What are you expecting from the adoptee in your life? Are you expecting them to be themselves or be a version of a fantasy? Are you expecting them to have the same religious views, like the same foods, music and style? To have the same opinion?

Are you expecting them to act as if they were your biological child? What does that mean? You may not actually say or intend this, but do your actions point to this?

I guess my main question would be do you expect your adoptee to FALL IN LINE? To bend to your curve and to flow in your family smoothly, as if there was no adoption and no trauma at all? How do you act; what nuances, gestures, postures and nonverbal cues do you exhibit when they do not fit your mold and expectations?

Now, look at it from the perspective of your adoptee. How do you think THEY feel when they do not meet your expectations? Do not follow the same religion, like the same foods, music and style. How do you think they feel when they don’t carry the same opinion? When they don’t fit in or match your immediate and extended family? Are they outspoken, or quiet?

If your adoptee does not speak against things, do you think that is because they do not feel differently or because they are scared to say they do? There is an underlying fear of rejection, abandonment , loyalty and the pressure to be grateful when you are an adoptee in our society. There is a fear of not feeling worthy or worth it. A fear of conditional love and conditional affection. Not every adoptee struggles with these things but MANY do and many struggle silently because they don’t feel safe to share. Part of this is due to expectations.

Be aware of your expectations and how you place them upon your adoptee, of how they perceive them. You may have noble and loving intentions but when you see things only from your perspective, you risk damaging the people you say you love. You risk creating a space that feels conditional and provisional when Adoptees NEED unconditional. They need to know that they can be fully and unequivocally themselves and that they wont only be tolerated but celebrated for the uniqueness that makes them who I they are. Even if that is starkly different then who you are.

Text Expectations appearing behind ripped brown paper.

Published by Stephanie Oyler

Stephanie is a Licensed MSW professional who specializes in the area of adoption and foster care. She is also an adoptee herself. Adoptee LIT is a space created for education, advocacy, personal insight/experience and guidance in the sphere of Adoption.

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