In honor of National Grandparents Day, we wanted to offer some advice to the current and future grandparents of adopted children who may be struggling. Whether you’re having trouble bonding with your adopted grandchild, or you’re anticipating the arrival of a new grandchild via adoption and you’re nervous, American Adoptions has you covered.
Here’s what you need to know about being the (adoptive) grandparent of a child:
Basic Tips for All Grandparents of Adopted Grandchildren
A few reminders that are important for all grandparents of adopted grandkids:
- Learn proper adoption terminology, and please use adoption-positive language at all times.
- Learn about the adoption process.
- If your grandchild was placed in an open adoption, be open to relationships with their birth family! Be willing to learn about your grandchild’s birth family, and always speak positively about them.
- Remember that adopted children are just children. They’re no more or less your grandchild than any biological grandchildren in your family.
- Respect the privacy of your grandchild’s story and history. Don’t share details of your grandchild’s birth family with people outside of your family, as some of this information can be sensitive.
- Ask questions! Your children will be glad to answer questions you might have about your grandchild or about adoption in general.
For Those Who Are About to Become Grandparents to an Adopted Grandchild
If your children are currently in the midst of the adoption process, you might be worried for them (and a little bit for yourself). You may even find yourself worrying, “Will I love this grandchild the same as if they were biologically related to me?”
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re about to welcome a new grandchild into your family:
- Trust your children. They know that adoption involves some unknowns, and they’re prepared for it. They’re being supported by their American Adoptions specialist, and by you!
- We know you’re probably anxious to hear news about how your children’s adoption process is going, but asking them too often while they’re in “The Wait” can be hard on them. Try to be respectful of their complex feelings throughout the adoption process.
- Again, learn about adoption — the process, the proper terminology and about why open adoptions are so beneficial — from reputable sources. Learn about these things yourself so that your children have one less thing to stress about.
- Don’t overthink it. Remember that every adoptive grandparent loves an adopted grandchild just the same as their other grandchildren. Trust us — it’ll feel just as amazing!
- Treat the adoption of your grandchild the same as you would the birth of any biological grandchild. You’ll love all your grandchildren the same, and adoption deserves just as much celebration.
- Once your grandchild arrives, you’ll forget what life was ever like without them. What’s more, you’d never want to go back to life before your grandchild! We promise that it will all be worth the wait.
For Those Who Are Currently Grandparents to an Adopted Grandchild
Creating family bonds can always take some time and work. At first, you and/or your grandchild might not feel that loving, secure connection. That’s OK!
If you and your grandchild are struggling to bond, you might worry, “What’s wrong with them? What’s wrong with me?”
There’s nothing wrong with either of you. As you know, all relationships in life take work. Establishing a strong relationship with your grandchild may require a little extra T.L.C. from everyone involved.
While every situation is different, these tips may be helpful to you in your individual circumstances:
- Some children are a little slow to warm up to new people, especially if they’ve suffered trauma or abuse. Even children adopted as infants will have inherent trauma as a result of their placement into a new family. Take things slowly, and follow your grandchild’s lead.
- Stay in touch often, even if it’s just through a quick video or phone calls. This can help your grandchild recognize your voice and face.
- Make one-on-one time for your grandchild. Start a new little tradition together, read books together, cuddle when possible, or take on a small project with them.
- Respect your grandchild’s boundaries. They may not feel comfortable giving you hugs or kisses right away. This isn’t necessarily unique to adopted grandchildren — some kids are just shy or not very physically affectionate! If you make yourself a frequent enough presence, they’ll likely be able to slowly become more comfortable with you.
All families are different but just as wonderful. If your family is growing through adoption, then congratulations! You’re going to be a wonderful grandparent.
Have some more questions about the grandparents of adopted children? Your child’s American Adoptions specialist may be able to help.