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ADVICE FROM AN ADOPTEE'S PARENT
MY HUSBAND AND I have known many adoptive parents over the past 35 years. The majority had a beautiful experience in creating their adoptive family, while others had an extremely difficult time. I have great admiration for the adoptive parents we have known personally who were battered by the complicated aspects of adoption. They have gone through difficult years, but without exception, all have come through to a positive resolution, and their families are lovingly intact.
It would have been easier for us as adoptive parents had we known what was ahead of us. However, we were the generation which didn't anticipate problems. We didn't realize what our children were going through. Undoubtedly, we could have been of more help had we realized they were fighting "ghosts and demons" we couldn't see. We were told from the start not to anticipate problems, and we believed this with all our hearts. Those of us who experienced problems loved our children blindly and could not see that their issues and resulting negative behavior came from a valid basis. We were, indeed, caught short. At the time, the only way we knew to help them was to keep loving them. Unfortunately, for the most part, they had to find their own way through the labyrinth of issues stemming out of separation from their birth parents (relinquishment). We had no problems with the adoption concept, and unfortunately, didn't understand the source of our children's problems. We could only stand by and catch them when they fell. We were frustrated because we didn't know how to help. My fervent hope is that adoptive parents who read this work will be more enlightened than my generation of adoptive parents. This does not mean there will not be problems. Your child still may go through difficult times, but you will have the advantage of being able to understand their thought process. Whether you see the logic and sequence of their thinking or not, my hope is you will give credibility to their point of view. Your children can be fragile.
Long before I knew we would be an adoptive family I was intrigued by the concept. There seemed to be an exciting aura surrounding the process. Perhaps it is the unknown factor that makes adoption so mystical. It's hard to describe. Adoptive parents face additional challenges, although most would agree the experience of creating an adoptive family is overwhelmingly positive. This work deals with some problem areas, and there is no question they can be very serious.There are those overpowering moments when you look at your adopted child and are struck with the realization that he could have been placed in another family. Whether it be fate, circumstance, or divine intervention, that child you are hugging tightly is yours, and yours forever. Adoptive parents do not take their children for granted. These children are cherished indeed. There is a deep satisfaction that accompanies adoptive parenting. The word "special" is overused when it comes to adopted children, but I sincerely feel adoptive parenting is special. In my mind, there is no question that adoptive parents give more to their children. Their emotions have the basis for a deeper foundation because everything they do is very consciously done. All becomes special because so much time and effort and emotion occur before the fact of the child's arrival. When the child finally arrives, it is indeed, a blessed event. Even though there may be some hard times, possibly even harder than with a biological child, it is still a blessed union. I discovered an interesting fact while working at a residential facility for emotionally disturbed adolescents-20 percent to 25 percent of the children there had been adopted. Only 2.5 percent of the general population is adopted by a nonrelative, so their number was eight to ten times more than the adopted population in general. The environment there, with its disproportionate number of adopted children, only strengthened my realization that adoptive families have been overlooked and their unique issues have not been addressed by society. They have been alone for too long a time.
I hope information included in this work will show adoptive parents the inner workings of their child's mind. Many problems stemming from adoption are exacerbated because adoptive parents have never been adopted. This is a place where most of us have never been. In our family we certainly had no clue as to how one of our two adopted sons was thinking. We were motivated by love, while one of our sons was motivated by doubt and insecurity. It's no wonder we weren't on the same wave length. Some couples feel apprehensive about adopting, and this is understandable. There are innate issues that can be troublesome. However, the feeling of taking an adopted child into your heart is so extraordinary that it is hard to describe to people who have not experienced it. We know we are fortunate to be among those who have.
We are grateful that life has blessed our family with both biological and adopted children. They have taught us different lessons. Adoption has taught us that love does not conquer all. Love is always present, but adoptive parents are forced to reach deep within themselves to discover their marvelous qualities of empathy, tenderness, tolerance, and compassion. Therein lies the blessing, the grace uniquely bestowed by adoption. DESCRIPTION: Adoption is intended to be, and should be, a fulfilling, beautiful, rewarding, and enriching aspect in anyone¹s life. Many times, however, there are pitfalls and a lack of resources to turn to for help, advice, and answers on the subject. This book deals with these pitfalls which may not be obvious to the unenlightened adoptive parent who was basically handed a child and told to ³Make him your own.² The goal of this book is to help adoptive parents understand some potentially challenging factors so they can deal with them positively and to help parents comprehend the thinking process of their child. It will also be an invaluable resource to social workers, teachers, and counselors so that they may approach their adopted clients in an enlightened way once they understand an adopted child has issues in his life unique to the adoptive process. Adoptive parents reading this book can gain a different insight into their child¹s reasoning, and this information can be used to avert some potential problems they might otherwise face. It includes all the issues that adoptive families should be told about, and it is based primarily upon real life experiences relating equally to both sexes. In particular, it will apprise the non-adopted person, the adoptive parent, so he can look at the obstacles his adopted child may be facing. Then he, as a parent, can begin to understand his child¹s behavior. Once the true source of the adopted child¹s pain is discovered, parents can reach the ³ah, ha² moment we have all experienced. With understanding comes a new attitude and the impetus to change the whole atmosphere from negative to positive. The child and his parents will still have issues to deal with, but the source has been uncovered and issues can be faced openly. Readers will appreciate that the book is designed to flow in the first person as if the author was talking directly with them.