Cross-Cultural Adoption: The Do's and Don'ts for Grown-Ups
Do acknowledge and celebrate the differences.
One of the best things you can do to show your support as well as your love for the adopted child in your life is to learn a bit about the culture and history of her birth country. Read a couple of books, especially travel books. Even if you have no plans to travel there, there is no better way to get the feeling of another country.
What You Should Not Do
Don’t introduce him as adopted.
The pain this inflicts on the child is obvious. The child is made to feel inferior, like he will never be considered a real part of the family. The rule is simple: Don’t ever, ever do this.
Don’t say how lucky she is.
After hearing this enough times, the child can be made to feel like a lifelong charity case, rather than the cherished child she is. Yes, she is lucky, but so is any child who has a supportive, loving family. And we parents are lucky, too, to have been able to create this loving, supportive family.
Don’t assume adoption is a second choice.
The reasons people choose to adopt are as varied and unique as the people themselves. While it is true that many choose adoption because of infertility, it is also true that many choose adoption for a myriad of other reasons as well. Many people choose to adopt not because they are out of other options, but rather because they believe that adoption is the best choice for them.
Don’t jump to conclusions about the birth mother.
Often thought of as weak, irresponsible, cheap, and worthless, birth mothers often suffer a lifetime of pain far greater than that of childbirth. Please don’t jump to the wrong conclusion that these women are any different than you and me or that they love their children any less.
Most cross-cultural adoptive families know little or nothing about the circumstances that led their child’s birth mother to relinquish her child. What they do know is that they love their children’s birth mothers because they are a part of their children and it is because of them that their beloved children are who they are.
Don’t tell us we’re sure to have a child of our own.
He is our own. Those parents who choose adoption do not secretly harbor lifelong yearnings for a biological child. Having “our own” becomes irrelevant; the child we have is the one we want and it is inconceivable that we could love or want any child more. Like all parents, we have the best.
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