When it comes to adoption, especially about how to be an awesome parent to an adopted child, some of the best advice is going to come from the people who have lived it — adoptees themselves.
Nisha Grayson | California
Surround your whole family with people who not only physically resemble your child, but also people who share their same home country, state and/or village. Being a Goan adoptee from India, I find myself uncomfortable around large groups of Indian people. Even until this day, I have not met any Goans here in California. Express an authentic interest in traveling to your child’s home country. Your child had no choice in leaving their home country so it’s your responsibility to keep them connected until they can choose for themselves.
Mark Waugh | New York
Still to this day, my parents send me a gift on my adoption birthday. In the early years of my life, I always reminded my friends I had two birthdays — and boy were they jealous. Reflecting back, that gave me a chance to be proud that I was adopted and to stand up for who I am. This also gave my parents a chance to vocalize how happy and blessed they are to have me.
Cameron Small | Wisconsin
Settings like summer camp or discussion/support groups can be incredibly helpful as adoptees receive affirmation and validation in the process of hearing each other’s stories. The sense of safety and empowerment in that type of setting will also encourage adoptees to develop their own voices and identities. Spaces like this are actually more common than you’d think. Check out your adoption agency for a list of all the resources in your area.
Christopher McGinn | Pennsylvania
Tough discussions like racism, identity, abandonment or birth searching are a normal thing and I know they may seem like scary things to touch on, but it’s part of being an adoptee. Even though you may not truly understand what’s going through their heads, just having an open avenue of communication can demonstrate that it’s okay for a child to feel and talk about these things and they don’t have to go through it alone. As bonus advice, I would suggest sending them to Holt Camp. It’s an experience that helped me become more comfortable with who I am and it’s a fun time!
Malini Baker | Washington
My advice to adoptive parents is to as soon as you can — or whenever your child asks — let your child know their story, where they came from and what happened. Don’t do it all at once, however. Progress as they grow, as they will understand better as they get older. And talk to them about their adoption! Don’t try and make it seem like they weren’t adopted. Talk to them.