Helpful Tips for the Adoptive Grandparent

Few things are more completely enjoyable than becoming a grandparent. Grandchildren are one of life's joys, whether they come by birth or via adoption. All grandchildren are loved equally and are equally lovable.

When a new family member is adopted, share your excitement. Share snapshots. Exclaim about the traits that make this child a prodigy! And know that adoption brings some unique challenges. Following are a few suggestions for navigating once you find you are a member of a complex family.

People are fascinated by adoption, and this fascination can lead well-meaning friends and neighbors to pose very personal questions. Remember that a child's adoption story is akin to a conception story. It is private, and one should consult with the adopted person before sharing the details.

Think about language, and encourage others to do so. As an adopted person, I have heard this question all my life: "Have you ever met your real parents?" What this said to me as a child was, "Your adoptive parents are fake." As an adult, I answer, "I was raised by my real parents." It's a good idea to call the family of origin birth family (as in birth mother) as opposed to natural family (which implies the adoptive family is unnatural or artificial). Many people will have the best of intentions but use terms that confuse or hurt children.

If your family adopted internationally, you have become a member of a transcultural and often transracial complex family. Translated into day-to-day events, this means you might celebrate Chinese New Year in addition to the traditional holidays. Unfortunately, this also means that your grandchild will be confronted by bigotry and will need your support and sensitivity. Your lifetime of experiences will be key in shaping your responses. Be wholly honest.

Remember, throughout, that your grandchildren are connected to you and to the family. They may not look a lot like you or your child, but they will develop similar voice patterns, talents, tastes, and interests. Don't assume the adopted child will automatically know this-it took me 45 years to figure out that I got, first, my dry sense of humor from my adoptive father, and, second, my ability to 'stretch and save' from my grandmother, a North Carolina farmer. Every Carolina reunion I attend reminds me that genetics are not the only way to pass on family traits.

At a recent reunion, I was introduced to my mother's best childhood friend. They hadn't seen each other in over 60 years. The friend inspected me closely and stated, "You sure don't look like a Haney." I smiled back, shook my head, and said, "I sure don't." I knew what she really wanted to know. But at that moment I was completely my mother's daughter.

By Beth O'Malley, M.Ed. Copyright ©2005, Beth O'Malley. Ms. O'Malley is an adoptee and adoption social worker, and the author of Lifebooks: Creating a Treasure for the Adopted Child. Sign up for lifebook lessons at http://www.adoptionlifebooks.com/signup.htm ? no charge.

In The News:

What is ‘tag team’ parenting?  The Indian Express
Parents say they take vacations, but they don't relax  Journal Gazette and Times-Courier

Old Wives Tales and Other Things That Just Might Help with ADHD

Here are some tips that I have picked up from... Read More

Helping Your Child Develop

Here are some things that you can do to help... Read More

Why Modern Moms Are Going Back to the Basics ? The Evolution of the Cloth Diaper

Having a baby is one of the most exciting times... Read More

What About ADHD Teens and Driving?

This is one of the most common questions asked of... Read More

School Holiday Survival Guide

The school holidays are a great time for the kids,... Read More

How To Potty Train In Two Days

Ah, potty training! Go to a local bookseller and you... Read More

Why First Borns Fuss, Seconds Are Resilient and Last Borns Like To Laugh

How can two or three children in the same family... Read More

Summer Survival

Summer Survival The... Read More

Top Ten Common Sense Rules for Fathers

There are a lot of sophisticated parenting theories and techniques... Read More

Five Tips for Successful Grandparenting

1. Boundaries are necessary for control and safety.All children need... Read More

Time Out for Adults

"Get down from the table top right now! What are... Read More

Your Job as a Role Model

A certain educator was once asked at what point should... Read More

Kids Party Etiquette for Parents

Ever feel like you're out of the loop when it... Read More

Simple Tricks To Help You And Your Kids To Find Friends

One of the most prevalent problems of the computer age... Read More

6 Tried & True Fun Ways to Educate and Entertain Your Preschooler

1. New Word of the DayIntroduce your preschooler to a... Read More

Career Education: Does Not Mean the 6 Year College Plan

Researching career education uncovered the following shocking statistic: The average... Read More

Why Wont My Child Do as I Say?

In speaking with parents a comment I frequently hear is... Read More

My Dads Secrets

From the book Spider's Night on the BoomI've only begun... Read More

Getting Through to Your Teenager

Have you ever watched your teenager make a mistake (that... Read More

The Classic ADHD Child Reminds Me of Tigger

ADHD comes in differenty forms, or types. What... Read More

Classic Parenting: Encouragement, Praise, Acceptance, and Responsibility

Encouragement comes when you focus on your child's assets and... Read More

Nanny 911 and Disciplining Your Child

Nanny 911 Interview with Montel WilliamsI saw an interview with... Read More

Teaching Reading: Part 3, Whole Language Vs. Phonics

There are two methods for teaching children to read; whole... Read More

My Teenaged Parents

Frankly, as a single parent of young children, I struggled.... Read More

Develop Your Childs Genius - Developing Leadership Qualities

Often I have heard that leaders are born, not made.... Read More