Being a parent is a complicated job, and one that comes with a lot of responsibility. Beyond just caring for your child’s physical needs, you have to also help your child develop emotionally and intellectually into a person who can survive and thrive on their own as an adult someday. This process for biological parents is difficult, and for adoptive parents there are often additional challenges to overcome.
All children have questions that their parents might have difficulty answering, but when you are an adoptive parent, your child will often have questions that you may not know the answer to, or you may not be able to share with them. Questions like “who is my birth mother?” and “why didn’t she want to keep me?” can be emotional for children and difficult for parents to answer. It’s important to be prepared for these discussions with your child, since they often come up at times when you might not expect and if you’re not sure how you will answer them, the discussions can leave both parents and children at a loss.
Some adopted children could easily pass for the biological children of their adoptive parents, while others have obvious physical differences, such as a different racial background. Either way, parents of adopted children often face issues surrounding their physical differences that biological parents may not face. For example, you may not have complete and accurate information about a child’s genetic makeup or predisposition to certain diseases or conditions. While your adoption agency will help you learn as much as you can about the birthparents, sometimes there is little information available. If you look different from your child, that may come up as an issue when the child is old enough to become aware of the differences.
The parenting process comes with a lot of emotion—sheer joy or sadness and everything in between—but when you adopt a child he or she might be at higher risk for suffering from emotional issues. That might include grief and loss as the child becomes aware that he or she was put up for adoption by a birth mother, or psychological trauma suffered as a result of neglect, poor prenatal care, or exposure to alcohol and drugs in the womb or as a newborn. Dealing with these emotions early is important to the physical and psychological development of the child, and to your entire family.
Questions from Others
Finally, adoptive parents should be prepared to face a range of questions and comments from friends, family, teachers, neighbors, and event strangers. In many cases the person who makes these comments probably means well, but their remarks can still come across as hurtful and insulting. Being prepared to face these types of comments and questions, and helping your child prepare to answer them, can make a big difference in the ability to deal with the situation.
Adoption issues don’t have to be overwhelming, and with the right resources, help, and preparation you and your adopted child can thrive as a family.