I shared in my previous post that all of us parents have learned from trial and error in our parenting approaches. This is especially true for adoptive parents because of the unique needs of adopted children. However, we need not allow negative hindsight to haunt us—we all do the best we can with the tools we have in our ”parenting toolbox.” Hindsight can actually be a gift, helping us to grow and adjust in parenting these special children. Following are some more “hindsight words of wisdom” from veteran intercountry adoptive parents.
“We would have tried better to grasp the idea that while our daughter is seven, she’s developmentally more like a five-year-old. It’s really hard to parent a seven-year-old like a five-year-old after you’ve raised your other kids through those stages. We were told by a pediatric psychologist that our daughter missed out on all the things (in the orphanage) that cause an infant or toddler’s brain to develop and form attachment.” --Michael, dad to a daughter form China.
“I tell parents to educate themselves about attachment and developmental delays as well as trauma. Research professional help BEFORE you adopt, and have a team in place to help out. Set realistic expectations when adopting—it takes more than love, and many kids are not going to come into it (a new family) grateful and having good behavior stemming from gratefulness. One thing to keep in mind: ALL adoptions are form a place of loss.” --Andrea, mom to a son from Ukraine.
“Manage your expectations. We didn’t expect it to be as hard as it was. I would be way more proactive with counseling. I would have handled some of the situations (in parenting) with more grace. I think I didn’t adjust the way I parented our son as compared to my four biological children who were older.” --Drew, dad to a son from Nicaragua.
Parents, let me emphasize again the importance of giving yourself grace in the adoptive parenting journey! As our parents mentioned above, be proactive and, as much as possible take advantage of the resources available to adoptive families. Know that you will make mistakes, but also know that your unconditional love for your child outweighs your mistakes. Thanks for reading!