As clients move forward through [infertility] grief and consider their alternatives, they often express the same fear--that they will be unable to have a fully satisfying parenting experience because they will be raising "other people's children."
This is a complicated issue because when you adopt, or use donor eggs or sperm to create your family, in a very basic, concrete sense you actually are raising "other people's children". In fact, there are an additional one or two "parents" swirling around in the mix. This causes us to reconsider how we define what makes a "parent", and what is necessary for the parental connection to occur.
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To this discussion I would like to add, however, two points that I have not seen mentioned with frequency--the psychological constructs or images the parents develop about their child's genetic origins. The first concept I would like to discuss is how the expectations we develop based on genetic relatedness and family resemblance can affect our parenting experience. From a psychological perspective, when one parents a genetically related child, there is at least the possibility of explaining things about that child from a genetic viewpoint. That Junior has his father's eyes, his mother's laugh, and his Uncle Charlie's love of striped socks, may or may not in reality be true--but these are the hypotheses we create, seemingly reflexively. When parenting a genetically unrelated child, all bets are off, especially if little is known about the genetic parents, as in the case of international adoption, or using anonymous egg and sperm donation. If my adopted daughter, about whose biological parents I know nothing, misbehaves, is it something I did? Is it her genetically-endowed temperament? Is it a mismatch of her environment, which includes me, plus genetics? This difference adds another layer of complexity to the parenting situation.
Although this thought process may seem worrisome to prospective parents, I think in reality it is often found to be beneficial, because it allows you to view the child with an open mind, without as many preconceived notions.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Raising "other people's children"
Interesting post from the Infertility Therapist: