I simultaneously ponder how an adopted child’s gestation differs dramatically. His conception is startling, unplanned. A crisis. Emotions swing from joy to panic as the expectant parents frantically struggle to determine how to gather the resources necessary to parent their unexpected baby, or make an adoption plan for this precious life they’ve conceived. This emotional, dramatic and chaotic prenatal environment stresses the baby. The overwhelmed mother and father struggle with intense emotions, difficult decisions, advice from family, friends, counselors, social workers. Imagine for a moment what it is like for an expectant mother who is making an adoption plan when strangers notice, comment on and enthuse about how thrilled/excited, etc. she must be. Can you feel the razor blades of grief? The unborn baby does. And it shapes him.
How can we adoptive parents prepare ourselves to be ready to meet this child's unique needs? We must immerse ourselves in the world of Adoption-attuned Parenting. Skip Lamaze classes and learn about attachment styles and how they affect parent/child relationships. Learn about grief and loss issues--the child's and your own--so that their responses do not trigger your own hot buttons. Read widely. Listen to podcasts like this one from Family to Family in which Brina, a young birth mother, recounts her experience with open adoption. She shares how she made her decision, selected prospective adoptive parents, her labor and delivery experience and her life since placing her son. Very powerful and enlightening.
Take classes. Adoption Learning Partners offers a wide selection of excellent ones on-line. They are offered on demand so you can fit them into your busy schedule.
Adoption is an important way to grow a family AND it comes with an additional level of responsibility. Our joy must not ignore the genuine struggles and challenges our children must work through as they braid their birth and adoptive heritages into a healthy identity. Parents often say they would do anything for their kids. Becoming adequately savvy about adoption is one thing all adoptive parents must do. Our kids need this. They deserve the best prepared parents, ones who love them enough to do the hard work, to hear the difficult truths and to commit that extra level of time and effort so they we can become the parents they need as well as the parents they want.