Toddler Adoption: Not Thrilled to be Adopted

I’ve been trying to do more adoption reading lately and Toddler Adoption: The Weaver’s Craft has been my book. It’s not likely we’ll be placed with a toddler, but our child will eventually be a toddler, so issues of toddler adoption still apply.

One section that seemed applicable is about dealing with a lack of reciprocation. It’s a reminder that adoption is not about rescuing a child. No matter their situation, that child has lost something:

Prospective parents need to consider whether their egos can handle unreciprocated love. As one mom lamented, “It was so hard for so long—I was so in love with her, and she was so not in love with me.” Friends and family members say naive things such as, “I bet Johnny is thrilled to be with you after living in an orphanage,” when, in fact, Johnny is violently rejecting Mom. This issue is discussed in Holly Van Gulden’s and Lisa Bartels-Rabb’s book, Real Parents, Real Children. They point out that the benefits of adoption for the child—having a family of his own, being rescued from an abusive home, or joining a family that can economically provide necessities, even luxuries the birth family never could—are so wonderful that we have difficulty understanding how an adopted child could be anything but happy. But the reality is that many adopted toddlers are anything but happy, some for quite a long time.

Parents of adopted toddlers should be able to depersonalize rejection, understand its origin, appreciate the honesty of it, and remain steadfast in their determination to connect with the rejecting child. They need to maintain a long-range perspective, rather than require immediate responsiveness from their child. It may take weeks, months or even years before their love is reciprocated. (page 41)

That last bit makes it sounds kind of depressing, though I included the second paragraph to give some sense of how we are supposed to respond. None of this may apply to us, but it’s helpful to know. Attachment is a real issue in adoption and helping a child grieve what they’ve lost is important. We can’t simply gloss over it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.