Many adoptive parents are already parents to their own children. There are many reasons why parents with a ready-made family choose to adopt. No matter what the reasons, welcoming an adopted child into the family comes with rewards and challenges. How can you navigate issues while harnessing all of the opportunities it brings?
Adoption affects more than just the adopted child. It affects the whole family, including any children of your own, if you have any. But let’s not dwell too much on the negatives. Adopting a child can be extremely positive too.
As parents, you have a lot of love to give, and it can open up your whole world when you become a parent. This feeling is no different when you adopt a child. Taking them home for the first time is just as nerve-wracking as when you take home your newborn baby. You are unsure what to do, how to do it and you worry whether you are doing it right or not.
Some studies suggest parents who adopt children are less likely to divorce. This may be because they answer and resolve issues in their relationship if they have any before they go on to adopt. And with more people now able to adopt, including those from the LGBTQ community, adoption is making a difference for more people and more children.
Welcoming an adopted child into a ready-made family is not unheard of. For an adopted child, it can be a safe haven and fantastic to have siblings who can guide them and help them in life. But it can bring conflict too. As adoptive parents, you need to be confident that you can love your adopted child as you love your own. Children are sensitive to being treated differently, something that can affect them for all of their lives.
There are also times when the behaviour of adopted children can be problematic, necessitating a lot of your energy being spent in helping them to modify their behaviour. Your own children can feel ‘left out’, something that can lead to them misbehaving too. When things are tense or difficult, you can turn to adoption support from the adoption agency you used. They may have a phone line that offers a friendly, impartial listening ear as well as support groups for you, your adopted children and your own children too.
Don’t forget that a new arrival in your household affects the wider family and for your own parents, this means they become grandparents. As part of the adoption process, you will be asked about your support network – and that includes your own parents, your siblings, friends and work colleagues.
Most people find that their own parents are just as excited about becoming grandparents to an adopted child as they are to a birth grandchild. To help grandparents, they need to understand about the adoption process and what it means, as well as help in understanding the challenges and difficulties that an adopted child can face. Again, there is a range of adoption support services and groups that can help adoptive grandparents.
Your wider family may also want to be involved. This is a great idea but for an adopted child, it can be daunting to be presented with a sea of faces, all excited at welcoming them to the family. Slow, steady steps are the way forward. But there is no doubt that a warm, loving extended family will, over the years, help the adopted child to understand just how much they are loved and valued.
Adoption makes a huge difference to everyone involved, more often than not, in a positive way.
A nationwide adoption agency, Adoption for Adopters has helped thousands of children to be matched to adoptive parents.
Photo Credit: Edward Cisneros Jonathan Daniels Daiga Ellaby