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Adoptive Families

The importance of support for adoptive families

Adoption is a family journey that brings a unique set of considerations that are both joyful and challenging.  Families adopt for a variety of reasons, with a great diversity of emotional experience.  For some adoption comes after a lengthy journey full of grief and loss, for others it involves excitement and promise right from the start.

Adoption is a significant transition for each member involved and it is very helpful to have support so that all members of the family can move toward a common goal.  Without support, family members can sometimes drift away from each other and struggle to find a unified sense of family.  Support through the transition is a great family investment.

 

How grief & fear show up in adoptive families

However joyful an adoption is for all parties, there is always some (sometimes very small) thread of grief woven throughout.  It is helpful for all people to work together to identify how grief is presenting itself.  At times, it can be particularly difficult to understand how grief is showing up for a child.  There is also often fear present during adoption.  Just as with any family transition, it is unsettling and anxiety-inducing to step into the unknown.

 

How seeing adoption as a dance can help your adoptive family thrive

In adoption, parent and child pick up a new dance with new partners in the middle of a song.  When the dance of attachment has been started elsewhere with someone else, it can be tricky to figure out how to move together in time to the music.  Parents may have other children in the home and have a rhythm and dance established with those children.  First time parents may not have an established parenting dance but they learned their steps from their own families and may or may not want to repeat the same dance steps.

Children, even newborns, have the “wiring-in” of dance steps around relationship and birth parent(s) that they bring to their adoptive families.  Often adoptive families feel some clumsiness in the dance and feel like they are stepping on each others toes.  Sometimes a child will give confusing messages to their new care-takers.  They may directly tell them or indirectly imply that they don’t want to dance with the parent(s).  This can be very painful and challenging for adoptive parents.

Sometimes families have to navigate complex systems such as the foster-care system, throughout their adoption process.  It can be helpful to have a guide who is familiar with such systems and provide information and support.

There are many kinds of adoption: international adoption, open adoption, transracial adoption and adoption of an older child. Although each of these are unique and bring their own specialness and joys, they also each bring distinct challenges and questions.

Finding and working with a child & family therapist can help you navigate the complex process and begin your dance with your newest family member.  It is an important investment in your family’s future to have support throughout the transition of adoption.  A child & family therapist can help you all come together to learn about each others steps and move toward a more graceful dance.

→ Child & family therapy offers effective support for adoptive family Call 503-349-2281 to make an appointment Email us