As adoptive parents observe a warm relationship between their child and his birth parents, complicated emotions may arise. Along with joy, a subtle uneasiness, envy, or sense of competition may occur. Birth parents too, may experience similarly conflicted feelings. Plus they may have to wrestle with sadness and guilt as a result of having placed their child for adoption.
In cases where infertility drove parents to choose adoption, there may be some unresolved issues that unconsciously factor into emotions toward the birth parents. Parents can also send subtle “unintended” messages to children that may suggest to them that we are uncomfortable with their relationship with their birth parents. In the absence of clearly articulated “permission” or encouragement of their birth parent relationship, kids may infer that adoptive parents disapprove or feel threatened by this parallel relationship.
The dynamics of these multi-layered relationships demand vigilance and a commitment to the best interest of children. Create clear agreements. Avoid relying on assumptions. “If we expect people to read your mind, generally they hear only your silence.” (Quote from “In the Country of the Young” by Lisa Carey.)
When birth parents break boundaries or rules, or interact like “Disneyland” parents, tension and resentments can build. This may feed into the child’s fantasies that his “real” parents wouldn’t hold him accountable or enforce rules. This circumstance could create tension for all parties.
Parents must bring INTENTIONality to their family relationships, not only within the nuclear family, but also with the open relationship with their child’s birth parents and/or birth relatives. When you adopt a child, you become an adoptive FAMILY. Part of the “Forever Family” commitment to the child we love so intently includes valuing their bio-roots and relationships. A family coach helps you to design a plan that balances healthy boundaries, and builds authentic, respectful attachments.
Where could you use a coach to help you face the challenges of your family?