Adoptive Parenting – Are We Ever Prepared?

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My son is four. Things are starting to bubble. He is thinking more, and the more he thinks, the more is sinking in for him about his adoption. He has more of a voice and certainly has opinions about many things. His imagination is running wild. And just like that, I have a need to protect him more. Protect his story and protect him by arming him with more tools. I, the one who is loud and proud about our adoption story and very open, needs to think about how I’m going to share with people. People who are just curious, people who want to learn. But ultimately, it’s his story to tell, isn’t it?

We are a single parent, adoptive, transcultural, Jewish and transracial (although that’s to be debated because there really isn’t a “race” for Mexican people, I’m learning) family. We are a lot more, but all these adjectives that make up our family come with its own set of issues. They each need to be talked about and dealt with in different ways and at different times.

I’ve been telling my son his adoption story from the time he was born. And being an adoption consultant, it’s a subject that’s talked about freely and often in our house. It’s been interesting to see when and how things manifest for him through movies, books, TV, and conversations. Different things resonate with him at different times, and I promise you, you are NEVER prepared for the appropriate response when your child asks questions or wants to engage in conversation about his color, race, ethnicity, adoption, having a daddy or otherwise (fill in your own unique set of issues).

Taking notice of everyone’s skin color came first. My son is brown. I’m white. We talk about it. He started by pointing out who looked like him. And recently in school, he got upset when other kids said he was white, not brown. While this may seem simple, I know this is just the beginning of the conversation and what it will bring up for him.

I know HOW I address his questions and concerns as well as WHAT I initiate is all so important and a delicate dance. Knowing how to lead him to the dance floor without stepping on his toes and providing him space while also guiding him…that’s all scary…to me, at least. This is all new to me, too.

As our children try to make sense of who they are alongside their adoption story, we as parents are often trying to determine if certain behaviors are adoption-related or just “normal” childhood behavior. Does anyone really know? I think that part boils down to knowing your child and figuring out what works best for your given situation. After all, we are all unique.

Even in the healthiest of infant adoptions, there will still be adoption-related issues that you will deal with at some point in your child’s life. So being prepared in whatever way you can be will only help things in the long run.

There are a couple things you can do:

  • Attend a class about transracial adoption if that might pertain to you.
  • Read about the ethnicity of your child if different from your own and start thinking of ways to expand your group of friends if need be.
  • Talk to a counselor or coach who specializes in adoption issues and can help you work through various issues or anticipate what’s to come.
  • Read the book, “The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption,” by Lori Holden.

What are some of the steps you have taken to be the best parent you can be to your adopted child? Please share with us in the comments below.

Until next time,

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