1. An adoption mentor

Knowing someone who has traveled the path of adoptive parenting can be an incredible resource for adoptive parents. Parenting in general is challenging. For new parents, it can be difficult to know if a behavior or personality quirk is ‘normal’. This is especially true in adoptive parenting. Attachment in adoption can look different than in a traditional parenting. These differences can be confusing or worrisome. Having someone in your life with whom you can ask questions or voice concerns is helpful. Often times the mentor will calm your fears by letting you know that the behavior you are worried about is typical for adoptees and/or for children in that stage of development. A mentor might also guide you towards services when you experience worrisome or  atypical behavior that needs to be addressed by a professional.

2. A child therapist who practices attachment-based therapy

Many parents feel that seeking help from a professional counselor or therapist signals a parenting failure. This is absolutely not the case. Adoptees benefit from having a safe place to work through their feelings of loss and grief. Loss is inherent in adoption. Don’t be afraid of supporting your child through his/her grief. Sometimes the feelings of loss can lead the child to feel less secure in the parent/child relationship. Seeing an experienced child therapist, trained in an attachment-based approach, will help you and your child strengthen your connection to each other and help your child feel more comfortable with his/her adoption narrative.

3. A pediatrician with adoption-related training/experience

The reason your child was placed for adoption and the prior living conditions may influence his/her health, especially children coming from post-institutional care. You need a pediatrician that views your child’s adoption narrative as a possible underlying cause to medical conditions. Sometimes an adoptee’s internal feelings of grief and loss are manifested through physical behaviors and medical conditions. ADD, learning disabilities, speech and language pathologies, eating disorders, gastro-intestinal issues and emotional disturbances are regularly seen in adoptees and may be attributed to circumstances around the adoption experience. Treating both the symptom and the underlying cause is important. Having a doctor who has experience and training working with adoptees is important to ensure your child’s health and well being.

4. A respite caregiver

Respite, a term used in adoption and other care-giving communities, means to have a short period of rest or relief from something difficult or unpleasant. Parenting can be difficult and unpleasant, and all parents need a break from time to time. Some adoptive parents don’t admit their feelings of exhaustion and overwhelm or ask for help out of fear of judgment and guilt. Allowing a qualified babysitter, family member or close friend to take care of your child while you go to the movies, read a book at the park, grocery shop alone, get a haircut or have lunch with a friend means you will be refueled and better equipped to parent your child with compassion and kindness. Don’t feel guilty about this! Your child needs you to be refreshed, more than he/she needs you to be present 24 hours a day. Be sure you choose one consistent caregiver, whom your child trusts and who is equipped to handle both the physical and emotional needs of your child.

5. A community of support

In life, we all need people around us who are there in times of need, as well as in times of joy. Seek out a community of like-minded people with whom you and your child feels safe and loved. This is not always easy and building a community takes time. Ideally, your family will connect with other adoptive families and build a community for both the parents and the children, using networks on social media sites or through your home-study agency. Mom’s groups, communities of faith, and children’s schools are also great places to find a community. Regardless of how it’s formed, your community should be accepting of adoption and respectful of the many ways families are created.

By Darlynn Childress,
Adoptive Mother & Parenting Coach

 

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