As apart of our adoption process we are required to take online courses on different adoption topics. So far, the courses I have taken are really good. I wish they would have required these courses 3 years ago when we were going through this process with Joshua. It would have helped to know how to deal with being a “conspicuous family” as one of the courses is called. We have made it up as we went along but it would have been easier to have someone else who knows what it’s like to tell us how to navigate comments made by others that are not so kind or probing. One of the courses was called “Dealing with adoption grief and loss”. From the outside looking in one might not realize that all parties in the adoption process deal with grief and loss in some way. The birth parents, obviously, deal with the loss of their child and seeing them grow up. The adoptive parents deal with the loss of having a biological child, especially if infertility is involved, but also the loss of the first moments or years of the child’s life. And the adopted child deals with the loss of birth parents and the life most children come to know as normal, growing up with birth parents. It has been widely studied, and researchers have come to realize, that even children adopted at birth experience grief and loss of their birth parents. This can come out in different ways and at different times throughout the child’s life and even into adulthood. The course I took was designed to help an adoptive parent understand what the child is going through and help them with their feelings.
I can say personally, being an adopted person, I can attest to this fact that adopted children experience grief. Mine wasn’t realized until I was an adult, but it was one of the factors that lead to my going to counseling a few years ago. I resolved my issues in counseling but it would have helped to be able to realize them earlier in my life and deal with them, but it just wasn’t something people knew about or talked about 30 years ago. I am so glad that I can understand this for my adopted children so that I can help them deal with it in constructive ways.
If you are an adoptee or an adoptive parents, I would encourage you to learn more about adoptive grief and loss. You can do so at www.adoptionlearningpartners.org/ or also by reading an excellent book called “The Connected Child”. Both these resources have been really helpful to me. And no, I know this sounds like a shameless plug for these resources, I am not getting paid to endorse these items, that would be nice. lol. I have realized the importance of people who have been or are involved in adoption to deal with feelings of grief and loss associated with adoption in a constructive manner.