Every parent’s experience of adoption is different but, for many, child adoption is a lengthy and difficult process, in both practical and emotional terms, but it is also often the fulfillment of a long held dream.
Much of the stigma that was formerly associated with adoption has now disappeared thankfully but, nonetheless, raising adopted children can still present some unique and extremely challenging problems.
Adoption: Relatively Easy Or Definitely Difficult?
Many of these problems are very real, but frequently they are more imaginary than real. For example, consider for a moment the problem of heredity in relation to medical problems. Many parents feel that it is vitally important to that a child may be at greater risk from a medical conditions because of inherited characteristics, but is it really that important? What are the real consequences of not knowing that a child is susceptible to a particular illness? As long as the child has good medical care and attends for regular checkups the majority of problems will be detected and treated and whether the child inherited the condition or not is frequently of little if any relevance.
By contrast, previous bad parenting, and in particular, abuse, may lea an older child to present very real difficulties for adoptive parents. This said however, it is surprising just how often past experiences play a very small part in a child’s life. This is especially true once a child has settled with his adoptive parents and has established a reasonable level of trust.
For many adoptive parents the main problem encountered arises out of the mere fact that the child is adopted. Parents will often be influenced by this fact and erect an artificial barrier between themselves and the child. A surprisingly large number of adoptive parents wrestle with the problem of whether or not to tell their child that he or she is adopted and, if they do decide to do so, with just when and how the child should be told brings a whole new set of challenges. There is also often a fear that telling a child that he or she is adopted could irrepairably damage the relationship which they have built up.
In reality biology has very little to do with parenting. If a child is told that he or she is adopted and this causes a problem then, in most cases, this has far more to do poor parenting than it does with adoption.
If a child discovers unexpectedly that he or she is adopted, particularly if this information comes from someone other than an adoptive parent, considerable emotional upset can result which may be very difficult to remedy. For this reason it is also dangerous to try to keep the fact of adoption from a child. Children should always be told that they are adopted and the question is not whether they should be told but when they should be told.
Strong bonds develop between children and parents and these can develop very quickly whether we are talking about the bonds between parents and their biological children or their adopted children. It can even be argued that that the bonds which develop between parents and their adopted children can be particularly strong because the fact that the child is adopted sends a powerful message that he or she is both wanted and loved.
While adoption clearly presents a number of unique challenges, the rewards from adoptive parenting can be enormous and, like everything in life, the simple fact that you need to work a harder at something makes the pleasure of success that much greater.