Saturday, November 7, 2015

ABCs of Adoption: G is for Grief

Grief and loss is a large part of adoption for the adoptees, the birth parents and the adoptive parents.   Many people reach the decision to adopt after experiencing miscarriages or infertility.  Taking time to grieve the loss of not having biological children is necessary to be ready to adopt.  

Adoptees all experience grief and loss.  The level of grief will vary based on individual experiences, but even children adopted at birth will grieve for their birth family at various times throughout their life.   Grief is tricky and tends to rear its head at inopportune times.

It can seem like a child is trying to sabotage birthdays, holidays or other special occasions.  When in fact they are overwhelmed by feelings of grief.   Anybody that has experienced the loss of a loved one will know how hard it is when certain dates on the calendar approach.  The same grief is experienced by adoptees as they grieve the loss of families they lived with or never knew.   For children in foster care that have had multiple placements the grief can be compounded with every move.  

Grief in children can look very different to grief in adults and may seem more like anger or defiance.  As a parent it is difficult to see your child in pain and the gut reaction is to try and fix it to make it go away.   However in this case it isn't something that can be fixed, the loss that is felt will never go away.  It may lessen over time and he may learn to express it in different ways, but this will always be a part of who he is.    I can't begin to understand the sense of grief and loss he feels, all I can do is wipe the tears away, hug him and tell him it is ok to feel these things and agree that life is not fair.  

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