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Adoption and divorce: Helping your child get through it

Divorce can be tough for anyone. For those who have adopted, however, divorce can be a particularly challenging matter. Not only do you have to separate from your spouse, but now you have to change the home environment you once promised the child you adopted. Your little one may have been too young to know that he or she was adopted and go through the divorce like any other child. For older children, going through a divorce after being adopted can sometimes feel like they're being abandoned and left to start over again.

What can you do to help your adopted child through divorce?

To start with, you and your spouse need to talk to your adopted child about what you plan for the future. Be sure to settle your child's fears of abandonment early on. Talk about how you'll spend time with him or her and focus on creating images of a future together with both parents, just separately.

It's vital that you validate your child's emotions throughout this process. Talk to him or her regularly and keep a line of communication open. If the divorce seems like too much for your child to handle at the moment, take some time away from it. Go to a movie, participate in a fun activity together or do something as a family to show that, although you're divorcing, you and your ex can still support your child together when needed.

Your child likely understands what divorce means, but he or she may not feel comfortable with the changes happening. To better assist your child in overcoming fears and anxieties, try to include him or her in the process of building a new life. For example, if you have to purchase a new home, you can allow your child to have input on which home he or she likes. If you have to move to a new area, give your child a chance to choose a bedroom in a new apartment or to design a new wardrobe for the new school year.

Changes can be scary for children, but they do adapt. It's your responsibility to make sure you're supporting your child throughout the changes, so your child can feel free to explore new options and to openly communicate with you without fear.

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