Saturday, November 23, marks the 20th anniversary of National Adoption Day, a collective effort to raise awareness of the more than 123,000 children in foster care waiting to be adopted. It is also a day when thousands of children will complete the legal adoption process.
Some families may have struggled with fertility issues and waited a long time to complete their family while others may have stepped up and adopted their grandchild or relative. Regardless of how they came to be adoptive or guardianship parents, through private adoption or the foster care system, they are now beginning a journey that can have many ups and downs.
Unlike the happily-ever-after shown in the movies, the reality of adoption can be much more challenging. Families formed through adoption may experience loss, rejection, guilt and shame, grief, and other difficulties associated with adoption.
There are many things you can do to help support your child.
Take your time
As much as every parent wants the instant happily-ever-after, it takes time to develop a strong, healthy attachment with your child. If your child experienced trauma, consciously or not, it can impact them. Try to develop an understanding of your child’s perspective and their experiences. This can help build your relationship. Your child may need the help of a professional to work through their experiences and that is OK.
As the parent, you are the gateway to your child’s story. The circumstances surrounding their adoption may be too difficult for them to comprehend at a young age, but as they become older, you can provide more details until they have their full story.
Transparency regarding your child’s adoption will help them to more fully develop their identity. Having the pieces to their puzzle can help answer questions they may have and strengthen the family bond.
Develop a support network
While there will be many memorable experiences growing your family through adoption or guardianship, it is important to be aware there will be challenges. As a parent, you may get frustrated and start doubting your parenting skills, your decision to adopt, and whether you are the right person for your child.
You are not alone in these feelings; that is why developing a strong support network for you and your family is important. A strong support network can provide a sense of community and understanding.
Children who are adopted or in guardianship may have experienced rejection and, as a result, could face unique challenges building trust. Oftentimes, these feelings appear in the form of defiance, which is your child’s way of coping. Don’t take it personally. Your child needs your patience and understanding. Communicate with empathy and help them process their feelings.
If you ever feel overwhelmed, need help or have questions about your child, call us 24 hours a day at 888-667-2399 or visit RightTurnNE.org. Right Turn provides help and support to families who have adopted a child or entered into a guardianship in Nebraska. Right Turn is a collaboration between Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska and Nebraska Children’s Home Society.