# 23 – Helping your child leave home.

July 14, 2011 at 9:22 am | Posted in adoption issues, Adoptive parenting do's | Leave a comment
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This is the season of summer camps, and with fall coming soon, some of your children will be headed off to college.

It seems that adopted kids often fall into two categories – one is the child who, fearful of being abandoned, becomes independent and self sufficient very early and the other is the child who, fearful of being abandoned,  is clingy to family.  Both are motivated by an anxiety fueled by facts that they are living in a second family, they have already lost their birth family.

It’s strange to see an adolescent cling to his family while his peers can’t wait to grow up and become independent.  Here, again, if we understand the motivation behind the child who clings, we can help him act age appropriately in this category.  Some children fear being alone and think being physically away from family will hasten the day when they have to be on their own, fearing that at that time they will lose their family (illogical to every adoptive parent, but a logical fear to some adopted children). An extreme case of this is an 8 year boy I know who eats very little saying that if he eats, he will grow up and have to leave, and he is afraid to leave his family.  This is an extreme, of course, but a real fear for this little boy.

Assuring and reassuring our children of our ongoing support and love will help.  This may seem almost inappropriate in the general population of children, but for some adopted children this is necessary for them to grow up in a healthy way.

While your child is away, letters, emails, and phone calls can reassure your child he is in your thoughts daily and missed by the family.  Showing interest in his life away from your family life shows him you care about what is going on in his life just like you did when you all lived under the same roof.

Even if your child is not temporarily moving out of your home for camp or school, an indication of his being clingy is not wanting to do things by himself that his peers do, such as a teenager who can’t get a haircut or buy jeans by himself. If he still needs the support of a family member beyond the appropriate age, you might have some conversations around support and permanency to cement his thoughts of family cohesion.

Reassurance that even if he tries things on his own and messes up, that’s all a part of growing up.  He doesn’t have to be perfect to be loved.


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