These are the years when children begin their school careers or join playgroups. For some, it is the first time they meet many other children. They begin to notice differences between themselves and others.
Children of this age benefit from observing other families who resemble their own. A playgroup of other adoptive families can normalize a child’s experience and appearance. A group that shares cultural characteristics can instill pride in his heritage. Even a child too young to understand her adoption story can benefit from observing similar family dynamics.
Parents can also benefit from socializing with other adopters. In many playgroups, adoptive parents can feel isolated and out of sync when talk turns to pregnancy and birth experiences. But parents in an adoptive families playgroup share resources and strategies for coping with adoption-related issues their children confront.
Making the Connection
Adoption playgroups have become commonplace in the last decade. Often, adoption agencies link families who have adopted from the same country. Or parents search the Internet for a local playgroup.
Of course, such playgroups are more likely to exist in cities or suburbs. But even parents in less populated areas have several options. Look for “culture camps” for adopted children from specific counties. There, a child can spend a week or a weekend with others from similar backgrounds, and children can continue friendships from one season to the next.
Adoption needn’t be the only connector. When Patrick and Sally Jefferson moved to a new town with their daughter, Chloe, they found few other families with daughters of the same age who’d adopted in the same country. But they did find several transracial families.
“One of my friends is married to an Indian sculptor,” she explained. “Just like me, she wanted her children to appreciate their heritage and to know children who looked like them.”
The families decided to form an “Asian club,” inviting anyone with Asian links to gather once month. “It’s very casual,” Sally explains. “Not all the children are adopted, but the group has played an important role in my daughter’s self-image. Not only does she have playmates who look like her, but also adults who can serve as role models.”