First, a disclaimer is important. This post is not intended to praise or criticize any candidate currently seeking election. Nor is the purpose here to argue for or against a particular issue. With that said, however, the ongoing political debate regarding immigration in our country is having a direct impact on intercountry adoptees and their families. Have you been impacted? Odds are, your child is experiencing some form of reaction, confusion, and possibly fear in response to our national conversation.
At WACAP, we are hearing from families whose children, adopted internationally, are voicing fears that they will be deported after this November’s election. Sometimes such fears are founded solely on a child’s internal reaction to news coverage or well-intended classroom assignments or discussions. Other times, they are based on comments made by friends and classmates.
Can you believe it? Our children are afraid they will be forced to leave their families. How can an adoptive parent respond?
- First, make space for the conversation. You know your child best, so intentionally create some conversation starters to which he or she might respond. Usually, it’s best to have these conversations while in the car or engaged in an activity, like a walk or cooking dinner.
- Listen to your child. Focus on their opinions, feelings, and experience. Truly listen. Let’s face it, any political discussion can feel like an invitation to add your opinions to the mix. For now, though, just listen. It’s important to discover how this issue may, or may not, be affecting your child.
- Educate your child about citizenship and permanency. If you think it would be helpful, bring out the documents from your child’s adoption. Make a copy of their citizenship papers, passport, or other items and allow your child to keep it handy.
- Be mindful of your political conversations at other times, and with other people. If your children are in proximity, they will hear your statements and can interpret, and misinterpret, based on their own experience.
- Talk to your child’s teacher(s). Let them know that they have an immigrant in the classroom, and open a dialogue with them to help them pursue inclusive language and scenarios.
- Seek resources to help you and your child make sense of this issue. At WACAP, we suggest the following sources:
About WACAP’s CEO, Greg Eubanks: Greg joined WACAP as CEO in December 2014. Serving children and families has been the focus and passion of his 20-year career in nonprofit executive leadership and business administration. With an extensive background in international adoption and foster care, Greg is committed to bringing hope to the children living without a family … and helping them home.