3 Ways to Have the Best Adoptive Family

If you're part of an adoptive parent, you may be wondering how you can make your family the best adoptive family possible. Here's how.

You’re probably part of an adoptive family if you’re on this website. And being part of a family, you always want the best for everyone in the family. So here are three ways to have the best adoptive family!

1. Be Open

Tell your children their  adoption story in an age-appropriate fashion from the time you adopt them and don’t stop sharing that story. You may feel that they not understand parts and they may be uncomfortable to ask questions. As the parent, ask your child if they have questions about their adoption and share as openly as you feel is appropriate based on their developmental age. If it is in the best interest of the child, have an open relationship with his/her birth family. You can never have too many people who love your child, and if that is all the birth family is asking for, welcome them into your family. Having the birth parent(s) as part of your extended family will help your child understand they were placed for adoption out of unconditional love and will help him/her to process their adoption story.

2. Be Patient

Oftentimes family members will have a hard time understanding adoption, particularly open adoption or a transracial adoption. It is important to remember that while you received hours of training and home study education to prepare you for being an adoptive family, your extended family did not. Their questions may seem to have obvious answers, but you may have had the same questions had you not taken part in all the trainings. Be patient, try to foresee concerns, and send emails with explanations ahead of time. If a family member is concerned about your open adoption, thinking the birth family is trying to take the baby back, it may help them to see the finalization paperwork stating that you are forever the parent of your child. If a family member feels that your interracial adoption will have an adverse effect on the child, it may help them to hear about examples of successful people who grew up this way. It can get frustrating when you feel you are explaining something that should not need an explanation, but try to stay patient, and look at your role as that of an educator of adoption.

3. Surround Your Family with People Who Support You

If you have family members or friends who, despite your patient explanations of adoption, continue to approach you or your child negatively, it may be time to take a break from that person until they are able to accept your family as you are. While it may be necessary to inform and educate your family and friends about adoption, you should not have to continually defend your family. People who love you unconditionally won’t need repeated explanations and will support you regardless of whether or not it makes perfect sense to them. Remember that you are your child’s protector, and it is your job to make sure they are lifted up by their family and family friends.

Adoption is a way to create a family, it does not make a family any better or worse than one that was created differently. But to build a family where each member is celebrated for their uniqueness; where there is open communication and an understanding of the child’s background; where there is support from the extended family members. These are qualities that make any family great, regardless of how they were created.  

How Being in an Adoptive Family Changed My Life

Family is everything, and being part of an adoptive family is something truly special. In fact, you might say it's life changing.

Every person has those moments. The moments that change you. Change your life. I have been lucky enough to have a few. Before I explain some of these moments let me explain the beginning and the decisions that lead to some pretty amazing moments as an adoptive family.

Moment #1

I was 4 years old when my mom decided to get remarried. The man was a great guy who loved my mom and treated my younger sister and I as his own kids. What a fabulous day. We grew up with two parents, more siblings, fun adventures, and lots of love. Finally (here comes moment #1) in Spring 2001, at 16 years of age, my little sister and I get to go to the courthouse and in front of a judge, declare our wish to have our dad, become our legal father. My dad became my legal father through stepparent adoption. He had been my dad, the only one I ever knew, but that day changed my life in the way that now everyone will always know it, too. I was never going to be lost or left behind. It showed me how much my dad truly loved me enough to adopt two little girls not biologically his. And he could love me! Now, I had two legal parents, now and forever. We had become an adoptive family.  

Moment #2

Let’s move forward. I grew up! I met a man. An incredible, love of my life. We date, dream of a life together (including children), then we get married. We were so very excited to start our life together. To work, fulfill dreams, and have beautiful children. With his freckles, my eyes and curly hair. A year and a half later, August 2007, I gave birth to our beautiful baby girl. Moment #2. She made me a mom. She made us parents and got us a step closer to fulfilling all our dreams. We were thrilled to be on our way to the dream of a large family, full of little “mini-us’s”. She changed our life. We were happily shocked at how much our world changed and revolved around this tiny human. Great changes.

Moment #3

Let’s move forward again. Two years later, we found out that I was not able to have anymore children. Moment #3. Our large family dream of “mini-us’s” was shattered. We were broken hearted. But as we started to move on, we came to realize that adoption was the best and only route for us to take.

Moment #4

Moment #4: the day we became our own adoptive family. This changed us all forever! March 2013, our son was born. Five days later, we were able to meet him. That moment, walking into the hospital nursery, the nurse handing over this itty-bitty boy into my arms, is forever engraved into my memory. My heart and mind have grown tremendously.

I will admit, I was nervous, scared, and naïve about adoption for myself. What if I lost this baby? What if things didn’t go through? What if the birth parents were hard?  Would my heart open for him the same as for my daughter? Would he bond with me and I, him? As soon as I held him, all that changed. Those fears didn’t just “go away.” But, somehow, I felt that I could handle whatever was thrown at us through the journey. Things in no way have been easy. We haven’t had a perfect adoption adventure. But we continue to move forward every day. Our son is now almost 5 years old. Every day is something new. He has had health issues and developmental delays, but my fears have all been calmed. He is 100% my son.  We have all bonded together as a stronger family.

Moment #5

I know that adoption and being an adoptive family has made me, my husband, and my family stronger, kinder, more open to difficulties, braver, and better people. We can’t imagine our family without our adoption. We can’t wait to grow again through another opportunity. It changed our fears to strength. Hopefully our family can change again with a moment #5.

Adoption has opened our eyes to the strengths and flaws in the adoption system. It has made me think and consider more ways to get involved to help others learn about adoption and to guide others in ways that I can. To advocate adoption in a lot of forms. There are so many children, newborn and older, who need loving homes. I have a new dream, to adopt a few more newborns, and then to adopt some older children and/or help get them adopted into forever families.

Adoption is a special, amazing option for all sides included. And as I stated before, it has changed us, for the better. I love my dad and my son and more to come to my heart through adoption. Hopefully we get many more life-changing moments.

Growing Up in an Adoptive Family Will Make You Feel THIS

Growing up in an adoptive family is a unique experience, and that means it comes with unique emotions. Here's how it may make you feel.

For most adoptive parents, adoption is a wonderful experience. They are excited to add a new member to their family. They dream about what they’ll do as a family and what the child will be like as they grow up. Their feelings are often positive and happy. The adopted child may have many other emotions. Their feelings can vary widely and even bounce back and forth just like a pendulum. It’s important for adopted kids to know it’s okay to feel they way they do.

You Will Feel Grief

It’s difficult for many to understand how you can feel loss over something you never knew. However, many adopted kids experience grief over losing their birth parents. It often happens when they first learn about being adopted and again when they are struggling to find their own identity as teens. They may suffer more grief during important milestones in their life such as getting married or having a child.

You Will Feel Abandoned

The question “Why didn’t my mother want me?” will ring in your mind at some point. As you struggle to understand why your birth mother placed you for adoption, you may focus on the fact that she “gave you away,” especially if this is a term used by those around you. If you discover your birth mom later had children she kept, these feelings can become even more prominent.

You Will Feel Unsure

You will wonder who you are and unsure of being loved and lovable as an adopted child. While your adoptive parents obviously love you, there may be times when you wonder why your birth parents didn’t love you enough. Was it you or something you did? This feeling may be even more pronounced if you were older when you were adopted. If you don’t have access to information about your birth family, you may wonder who you really are.

You Will Feel Guilt

You know your adopted family loves you, and you may feel guilty about being interested in your biological family. You may feel disloyal, especially if you hear others say how lucky you are to be adopted. It’s often implied, even unintentionally, that you should be grateful for your new family. Feelings of guilt may come as you long to know more about your birth family even though it’s a perfectly natural response.

You Will Feel Anger

It’s normal to feel angry at your life and those responsible for its direction. You may feel anger at your birth parents for “giving you up.” You may feel anger towards outsiders who make comments or ask questions. You may be angry at times towards your adopted parents who “took you away from your birth family.” This is one of the hardest emotions to accept, but it’s a natural response to being part of circumstances beyond your control. Even if you have an awesome life, it’s normal to feel anger and loss at what might have been.

You Will Feel Happy

As an adopted child, your life will not be all about your adoption. You will have the normal ups and downs of any kid. You will experience joy and happiness, excitement and contentment. There may be times when you feel extra happy at the turn your life has taken. This emotion, like all the others that you will experience, is a normal part of growing up, especially of growing up as an adopted child who is loved.

Be willing to feel your emotions and not suppress them. Being adopted is a unique situation that brings special feelings and thoughts. Work through each one of them and you will become a stronger adult.

Why Being in an Adoptive Family Is Beautiful

Being part of any family is beautiful, but being part of an adoptive family is something spectacular. Here's why that's true.

Being part of any family is beautiful, but being part of an adoptive family is something spectacular. There is much to be learned about other cultures, genetics, traditions, and behavior. And so when you are part of an adoptive family you get to see, appreciate, and celebrate your family for the way it has melted and blended those characteristics together.

In an adoptive family, you search for the similarities and differences in one another that have nothing to do with appearances. You look deeper.

You find humor in the traits that mirror one another in your family even when there is no genetic tie.

You discover that the way you dress, the way you laugh, the way you eat, the way you brush your hair all seem to have origins in your adoptive family and not only in your DNA.

You tend to look at things in the perspective of the “bigger picture.” You don’t assume things as quickly about other families because you already understand the complexities that create a family.

You all bring something unique to your home. When adoptive families are created with older children especially you notice how each one of you brings your own observations, and perspectives, and opinions and because of the deep love you all share, you let those things change you for the better.

In an adoptive family, you learn compassion and empathy. You share in each other’s experiences that drew you together.

Your extended family reaches far and wide. You may have multiple aunts, uncles, cousins, and even sets of grandparents!

Some adoptive families share last names or similar looks and others don’t. You get to keep people on their toes a bit.

The most beautiful thing about being part of an adoptive family? You are a public display and example for others of love. Creating your adoptive family isn’t without work and sacrifice and lots of time and energy, so when you are out and about and letting your light shine, make no mistake–it shows!

7 Qualities of an Adoptive Family

Families come in many shapes and sizes, but all strong families are built on certain core qualities, especially an adoptive family.

It’s safe to say that families are like fingerprints or snowflakes. Differences can be vast or unapparent at first glance. Because of this, a one-size-fits-all is approach to parenting is not going to be helpful; especially for an adoptive family.

So, these qualities come straight out of my own family context. I’ve ordered them the way I have intentionally. Each one builds on the one before it. Of course, like anyone our good intentions escape us. Like heat through old and weathered windows. We don’t perfectly embody these qualities, by any stretch. But we are growing into them. Success does follow our failures from time to time, so we celebrate that. I hope this list helps to strengthen your bond and remind you what you’re made of.     

Love

Love is an obvious first choice. The unconditional kind that does not need to be earned. It is simply given. This kind of love originates with God. The beauty of love is that is it limitless. It can always flow. It’s important to love ourselves as well. Not just our kids.

Forgiveness

I love the quote by Robert Brault, “Life becomes easy when you accept the apology you never got.” It’s been said that forgiveness is more for our benefit than the one who has hurt us. It is one of the best ways we can love ourselves through the hurt. Multiple times a day I am wronged or wounded by my son. I know it’s usually not personal and he is just struggling with his ability to cope. But it’s still hard.  

But if we don’t make forgiveness a priority in our family than all we’re left with is resentment and disillusionment. Forgiveness is what enables the process of healing to take hold and allow for something new.   

Openness

We’ve heard about the importance of openness in adoption when it comes to birth families and sharing our child’s age appropriate birth story. But what I’m thinking about when it comes to openness is something a bit different. Openness is being willing to learn from each other. To consider that my way isn’t the only way. Considering creative possibilities when problem solving has been so important for us. It breathes life into difficult situations and can help take some of the pressure off.

Joy

Having joy isn’t about pleasant circumstances. It’s about something inside of us that has the power to reach into our circumstances in a positive way. It’s about our ability to create joy by choosing to have fun and finding something to laugh about.  

I was talking with a fellow adoptive mom one time and she mentioned how humor made her feel uncomfortable, especially coming from her kids. To her, discipline was a far more important quality. It’s not that I don’t agree that discipline is important. But our family wouldn’t have survived the past eight years without humor. Laughter has been a lifeline through some extremely dark situations.

Trust

When we are going through rough times as a family it’s easy to ask, “why?” It’s easy to wish that things or people were different. If I get on that track for too long, it leads to a deep-seated feeling of hopelessness. It doesn’t help me change what I can. It just weighs me down and breeds discontent in everyone around me. We are better as a family when we choose to trust. Trust that God will direct our path, trust that we will be okay whatever happens. Trust in the bonds we share.  

Fortitude

I really like the word fortitude. It makes me think of warriors on the front lines draped in heavy armor. I see walls protected by iron gates and unspoken words, “not on my watch.” In the dictionary fortitude means to have courage in pain or adversity. Other words for fortitude are bravery, endurance, resilience, mettle, moral fiber, strength of mind, strength of character, strong-mindedness, backbone, spirit, grit, steadfastness, or more informally, guts.

This is a fantastic list. All things I’d like to be. But I don’t enjoy the process through which they are developed! There are so many times when I wondered if I could go on as a mother. And certainly, as a family we wondered if we would be able to stay together during such overwhelming chaos. But each time we do. We endure. We reach out for help. Our resolve deepens.  

Hope is closely related to fortitude. I don’t think there’s any way someone could go through all that and not have even a glimmer of something to hope for.  

11 Stereotypes Adoptive Parents and Families Face

Adoptive parents and families face many stereotypes.  Here are some common ones.

  1. Birth parents didn’t want to keep or didn’t love the child they placed for adoption. There are many birth parents that chose to place their children for adoption because of the unfortunate circumstances they have faced in life. Most birth parents love their children very much.
  2. Adoptive parents chose adoption because of infertility issues. Many adoptive families chose adoption because they love children and hate to see children orphaned. Many already have biological children before they begin their adoption journey.
  3. Adopted children come from other countries. While it is true that many children around the world are orphans and need loving parents, there are many children in our own country that need loving parents. You cannot tell if a child is adopted or not by just looking at them.
  4. Domestic adopted children were adopted at birth. Many children are adopted at older ages. Many children are adopted out of the foster care system, and many are adopted by their stepparents.
  5. Adoption is always expensive. Many international adoptions are very expensive and can range anywhere from $20,000-$50,000. Foster care adoptions are much cheaper than that, and the state from which you are adopting may even cover the costs of adoption. Adoption out of the foster care system usually costs $1,200 if not covered by the state.
  6. Adoptive parents are heroes. We have been called saints. Adoptive parents are not heroes or saints. We are simply people who love children and know that every child deserves a loving home. The heroes are the children who come into our homes and our hearts.
  7. Adoption involves strangers. Adoption can involve family members. Many grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings, etc. become adoptive parents.
  8. The adoption process is long and arduous. Sometimes it is, sometimes it’s straightforward and easy. Each adoption is unique and faces its own challenges, but a long waiting period and loads of paperwork is not always the case.
  9. Adoptive parents and children will bond. The bonding process can take months or even years. You do not automatically love someone who is in your home. The bonding process takes time and should not be rushed or abated because it isn’t going as expected. Some adoptive parents face post-adoption depression, similar to postpartum depression.
  10. Adopted children have issues. Yes, many adopted children have attachment issues. Many have trauma from past abuse, however, these children are victims of circumstances they couldn’t control and just want to be loved and accepted.
  11.  Teenagers are scary. Teenagers need love and acceptance just as much as younger children. Many have experienced more hurt and abuse than any adult will ever experience. While many may have emotional wounds and trauma to cause them to act out, many are actually normal teens who need support as they become adults.

Being an Adoptive Family Looks like This

Whether you're actively considering adoption or you're just curious, you may be wondering what being in an adoptive family is like.

I’m a mom; I probably look like every other mom you’ll ever meet. I play chauffeur, I plan my life around my daughter’s activities, I volunteer at school, I help with homework when I can…I do mom things. Why should my life as a mom look any different than any other average mom just because my body didn’t carry my child? In my opinion, it shouldn’t.

We were very lucky to become adoptive parents to my beautiful baby girl when she was a brand spanking new baby. She has grown up knowing us as her mother and father and also with the knowledge that she was adopted at birth. We have always been straight forward and open with her about the subject of her adoption; she’s even met her birth mother. But that’s where the line of differences is drawn…by EVERY other means…she IS our daughter.

I never knew I could love another person as much as I love her; I never knew I’d be willing to sacrifice everything in my world to make hers better; I never knew a smile could warm my heart like hers, nor did I know just how much every little aspect in my life would change when I became a mom…but it did, regardless of the fact that my body did not carry her.

Granted I did not have the nine months of pregnancy, my body did not grow and expand as she grew within me, but my heart grew as much as any heart could grow, knowing that I would become a mother the way life intended me to become one. Why should it matter that my body did not create her or carry her? In my mind, it doesn’t.

She looks just like a female version of her father with a little bit of me tucked in around the edges; she’s beautiful, she’s sweet and kind, and she’s a good mix of both of her father and I, which also means no one can win an argument in the house because she also has adopted our logic as her own. When we’re out in public people always comment about how much she looks like her father and how she’s the mini version of me in her mannerisms and attitude.

Like any other child I’ve ever met, she’s a mix of both her father and me. Her taste of music is much like her father’s, but she’s also artistic like me. She likes to try everything either of us are doing for herself. She loves to cook like her grandmother, she has my sense of sarcasm and her dad’s curiosity with science and math. She loves to play with her cousins, she values everyone in our extended family…we’ve raised her the way we would have raised her even if she was our biological child. In our minds we see no difference.

It matters not to us or to those who know her or our family that she was not born from my body; what matters is the fact that she’s a kind, sweet, and sensitive person, truly interested in other people with an unbelievable bond to all animals and a desire to learn, grow and excel. In every single sense of the word, she IS our daughter; plain, simple and true. The fact that she is adopted is simply not an issue. Our adoptive family is just as solid, just as loving, and just as natural as everyone else’s, adoption aside, because to us it truly isn’t any different.