When adoptees or adoptive parents come in to see me for therapy, or consultation, often, someone in the family is feeling or perceived as disempowered and someone else (or more than one person) is perceived as entitled. Families are happiest when everyone in the family feels empowered, and, yes, it is possible!
When parents are perceived as entitled, the adopted child or teen might say something like, “My mother couldn’t care less about me. She doesn’t listen to me because she knows that she can do anything she wants. She’ll just take away the car or just say, you’re grounded. She doesn’t respect me.”
When adoptees are perceived as entitled, their parents will often talk about how their child thinks they can do anything they want and the parent’s limits and perspective means nothing to them. The adoptee knows that his or her parents do not have any actual authority and will say things like, “What’s she going to do?” It’s almost as if their parents are barely worth the breath it takes to say more about it.
I want each member of the family to feel empowered and especially for adoptees at whatever age, to feel resilient. That’s great, but how do you get there and how do you know when you’ve arrived? Now, that’s a question that, of course, I can’t begin to answer here, but the shorthand is acceptance, compassion respect and accountability.
A few tips for adoptive parents:
don’t rub their nose in it
strive for consistency so that when the incident occurs, whatever it is, the child or teen knows what to expect and can make an informed decision.
when rules aren’t followed, give an appropriate consequence, preferably one that they knew already.
A few tips for adoptees:
separation and abandonment can feel the same, but they’re not.
the scar – you remember the pain and you can still see it, but it’s not painful anymore.
you are not destined to have your life end in tragedy, even though it began that way.