How to Deal with Your Adopted Child’s Fears
Adopting a child is one of the most beautiful things you could do in this life, but that doesn’t mean it will always be easy. Children who are adopted, especially those taken in by their adoptive parents at an older age, tend to struggle with insecurities, fears and even anger about being adopted and feeling abandoned or unloved.
While such fears are completely normal for a child who hasn’t grown up their whole life in a stable and secure family environment, it is important to address these issues as early on as possible so that they do not develop into more serious problems like separation anxiety or an identity crisis.
Acknowledge their trauma
Adopted children, especially those who remember life before their adoption, have experienced a trauma as a result of being separated from their biological parent(s). Even in early infancy, a mother and child are closely connected, emotionally and physiologically, and when they are separated, for whatever reason, it causes a lasting trauma in both the child and the mother.
It is important to recognize and acknowledge this trauma so that your child can find closure and form his (her) own identity. Ignoring it, simply because it is difficult or uncomfortable to talk about or because your child has never spoken openly about it will only worsen the problem by causing further emotional damage.
The first step towards healing your adoptive child’s emotional wounds is to acknowledge that they have suffered a loss, regardless of how young they were at the time. From here, you can begin to help them move forward.
Encourage them to talk about their feelings openly
Although your adopted child may not openly discuss emotions or feelings, especially if they are still quite young, it can be helpful for them to know that should they want to talk or share something with you, you wouldn’t be offended or brush off their concerns.
Make sure to let them know that they can always come to you when they need to talk and that there is nothing they could say or do that would cause you to think differently of them and that you will always love them no matter what.
It is also helpful to talk about your child’s adoption and background with them openly so that they can learn to feel comfortable with the fact that they were adopted. Don’t make out it out to be a hush-hush subject that is not talked about, but at the same time, you don’t have to feel like you need to tell everyone that your child is adopted — that should be their decision to make.
Spend as much time together as possible
Spending time with your adopted child is the best way to strengthen your bond and help them to feel comfortable sharing things with you. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, you can spend time together doing usual everyday things like cooking, watching TV, driving to the store or having meals together.
If you have other (biological) children, it is important to strike a good balance between spending quality time together as a family and spending one on one time with your adopted child. If you are concerned that spending extra time with your adopted child will make the other siblings jealous, you can set up special days where you spend time with each sibling on their own.
Encourage personal interests and hobbies
Supporting your adopted child’s interests, talents and hobbies is a great way to build up their self-esteem and help them create their own identity. If they show interest in a certain topic, sport or other activity, encourage them to pursue it by enrolling them in courses and taking a genuine interest in their newly found hobby.
Praising their accomplishments, even if they are small, is a great way to show them your support. Even if they don’t go on to pursue their hobbies as a career later on in life, knowing that you believe in them and are truly interested in their happiness will help to build their self-esteem and character.
Last but not least, make sure you verbally express your love and affection for your adoptive child as often as you can. You may take it for granted that you love them, but they need to hear it and be reassured of it again and again.
About the Author
Jane Bongato is part of the team behind Open Colleges, Australia’s provider of child care courses and counselling courses. She is an early childhood educator and for the past six years has worked closely with special needs children. She enjoys reading, painting or meeting friends during her spare time. (Find her on Google+)
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