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What divorcing parents of adopted children need to know

In many ways, the priorities for co-parenting children that you and your ex-spouse adopted together are no different from those for co-parenting biological children. Divorced parents should focus on ensuring that their children continue to feel loved and supported by both of you and not feel anxious about their own future.

Children who have been adopted, however, often feel a greater sense of insecurity and fear. That's particularly true if they are old enough to remember life before their adoption. For too many adopted children, that life was one of being moved from one foster home to another. For some children, adoption meant traveling to a new country where they didn't know the language or look like other kids (or their new family).

For these children, parental divorce can reopen old wounds. Once again, their family as they know it is changing. They may fear that if their parents can end their marriage, they can also give up the children they adopted as a couple.

Adopted children may need extra reassurance that their parents will continue to be there for them, even if they may not equally be part of their lives. It's important to sit down together with your child and explain that your break-up doesn't impact how you feel about him or her.

Stability and structure are particularly important. As much as possible, you should have the same expectations of your children in both homes, and they should mirror what they were when you were together as much as possible. Predictability, especially in the early days of your separation, can help kids feel more secure.

It's common for divorcing parents with adopted children to feel an added sense of guilt. They adopted them with the expectation that they'd raise them together. Parents may feel they are breaking that commitment. The best thing you can do for them now is to be good co-parents.

A detailed parenting plan can help parents avoid conflicts and miscommunications as they raise adopted children across two households. The more smoothly you're able to do this, the more secure your kids will feel in their new normal. Your Arizona family law attorney can help you work out a parenting plan with your co-parent that's in the best interests of your kids.

Source: Our Family Wizard, "Co-Parenting an Adopted Child," accessed Feb. 07, 2018

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