Thre are many universal experiences in adoption: a lot of highs with a few lows. A common "low" is the experience of well-intended, but not-so-helpful, unsolicited advice from family and friends. Before I go on, I’ll preface with saying that my family has been uniquely supportive and the hard-to-swallow advice has been minimal.
Yet I write because
almost every adoptive family I know has experienced the frustration of family members and/or friends suggesting how to parent or how not to parent their newly adopted child. In their defense, the solutions for dealing with sometimes difficult behaviors may seem easy. Through an biased lens, it is as if adoptive parents need new glasses themselves. Can’t they (overprotective, neurotic, obsessive, hovering, helicopter, parents) see?
Strangely, however, adoptive parents often have vision that continues to correct itself as their learning curve increases. Adoption classes, homestudy visits, adoption support groups, books on attachment, talking to adult adoptees, travel to a child’s birth country OR a meeting your child’s birth family, and finally "living it" – are really the best set of eyes. Parents may know personal things about their child that change the way their parent the child in order to best meet his or her needs.
Of course all of us have room for improvement (we are sinners by nature). Sometimes a gentle "how are you doing" may be enough to open the door to discussion if you have concerns. Even with a tool box of resources, sometimes parents realize the need additional support. Adoptive parents may seek help from experienced social workers, fellow adoptive parents, attachment therapists and, many other sources. Because adoption is a unique experience many parents find the typical parenting advice doesn’t always apply. Ultimately moms and dads know their child.
From the decision to pursue adoption to the tough days of parenting – unsolicited advice is seldom helpful. Instead, pray for adoptive parents. Show Christian love through unconditional support, genuine concern and abundant compassion.