A long time ago, when my kids were younger, they came home one day and my daughter was mumbling something beneath her breath, and as it often happened, her brother was the one who interpreted the mumblings.
Apparently, she had been saying “family is a group of people related by blood, marriage and adoption”. I was amazed, because you see, in my own days in Primary or was it Nursery school, when you describe a family, it doesn’t include marriage or definitely not adoption. It was just a group of people related by blood. Se finis.
That group of people related by blood can either be nuclear or extended family. Not only was I amazed that my daughter, at that age, knew the definition of family, I was a lot happier that the definition of family was changing, and the younger generation is being taught this new definition early.
The catching of the younger generation early is very important, if we are to erase the notion and stigma attached to adoption in our society…at least legal adoption, not the loose arrangement that our parents and their parents had for taking care of children of family members, or even random strangers, without necessarily giving them their names.
In that loose arrangement, adopted children are without a lot of rights. They are vulnerable to the whims and caprices of family members, and even the society.
Moving to the 21st century, the story is a lot different, as adoption is slowing shedding its old toga and taking on a form of acceptability, (make no mistake, there are still older folks who struggle with it). And as it attains a level of acceptability, it becomes imperative that parents are able to blend their families properly, so no child feels left out.
I remember that, at a parents-in-waiting conference I attended some months back, there were questions about raising adopted children and concerns about if they develop behavioural issues, what are options available? The Lagos State Government personnel who had been at the event, admonished parents of adopted children to forget the “adopted” prefix and deal with the situation as they would do with their own biological child. This is very good advice, since once you adopt a child, the upbringing of that child into a well-adjusted individual is your responsibility, and if you desire not to fail your biological children, then you owe your adopted child the same sense of responsibility.
What’s heart-warming is the fact that there are lots of adoptive parents who get the brief right, and give it their all. And these women can be drawn from women who adopted first before getting pregnant, and those who had their own babies and decided to adopted, the second or even third time around.
One of the women shared her experience at the event; “When the doctor told me I shouldn’t try getting pregnant again, I was like, ‘Who is doing this again?’ Once is more than enough!”
She revealed that she has gone on to adopt one more baby, whom she calls Gift as a pet name, because that child, in her words, was literally gifted to her. From the way, she told the story of her motherhood journey, it was obvious that these children mean a lot to her, just as they should.
Having children that get along awesomely is not child’s play but it is also not impossible, as some of the tips mentioned in this article can help.
Prepare your child and make sure they know your choice of adoption has nothing to do with them:
Having this conversation is like laying the stone for the foundation of the sibling relationship that will result between your adopted child and biological child. It doesn’t matter whether your biological kid is getting an adoptive sibling, or the other way around, this conversation is important.
More so, it is super important to be clear to your child that the reason you’re adopting is not because of them, but rather, how you want to expand your family, so their little minds don’t conjure up feelings of “I’m not enough for mommy or daddy.”
And if your child is in that phase where they are craving a sibling, then you are in luck. However, you should still involve your child(ren) in preparation for the newest member of your family.
If you adopted after struggling with infertility and now are expecting a baby, it’s important to really drive home that your adopted child is a permanent family member, who cannot be replaced.
Don’t play the favourite game at all:
It is so easy for parents to want to try to make up for the fact that a child is adopted, but it doesn’t help in the long run. It only just serves to make the difference between your biological child and the adopted one very clear.
Deal with each child as individuals, and address their concerns as they come up. That means, sometimes you will hears stuff like, “Mom likes you best, because you grew up in her tummy.” Or “Being adopted makes you mom’s favourite” or even “I wish I had grown up in our tummy.” They are all valid concerns and very much a part of being part of blended family. Take them just as they are and move on.
Ask for help
While sibling rivalry should be expected, when one of your kids is displaying personality changes, behavioural problems such as strong temper tantrums, or even regression, such as bedwetting.
Or they have been asking lots of questions that you are not sure how to answer, then you may want to consider professional help. And yes, such help is available even in our clime.
And ultimately, remember that family is a group of people related by blood, marriage and adoption. That just makes a lot things easier.
Cheers to parenting.
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