Parental Claiming of an Older Adopted Child.

Claiming The majority of parents keep their baby or child. However, there are too many adoptive parents, especially those who adopt an older child, who think they can give them back or trade them in as if they were a used car. It is true that many biological parents relinquish their child, but not nearly as often or with such ease, as do adoptive parents of older children.

It’s a fact that parents adopting older children are expected to meet a higher level of special needs then biological parents or infant adoptive parents. Pre-placement training makes it very clear that adopting an older child usually means they come to us from a background of abuse, neglect and abandonment. Older children have special needs for nurturing, limit-setting, and psychological development. Adoptive parents of an older child are expected to provide a complex level of care and engage in re-parenting, and attachment parenting in order to help a hurt child heal.

It’s not uncommon for new adoptive parents to tell a caseworker, “We listened to everything we learned in training and everything we were told in our home study process, but we just had no idea it was going to be this horrible.”

Too many adoptive parents seem to set up and environment where their decision to make an adoption final, and keep their child is based on the behavior of their child. Too many caseworkers are willing to settle for adoptive families who will Try Hard to make things work, when the actual thing every child needs and deserves is a family to belong with, forever.

Adoption disruptions and dissolution after an adoption is final is traumatic for everyone involved. Some parents give up because they feel inadequate to meet the needs of a child unwilling to attach or return their love. Other families decide the special needs issues were more extreme then they could have ever imagined. The reasons adoptions fail are too numerous to imagine, however at the core of every failed adoption is one fundamental fact: The parents did not claim the child unconditionally as their own.

When it is your Own Child you may resent the intrusive needs, you may even neglect some of them, but you don’t give up. If it is your Own Child you may unfairly blame them for bringing out your worst side, but you don’t give up. If it’s your Own Child you may come to the conclusion the child is out of control, and may need to live someplace else for awhile, but you don’t give up.

A Claimed Child is not always a well-cared for child. A claimed child may not even be a loved child. But, a claimed child is always a kept child. Claiming is not the same as bonding, they may be part of the same process and flow one from another. Claiming a child is not an emotional issue it is a decision that doesn’t happen gradually. Claiming a child is an unconditional commitment parents make from the beginning. Claiming isn’t incremental, parents either claim a child fully or not at all.

Claiming a child has nothing to do with external issues, such as what a child looks like, if a child loves you back, or how they behave. A parent claims a child by Faith and by Fiat, “This is my child, from this moment on, and I will not consider it a choice, nor will I examine this decision again in the future.”

Barriers to claiming an older child as our own.

Photo credit for this blog entry: sxc (no use restrictions for this photo)

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For more information about parenting special needs children you might want to visit the Families.com Special Needs Blog and the Mental Health Blog. Or visit my personal website.