Under the Umbrella: Supporting a Child’s Journey from Foster Care to Adoption

On the surface, it may not seem like a big change when a foster family decides to adopt a child who has been in their care for some time. But there are often many unforeseen changes that come with this milestone for children who are being adopted.

For a child, adoption can sometimes bring mixed feelings and uncertainty. You may discover that he is harboring feelings of guilt for what he perceives as leaving his family behind as he joins another. He might not be forthcoming about this, so setting a nonjudgmental tone and asking open-ended questions can help him to open up. Validate that it’s okay for him to love two families and that he doesn’t need to choose anyone above anyone else.

Making your parent/child relationship “official” might also mean that formal visitation with biological family members will end. The child may not understand such an abrupt change in her routine. She may fear that she will never see her biological family members again. Whether this becomes the case or not, it’s best to talk with her and be honest about it so she can better understand and accept the reasons for changes like this.

This transition can also stir up questions about identity. You can help him explore the grander meaning of being adopted by developing a life book with him. It is a great way to spend special time with him and gain insights into how he’s processing his journey.

The best way to guide your whole family through these changes is with sensitivity and empathy. Don’t take it personally if the child is having any difficulty with this transition. Help her work through her feelings by acknowledging her grief and being with her in her pain. Check in with her teachers and other important adults in her life who can also be a support for her to talk to. Be there with her in her excitement, as well. You can brainstorm ideas for how she would like to celebrate her adoption day, or share her exciting news with her classmates. Each child is unique in how they cope through life transitions like this. Listen to her voice and cater your support to her needs and wishes.

Finally, please know that we are here to help. By suggesting relevant books, offering celebration ideas, helping to ease your fears about having difficult conversations with your child, and more – we’re waiting for your call. You can reach us at 414-475-1246, 1-800-762-8063, or via email, info@coalitionforcyf.org.

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Under the Umbrella is the weekly enewsletter from the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families. If you would like to sign up to receive this newsletter in your in-box, please do so here.

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