Monday, November 24, 2008

Justice's Tips for Adoptive Parents

Again, I have reason to believe I am important somehow. That people want to know my opinion and hear what I have to say. This may not be true but it's the only reason I can justify keeping up this blog. So, in the theme of National Adoption Month, here are a few tips for adoptive families that are awaiting their child. So, no credibility here, just what I learned from Mateo. Maybe you can get something out of it or maybe it is further confirmation that I am a self-obsessed, know-it-all, who thinks she is far more important than she really is and you'll never visit my blog again. Either way, here it is.

1. Be prepared to not be prepared. What I mean is, know that you will have feelings and emotions that you didn't expect to feel. And that is okay. You really can't be prepared for what this will be like.

2. It's a good idea to be prepared for stupid questions and assumptions from others who don't understand adoption. Sometimes these people are ignorant and inexperienced. Sometimes they are curious and don't know better. And sometimes they are just mean. I've found most of the time, people are just uneducated about adoption etiquette. Example; at Mateo's adoption party an old friend says to me, "so you're not gonna have any kids?" Another time, after noticing Mateo wasn't talking as well as other kids his age someone asks, "is he slow?" and "will he ever be normal?" It's a good idea to have some pat answers for these situations.

3. Know that you will have feelings about being a transracial parent (if you are going that route), even if you think you won't. Hidden prejudices will come up for you, your family, and your friends. You may experience some negative comments from people you thought loved you, and they probably do, but haven't had to think about what they say before. Again, have responses ready, you will have to do a lot of educating.

4. Flexibility is essential. You may have to change your plan and tactics as your child grows and develops, and as the attachment strengthens. Be open to new ideas.

5. Be patient! Give the child time to adjust and don't expect to see results right away. But be happy with the small successes. For instance, it took Mateo almost a year to learn how to go down a playground slide by himself. Which is a small success for a typical child his age. But for us, we about had a party when he finally did it. I called our friends and family to let them know and they were just as excited. You would have thought he won the Nobel Prize or something. But it does make life better because we don't take the small accomplishments for granted.

6. Expect ups and downs and set-backs. Mateo is constantly cycling through behavior problems and emotional problems. I can't say what he'll be like 6 months from now. I don't know what behaviors patterns are gone forever or will be back in a matter of a few month or a few years. He can regress quickly in certain circumstances as well. This is normal for a child with a background of trauma. And all adopted kids have experienced trauma. Even if they have not been abused, they've had trauma just in losing their birthparents.

7. Be prepared to change your preconceptions of parenting and erase what you think you know about parenting. Throw away your parenting experiences because it won't be the same. This is especially true for parents adopting an older child.

8. You may have trouble relating with other parents who have not adopted. You may feel like you're looked at differently or feel like an outsider. This is why it's important to get to know other adoptive families.

9. Take care of yourself!!!

10. Get help quickly if you feel you need it. There is nothing wrong with seeing a counselor or therapist. And there is nothing wrong with asking for professional help for your child either.

I will be doing a final Adoption post before the end of the month, then it's back to my normal funny stories and rants. Have a good Thanksgiving everybody!


Devan said...

Hey, give a little more on number 9, taking care of yourself. Examples, please.

J-momma said...

well, aren't we demanding? :)
i just meant things like scheduling breaks for yourself with either partner taking over or getting a babysitter. visit the spa. hang out with friends. don't neglect your pre-kid life. go out for coffee with a good book. that sort of thing. you will burn out quickly if you think you are the end-all be-all of taking care of this child. let others help so you can take care of yourself.

Bergmama said...

Those are all really great tips....and yes, you are totally justified in believing you are important and people wanna hear what you have to say. ;)