Don’t LIVE adoption.

Adoption is not the defining part of your child. It’s not. Don’t you make adoption the most significant part about your child’s identity and do not allow others to. He does not need to be introduced as an “adopted” child. He is your child. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk about this important piece of who your child is, but there is a time and a place.

It is far more important he be identified by his interests, talents and personality. He may be the artist, the brave one, the leader in the spelling bee. You are not only an adoptive mom. You are the nutritionist, the car pool driver, the tutor, the storyteller, and the nurturer who lifts and encourages your children.

Don’t assume all that you experience with your child is because of adoption. All children have stresses, difficulties, and trials, no matter who gave birth to them. In adopting, we just expect some of the obstacles instead of being blind-sided by them as we may be when giving birth ourselves.

Show love, compassion, and gratitude to the birth family. There won’t be a day which goes by when your child isn’t going to hear something like: “The nut doesn’t fall far from the tree.” “A chip off the old block.” Not from you, hopefully, but from TV, friends, teachers and others. Regardless of the debate between nature vs. nurture, your child doesn’t need to hear any badmouthing of their DNA. An inspiring note from an anonymous contributor stated, “With great sincerity, I tell my children, if they could inherit anything from their birthmother, I hope they inherited her strength. Going through a pregnancy and flying in the face of mainstream thinking, by placing a child requires strength, courage, and forethought.”

Laugh every day. Laughter decreases stress hormones and triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Let others know that you are happy to be a family, especially your children. Keep your focus on the blessings adoption has brought to your life and not just the worries you are dealing with currently. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”