Tuesday, October 22, 2019

5 Things Young Adoptees Need Their Parents to do for Them

After a decade of parenting adoptees, I've learned a thing or two (or a hundred) about what I need to be doing for my kids. Not only do I have a tween, but I also have two elementary age kiddos, and a toddler.

Remember, love isn't enough. It's a powerful, necessary foundation, but a child who was adopted needs so much more.

Here's what I make sure to do for my young adoptees, and you should, too:

 1:  Initiate adoption conversations.

When we were first waiting to adopt, a friend of mine who adopted one child internationally, shared with me that she and her husband use every day situations (including stories in the media) to bring up adoption to their child.  She shared that we can't always rely on our kids to bring up their adoption thoughts to us. 

By taking the initiative to start open, empathetic conversations, we are teaching our kids that it is safe and healthy to talk about adoption. 

You need to get comfortable using adoption vocabulary. 

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2:  Tell the truth about their adoption story.

Of course, we don't give our kids all the details when they are infants, toddlers, or preschoolers, but as their maturity builds, they deserve to have their entire truth.

Read that again: THEIR entire truth.

Yes, there are some not-so-pretty details to some of our kids' stories, which is why you need to have an adoption competent therapist on-hand for your family. You also need to never stop learning about adoption--reading everything you can get your hands on. Get educated and keep getting educated so you can be the parent your child needs you to be.

3:  Read adoption books.

I’m so thankful. ⭐️ spoiler alert: The other day, after watching “Dead to Me,” it dawned on me that the reality is that my husband could have left. Bowed out. Backed out. Things got tough. Really really tough. ⭐️ He could have left when I almost died. Or before. When I was wasting away and depressed-with no answers. ⭐️He could have left when I said, I don’t want to put my body through the hell of a pregnancy. ⭐️He could have left the day the doctor told me I had cancer. ⭐️He could have left when I had a mastectomy. ⭐️He could have left during the three (plus) month recovery when he had to do EVERYTHING for our family, as well as strip blood from my surgical drains for three solid weeks. ⭐️He could have left when I had subsequent medical trauma anxiety. ⭐️ He could have left. But he didn’t. ⭐️ plenty of partners do. They bail. They can’t handle the pain, the work, the relentless commitment. ⭐️ he could have left. ⭐️ Last night I captured him reading to our son. Every night. Usually the same book. And it’s one of those longggg bedtime books. Then they cuddle and pray. My husband listens patiently to our son’s run-on, imaginative stories. they kiss goodnight. Magic. ⭐️ My kids have a daddy who shows up every single time. I have a husband who shows up every single time. He’s our glue. ⭐️ . . . #daddydoinwork #dad #husband #breastcancer #mastectomy #type1diabetes #dadlife #faith #marriage #marriagegoals #whitesugarbrownsugar #husbandandwife #whataman #type1diabetes #sunday #sundayvibes #weekend #bigfamilylife #bigfamily #thankful
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Reading to your child has so many benefits. For one, it promotes attachment and connection. It helps your child build vocabulary, enhance their listening skills, and in the case of adoption, learn about adoption itself. 

I have several book lists available to you to help you get started. Here's one adoption book list along with discussion questions to ask your child after reading. I do recommend you preview any book before reading it to your child to make sure it's appropriate.

4:  Learn about trust-based, attachment parenting.

I'm a fan of Empowered to Connect, which is trust based parenting that build attachment. There are many ways to build attachment with an adoptee, and the book The Connected Child (which I consider the #1 book ALL parents of adoptees must read!) can help you get started. I also recommend reading The Whole Brain Child.

5:  Protect their privacy.

I've said it many times: do not hand out your child's adoption story like a grandma hands out cookies. The story isn't for anyone and everyone. It is sacred. It is private. And it belongs to your child. 

Remember, your allegiance is to the child you were chosen to adopt. You can educate others without disclosing your child's private adoption story.  Plus, imagine how damaging it would be if your child learned an important part of their story from someone you disclosed the story to--someone who didn't deserve that sacred privilege. 

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