Adoption and Divorce: A Guide for Adoptive Parents

Divorce itself is difficult, but add in adopted children and things can get messy.

Nancy J. Evans Hall October 26, 2016
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The adoption process, like parenting itself, is both a challenging and rewarding experience. However, when divorce occurs between two adoptive parents, even more issues arise. I have been through this myself, so I will share a few general guidelines that I found helpful for dealing with adoption and divorce.

  1. It helps to have an amicable split, at least as much as possible. Everyone’s circumstances are different. I was very fortunate because in my case, my ex and I mutually decided to end the relationship and have remained on good terms. We have both remarried since then and have very stable partners and are both able to provide loving stepparents and homes for our daughter.

  2. Keep the divorce issues between you and your spouse. Never bring a child into it, either to get him/her to “side” with you or to use him/her as a bargaining chip.

  3. Expect some criticism! People who have no idea of the true inner workings of your marriage may chastise you, particularly if they know that you went through the whole adoption process and bring a child into your lives only to split up later. You and your partner have your reasons, but don’t expect everyone to support your decision.

  4. Work with your spouse to develop a co-parenting plan. There are many resources out there to help you both find what’s going to work for you and your child(ren).

  5. Be extra mindful of attachment issues with your child, particularly with children who have exhibited attachment problems in the past. Don’t be hesitant or afraid to seek professional help if needed. In fact, I strongly urge you to do so. Your number one priority will be to ease the transition for your child(ren) and reassure them that they are loved, wanted, supported, and blameless. Do what it takes to accomplish this!

  6. Make sure you communicate with your child about his/her feelings on a regular basis. What they don’t express may be as revealing as what they do, so again, if you need a support group or a professional, reach out immediately. The child(ren) needs to experience real stability in a potentially very chaotic situation.

  7. Your support system may change due to the divorce, so find ways to build on the supports you do have in place and explore new support system options if and when needed.

  8. Don’t forget self-care through the divorce. That’s an easy thing to let slide. To give all as a parent, you have to feel whole and deserving yourself. If you start to fall apart and neglect the healing process for yourself, your kids are sure to pick up on it. It’s okay to nurture yourself!

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Nancy J. Evans Hall

Nancy Hall is married to the love of her life and has a wonderful teenage daughter. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A.T. in Humane Education. She had the privilege of studying at Oxford Univerisity in England for a while and eventually moved overseas for nearly 4 years. She enjoys traveling, writing, yoga and Pilates, rock music and festivals, and all things animal-related -- she has several rescued pets. She currently works as an academic advisor at a state college.

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