By Eleanor Beeslaar, HRI Graduate Assistant
Adoption is a lifelong process with many joyous moments and loving memories. However, it is also a process of ongoing changes and challenges that can build strength, foster resilience, and deepen family connections. It is important to check in with your child and to seek out additional counseling services or resources, if needed. As a parent, your mental and emotional health are also relevant and deserve attention. If you experience new challenges throughout the adoption process, it may be beneficial to reach out to support groups for adoptive parents or to engage in individual counseling.
As adoptive families go through different transitional periods they will face new challenges that require positive communication, openness, and honesty within the family. As children grow older and continue to develop their identity, self-esteem, and sense of belonging, they may have questions related to their adoption, which can be difficult for parents to answer. If children are a different race/ethnicity than their parents, they may have questions about their birth family and cultural background as they continue to discover who they are. The North American Council on Adoptable Children has many wonderful resources that can help parents successfully address these concerns with their child. They have information, tools, and trainings about transracial parenting and helping adoptive children develop a positive racial identity.
Though we discussed many challenges that adoptive families may face, it is important to keep in mind that each family has a unique set of experiences and struggles and there may be challenges that we did not cover. Because each family has unique and complex needs, it is critical for families to have resources to help them meet these needs and develop healthy, happy, and safe relationships. We have compiled a list of resources for adoptive parents to use during the ongoing transitions and different challenges they may face as they move through life:
- HRI has many helpful resources for parents to use at different stages of their relationship with their child!
- Modules for parents: https://moocs.uncg.edu/hri/parent-child-relationship-modules/
- Parenting young children: http://www.guilfordhri.org/resources/youngchildren/
- Parenting teens: http://www.guilfordhri.org/resources/parentingteens/
- Carolina Adoption Services has resources on a variety of topics including: parenting adoptive children with Down Syndrome, single parenting, race and culture, food insecurity, talking about adoption, respite care, and more.
- The Child Welfare Information Gateway has several different resources for adoptive parents:
- Parenting Your Adopted School-Age Child: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/parent-school-age.pdf
- Parenting a Child Who has Experienced Trauma: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/child-trauma.pdf
- The Impact of Adoption on Adopted Persons: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/f_adimpact.pdf
- The Impact of Adoption on Adoptive Parents: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/impactparent.pdf
- The North American Council on Adoptable Children has resources covering many different topics including: childhood trauma, grief and loss, transracial parenting, disabilities and challenges, openness and birth family connections, parenting strategies, and food and nutrition.
- The Center for Adoption Support and Education has a list of adoption related books for parents and families, free resources and links related to adoption, webinars, and workshops.