An Open Letter to Present and Future Adoptive Parents

As someone who has read a plethora of adoption blogs, books, and magazine articles, and as an older child adoptee, I find it very interesting what adoptive parents write about. Usually they begin by sharing with the reader about their own journey of wanting another child.  Some write about their desire to give a child a new and better life, others talk about their inability to birth a child, so they want to fulfill the need for a child by adopting. Included are phases such as “birthed in my heart” and “forever family.”  Many of these clichés, although meaningful, have been used over and over again by adoption agencies to market their services.

I would like to propose a different conversation related to adoption.  The first and foremost thought should be about the child.  I am not advocating child-centered parenting, but child focused empathy.  In the case of infant adoption ask yourself, “What does it feel like to listen to a mother’s voice for nine months, as a being is growing and developing,  and then the mother’s voice is silenced?”   Regardless of what you have been told, there is no such thing as a “blank slate.”  This is apparent when a child  has experienced alcohol or drug abuse by the mother.  This may impact the child for the rest of their life!   If you are adopting an older child, realize that they  have experienced and have definite memories of abuse, neglect, and abandonment. ( For more information on the effects of a child being abandoned by their birth mother, read “The Primal Wound” by Nancy Verrier.   An excellent resource for more information on an intervention for these children,  explore Trust Based Relational Intervention at http://www.child.tcu.edu.)

For most children and families, adoption is a wonderful experience,  but remember that it is Plan B.  Going into the adoption process with this in mind will help the adoptive parent to have more compassion for their child. Compassion for the child is the place to begin when it comes to “the adoption effect” (see The Adoption Effect by Barbara Blomquist),  so narccisists need not apply.  There are already enough messed up children in this world.

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