#55 Difference versus appreciation

January 7, 2013 at 10:50 am | Posted in Adoption differences, adoption issues, Adoptive parenting do's, Raising the adopted child | Leave a comment
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Many adoptive parents won’t admit this to “outsiders”, but in the safe circle of adoption they will express how concerned they are that their family won’t be like other 559 adoptivefamilies.  They’re concerned that the differences between their children and themselves will be a separating factor.  Oddly enough, time has shown that it is just the opposite.  Differences can be a uniting factor, a very strong uniting factor.

Studies have shown that in biological families the parent is often closest to the child who most mirrors themselves.  Adoptive families, of course, are out of this equation.  Many couples don’t adopt because they think they can’t truly love a child who does not mirror themselves.  They feel they can’t accept the differences they might encounter.  Experience disproves this.  Familiarity with anything makes us comfortable with it.

What actually happens is that the adoptive parent in time looks beyond the differences into the inner child, the soul of their child, and the differences blend into the background.  When the differences are challenging to deal with and take the parent out of their comfort zone, the parent feels the intensity of life.  He may struggle with love and acceptance, but because his love is more of a challenge, its final stage of acceptance can be profound.  The parent’s lows are lower, and conversely his highs are higher.  Life takes on a deeper meaning.

All of life shapes who we are, but children definitely have a hand in that process.  It can bring out both the best in us and the worst in us.  Acknowledging how our children are different from ourselves can be a wonderfully freeing process even though it may take us years to get to that point.  In the beginning we extend so much effort in making our family homogeneous.  Once we give up the notion that sameness equals success, we are free to appreciate the differences in each of us and see how it can enrich all lives involved.

Many adoptive parents express that their empathy and broadmindedness toward life has been greatly enhanced by their adopted children.  They would never go back to their limited and narrow expectations of what life should offer them.  They see how they and their lives have expanded much more than they ever thought possible.  They say that accepting and acknowledging the differences their children bring to the family has enriched everyone’s experience.   Profound acceptance of their children has opened their eyes to acceptance of so much more in life.  It’s like the shade has been lifted and they see life for what it is.  Beautiful – not always easy – but beautiful nonetheless.

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