Dear Adoptive Parents:
I wish you knew…
- we cannot just erase or get rid of our past.
No matter how old we get we will still remember parts of our past. Please listen to the stories we do share - even if they seem outrageous - which may include dark traumas and experiences. We know that can be hard on you. We hope you would acknowledge, and be prepared for what we know and remember of our biological family, and the importance these memories are to us. Know there is likely a difference in what we share of our past and what is shared in our paperwork. What we remember and experienced could be missing or a different viewpoint of what is shared in our paperwork - accept the differences and don’t dismiss what we remember and share.
- how to gain more help specific to adoption and parenting an adopted child.
If possible, reach out to the adoption agency for help or other adoption competent professionals. Do not dismiss the education required as another hoop to jump through in the adoption process. The education is to help you parent adopted children like me. Do not stop learning how to parent an adopted child after the requirement is met in the process.
- how to be more open with us.
Do not hide adoption papers and make copies to share with us. Let us know where the originals are so should we want to travel to our home country, get a passport, or any other legal documents, we have the appropriate paperwork available to us. Do not be threatened by the relationship with our biological family - including extended biological relatives. We are grateful for our adoptive family, but the transition can be hard and letters and pictures of our biological family can help ease this transition.
- how difficult transitions are.
Language is hard for us. Be open minded that not all children will learn a new language in the same ways - find what will help your child. The help may not always just be learning new words it may come in the form of speech therapy, dental work, or medical support. Food shock is hard for us. Food tastes different, be patient as we try new foods. Slowly introduce new foods and do not be upset about food waste. To help in the transition to the American diet, incorporate foods from our culture into the menu. Learn what foods are common in our culture and do your best to provide these foods, especially shortly after coming home. Give us the opportunity to shop with you and choose foods to eat. When we share our stomach hurts, or we do not like a food, be aware this could be a mild food allergy and our body is giving signals but we do not understand what they mean. Be our advocate to understand what is happening in our body. School/social shock is hard for us. Our grade level may be lower than our age. Do not compare us to your educational experience or the performance of other children of the same age or grade. We are learning more than academics so praise what we have learned. Help us with our assignments with the understanding that what we think is being asked of us may not be translated well. Be patient and do not discourage us when we misunderstand. Be our advocate at school to ensure our teachers and administrators understand we are going through an adoption transition, which includes not only social and culture differences, but family and personal transitions. We may need additional transitions at school to help us thrive in the school setting. Consider different types of education to meet our needs. For example: a smaller class size, private school, or home school. New cultural environments are hard for us. Educate yourself of our country’s seasons, holidays, and traditions. Do your best to incorporate our country’s seasonal holidays and traditions into American celebrations. Seek out music, television shows, and movies from our culture to share with us. Do not forget special clothing and traditional wear we may or may not bring with us or be purchased when traveling home. When visiting places where our culture is represented, like Disneyland’s Small World ride, we may remember something that could trigger a memory. Be aware these memories may be bad or good. When a memory is triggered please be patient with us even if we cannot communicate why we are being triggered. If you are aware of our triggers, do your best to assure us we are in a safe environment and make sure we able to communicate our feelings freely in that moment.
- we still have our own values and beliefs.
Our religion may be different than yours and we may or may not want to convert. Share your religion and beliefs, but allow us have the option to practice our religion without feeling like we are disrespecting our adoptive family. Provide opportunities for us to grow in our passions. Be encouraging of our interests and find ways to let us explore our talents.
- how grateful we are of adoption.
Please do not interpret the struggles of the adoption journey as us being ungrateful. We do value and love you for bringing us into and making us a part of your family.
- you cannot study enough about my country and me.
Do not stop learning about me, my country, my culture, and my past. Adoption is a never-ending journey for not only you, but me as well.
An Adult Adoptee
Assisted in writing by Nightlight staff member Alice