Many adopting couples have found incredible support through family, friends, churches, and even social media services, such as Gofundme. That support often culminates with the official adoption, or when the child is brought into their new home. The need for support carries on well past that day though. The support needs for adopting parents may be financial, but often the more significant needs are more social and transitional in nature.
Issues Adoptive Parents May Encounter
The first post-adoption challenge a parent will face is the grief of their child, trying to transition from one home and family into their new one. Whether they are infants or not, there will be sleepless nights for parents and children together, and there will be many children who just do not understand why. Adopting parents will grieve as well, getting past expectations their new child will not live up to. Most of these are unrealistic hopes that need to be put away anyway, but it still a kind of grief and this is when it happens.
The other issue newly adopted children face is learning to trust and to build new attachments to their new parents. If they have been taken from a previous home, it can be difficult for them to understand how and why to trust new parents. In older children, it may not make sense why they can keep attachments (in various degrees) to other family members they have but may spend less time with since the new adoption.
Changes in Support at Different Ages
In the early stages of their life, adopted children will have to deal with the effects of any traumatic abuse or neglect that they may have experienced. This will affect their behavior, emotions, and ways of coping with stress. They may also have developmental delays or health issues that will appear during these first years. These issues all can make the new parents feel like they are working with challenges created by others and cleaning up someone else’s mess. The sentiment, both somewhat unfair and yet true, may only make the parents feel guilty for feeling that way. They will need support to weather these difficult times.
Some other important events that invite additional support for adopting families are birthdays, anniversaries, holidays like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, school projects where children are asked to present about their “family tree”, the birth or adoption of additional children, contact (especially when unexpected) with a member of the child’s former or other family, and death in the family. These are all relatively normal events in the lives of birth children but which require extra support for adoptive families.
Where can that support be found? There are many support groups for adoptive parents, children, and youth. Some meet in person, while others can be accessed online. These include National Foster Care & Adoption Directory, North American Council on Adoptable Children, FosterClub, Foster Care Alumni of America, AdoptUSKids, and NACAC. You can find additional resources with the Rainbow Kids Adoption Calendar and PACT (www.pactadopt.org)
It is also important to have a circle of family and friends who can offer support to the family in question whenever possible. Whether it’s just offering to lend an ear or something more concrete, like watching the kids so the parents can have some alone time, support from those close to the family is vital.