Adoption is a fantastic way to grow your family, but it is one that comes with some unique challenges. One of those challenges is that your child’s biological history is different from your own, which means you have a little extra work to do. Here are some tips on what aspects of your child’s history you should consider looking into.
The Birth Family
Depending on if your child’s adoption is open, closed or semi-open, you may or may not know the birth parents of your child. Typically, you will, even if your child does not.
It is natural for the birth family to undergo a process of mourning and sadness over placing their baby for adoption. Respect that. These emotions may arise again during the child’s birthday or during holidays.
You may notice that understanding your child’s birth family will help you in your parenting journey as well. It’s important that you have a good understanding of the birth family so that you can facilitate the conversation as the child gets older, particularly if you are doing an infant adoption.
When adopting a child, particularly when he or she is still an infant, it’s absolutely critical that you communicate with the birth family and any medical experts to have full knowledge of the child’s medical history.
As a parent, your first priority above all else should be to keep your child safe, and the best way to do that is to understand all the different conditions, allergies, or injuries that your child has suffered in the past. Once you understand their medical history, prepare yourself for caring for a child with their unique medical conditions or dietary needs.
It is normal for cultural differences to present themselves in the lives of you and your adoptive children, especially if your child is a different race from you. While it may be tempting to dismiss these concerns, it’s important that we respect our child’s unique cultural experiences as parents, and remember that no matter how a child is raised, their cultural history can impact how they experience the world.
Understanding the place and surrounding culture of where our children come from helps us as parents to relate to our children, and will also offer us understanding in our parenting.
The Child’s Own Understanding
While we may be focused on our own understanding of the child, it’s important to take a step back and ask ourselves a potentially more important question: How does the child understand his or her own story? Part of the role of adoptive parenting is helping your child understand a story that is truthful but also empowers them, and lets them know that you love them as much as any other mother or father does.