AS adoptive parents, we have high hopes for our child(ren). This of course, is normal, as it would be also with our biological children. We want them to succeed in life. We may even want them to exceed what we have personally achieved—possibly going to college or having a great career with a six-figure income. However, we must also remember that our child(ren)—especially those who are adopted internationally—often come to us largely as a “big question mark.” Depending on the amount of history that comes with our child (which can be highly inaccurate, even with domestic adoptees), there is often much more that we don’t know about them than what we actually do know. Therefore, we must often adjust our expectations of our child—not lower our expectations mind you, but adjust them to the uniqueness and abilities of our child.
Your dream for your child to go to college may have to be adjusted if you learn that he/she has moderate to severe cognitive delays and learning disabilities (common with children who have lived in orphanages for lengthy periods or who have been through chronic trauma). Or, if your child is not Caucasian, you may be disappointed in your desire for your child to seamlessly blend in with your Caucasian friends and family or his/her White school mates. You may need to seek professional assistance if your child cannot bond with you and manifests the symptoms of Attachment Disorder. Please understand that these challenges are neither a negative reflection on you or your child. For some adoptees and these are facts of real life.
The key to navigating these and other challenges is realistic balance and grace on our part as parents. Realistic balance involves keeping the “big picture” in front of us—we must remember that our child’s story is not over no matter how deep the valleys become that we may have to traverse with him or her. Grace involves the grace that we give ourselves as parents as well as the grace we give to our child—not the type of “grace” that excuses negative and harmful behaviors, but a mindset of grace that reminds us where our children have come from that enables us to meet them where they’re at.
*For some helpful reading that addresses this issue, please check out the book list on the “RESOURCES” section of this site.
Photo on Unsplash by Vidar Nordi-Mathisen