An Adoptee’s Perspective: 10 Things Adoptive Parents Should Know
An Adoptee’s Perspective:
10 Things Adoptive Parents Should Know
By Christina Romo
1. Adoption is not possible without loss. Losing one’s birth parents is the most
traumatic form of loss a child can experience. That loss will always be a part of
me. It will shape who I am and will have an effect on my relationships—
especially my relationship with you.
2. Love isn’t enough in adoption, but it certainly makes a difference. Tell me every
day that I am loved—especially on the days when I am not particularly lovable.
3. Show me—through your words and your actions—that you are willing to weather
any storm with me. I have a difficult time trusting people, due to the losses I have
experienced in my life. Show me that I can trust you. Keep your word. I need to
know that you are a safe person in my life, and that you will be there when I need
you and when I don’t need you.
4. I will always worry that you will abandon me, no matter how often you tell me or
show me otherwise. The mindset that “people who love me will leave me” has
been instilled in me and will forever be a part of me. I may push you away to
protect myself from the pain of loss. No matter what I say or do to push you
away, I need you to fight like crazy to show me that you aren’t going anywhere
and will never give up on me.
5. Even though society says it is PC to be color-blind, I need you to know that race
matters. My race will always be a part of me, and society will always see me by
the color of my skin (no matter how hard they try to convince me otherwise). I
need you to help me learn about my race and culture of origin, because it’s
important to me. Members of my race and culture of origin may reject me because
I’m not “black enough” or “Asian enough”, but if you help arm me with pride in
who I am and the tools to cope, it will be okay. I don’t look like you, but you are
my parent and I need you to tell me—through your words and your actions—that
it’s okay to be different. I have experienced many losses in my life. Please don’t
allow the losses of my race and culture of origin to be among them.
6. I need you to be my advocate. There will be people in our family, our school, our
church, our community, our medical clinic, etc. who don’t understand adoption
and my special needs. I need you to help educate them about adoption and special
needs, and I need to know that you have my back. Ask me questions in front of
them to show them that my voice matters.
7. At some point during our adoption journey, I may ask about or want to search for
my birth family. You may tell me that being blood related doesn’t matter, but not
having that kind of connection to someone has left a void in my life. You will
always be my family and you will always be my parent. If I ask about or search
for my birth family, it doesn’t mean I love you any less. I need you to know that
living my life without knowledge of my birth family has been like working on a
puzzle with missing pieces. Knowing about my birth family may help me feel more complete.
8. Please don’t expect me to be grateful for having been adopted. I endured a
tremendous loss before becoming a part of your family. I don’t want to live with
the message that “you saved me and I should be grateful” hanging over my head.
Adoption is about forming forever families—it shouldn’t be about “saving” children.
9. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I may need help in coping with the losses I have
experienced and other issues related to adoption. It’s okay and completely normal.
If the adoption journey becomes overwhelming for you, it’s important for you to
seek help, as well. Join support groups and meet other families who have adopted.
This may require you to go out of your comfort zone, but it will be worth it. Make
the time and effort to search for and be in the company of parents and
children/youth who understand adoption and understand the issues. These
opportunities will help normalize and validate what we are going through.
10. Adoption is different for everyone. Please don’t compare me to other adoptees.
Rather, listen to their experiences and develop ways in which you can better
support me and my needs. Please respect me as an individual and honor my
adoption journey as my own. I need you to always keep an open mind and an
open heart with regard to adoption. Our adoption journey will never end, and no
matter how bumpy the road may be and regardless of where it may lead, the fact
that we traveled this road together, will make all the difference.
Christina Romo is an adoptee who was adopted from South Korea at age 2.
She works for a child welfare organization and lives in Minnesota with her husband and their two sons. This piece was posted on her blog, Diary of a Not-So-Angry Asian Adoptee
Please contact Christina at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to use or distribute this piece.
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