hardest job you'll ever love.
Whether you're a biological parent or an adoptive one, the same principle holds true: Your child is your child, forever. While adoption is just another way for a family to become a family, raising adoptive children can pose certain challenges, namely these four:
1. The Adoption Process
The adoption process can be long and daunting. There are requirements for medical clearance of both parents, background checks, and seemingly endless paperwork. International adoption may be extremely expensive and require overseas travel.
Whether domestic or international, there are many steps in the adoption process--from screening prospective parents to matching them with their children. And while the process may seem draining, know that there is an end in sight.
Many new parents embarking on the adoption journey have found solace and support through adoption communities. By reaching out to other parents who have adopted, you can find a whole new resource to help get you through the process.
2. Acknowledging Your Child's Birth Parents or Birth Culture
The universal truth of all adoptive families is that your child was born to other people. That truth can lead to feelings of insecurity, jealousy, and even anger, from both adoptive parents and their children.
Experts acknowledge that it's natural for children to be curious about their birth families and their roots of origin, especially in a multicultural or multiracial family. To the extent that you know about the birth parents, it may be best to find ways to share that information with your child in an age-appropriate manner. Being honest and open with your child will build trust and empathy.
If your child was born internationally, it's common that they may show interest in their birth country and its culture. Demonstrating that you understand and respect the interest in their roots and finding ways to share and incorporate their birth culture is a way to connect and bond.
3. Inappropriate Questions
Other people love to share their opinions. Most of the time these opinions are harmless, but occasionally, you or your child may hear questions that you feel uncomfortable answering. This may be especially true in a multi-cultural or multi-racial family, where your child does not physically resemble you or your partner.
Don't feel pressured to respond to someone with unkind intentions or words. It's perfectly OK to say, "That's a personal question." Teach your child that it's fine to answer that way, too. You don't owe anyone answers to invasive questions that make you uncomfortable.
4. Feeling Disconnected from the Family
It's common for parents to experience challenges with adoptive children feeling as though they're not truly part of the family or that they are "different." Recognize that part of your child's background may be issues with abandonment or, in some sad cases, abuse.
Consistently letting your child know that they will always be part of the family takes patience and time. Make efforts to maintain a loving, nurturing environment for your child, while reassuring yourself that this is a phase many adoptive families experience.
Whether your child was born to you or adopted, becoming a family inherently takes some growing pains. With love, patience, and communication, your children will learn that your home is where their heart is.