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Helping Your Child Through Their Grief Experience

Every adopted child’s personal experience is different, but most experience a certain degree of grief or loss at some point in their journey. It may stem from being separated from their birth parents, time spent with several families in the foster care system, or a general negativity regarding adoption or foster care in their everyday environment. While the adoption journey is full of great joys and many highs, there are lows, of course, and it’s wise to anticipate them. So, how do we help our children grieve and cope responsibly? 

The first step is working with your child to understand and acknowledge what they feel they’ve lost. To process something, you must first accept it. We’ve talked a lot in this space about the importance of having open conversations regarding your child’s adoption journey. It’s also a great way to incorporate healing into their adoption story while celebrating their past, present, and future. 

Create a strategy for moving through the pain and loss. Some kids may not focus too much on their past and are satisfied with moving forward on their path. Others need more guidance. Responsibly processing pain and trauma makes for a successful future, and there are many ways to go about this, including professional support. A counselor or therapist can help your child and family process these deep emotions in age-appropriate ways, and also help create a plan to move forward. 

Don’t get stuck processing grief forever. It is crucial to build a forward-moving plan to move beyond the processing stage and into the acceptance phase. It is easy to get caught up in the negativity and the “what ifs?” but creating a plan that includes milestones and growth supports your child’s ability to develop into a happier, healthier life. 

Adoption is a highly emotional journey, and the experience is lifelong. Here are some adoption grief resources we admire: