Adoption is not something that is yet considered “normal” by society. While adoption is much more accepted now than ever in the U.S., it is still something that seems to touch very few. How many people do you know who are affected by adoption?
The truth is, adoption is definitely something that should be considered “normal.”
To achieve a level of normality in society for adoption, we can begin with “normalizing” adoption within our own lives. Birth mothers and adoptive parents can begin “normalizing” adoption in their own lives with the child who was placed for adoption.
How to “Normalize” Adoption as Adoptive Parents
The first step in normalizing adoption for an adoptee is for the adoptive parents to create a welcoming, inclusive environment for discussions about adoption. This can take many forms for different families. Some adoptive parents will honor their child’s birth mother through conversations about her, while other adoptive families might talk about how special an adopted child is.
Normalizing adoption will look different for every family depending on many factors, including their level of openness with the birth mother, equal treatment for adopted and biological children, and emphasis on other adoption values. If, as an adoptive parent, you are looking for ways to normalize adoption for your child, here are a few tips for how you can do that:
- Talk openly and often with your child about how they are special because they are adopted. Instead of looking at adoption as “something we just don’t talk about,” consider opening the topic up for some great conversation with your child. Let your child know that he or she was chosen twice: once by his or her birth mother and once by his or her adoptive parents. How you choose to present this idea to an adoptee is somewhat irrelevant, as long as the point is made that adoption is a normal part of society. This will ultimately strengthen your child’s self-confidence and sense of identity, as they can be proud of where they come from instead of feeling ashamed of it.
- When you speak of adoption, share how much you not only love your child but also your child’s birth mother. Birth mothers and adoptive parents become a family after the child is placed for adoption and custody is transferred. This adoption triad is very special, and a bond of love can be created between them that nothing can break. While this is not always achievable, it is more likely to be the case in an open adoption. When you discuss loving your child’s birth mother with others, you are creating a positive adoption identity for your child. Also, when the adoption triad is acknowledged as a blended family, it seems to become more acceptable to society. So, speak of the love you feel for your child’s birth mother.
- Try to always talk positively about adoption, regardless of the challenges you may be facing. While it may be difficult during the lows of the rollercoaster ride that is a post-placement relationship to speak highly of your child’s birth mother, please always try to honor her. Society is always looking for one reason to judge a situation, no matter how big or small that reason might be. When you speak of adoption with others, remember that this may be one of the few opportunities that person will have to learn about how adoption is normal. Also, an adoptee will always have a stronger identity when their birth mother is spoken of highly. Remember, there will likely be highs and lows when it comes to post-placement relationships — but don’t let the lows define how you speak of adoption when the highs are so beautiful.
Adoptive parents play a crucial role in “normalizing” adoption for their children. Adoptive parents are the main caretakers for their child and will have the biggest role in helping their child create a positive identity.
Birth mothers are also an important piece of the puzzle in “normalizing” adoption for the child. Remember to honor your birth mother, and if you feel as if she is not respecting boundaries, make sure she is at least aware that they have been put in place. That way, she can always be a part of “normalizing” adoption for your child.
Lindsay is a guest blogger for Considering Adoption. She placed her son for adoption 7 years ago and hopes to use her experience to support and educate other expectant mothers considering adoption, as well as adoptive families.