Just what does it take to be an adoptive parent? As an adoptive parent and therapist working with adoptive families, I can tell you that it does indeed take a great deal more than love.So her answer to what it takes to be an adoptive parent -- love, self-awareness, honoring your child's past, understanding of attachment and childhood development. What would you add?
But I think the most relevant question to be asking here is: In what part of any of our lives is love actually all that it takes?
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I believe that what it takes to parent a child from such a background is the ability to put all preconceived notions of what it means to be a parent aside, and to develop an ability to begin to understand and honor the staggering reality of what this child's life has been up to the point of their adoption. To go into adoption knowing and honoring that this child has a profound history of its own.
How do we develop the skills necessary to understand our child's story in order to help them make sense of it for themselves? Well, the place to start is with making sense of our own story first. In fact, one thing that attachment theory informs us about is that the best predictor of a child's security of attachment is the degree to which that child's parent or caregiver has made sense of his or her own story.
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This is crucial information that I hope will be helpful to the adoption community. So when asked, what does it take to be an adoptive parent, I would suggest it does indeed take a great deal of love, with a lot of self-understanding and knowing, an ability to be sensitive to your child's individual needs, as well as all the information on childhood development and attachment you can get your hands on. There is no such thing as a perfect parent, but efforts to perfect the art of parenting is the pursuit of any parent's lifetime.
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