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Navigating Divorce With Adopted Children

Divorce is always painful, but it strikes a particular note for adoptive families. The journey to adoption is not always easy, it’s a choice to form a family, and a choice to bring a child into that family. Some families worry that the child(ren) will feel an even deeper sense of abandonment or rejection, but that doesn’t have to be the case. There are steps parents can take to help their children cope, like with any divorce. Here are a few:

Put your child first. Part of divorcing with children is co-parenting. You can embrace this new role in an effort to maintain positive and loving relationships even if you are no longer a “family unit.” Commit to putting your child’s emotional and physical needs before you and your co-parent’s. This type of focus requires that no significant others are introduced without a conversation—a complete life revamp can further traumatize a child.  Just like a marriage, co-parenting requires work. Don’t be afraid to seek counseling should your anger or frustrations with your co-parent start to affect the emotional home life of your child. 

Establish structure. One of the most stressful parts of divorce for children is transferring between two homes. Whatever your custody arrangement is, overnight bags will likely be a part of it. Keep this transition smooth by establishing structure and predictability. Keeping routines is a way to make your child feel safe, so work together as a family to establish routines that benefit everyone. Just because you are not all living under the same roof doesn’t mean you can’t create new memories as a family. Show your child that you can be happy and enjoy life despite this shift. 

Absolve them of blame. Remember to remind your child that they have done nothing wrong. You know that, your ex-spouse knows that, but it’s very common for children to internalize their parents’ divorce as their fault. Visit Parents.com for a list of reading materials to share as an entire family. Presenting this information in an age-appropriate way will help your child establish their own feelings ways of adapting to this new life. As always, do not be afraid to seek professional help in order to maintain a healthy family unit. There is no shame in working hard for your family.