When you decide to step up and adopt your stepchildren, you typically have your kids’ best interests in mind. According to WebMD, stepparents generally consider adoption after a long absence from the noncustodial parent. The absence causes enough emotional turmoil with the children, but following a stepparent adoption, your kids may have more conflicted feelings.
Knowing what to expect can help you prepare.
Understanding your children’s grief
Children often grieve the loss of a noncustodial parent. The fact that their noncustodial parent does not want to be in their life can confuse and upset them. Give your kids the opportunity to talk about their stories and to work through the feelings of loss. Be open to hearing your children talk about the noncustodial parent and answer questions about him or her. Do not talk negatively about the noncustodial parent because children will recognize half of their genetics come from one parent. Older kids may ask about the problematic qualities their biological parent had and you can be honest but also share positive aspects.
Helping your children maintain connections
Just because the noncustodial parent does not want to be a part of the children’s life does not mean you should shun the whole biological family. In fact, many experts believe that extended family benefits your children. Consider allowing visits and video calls between grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Do not sever meaningful relationships following the adoption.
Remember that when you become the custodial parent, you may also experience mixed emotions. Despite being happy to adopt your children, depression can occur as you recognize the realities of your life.