November 20 is a holiday that gets too little attention: National Adoption Day. This is its 11th annual celebration. According to an official statement from the White House, this is an effort to “lift up adoption as a positive and powerful force in the lives of millions of Americans and children around the globe.
The official proclamation states:
“Through adoption, both domestic and international, Americans from across our country have provided secure environments for children who need them, and these families have benefited from the joy an adopted child can bring. Thanks to their nurturing and care, more young people have been able to realize their potential and lead full, happy lives. This year, we … recognize adoption as a positive and powerful force in countless American lives, and to encourage the adoption of children from foster care…. Adoptive families are shining examples of the care and concern that define our great Nation.”
See the White House news release.
You could say that an adoptive dad takes the idea of Encouraging Other Kids to the ultimate level of commitment. His father heart motivates him to nurture a child who needs him every day … for the rest of his life. Like those in other fathering situations, adoptive dads carry a special set of challenges. Here are four practical ideas, borrowed from a counselor who works with adoptive teens and their families, that can help a dad deal with those challenges:
1. Create a sense of stability and security. Maybe more than anything else, your main goal should be to reassure your adopted child that you’ll always be there for him and accept him throughout his life.
2. Answer — but don’t dwell on — key questions. Your child will have all kinds of questions about the past and his identity. Those are important, and you want to be open about the truth, but don’t belabor the point or bring up constant reminders that could make him feel less a part of your family.
3. Build a support network — for you and your wife. Seek out others who have adopted who can serve as a sounding board for frustrations and help you prepare for the challenges that lie ahead.
4. View yourself as a dad like any other. Being a dad is plenty challenging in itself, and we are firm believers that the Championship fathering principles of Loving, Coaching, and Modeling translate very well into any situation where men are interacting with children.
Read articles for adoptive dads or dads in other situations.
- Tell your child about your commitment to him — how you consider him an important and cherished part of your family. Don’t take for granted that he already feels that sense of belonging there.
- Do you fully appreciate the great privilege of being a dad? Raise your commitment level to be involved in your children’s lives every day.
- Whether or not you have adopted children, “adopt” a fatherless child into your home for an evening, a weekend, or longer. Make every effort to show that child what “family” is all about.
- Tell your children stories about your parents and grandparents — or have them tell the stories if you can. Help give your children a strong sense of their family identity and history.
- Many adoptions today happen through word-of-mouth connections. Keep your eyes and ears open for potential matches that you might be able to encourage.