Your children don't have to "match" to make a beautiful family. Many families today are a mix of biological and adopted children, regardless of whether a couple had infertility struggles or simply wanted to provide a loving home for a child in need. Consider yourself fortunate for being able to experience both childbirth and adoption, but be prepared for the blessings and challenges that come along with a family outside the norm.
The attachment process can be easier and more natural with a biological child than an adopted child. In ongoing research, psychologists from Canada and China have discovered that when you conceive and carry a child, your baby already begins to develop a preference for your voice and heartbeat while in the womb, according to ABC News. Because adopted children are dealing with the loss of their birth mothers and may come from rocky backgrounds, attachment may take a little more time, patience and compassion as you get to know each other.
Though you are likely used to instrusive questions from family, friends and perfect strangers, having one adopted child and one biological child presents a whole new array of questions. Prepare for people to ask invasive or offensive things such as, "Which one is your real child?" "Are they real siblings?" or "Do you love them both the same?" Adoptive parents interviewed by "Adoptive Families" magazine suggest responding in a way that protects your family's privacy but empowers your children, who will be listening to your response. A simple, "Yes, they are real siblings," or "We're an adoptive family and love all of our children" sends the message that both children are valuable without giving up too many details.
Adopted children sometimes come from a place of hurt and abandonment, and may have suffered from malnourishment, drugs, or alcohol while in utero -- problems your biological child likely did not face. Regardless, both of your children need the same things from you -- love, trust and protection -- though it may take extra time for your adopted child to reap the benefits. Dr. Karyn Purvis, director of the Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University, encourages parents to invest equally in both children, recognizing that your adopted child especially needs your attention and love in order to thrive. Both children will flourish, though possibly at different paces.
Your Kids Will Be Okay
Though you may worry your children will have difficulty adjusting as adults because of their different beginnings or because they aren't biological siblings, research shows otherwise. Allan Josephson, professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, says that if parents are committed to their children, there will be no significant differences between this type of a blended family and a biological family. Your children's relationships with one another will be grounded by the shared upbringing you provide. Your blended family is the norm for your kids.
- Empowered to Connect: Starting at the Beginning for Your Child
- Conceive: Adopted and Biological: Families With Both
- ABC News: Babies Recognize Mom's Voice from the Womb
- Adoptive Families: "Why Do You Ask?"
- Multicultural Families: The Life of One Transracial Adoptive Family
- Empowered to Connect: Should I Parent My Adopted Cild Differently than Birth Children?
- ABC News: Blended Families: Recipe for Sibling Rivalry?
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