Wikipedia definition:Adoption is a process whereby a person assumes the parenting for another who is not kin and, in so doing, permanently transfers all rights and responsibilities from the original parent or parents. Unlike guardianship or other systems designed for the care of the young, adoption is intended to effect a permanent change in status and as such requires societal recognition, either through legal or religious sanction. Historically some societies have enacted specific laws governing adoption whereas others have endeavored to achieve adoption through less formal means, notably via contracts that specified inheritance rights and parental responsibilities. Modern systems of adoption, arising in the 20th century, tend to be governed by comprehensive statutes and regulations.
There are stories of adoption going back to biblical days. Through the years systems have changed and laws have been developed to govern and protect parties through the process. Every State has a different set of adoption laws, put in place to protect the parties involved (which ones I’m not sure). There are different types of adoption professionals: Social Workers, attorneys, facilitators, consultants, therapists..all with their own ideas about what adoption is or should be. Some have personal experiences with adoption some just clinical or theoretical, and some with both. Personally I think working with the professionals who have both is most beneficial.( of course that would be me!) Who better to learn about what FAS is than from person who theoretically knows it and who wakes up everyday to the new challenges it brings? By the way – today is National Fetal Alcohol Awareness Day.
There are online chat rooms and websites dedicated to adoption resources and adoption education. There are many blogs written by adoptive moms describing their journeys or their everyday life with adoption. There are even a few websites dedicated to birth moms and their experiences with adoption. I highly encourage those of you who haven’t, to visit a site. Birth Mom Buds is a good one. It will give you a better idea of what “the other side” feels about their journey and life after relinquishment. There are professional organizations and most States have their own adoption only website. There are book sellers totally dedicated to adoption and adoption related topics: Tapestry books, Prospective s Press and PACT are good sources for books both for adults and children.
With all this information available to us, there’s no good excuse to not use it. I had mentioned in an earlier blog or maybe on my website, adoption is normal (again I’m not totally sure what normal is). Adoptive parents just need a different skill set and toolbox. We can do playgroups just like everyone else; we just need to be able to politely educate the bio parents in our group that our children ARE our children and their birth family history really isn’t anyone Else’s business. If you have adopted a child who has been in foster care and has some attachment issues – know where to go to get the best advice and tools to work through this with your child and not spend all your time explaining to others why your child is behaving like this, join support groups so you can talk with other parents experiencing the same issues. It helps to get information on how to handle behaviors from those in the same boat as you- rather than from well meaning friends and family members who don’t have a clue. If you’ve adopted a child with a different ethnicity than you, surround yourself with other families that are like yours, gently remind them that really is not their business and that you would prefer not to talk about this in front of your child. I need to follow this with the disclaimer that your child should know they are adopted..what I mean by the prior statement is that you don’t need to be explaining every time you leave the house the dynamics of your family and how they came to be. When your child hits puberty you will be dealing with a whole different set of issues..not necessarily ones from the outside but now with the adolescent adopted child who really wants to know “where they came from” and blanket statements like” your birth mother relinquished you because she really loved you” are just not enough anymore. Surround yourself with other adoptive parents..it’s always reassuring to know that every thing that may go wrong at this point isn’t necessarily your lack of parenting skills but may not have been preventable at this point. Find a good therapist who specializes in adoption. This is most important because not every therapist knows adoption or the feelings it bring in the teen years. Nancy Verrier wrote a great book “The Primal Wound”. I’m going to admit something here..If someone would have made me read her book 5 years ago I would have said this” not everyone who is adopted faces challenges, not everyone who is adopted feels angst, not everyone who is adopted goes through life feeling abandoned” . That’s because as infants, as toddlers, as elementary school kids , my children seemed to be perfectly comfortable in their own skin, adolescence hit and BAM she described things happening in my home and she had never been here! As adoptive parents we need to be aware that no matter how much our kids love us, no matter how great you are as a parent, at some point adoption is going to be an issue for your child and you need to be able to handle these issues just like the skinned knees and the broken hearts. Thankfully adoption is OPEN now, we can talk about it without embarrassment, we are a proud group of parents who have united and learned to take care of our own. We are normal, we just use a different set of tools to get through the day.