For many children, a divorce often becomes a traumatic signpost of youth. However, for children who are adopted, especially if they weren’t adopted as infants, this effect can be magnified, and it can become a much more difficult, formative experience, especially if there are disagreements about child custody that result in a legal battle.
Children Still Come First
More than ever, the idea of putting a child or children first in a divorce situation is all the more important when it comes to adopted children, especially older ones. After all, in a successful adoption, you have spent months-perhaps even years-preparing the arguments and qualifications that are supposed to prove that not only do you have the financial resources required to raise a child, but the proper emotional and family stability that is required to give a child a safe environment, both physically and psychologically in which to develop.
A divorce, of course, makes much of this preparation seem false in the eyes of older, observant children. They will be well aware that the promised family stability didn’t materialize, and, if they have come from a situation with a broken home before, there will be even more anxiety about how this new turn of events will unfold.
Don’t Turn The Child Into Another Battlefront
If there is a disagreement about who is going to raise the children, and this devolves into a custody battle, this is going to further complicate the issue. A real potential for trauma can emerge here if this issue isn’t handled correctly. This is especially true if the child or children become one more piece of ammunition used simply to hurt the other person.
The real danger here is that in using children as a weapon to hurt the other spouse, unlike a car, a house or other inanimate, physical object, children can be well aware they are pawns in a fight, and keep this in mind as they grow older, allowing it to shape their views on love and relationships. If you are undergoing a divorce and both you and your partner have genuine love for the children, do not turn them into one more aspect of a bitter or hostile divorce. Keep them out of arguments, do not politicize them, and though this going to be a stressful time, try not let too much of this spill over to them.
Don’t Change Yourself
There may also be the temptation during a divorce and subsequent child custody battle to change your personality. Many parents feel that they need to become more permissive and friendly to their children in order to “win them over” and make them prefer one parent over another. This, however, is a very a bad idea in the long term, especially if you revert back to being a normal, stricter parent once you have custody of the children.
Remember children are observant and intelligent. They will remember what you’ve said and done, and it will color both their opinion of you and how they should interact with people in the future. Adopted children may be more emotionally vulnerable. Do not exploit that.