Parenting

15 Essential Reads For Adoptive Parents

We’re all in this together.
"It is one of the most amazing journeys of my life, but it’s also incredibly hard."
"It is one of the most amazing journeys of my life, but it’s also incredibly hard."

Whether you're considering adoption or are already an adoptive parent, there's no doubt the life-altering event can be an emotional roller-coaster. To aid in the journey, we've gathered 15 of our most popular stories surrounding adoption, ranging from personal blog posts to expert interviews.

When adoptive mother Whitney Smith began the adoption process, she was surprised to find that the experience was different from what she had expected.

Smith joined HuffPost Live to discuss her journey, during which she welcomed two kids from foster care into her family.

“It is one of the most amazing journeys of my life, but it’s also incredibly hard,” she told host Nancy Redd.

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.

To jump into the world of foster-to-adopt, a person must be absolutely fearless, and find within them a certain measure of faithfulness. Faith that this situation will turn out the way it is supposed to, and that I will have the strength to live with the result, no matter what it might be. This is the advice I would give if someone asked me now.

"Words are powerful, they can become tools or weapons, choose to use them wisely."
"Words are powerful, they can become tools or weapons, choose to use them wisely."

Mom Kim Kelley-Wagner has created a photo series showcasing some of the hurtful things she and her two daughters have heard regarding adoption. She writes on Facebook:

I have tried to explain to my daughters that people do not say these things to be mean, they say them out of ignorance, which is why I am sharing some of them. Words are powerful, they can become tools or weapons, choose to use them wisely.

It is thrilling and breath-taking and wonderfully exciting, don’t get me wrong. It’s an adventure. Like any adventure however, on our journeys to meet our soon-to-be children, we didn’t really know what to expect and surprise of all surprises, we didn’t really have any control.

Here are five things we didn’t expect (but perhaps should have) when we traveled to our children’s birth countries to adopt.

"[E]verything about what you have was a decision, and nothing about what you have was easy."
"[E]verything about what you have was a decision, and nothing about what you have was easy."

Dear Mom of an Adopted Child,

I met you in adoption education class. I met you at the agency. I met you at my son’s school. I met you online. I met you on purpose. I met you by accident.

It doesn’t matter. The thing is, I knew you right away. I recognize the fierce determination. The grit. The fight. Because everything about what you have was a decision, and nothing about what you have was easy. You are the kind of woman who Makes.Things.Happen. After all, you made this happen, this family you have.

My experience is not unique, but it is important. I now understand that the main reason adoptees don’t talk about their struggles is generally the same. When we are young, we don’t have the ability to identify our experience and articulate our feelings. As an adoptee gets older, if no one is talking about adoption, we get the sense that our feelings won’t be understood or validated. I’m now a therapist myself and have worked extensively with adoptive families. In my work I strive to help this generation of adoptees, adoptive families and birth parents to have a different experience than I did.

Here are ten of the ten thousand things adoptees want the world to know.

"I love it for the fascinating, crazy quilt of a family it has stitched together for me."
"I love it for the fascinating, crazy quilt of a family it has stitched together for me."

I am both an adult adoptee and an adoptive mother to a beautiful firebrand of a 6-year-old boy from Ethiopia. I love adoption. I love the whole messy, rich, textured, complex world it has given me. I do not love it because it is one long Disney happy ending. Rather, I love it for the way its struggles have defined my life and made me strong. I love it for the fascinating, crazy quilt of a family it has stitched together for me.

I’ve written many articles on what not to say to families like mine, families where it’s glaringly apparent that the children were adopted. We’ve had so many negative, rude encounters — really too many to count.

The strangers rarely see themselves as rude. They deem their questions appropriate in the name of curiosity, or sometimes even connection (“my aunt’s stepmother’s sister’s nephew adopted a baby from China”). But the truth is, adoptive families are often blindsided by strangers’ demands at the most inopportune times, like when we’re standing in line to purchase items at Target, or waiting for airport security, or dining at a restaurant, or browsing for books at the library, or sitting on the beach on a family vacation. Really, no place or situation seems to be off-limits.

"[G]ood parenting is a complicated recipe of equal parts love (tough and gentle), nurturing, support, protection, understanding, guidance and relatability."
"[G]ood parenting is a complicated recipe of equal parts love (tough and gentle), nurturing, support, protection, understanding, guidance and relatability."

The biggest lesson I’ve learned since becoming a mother is that love isn’t enough.

From the moment I discovered I was pregnant, I loved my baby; that was the easy part. That immediate and natural love was enough for me to feel like a successful parent for the better part of the first two years of my son’s life.

It wasn’t until he began to speak well and challenge my authority that I started to realize that good parenting is a complicated recipe of equal parts love (tough and gentle), nurturing, support, protection, understanding, guidance and relatability.

I’ve been a mom-by-adoption for almost seven years now. We are an apparent adoptive family because we are white and our children are black, so we are often approached by strangers and asked questions. Consistently, these eight subjects come up in conversations.

"I wanted my child to have more than what I had growing up."
"I wanted my child to have more than what I had growing up."

I made one of the hardest decisions of my life. It started a little over a year ago. I found out I was pregnant. I stared at the test, as if it would change. I realized that it was not going to change, and I immediately freaked out.

I didn’t know what to do. I knew I wasn’t ready. I couldn’t take care of another human being. At least, not in the way that I wanted to. I wanted my child to have more than what I had growing up.

13. 8 Things Adoptive Parents Should Never, Ever Do

I am Mom to two amazing children born in China. We adopted Sophie — now 17 — when she was five. Simon was four when we adopted him; he is now 14. Based on my experience, here are eight things adoptive parents should never, ever do.

14. Foster Care Adoption: The 5 Reasons Why You Don’t Want To Do It, And the 5 Greater Reasons Why You Do

Probably one of the most mind-numbingly obtuse excuses that anti-marriage-equality advocates offer for opposing same-sex couples getting married is that same-sex couples “can’t procreate naturally.” They say that as if it were a bad thing. They say it as if we were deeply afraid that our population was dwindling and that rampant heterosexuality wasn’t doing its job. Well, the bumper-to-bumper traffic I just went through says that it is.

"Parenthood requires love, not DNA."
"Parenthood requires love, not DNA."

Parenthood requires love, not DNA, the saying goes — and those who have become moms and dads through adoption know it. Since November is National Adoption Month, a time to share positive stories about adoption and raise awareness for all the children who need families of their own today, we’re showcasing images that illustrate this sentiment. Here are 27 photos of moms, dads, siblings, and kids joining together as families. Anyone else need tissues?

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