When reading today's prompt about adoption, I wasn't sure what to write about since I really have no experience with an adopted child. My husband, Keegan, however, has an adopted brother, and after some reassurance that the ladies who read my blog won't bite his head off, he agreed to give some advice about his experience with an adopted sibling. Here is what he has to say:
To start off, Aislinn is taking the day off and giving the reigns over to me, her husband Keegan.
Today is the 19th day of the June Blogging Challenge. The subject today pertains to advice to give adoptive parents. Aislinn does not have a whole lot of experience with adopted children so she has asked me to give accounts of my experiences with growing up with my adopted brother.
To give a little background on my family. My Mother and Father went through some level of infertility that I do not fully understand. They were planning on moving to Brazil to pursue a career down there. They made a visit and organized an adoption of a new born. Upon their return to the United States to make provisions for the move, they got pregnant with me (Aislinn's note: not helping the stereotype of "once you adopt, you'll get pregnant!). They decided to take on raising two children very close in age. One biological and one adopted. My brother and I are a little less than 10 months different in age. This gave me a very unique view on raising an adopted child.
My first piece of advice would be to understand that an adopted child will likely have different personality and interests. These will not likely line up with the parents’ interests. Like any child, these interests need to be encouraged. An example of this is that my parents are both engineers by education. While I grew to enjoy academics, my brother struggled with school and always preferred athletics. My parents managed to strike a very good balance of providing an environment that encouraged both of us to be active and academic. They even encouraged us to help each other with the other's weaknesses. My parent's approached the differences with a very positive outlook allowing both of us to pursue or loves without focusing too much on one or the other.
Second I would like to say that there will be an unknown medical history. Be prepared to deal with obstacles that could never be expected based on the parents. My brother suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder and gave my parents, who are both academics, a particular challenge. There were concepts that came very easily to me while it would take a very different approach for my brother to sink in. Once again encouragement and patience is a necessity. Understanding the individual personality of the child is needed to help overcome the challenges.
There always seems to be a debate about whether or not to tell the child if they are adopted. My brother and I are physically very different and my parents didn't have a choice in this matter. We knew that I was biological and he was adopted. I feel that parents should be honest with the child. This allows the child to understand why they may or may not be different. This will encourage the child to be their own person and explore their own strengths and not be fixed to the image that they need to be like their parents. I think that not being honest may always leave questions in the child's mind if they belong where they are. At the end of the day, there will be no question in the child's mind who mom and dad are. Even if they do feel once they are old enough to find out who their (biological) parents are.
The biggest theme through my advice is to keep an open mind with an adopted child to ensure they have the opportunity to be who they can and want to be. If something does come up think outside of the box and approach challenges with the child's interests and needs in mind.
I hope my insights can be useful to those of you thinking about adoption. It may be challenging but has rewards when you realized that you have overcome all of the challenges.
From Aislinn and I: keep your hearts up and minds open. Life is about the journey no matter the challenges it throws you. The end result will be more than worth the challenges.
Keegan and his brother, Derek
I've always wanted to adopt, and seeing the relationship that Keegan and his parents have with Derek has only solidified my hope that we will be able to adopt a child someday.