Monday, October 15, 2018
Once people start thinking about building or enlarging a family through adoption, they have a lot of questions. While they are mostly about the adoption process, there are many questions about differences in adoptive parenting and living as an adoptive family. Asking these questions early on helps singles and couples prepare not only for the adoption process but also for the years to come. In my work, it is not unusual for my clients to come back for advice or guidance well after the adoption has been finalized
The following article ADOPTION MYTHS & REALITIES addresses several pre-adoption questions.
It appeared in the 2018 Guide of Path2Parenthood, an organization committed to helping people create their families by providing leading-edge outreach programs and timely educational information. They provide in person-educational events as well as an extensive on-line library, a resource directory and outreach events.
When you become a parent, there are additional things to consider.
1. Once I tell my child they are adopted, I have done my job.
Telling a child about their adoption is just the beginning of a lifetime of conversations. You should start talking to them before they even understand and give yourself time to get comfortable with the words you choose to use. Children as young as 2 understand baby's come from bellies. You can explain that once they are born a decision is made as to whom they go home with. Your job is to create an open dialogue where your child feels comfortable sharing thoughts or asking questions. Watch for opportunities to bring up adoption in everyday life, such as television shows, conversations overheard or holiday celebrations.
2. I don't have to share my child's history with their teachers.
There is a difference between privacy and secrecy. If your child is old enough to talk to the teacher, involve them in the discussion. You want the teacher to know enough to be aware in order to alert you to upcoming classroom and homework assignments and to let you know of any discussions with or comments from peers. You should not provide details of your child's background or adoption story unless it may impact upon their interactions with others. Make arrangements with the teacher on how best to share information (emails, notes, phone calls, meetings, etc.)
3. My child will be confused if they meet their birth parent(s).
Contact with a birth parent does not constitute co-parenting. Your child will know who the parent is and you and the birth parent(s) can determine what names everyone will be called and how the relationship will be presented. Children who have contact with their birth family from the start are more comfortable with the relationships and have access to background information as they grow.
4. Talking about my child's race or culture is enough to help them understand their racial/cultural background.
Adopting a child of a different race or culture makes YOU a multi-racial/cultural family. It is important to talk about the diversity, provide role models and expose them to cultural experiences. Your social network should include individuals and families reflecting your family's composition and should include adoptive and diverse racial/cultural families. As your child grows, it is important to reflect on your own experiences, listen to your child and keep this conversation going.
5. If I ask the social worker who did my homestudy for help, I will be judged as an incompetent parent and risk losing my child.
Hopefully, your social worker was a part of your adoption team, offering information and support and advocating, if necessary, from the start. They know you and your journey. They want you to succeed. Parenting is not easy; adoptive parenting has even more complexities.
It takes time to adjust to anything new and sometimes incremental learning is needed. Knowing the truth about adoption is paramount. Educating yourself early on is important. But no matter how much you prepare, there are always things you never thought of or now that you are experiencing them, you have questions.
As always, I remain available to listen, sort through concerns, answer questions and provide guidance or referrals for additional assistance.
Kathy Ann Brodsky, LCSW is a New York and New Jersey licensed social worker, adoptive mom and advocate for ethical adoption practice. Through her private practice and agency affiliations, she has prepared thousands of adoption homestudies, counseled expectant, birth, pre/post adoptive parents and adopted persons, as well as trained professionals to work with adoptive families. She was Director of the Ametz Adoption Program of JCCA and a member of the Advisory Board for POV’s Adoption Series and is currently a member of the Adoption Advisory Board of Path2Parenthood, Adoption Professional Advisory Council of HelpUSAdopt and active in the Adoptive Parents Committee in New York. Her blogs and written contributions can be seen throughout the Internet, including her BLOG and as Head Writer for ADOPTION.NET She was named an “Angel in Adoption” by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in 2001. You can reach her directly at EMAIL.