Special Focus: Adoption - Part IV
the last three months we've explored the various aspects of
adoption, from its procedures to the legal implications. In
this concluding issue, we take a look at the psychological
implications of adoption on the child and how and when to
tell your child that she's adopted.
adopting, we give a lot of thought to what our families will
say or the neighbours. We wonder how we will adjust to this
child - will we be able to love her as much as a biological
child or will we have to fight a tendency to return her to
the adoption center every time life as a parent got tough.
We do of course spend time wondering just how we'll tell her
that she's adopted but how much time is spent in looking at
the adoption from her point of view? She is a child carrying
terrible scars of being unwanted and abandoned and then, often
at an age when children avoid strangers, she is pitch forked
into a home full of strangers that she is supposed to love!
This is a time for great patience and love and you have to
remember that not only is she very afraid of being abandoned
again, but that she has also been very hurt and is now wary
of being hurt again by trusting or loving completely.
of us take our roots for granted. We have a past, a heritage
of family history and traditions and the security of knowing
exactly who our parents are. In short, we belong - effortlessly.
But imagine instead, that your past is a complete mystery
and your parents are unrelated by blood. However secure you
may be, there will be times when you may feel insecure and
unsure of being loved. This happens to all of us, especially
when we've failed at something or have done something we are
ashamed of and we're afraid that others will stop loving us
out of disgust for our actions. How much worse this would
be for a person who doesn't have the security of being related
through blood and genes with the rest of the family?
faced by so much psychological and emotional baggage, what
can you do to improve the situation?
of all, throw the books on child rearing and all the theories
out of the window. These children start out with a handicap
and it's not fair or feasible to compare their needs and milestones
with those of biological children. Initially at least, a tantrum
may need different handling or certain greater indulgences
may have to be made in order to win trust. So don't go by
what everyone else says - follow your own instincts and keep
in touch with the adoption center for advice and help.
don't carry on the special treatment for too long! After you
have established a degree of love and trust, its essential
to make sure that you don't make the mistake of treating your
child 'differently' in any way. Secure children have secure
limits and if in the attempt to make up to your child for
the circumstances, you behave over indulgently or don't set
proper limits, the only message that you send is that you
don't love her enough. Scold, discipline and get it out of
your head that this child is different - she's just a child.
your child for the truth early on. You don't want her to find
out from some one else and neither do you want it to come
as a bolt from the blue. While there is no one right answer
to the dilemma of how to tell or when to tell, experts agree
that tell you should. Try these methods to ease the trauma
a little -
telling your child stories of adopted children. These can
range from stories you make up that revolve round an adopted
child or you can resort to historical and mythological characters
such as Lord Krishna. Just remember that these stories should
be woven in naturally, as bedtime tales and no excess emphasis
should be put on the adoption element.
the very first day, tell your child often that you love
her. Stress her special features and praise her achievements.
This will help her through the trauma of learning that she's
her on regular visits to the adoption center and keep in
social touch with other adoptive parents. Your child will
not then feel so different or left out.
your child is two or two and a half, start telling her about
how you were looking for a child to love and chose her to
be your own special miracle. Tell her conversationally,
not as a big disclosure. She won't fully understand but
gradually as she hears the tale over and over again, it
will seep into her subconscious and will never be a shock.
In fact it will be a natural part of her life.
that yours is a family of choice - you and your spouse chose
each other and together you chose her and she chose to love
you and stay with you.
Prepare to answer questions early. Take the help of qualified
social workers and professionals to help you choose the
age appropriate answers.
make the biological parents the villains. Your stress is
on your family unit and nothing else.
it clear that being adopted is a very small part of the
overall reality of your child's life. For this it is essential
that you yourself be clear in your thinking because everyone
else, including the child, will take their cue from you.
is a fact of life like biological birth. The important thing
is having a complete family not the means taken to ensure
that completion. The best ties in life are not always biological
in nature and love truly recognizes no boundaries in order