After all the initial buzz of the completion of a stepparent adoption begins to slows down, and fade into the background of daily life, there are yet more decisions that need to be made for the future relating to the adoption. One of the first things that the parents need to consider, is if the family wants to celebrate the anniversary of the adoption, year after year. Making the anniversary almost like a special family holiday, or a family birthday, symbolizing the day that the family became whole.
While the parents may be on board with the idea of celebrating, and ready to plan the first party right after the finalization of the adoption, which is usually the adoptive stepparent who is the ‘excited, can’t wait to celebrate again’ parent, the child may not desire to make such a large fuss over the adoption at first. While, for the adults, the stepparent adoption affirms the love that the stepparent has for the child, and symbolizes the ultimate commitment to him or her, for the child, it can mean a very different thing, and bring up very different emotions than their parents’, especially at first.
Adoption is, unfortunetly, based on loss. And while the adoptive stepparent is happy to have taken on his or her newly adopted stepchild as one of his or her own, the child may not yet be able to see how loving, and honorable it is to be able to gain a new parent, if the pain of losing the biological parent is still too new and too strong. For the first few years, the child may want to make the anniversary a low key day, a day of quiet self reflection, as he or she continues to work out his or her feelings and emotions about the stepparent adoption, as well as being abandoned by a birth parent, or losing their parent due to death.
It is important to speak with the adopted stepchild in the months, and weeks leading up to the adoption anniversary, to see how he or she is feeling about it, and what kind of celebration, or recognition of the day, the child would like to take place. Or if the child wishes to do anything special for the day at all. Although it may be disappointing to the parents, especially to the adoptive stepparent, if the child does not wish to celebrate the day, it is important to respect the child’s feelings, and to remember that the child has had to deal with the pain, and grief of losing a birth parent, something that in the eyes of a child, just shouldn’t, just doesn’t take place. That is not to say that the adults cannot have a celebration of their own, while the child, is not around. That way both the adoptive stepparent’s feelings can be honored and respected by doing something special to honor the day, as well as respecting the adopted stepchild’s feelings, by being left to treat the day as he or she wishes.
In time, as the adopted stepchild grows, and heals, from the pain, and grief of losing their birth parent, he or she will gain more interest in celebrating the anniversary of the adoption. Seeing the day as a new beginningand a day of love, instead of mourning the anniversary day, as a day of loss. As long as both the biological parent, as well as the adoptive stepparent do not push the child, and let him or her come to terms with the loss of their birth parent, as well as coming to terms with the adoption, at whatever pace the adopted stepchild chooses, the adopted stepchild will begin to truly embrace his or her new future and family, and be finally be able to let go of the pain of their past.