#19 – 7 Essentials of Adoptive Parenting

June 11, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Posted in Raising the adopted child | Leave a comment
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Adoptive Parent is now excited to report that we have a new free App available for adoptive parents, entitled “7 Essentials of Adoptive Parenting”!

I can only think of the contrast from my parenting days where there was no information on adoptive parenting to today where there are books, blogs, and apps! What a blessing for today’s parents! Years ago I spent hours in our public library because book stores had never heard of any book about adoption. I’d find a sentence in one book or a paragraph in another book, never anything in depth that was helpful.

Fortunately, now the adoption world is more open and information is available. Not every family needs every piece of information, but what you need is available somewhere to help you with your parenting. Below is the content of the App, and it is also available as a link on the sidebar on the top of this blog page as a quick reminder for any parent who wants a short refresher on adoptive parenting.


1 / * \   Accomplish this one goal
2 / * * \   Avoid these common pitfalls
3 / * * * \   Learn problem solving keys
4 / * * * * \   Respect your child’s differences
5 / * * * * * \   Refute the adoption myths
6 / * * * * * * \   Honor your child’s wishes
7 / * * * * * * * \   Respect your child’s unique needs

ONE – Accomplish this one goal

  1. Help your adopted child find a strong, very strong sense of identity. He needs to have an answer to the question, “Who am I?” Encourage him to explore different interests to see just which ones are truly his. Let him know early on that he is in charge of exploring his uncharted waters (little or no known inherited family limitations or guidelines), and that you’ll help, support and cheer him on all the way.

TWO – Avoid these common pitfalls

  1. “Don’t tell me my mother loved me enough to give me up.” Adult adoptees tell us that as children they worried if their adoptive parents would ever love them enough to ultimately give them to someone else. Child logic is very simple.
  2. “Don’t use ‘time-outs’ when disciplining me.” During a time-out, a small child only experiences that he is sent away from his family (to his room, a chair, etc.) when he misbehaves. His simple logic wonders just how bad does he have to be to be sent away permanently from his family. Use other means of discipline, but don’t isolate the child.

THREE – Learn problem solving keys

  1. Get ‘inside’ your child’s head. Ask yourself where he is coming from. How is his logic different from yours – and why is it different from yours? Deal with his reality (or perceived reality), not yours.
  2. Kids often ‘speak’ through their behavior when they can’t express their feelings. Parents would do well to be good interpreters. Often a child doesn’t know why he feels anger, sadness, confusion, etc. We as parents may not always know either, but behind every behavior is some child logic. Try to find and understand it.
  3. Consider your child’s feelings before your own. It’s human to often take things personally and react defensively. While working through some personal issue, your child may be defiant or argumentative, but you may be the target of his anger because you’re available. At times like this remember who the adult is.

FOUR – Respect your child’s differences

  1. Every adoptee has four parents – two biological and two adoptive. You may not think too often about the biological parents, but your child may.
  2. An adopted child does not live with any one who is a biological relative who gives him a sense of ‘sameness’, i.e. similar physical or personality traits. Because of this he doesn’t have the inherent, natural sense of belonging to a family that a biological child has.
  3. An adopted child needs to grow up in a comfortable atmosphere where adoption can be discussed readily and realistically. Don’t keep reminding the child he is adopted, but do let the child know he can discuss it any time.
  4. Adoptees tell us that adopted children need to be raised with realistic parental expectations. Some say their adoptive parents let it be known they didn’t expect much of them because of their biological background. This was a big factor in leading to their feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. Let your child know he is in charge of whatever he accomplishes – and encourage him always.

FIVE – Refute the adoption myths

  1. Adoptive families are just like biological families. They have the same issues, challenges and joys. This is FALSE.Adoptive families have the same issues as biological families, plus many more that biological families never have to face.
  2.  Adopted children rarely think about being adopted. This is FALSE.Studies show that adopted children often think about the fact they are adopted, sometimes on a daily basis. There are many reminders in our society.
  3.  Adopted children are just like biological children. This is FALSE. Adopted children are in a much more complicated place in life.
  4. You parent adopted children just like you parent biological children. FALSE.There are many more factors to be aware of in an adoptive family.
    Awareness of these factors is an important element in parenting.
  5. Adopted children feel just as secure in a family as biological children. FALSE.While growing up, many adopted children realize they are not in their family because of an act of nature, but because of decisions made by human beings. Society sometimes reminds them they don’t inherently belong in their families because of this fact.

SIX – Honor your child’s wishes

  1. “Don’t raise me as a substitute for the biological child you never had.” Adult adoptees tell us they wanted to be recognized for the individual and unique person they were meant to be. They didn’t want to be a substitute for someone else.
  2. “When I say, ‘You’re not my parent’, don’t freak out.” When adoptees say this in anger and lash out at their parents, it’s because they feel vulnerable and unsure of themselves. In saying this they actually want confirmation that their parent will always be their parent. They need reassurance – and a hug. It’s their way of asking.
  3. “Please don’t be a tentative parent. I need security and structure.” Adoptees tell us they need to feel the parental bond with their parents in the same way as biological children do. They’re looking for a strong bond.
  4. “Please say things that make me feel included in the family.” Don’t say things that remind an adopted child he is different than a biological child. Stress similarities within the family while respecting any differences.
  5. “Please speak positively about my birth parents.” An inherent part of any child’s identity comes from their biological parents. Adopted children are no different in this respect. If they hear negative things about their birth parents, they can feel this negativity is a part of themselves as well.
  6. “I may not feel as permanent in my family as you might think.” Adoptees tell us that because they were ‘given away’ once by birth parents, they sometimes wondered if it could happen again. When they feel inadequate and insecure, they may wonder if they are a disappointment to their family. Reinforce love, solidarity, and permanence.

SEVEN – Respect your child’s unique needs

  1. Give your child at least one honest, direct and sincere compliment each day. Accompany this with a warm hug. Everyone needs this, but an adopted child particularly needs this positive reinforcement.
  2. Emphasize verbally the ‘forevermoreness’ of your family. Adoptive parents know their family is a ‘forever’ family and nothing will separate the family, but your child may not always feel this. Society has a way of telling adoptees they are different. In the past, adoptive parents often didn’t articulate the permanency of the relationship– and adoptees now tell us they wished their parents had emphasized this more.
  3. When your child misbehaves – ask yourself what your child is trying to tell you through his behavior. Children often can’t articulate their feelings, but their behavior speaks volumes. Look deeper into the situation.
  4. Help your child feel free from guilt. Many adult adoptees say they were difficult children because of their doubts, fears, and insecurities. Let your child know you are trying to understand them. They are human and you are human. Hold their hands and hearts as they process their unique place in your family and the world.
  5. Work harder than biological parents to give your child a strong sense of worth, value, and competence. Finding a sense of identity may be harder for an adopted child because he doesn’t inherit traits from his adoptive family. He usually doesn’t know his inherited guidelines or family map. Help him find his talents and gifts, and as strange as this sounds, give him permission to be different from other family members. Some adult adoptees say they spent their childhood trying to fit in to their family, and now as adults they feel they are floundering, and they don’t know who they were meant to be.
  6. Make your child feel he is an essential and important component of your family. This speaks for itself.
  7. Teach your child he is responsible for his own behavior and the consequences that follow. Some adult adoptees say they spent their childhood trying to adjust and fit in. They didn’t feel secure in making their own decisions because they denied their inherent feelings as children. They went along with others and didn’t have the experience of doing something unique and learning from the consequences.

For a copy of this free app including the above information formatted for your Iphone or Ipad entitled “7 Essentials of Adoptive Parenting” please visit Beaver Creek Group.


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