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Extended Family and Adoption

The adoption journey is an eventful one. It is full with both joyous and emotional moments. From the application process, to the waiting, to finally bringing home your new child. Many expect that things will automatically settle into a state of normalcy soon afterwards. While this would be a blessing, it is not often the case. How often have you heard somebody say “This is my daughter, this is her adopted son Alex and her real children Brenda and Amy”. This sentence, although highly inappropriate, is hardly ever meant to be inconsiderate. It is simply an explanation from a friendly family member proudly introducing his or her family to a friend or relative. It is not the intent that is incorrect; it is the terminology in the sentence. So how does this get stopped before it even starts? Depending on your own situation, there are a number of ways to avoid this.

Keep them involved

Your adoption process will be a personal matter. There will be home visits and consultations that you may not want to have others involved in. As much as possible though, try to arrange some group meetings with your social worker that will involve as many of your family as possible. This is a great way for your social worker to meet your family and it is also a perfect opportunity for your family to ask questions that they may even be hesitant to ask you. Keeping them involved through the process results with less surprises at the end when your new child is in your arms.

Family Meetings

Prior to your child arriving, or even shortly afterwards, hold a family gathering. Give them time to ask questions about your new child, about the process and about how you are doing now. Many times, a potentially awkward situation can be completely avoided had a person been given a chance to ease their own curiosity. This, however, should not be done with your new child present. If there is no time to do this prior to the adoption being finalized and your child arriving, arrange a great play area for all kids that can keep them entertained while the adults chat.

Keep Informed

More than ever, keep your own lines of communication open with your child. Depending on the age, find ways to openly communicate with them. If they encounter awkward situations, show them how to turn it around into a positive situation. Keep the opportunity open to be able to reiterate how special they are and how happy you are to have them in your life. Adoption is a blessing.

Through the entire adoption process, the family directly involved becomes deeply immersed in a world of legal issues. They have a lot of options to consider and a lot of choices to make. What would have been a foreign concept to them prior to starting the process becomes a normal table topic quite quickly into it. In most cases, the extended family may be aware that you are trying to adopt but will not be as involved in the situation as you are. Too them they are simply waiting to see your new child. It is very important to realize that since they were not there every step of the way, it may be difficult for them to have the appropriate reactions when they meet your new child.