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Adoption, Making Everyone Feel Like Family

Updated on December 13, 2016
William Ray Lee profile image

I was adopted when I was 10 months old. This article is to help the people who have adopted children from making the mistakes of my parents.

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The Best Option

An adoption is an option that saves lives of the most innocent of society and adds fulfillment to the lives of everyone involved. There are many cases of children that may have been aborted without the option of adoption. While it pays huge dividends it is in no way easy.

We are wired to care for our own children and while we may care for other children as well it just is not natural to care "as much" for another child as for your biological children. With that said, it is not natural and it is hard, but it is not impossible! It takes Hard work and just as marriage it takes commitment to love your new child!

This commitment for some comes easier than for others and for people who were adopted themselves it seems to be more natural, however, all must commit to love their child and try to make them feel like they belong. All parents know that children are all different, some are naturally more loving and lovable and some are not.

The main job as an adoptive parent is to take patches and make a beautiful quilt or Coat of many colors like Joseph had. Think of the concept, sewing the fabric of personalities of the members of the family together using the thread of love. That thread of love weaves through the entire quilt.

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Observations of an Adopted Child

Children are curious about their origins. Naturally, kids want to know where they came from. We all have within us an innate need for belonging and sometimes more so for the adopted child. this desire to know the origin is part of the search for belonging in the child, and thus when some children find out they are adopted it is devastating for them. that is why it is good to be upfront about it but do not make the mistake that some have. Do not overemphasize it! Do not introduce your children in the following way; "Hi Joan, I want you to meet little Johnny our adopted son, and this is Kate our daughter." Also, do not allow your family to be caught doing this either! This was a real struggle for me when I was growing up because at all the family functions I was "the adopted one" of my dad's children! I was never just Bud's son, but always Bud's adopted son, emphasis on adopted!

There is only one context where I know that emphasis on adoption is good, and that is the illustration of the love of God and the way that he looks on us as sons. But in others it can be very destructive to the self-esteem of the child, I know that it was for me. It made me feel like I wasn't important, I was only the Adopted one!

Never hide the truth of the adoption from your child, but never bring it up in the wrong moment either! Bringing up the adoptive status of the child during any discussion other than one specifically meant for that topic is asking for hurt feelings and it seems to the child like you hold it against them. To illustrate consider this; While correcting bad behavior a mom tells her daughter I wish I had never adopted you, or, keep that up and I will take you back where I got you! Could you say that if they were your biologic children? NO! Nor should you say it to an adopted child!


Sticks and Stones

The old saying goes "sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me". I beg to differ! Wounds from sticks and stones heal, but wounds from words fester, ooze, and cause pain for years! The entire point being, watch your words, they have more meaning and the hurt lasts longer than a slap in the face or a spanking. I knew kids who their parents never spanked them but yelled constantly, today nearly 25 years later they are still suffering the consequences of that behavior.

To Belong

The one thing that children need that only a parent can give them is family ties. Even in adulthood, we need a family. Yes, we can make it without family in adulthood but the void is sorely felt just as it would be in childhood. The difference is only a subtle one and only for developmental reasons. However for a child to grow into a happy productive adult and member of society they need that sense of belonging, that fabric of the family. We each have our own likes and dislikes because we are all individuals but on some level, we are the same. We all desire to be loved and praised. We all desire to be needed and wanted, we all desire to be important!

To let your child know that they are an important part of the family is one of the primary jobs of the parent. Whether they are adopted or biological this is key. Engage them, let them know how much you care by vocalizing it. It becomes more real to you and your behavior will reflect it. Just as in the rest of your life when you tell someone you love them (your spouse or child) it becomes more a part of the way that you think, the opposite is true as well. When you vocalize negative thoughts your thinking becomes more negative and a self-fulfilling prophecy. Begin when your child is a baby when possible and if it is not possible as in the case of an older child being adopted begin as soon as humanly possible. Vocalize only good thoughts about the intelligence and behavior of your child and tell them how much you care. Especially for an older child. Try to include them in decisions they are capable of being involved in, do not dictate but collaborate instead! When possible and yes I know that it will not always be possible to include a child on the decisions, however, to let them voice their opinion is a ray of including them even if they do not get what they want.

Things to Never Do

There are a few things that one should never do or say either to a biological child, or an adopted child, but especially to an older adopted child. Refrain from any expression of regret of the adoption either to the child or another adult. You never know when they might be listening! Also remember that it makes more real when you vocalize them. So, if you say "I hate ______ Then you make that emotion more real and validate it! When you say you wish that something had not taken place you set that thought up for consideration and validation in your mind. This can quickly lead to resentment in you and can lead to depression or even rebellion in your child. Be kind and watch what you say! Do not vocalize the negative but only the positive. This does not mean that you should not reproof or discipline your child but only that you should not grumble and complain at them or about them.

Part of the Family

It should be noted that the ultimate example of adoption is found in the Christian faith when God himself takes us into his family as adopted sons and daughters. Never do you hear God say oh and is this is the adopted one. The bible tells us that we are precious in his sight and not a hair on our heads falls to the ground without him knowing. How He cares for us! That should serve as the ultimate goal for interactions with our children both adopted and natural. He does not lord it over us, "well I adopted you when nobody else wanted, should you? No! He cares for us, forgives us and saves us!

As Far as the East is from the West

Learn to forgive thoroughly just as Christ forgives you! The Bible says if we do not forgive, the Lord will not forgive us and it says that if we repent he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. We also read that as far as the east is from the west, so far has he separated our sins from us. So when your child repents forgive fully and does not rehash past wrongs.

© 2016 William Lee


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