Even when adoption is handled well at home, there may be relatives who are not quite as understanding. This is particularly important when the child is from a different race or country. Some friends or relatives may disapprove of or even resist accepting your child into the family.

Explain to your relatives that your child is as much a part of the family as anyone else. You may not change their minds or correct old thinking, but it is important to show loyalty to your child. For a child to feel loved and welcomed, she needs to be treated like a full member of the family. Do not settle for anything less.

Questions from strangers can also be tricky. When a stranger innocently asks, "Where did she get those big blue eyes?," and everyone in the family has small brown eyes, tell the truth. Say simply, "From her mother." It may not be necessary to share personal information with a stranger, but don't lie. If your child hears you lying to a stranger, she may assume there is something about being adopted that she should be ashamed of, something that needs to be covered up.

You do not have to introduce your child as "my adopted son." He is simply your son. However, if a question comes up about differences in appearance or ethnicity, offer a simple, but honest explanation. When you are proud of your child's identity, he too, will learn to appreciate his own value.

Adoptive parents or relatives often tell their child she is special because she was "chosen" or that she was "given up out of love." Though the parents mean well, these statements may be confusing to the child.

For most parents, adoption is not the first choice. Most adoptions in the United States are by parents who first tried to conceive and were unable to do so. Sooner or later, children learn this. Telling the child she is even more special because she is "chosen" may be recognized by the child as bending the truth. Some children may feel that being chosen means they must always be the best at everything.

Being told he was given up out of love may raise questions about what love is and whether others who love him will leave too.

The most important thing for your child to know is that he is wanted — not any more than a biological child would be and not any less. Any attempt to make the adopted child feel more special than a biological child may have quite a different, unintended effect.

Every child in the family should be treated the same by you, your spouse, the siblings, and your relatives. Children who are adopted may feel different from other members of the family. Her appearance, her performance in school, or her athletic ability may be quite different. But she is, first and foremost, your child. What makes her special is not that she was adopted, but that she is yours.

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