Placement is not the ending… it’s just the beginning.
All too often, folks make the mistake of thinking the day a child leaves one family and goes home with another that it’s the completion of their adoption plans, but in truth, the day of entrustment is just the start of each child’s adoption journey.
How that child adapts to his/her new identity and his/her new family, how the parents adjust and how his/her first family cope post-adoption is all part of the adoption story. There’s no “right” or “wrong” way for that story to unfold, but at Abrazo, all of our adopting families commit (at placement) to raise every child adopted here with the knowledge of their adoption story– and their birthparents– from Day One, so there is hopefully never a time when kids adopted through Abrazo are unaware the truth of Chapter One in the story of their lives.
Because everyone deserves to know Chapter One of their lifestory, don’t they? Of course they do. And in a perfect world, that would be enough to make everything right for all time, but of course, it’s not.
Finding professional help who are well-versed in open adoption practice can be essential in getting kids who were once adopted and their families the help that’s needed. That’s where we come in!
A Message To Adoptees
Once upon a time, without any input from you, decisions were made for your life that forever changed everything, in ways that you may (or may not) now feel were truly best for you.
We were there at the start of your adoption, and we bore witness to all that went on. The decision to place you for adoption was NEVER simple nor easy. You need to know that at that point in time, your birthmother was facing what seemed to her to be insurmountable obstacles.
But you weren’t the obstacle— know that. (It wasn’t because of you!) You were a beautiful, lovable child that she would have loved to parent, given different circumstances. It was just everything else that was complicating her ability to raise a child (or another child) at that time.
And although her reasoning may or may not make sense to you today, believe us: at that point in her life, given the options she had to work with and her lack of resources back then, she truly believed that giving you another family, with a safe and secure home, was her very best chance of giving you the very best life she could. It was the hardest choice she ever had to make, but it was one she felt had to made… for your sake.
After an adoption is complete, life is never (ever!) the same again.
Not for anyone. It’s a little like going on a voyage around the world; when you get back, people may not think you look any different, but the places you’ve been and the things you’ve experienced truly have changed you, forever.
And change is always stressful, whether we consider the changes in our lives to be positive or negative. So it’s important to have qualified professionals you can talk to, before and after adoption, who understand what you’ve been through, and strong support networks in your personal life that you can turn to for help.
Keeping post-adoption promises is essential, of course. While relationships between adoptive parents and birthparents sometimes change, subtly, as both deal with all the changes in their lives following an adoption, it’s important to keep lines of communication open. To check in with and to make time for those other parents who mean so much to your child, like the family members that you surely are.
Let others know what you need from them. Whether this means setting boundaries with pushy relatives or asking for a hug or contacting the agency for counseling, speak up and don’t be afraid to communicate your needs. Don’t presume others can read your mind; tell people who care about you how they can support you best.
Be gentle with yourself. Anyone who’s been through all the emotions of the adoption process deserves points for effort, because they made huge personal sacrifices for love of a child. So don’t second guess yourself, afterwards. Own your emotions, sure! But embrace what is, and love thyself!
Finally, stay connected with your adoption community. Nobody “gets” where you’ve been like your sojourners here at Abrazo. Keep up on the Forum. Recharge your batteries at Camp Abrazo each summer. Be sure to friend Abrazo on Facebook, and let us add you to our private alumni group. And don’t forget to come/call home (the home office, that is!) when you need a friend. Our welcome mat is always out.