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.