Families are formed in various ways. They come in all configurations, sizes, and shapes. A family with adopted children has unique experiences that include many joys and challenges as well. Despite this, parenting an adoptive child is almost similar to raising your own biological child. Children who come into the family as infants or much older need love, care, security, support, etc.
Still, parenting an adopted child is a special experience. The age at which you adopt your child can make a significant difference for you as the parent and the child. Younger children who spend less time with their previous caregivers tend to bond faster with the new parent. Because of that, many foster parents prefer to adopt a child as soon as they are born.
The adoption process takes longer because the child and the new parent have to form a trusting relationship as well as feel secure. Because of that, some families have found themselves adopting much older children who can securely body with the rest of the family.
The article will examine this topic and bring out the challenges and rewards of raising an adoptee or adopted child.
Let’s get started.
Two Potential Long-Term Effects of Adoption on a Child
Does adoption affect a child? Truly speaking, there is no yes/no answer to it because every adoption is different. But the internet has research and studies about the effects of adoption on an adoptee and stories from the adoptees themselves.
There are definitely huge effects of adoption on a child because their biological parents are not raising them. The experience is also different for a child adopted as an infant and the one put in foster care in their teen years.
The following are two observed effects of adoption on a child.
1. Mental or Emotional Trauma
As mentioned above, the age at placement has a huge impact on the adoptee. Older children can clearly remember the neglectful or traumatic events in fine detail, but infants have no clue. But all adoptees, whether infants or teens, grieve the loss of their biological parents or family, their culture and heritage to some degree.
Be that as it may, adopted children learn to accept the reality and move forward, although they may experience a couple of psychological effects like:
- The challenge of forming emotional attachments
- Identity issues
- Low self-esteem
However, with proper support from the adoptive parents and coping mechanisms, the adopted child can build resilience which can help them overcome early adversities. In the end, the self-esteem of adopted and non-adopted individuals will be the same if they receive the same care and support.
2. Socioeconomic Advantages
Adoptive parents are expected to meet specific requirements to adopt a child. They need to be secure financially and practically prepared to raise another child other than theirs. In most instances, adoptees often experience life with significant advantages.
Here are facts about adoptees.
- Adoptees are less likely to live in households or neighborhoods below the poverty line.
- Adoptive parents provide their adopted child with health insurance, and the adoptee is likely to have good health.
- Adoptive parents tend to be more involved in a big way in the education and extracurricular activities of their adopted children than other parents with non-adopted children.
- Adoptees are more likely to be diagnosed with physical and mental disabilities.
- Adopted children tend to have learning or behavior problems.
Based on its positive and negative effects, adoption is a complicated journey with challenges and rewards. In view of that, adoption specialists provide a lot of information for the sake of adoptive parents and adoptees.
What You Shouldn’t Tell Your Adopted Child
The thought of being adopted or raising an adopted child can be traumatic. Basically, adoption involves taking a child away from their biological parent or family. The adoption experience varies from child to child. Therefore every person has their own unique experience.
The following are things you should avoid as an adoptive parent.
You Should Be Grateful
An adoptive parent should avoid telling their adopted children that they should be grateful. Is being abandoned by a biological parent something to be truly grateful for? Adoptees are thankful to be part of your family, but you shouldn’t force them to continuously praise you for raising them. Allow them to decide that for themselves.
You Should Consider Yourself Lucky
Some adoptive parents repeatedly remind their adopted children how lucky they’re to be placed in their family. But this is being somewhat self-centered from the adoptee’s side. As mentioned above, it’s extremely disheartening to learn that your birth parents abandoned you. So adoptive parents shouldn’t tell their adopted children that they’re lucky to have them as their adoptive mom or dad.
We Choose You
The majority of adoptive parents were unable to conceive their own biological child. As a result, they chose the adoption route, and the social service agency was ready to link the adoptee and their adoptive parents. So whether that was the case or not, adoptive parents don’t exactly choose their adopted child, and they shouldn’t tell them that they’re lucky and should be grateful that they picked them over children.
You Biological Mother Wanted You to Have the Best
You can’t tell what was in the mind of the biological parent when they relinquished their child. Maybe the parent wasn’t in a good position to raise the baby, or she might have gone through a traumatic event that led to that. Because you don’t know the circumstances well, then you shouldn’t tell the child that their mom wanted the best for them.
You Were Wanted
The fact that the child ended up as your adopted child clearly indicates that they were not wanted. It is important to note that many adopted children carry huge burdens of insecurity and rejection. Telling your adopted child that they are wanted can be patronizing or confusing. Instead of saying you are wanted, tell them that you love them.
It Was Meant To Be
Many people believe in fate, but it’s important to know that not everyone does. It can be disheartening to tell somebody that it was meant for them to end up as an adoptee or your family to adopt them.
How to Have a Conversation with Your Child About Adoption
Every child has a unique story about their adoption. The adoptive parent should be prepared to talk about it before the adoptee starts to ask questions.
The following tips will help you handle the adoption journey from the beginning.
Preserve Your Child’s Story: It’s important to preserve your adopted child’s story from the beginning. You can put it in both words and pictures in a scrapbook or notebook. Include the background information, anecdotes, and photographs. Document the entire journey if you adopt a child from another country, including the photos of the birth parents, the hospital, the country, the trip to the foster family, and how the rest of the family members received them. In other words, try as much as possible to gather all the necessary information.
Make the Verbal Story Relevant: Try to connect the child’s background with their present situation. Tell them about their parents and why you adopted them. For instance, you can tell them that their parent(s), although they loved each other, were too young to raise a child. That’s why they searched for another home for their baby. On the other hand, you searched for a child to become part of your family. That is how you both became a family.
Have Honest Conversations: All parents should try to create a sense of trust in their children. Honesty is the foundation of trust. Encourage your children to ask questions and try to answer them as honestly as possible. In fact, you should answer the questions based on the child’s age. In other words, don’t lie or complicated things. If a 4-year-old girl asks you if she grew in your tummy, don’t lie to her by saying yes. Instead, tell her that she grew in another person’s tummy. This will help you explain her adoption story.
Train Your Child to Identify and Understand Their Feelings: A parent should train their children to express their feelings. You can tell the adoptee that it’s normal and understandable to feel that way. So they shouldn’t feel weird talking about grief, fears, fantasies, etc. In fact, how both of you feel and understand things will continually change and evolve with time.
Why Should Talk to Your Child About Adoption
It’s advisable to give your child age-appropriate information about their adoption. You should begin as early as possible because it gives the child a strong sense of identity. It also helps them understand themselves at a young age rather than waiting until they get older.
Being open, natural, and honest is helpful. Raising a child of another ethnicity can be a challenge if you’re not open to discussing how they joined your family. But things will be different when you acknowledge diversity at a tender age. You can use the scrapbook you have created about their adoption journey to show them their past experiences, culture, and current life. Try to celebrate the child’s culture when they came from as well as the one they have entered into.
While an infant might not understand what adoption is until they reach a certain age, they can relate to statements made in a positive manner. If the adoption is open, let the child know about their biological parents because they play a vital role in their lives. Speak positively about it even in a closed adoption and allow the child to grieve the loss of their biological parents. With time the child will begin to trust and bond with new people.