Hello! I have another great guest post to share with you! I came across this blog post a few weeks ago and knew I wanted to share it with you! I asked Ashlee and she graciously allowed me to guest post it on Give1Save1 Europe! We all know that adoption isn't easy! This post would be great to share with your family and friends before you bring your child home!
About eighteen months ago our family expanded through the adoption of two
children. We have learned so much and the family and friends who love and
support our family have also learned a lot. Though we had previous parenting
experience, this journey has had it's own unique joys and challenges.
Many adoptive families give written advice and suggestions to
friends and family prior to the new child's arrival to help ensure a smooth
transition. I didn't do this because I felt like it would be too difficult to
put my wishes and feelings into words without sounding too harsh or controlling
and honestly I did not really even know what to say. However, after being home
for almost a year and a half, it is clear that most people have great intentions
but that they want and need suggestions for what they can do to help our adopted
children integrate into our family and into the community. Here are a few
thoughts about supporting an adoptive family. Most pertain to families who have
adopted internationally and also to those who have adopted through the domestic
route. It was compiled based on our experience and also on the experiences
of a few dozen other adoptive parents who contributed their ideas and
Our children are not necessarily grateful to have been adopted.
And we don't expect them to be. It is not that our kids don't notice
the stability of a family. It's not that they don't cherish the love that
they are receiving or that they don't like their new life. It is because
children are programmed to need, want and expect love. When we provide it we are
not heroes, we are simply meeting one of their very basic needs. Expecting
adopted children to be grateful for being adopted is like expecting our
biological children to be grateful for being conceived. It was a choice that we,
their parents, made and that they were brought into.
feed my kids.
For children who have known hunger, food means love.
We want them to learn to love us, their parents and siblings, before they bond
with extended family, neighbors and friends. I know that they stare longingly at
anything edible. I know that our two year old puts his head on the table and
looks at you with puppy dog eyes. But since we were not there to meet their
early needs (breast or bottle feeding, comforting them when they were sick,
changing diapers, kissing boo boos) we need to make up for it by meeting as many
of their physical and emotional needs as possible now. Many adopted children
also have food insecurities. Some eat until they vomit and then start eating
again. Others hoard food, needing the comfort of knowing that there is some
saved for later. It is best to leave all feeding to the parents unless
specifically directed otherwise.
Parenting an adopted child is hard work and we struggle. We
may tell you that were okay when we're really falling apart. We're worried that
if we are honest about how difficult it is that you won't understand and that
you'll think we're nuts. Adding a child who may or may not have anything in
common with us socially, culturally, biologically or even personality-wise is
challenging. Though undoubtedly beautiful and worth all of the struggles,
adoption certainly isn't always easy or
It is greatly appreciated if you
choose your wording carefully, especially around our children.
these are all our "real" kids (though sometimes it would be nice if all of my
kids, adopted and biological, had "off" switches) and, in most
situations, you probably do not need to specify whether you are talking about my
"adopted kids" or my "biological kids". They are all my kids even if they
joined us through different paths.
If you'd like to offer support
(meal, help with house cleaning, etc) when an adopted child joins the family,
please do even if we don't reach out and ask.
Many of us won't
specifically ask for help or tell you what we need. However, I don't know
a single adoptive mom who would turn down an offer to have a group of friends
tidy/clean her house during those first few weeks at home with a new child.
Likewise, coffee and chocolate are most always welcome and might be exactly what
a new adoptive mom needs to get through those challenging times of
Please don't try to get our child to like you the
Attachment and bonding are challenging enough without having
friends and family slip our children candy, shower them with gifts, offer
seconds at meals or encouraging bending and stretching of family rules. We're
already working our tails off to get them to like us. With consistency
and time they will learn to like you too, I promise.
children had lives before they joined our family.
birth families and other relatives who are important to them and who deserve
recognition and credit too. They have had life experiences that, while sometimes
different than ours, are still special and valuable.
Be considerate of the types of questions that you ask about our child's
background and personal history, especially in their presence and especially if
they are old enough to understand.Would it offend you if someone
asked if you have AIDS, if you were abandoned, if your parents were drug
users or how your parents died? If so, best not to ask these questions to
someone else. We understand that it is normal to be curious and to wonder about
the circumstances that led to a child's adoption. However, these are things that
we discuss openly in our immediate family but not elsewhere. Our children may or
may not choose to divulge more of their personal stories someday when they are
older but they are THEIR stories and details to share, not
Sometimes adopted children need to be parented differently
than biological children.
We are not spoiling them. We aren't making
excuses for poor behavior. Rather, we are parenting a child whose background may
be very dissimilar to anything we've experienced. A child who has been abandoned
and who has a fear of abandonment shouldn't be sent to time out alone in another
room. A child who is still attaching to their adoptive family may need to be
firmly held while having loving, affirming words whispered into their ear during
a full-blown tantrum. The types of consequences that work for other children
might not work for a child who doesn't have the same sense of value of their
possessions and who doesn't understand what it means to have privileges. As
parents, we must be flexible to help meet the individual needs of our child even
if it means that we do things a little differently sometimes.
you would like to give a gift to our new child, please consider something small
that the whole family can enjoy together.
A few ideas are a frozen
meal, a gift card to the movies, a small ornament commemorating the adoption or
art supplies for all of the kids to share. We know that you want to welcome our
new additions but gifts can be overwhelming for children who have had few
material possessions. Also, we want our children to learn to love you for who
you are, not for the fact that they hope they'll get another gift the next
time they see you again. Other siblings may also experience jealousy and
resentment if the new addition suddenly receives an armory of gifts and they are
Attachment takes time and work.It doesn't happen overnight.
Even if it appears that our child is securely attached to us it may take many
months or years and every child and every family bonds differently. Many
times we're faking it until we make it but one day we will wake up and realize
that we're not faking it anymore and that our love is deep and
Parents who have recently added a child through adoption need
support, friendship, love and encouragement.
Even if we're somewhat
withdrawn and spending a lot of time at home cocooning with our new addition we
value our friendships. Please continue to check up on us and to email, text,
call or stop by. If you were in our life before we still want you in our life
and in the lives of our children!
Please refrain from commenting
on our child's appearance (specifically relating to ethnicity/race) in front of
him or her.
All children want to feel included and to fit in.
Pointing out how dark they are, how differently they look from the rest of us or
how unique their hair feels only makes them feel like they stand out
Please do not ask adopted children if they like their new
Adopted children do not usually get to hand pick
their family. Adoption is similar to an arranged marriage and unique, sometimes
very different people are brought together. With hard work and
patience true love may grow. However, ask ANY child, biological or adopted
(especially any older child!) if they like their parents and be prepared for
some interesting answers!
It takes time to help children start to
heal from a difficult past.
Just because they have been with us for a
certain amount of time does not mean that the are "fixed". On the other hand,
just because children are adopted does not necessarily mean that they will be
any more difficult, defiant, less successful or anything else as teenagers or
your children about adoption and diversity helps my
openly about adoption, children who look different than one or both parents and
other "nontraditional" family structures helps our children feel accepted and
secure at extracurricular activities, church, school and elsewhere in our
Our new additions are not celebrities. We appreciate all of
the love and support that we were shown during our adoption process and we know
that everyone is excited to meet them. However, taking photos of just our
adopted child or pouring attention on them while ignoring our other children is
not healthy for anyone. The child who is receiving all of the attention often
feels singled out and siblings quickly become resentful.
children may be "delayed" when they join our family but often they just need
children are placed into environments that may be very different than anything
they've ever experienced. They may be overstimulated, confused and sometimes
there are language barriers. With
time and patience most emotional, intellectual and physical delays will be
do not tell us how amazing we (parents) are because we have chosen to
know that this comment is usually intended as a compliment but our adopted kids
are not burdens, charity cases or a community service project to be completed.
As parents we gladly invest the time and energy needed to
ensure the happiness and well-being of any of our children.
We may discourage physical contact with our
child for the first several months that they are home or until we feel like they
are securely attached to us.
Please do not insist on holding them,
hugging them or having them sit on your lap. Many children who have lived in
orphanages and institutions learn to fight for adult attention. Often they can
put on quite the show and act like the most friendly, charming child to draw
attention to themselves. While it may be cute and though it gives the false
impression that they are well-adjusted and confident, it is very important that
initially the parents are the only adults who help fulfill these children's need
for physical affection. This also teaches healthy boundaries and is a safety
consideration since no child, adopted or biological, should feel obligated to
have close physical contact with someone that they do not know
We do not advertise our child's "cost".
would like to know how expensive our adoption process was, please ask when our
children are not present, call after our kids are in bed or send us an
email. Most adoptive families are happy to share our experiences and to provide
helpful information but we do not ever want our children to feel like they were
bought or that they are commodities.
When the going gets tough please do not ask if we regret our decision to
adopt or imply that "we asked for it". Few people would tell a
sleep-deprived mother of a colicky newborn "well, you asked for this" and it
would be considered rude to ask a new mother if she regretted her decision to
have a baby. Just because something is difficult does not mean that we regret
it. There are bumps in the road of every journey.
the happiest of adoptions are a result of challenging or difficult
we like to think of adoption as a "happy ending", birth parents may have made
difficult decisions, children may have faced losses and many lives were forever
changed. Though most adopted children grow to be happy, well-adjusted adults and
though most adoptive families are beautiful and full of love, it is important
not to romanticize adoption.
No one is perfect.
If you slip and call
our biological kids our "real" kids or if you've already asked "What happened to
his mother?" we won't hold a grudge. We know that our family is different. We
understand that it is impossible to be sensitive and politically correct in
every situation all the time. These are ideas and suggestions, not
We appreciate that you care about our family. We cannot
thank you enough for wanting to learn more about supporting and understanding
the adoptive family and for helping make this transition as smooth as possible
for all of us!
If you would like to read more about supporting
adoptive families, adjustment and how you can help, "After the
Airport" is a great blog post. "I
am not Super Mom: Ten things I want you to know about adoption" is another
Originally posted by Ashlee on The Kitchen is Not My Office on Saturday, December 22, 2012. Reposted with Permission. View original post here: http://www.thekitchenisnotmyoffice.com/2012/12/supporting-and-understanding-adoptive.html