Adoptive Parenting Needs: Education

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Education = OpportunityYou have special needs as parents of children who have been adopted. More is required of you as parent because your child has certain emotional vulnerabilities due to adoption. You must prepare to address those and help your child with them. One of these tools at your disposal is education, knowledge. This should be ongoing and focused on the needs of your child.

You should have a comprehensive understanding of what to expect, what can manifest in the child who has been adopted. This includes what is “normal” for the child who has been adopted and how it can affect or be affected by the psychosocial developmental stages. Temperament and your child’s unique story play into this as well.

You should understand triggers—life events that bring up strong emotions that are tied to having been adopted. For one of my children it’s her birthday, a powerful reminder of her birth mother and that severed connection. Perhaps your child hasn’t indicated to you what might be a trigger. Perhaps it hasn’t occurred yet, but knowing what can trigger a child or person who has been adopted is important, because you can develop empathy and be supportive when your child is triggered

If you are the mother, know that you may receive your child’s misplaced anger at her birth mother. It’s not about you; it’s about your child and what she is feeling. You need to buck up and accept that, No hurt feelings here, only empathy and a discussion when she is no longer emotional and flooded, when she can talk rationally and listen.

Your child may distance herself from you out of loyalty to her birth parents or she may not talk about her birth parents out of loyalty to you, fearing loss of the relationship from which she profits (Erikson) or rejection (a core issue inherent in adoption).

Lastly you need to dig deep within yourself, something we do in my Tweens, Teens & Beyond class. What baggage from your childhood do you bring? How does how your child acts out trigger you? What are you going to do about it?

Food for Thought: It is said that parenting the child who has been adopted is not for the faint-hearted because more is expected of the parent. As far as education, what else can you add to your parenting toolbox?

~ Photo by Eastern Washington University

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Anne April 12, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Great point about triggers! Still tryng to watch for them here, but sometimes I let my guard down and get too comfortable…..

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