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Dealing with Disappointment
June 11, 2018
In the March 2018 issue of Adoptive Families, Michael Serra wrote a personal essay about his experience with his adoptive children that his family adopted after fostering. He explained that his children were in fourteen foster homes in seven years before they came to live with the Serras. Two of their placements were each two years long. Serra explained that his younger daughter dealt with a lot of disappointment in her life, and he had to learn how to work through it alongside her.
Whether your adoptive child comes through the foster care system, or domestic or international agencies, there will be feelings of loss and disappointment that they will have to face at some point or another. As Serra noted in his essay, children bond to their caregivers even at a few months of age. When a child changes homes, there is an adjustment period, and there are feelings to navigate.
Some adoptive children may experience feelings of abandonment. Others may feel confusion. Others may be overwhelmed with anger. As an adoptive parent, it is not your job to have all of the answers. But you can be present with them in their time of need and reinforce them with your love.
Helpful reminders might be:
-They are not alone. They are surrounded by people that love them. Unconditionally. They are also not the only adoptive children that have those feelings. Letting them know that their emotions are not uncommon among adoptive children may help them to feel a sense of unity.
-Regardless of their birth parents' circumstances before or after their adoption, their birth parent(s) cared deeply enough for them to ensure a better life for them through adoption.
-They can build roots. Everyone wants to be planted in a community and a family. Everyone wants to belong. If they have spent time in multiple foster homes or if your home is their first after birth, they still might struggle to find roots in your family if they still have questions about their birth family. Allow them the freedom to ask their questions, but also provide them with a stable, loving place to land, attach and build.