Is love enough? It takes a special type of person to bring a child into their home and offer unconditional love and support. When you chose to create your family through adoption, having an open heart that was willing to love your new child may have seemed as if it was the most important part. Perhaps love is the most important piece of the puzzle, but if you’re like most adopted families, you’ve learned that you need more than love to keep everything running smoothly.
Integrating an Adopted Child Into Your Family
Some families include both adopted and biological children. Of those families, some have existing children before they grow their family through adoption. Some families’ biological children come later. Some at the same time! Some families have only one child through adoption. Some families have multiple children through adoption, and sometimes those kids are related to one another and sometimes they’re not.
Clearly there are so many ways to create a family through adoption. Each has its own joys and challenges as you explore the best ways to integrate your adopted child into your family. Trying to balance the needs of your adopted child with your own needs, plus any existing children’s needs, is a complicated job.
Often adoptive parents do not have a ready-made community of other parents sharing in this life experience. Therefore it’s common for people to feel different and alone in this process. And it’s important to find people who “get it” who can support you through it.
Secrets and Transparency in Adoption
Deciding how much you want to know, and then how much you want to tell others, is a really stressful process. These are decisions you make many times over, for a long time. There aren’t right decisions, and every decision has its own outcomes.
Sometimes withholding information from our children is a gift we give to them. And sometimes those secrets can create different challenges. Did you hold information back from your child to protect them from unfortunate truths only to have the secrets become a trust destroying issue later on? Once untruths are in motion, you may find it difficult to maintain them and difficult to unravel them without causing someone pain.
If you valued transparency in the adoption process, maybe your child didn’t respond to that knowledge in the way you hoped they would. Perhaps they are asking a lot of unexpected and increasingly uncomfortable questions. Maybe they’re identifying heavily with what they know about a birth parent, which feels rejecting to you.
If you find yourself feeling worried and unsettled about whether to keep secrets or be transparent, you are in good company. It’s normal for parents to experience uncertainty and sometimes conflict regarding how forthcoming to be, both with their adopted child and with others in their lives.
Managing the Complicated Feelings that Accompany Adoption
Whether you’re a couple trying to reconcile differing values about how open to be with your adoptive children, a parent dealing with anxiety about your child’s search for their birth parents, an adoptive family feeling “different” from others families, or you’re an adopted child feeling guilty about wanting to meet your birth parents, there are a lot of complicated feelings involved. It probably feels like there’s a lot at stake for you.
Talking with a therapist can help you deal with the emotions and dynamics involved in your unique family make-up. In many cases, these issues can be talked through, better understood, and navigated around more gently. After putting so much effort into creating the family you want, its worth a little extra effort to work towards making it feel the way you want, too. Schedule an appointment today for individual or family sessions, depending on your specific needs.