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How is divorce different when you have an adopted child?

Divorce for couples who adopted a child together can come with even more concerns and guilt than parents with only biological children face. Unless you adopted your child as an infant, you may be concerned that they've already experienced too much upheaval in their life. You're worried about how this new change to their family structure will impact them.

If your child's biological mother is part of your lives, you may be concerned that you're letting her down. You were likely a happy couple when you adopted your child and presented a promise of stability that she was unable to provide. Now that's changed.

What does your adopted child need from you?

For the most part, what your adopted child needs from you won't be much different than if they were your biological son or daughter. They need reassurance that you'll still be their parents. Stability and consistency in their schedule and your rules and expectations of them will be important.

Depending on what your child's history was before you adopted them, they may need added reassurance in some areas. You may need to remind them that your divorce has nothing to do with them and that you're all still a family.

You know that your adopted child is every bit as much yours as if you (or your wife) had given birth to them. However, that won't stop kids, and perhaps even some adults, from causing them to question what will happen to them as the two of you separate.

It's important for them not to hear either of you speak ill of the other (or anyone in their biological family). If their biological parents divorced or broke up, they may have experienced something very different. You can show them that divorce doesn't have to be combative or ugly.

Does your child have a relationship with their birth mother or other biological relatives?

If you and your child see their birth mother or anyone in your child's biological family, it's best if you and your spouse continue to have that relationship – whatever it is. Barring any safety issues for your child, it's best not to vent to the biological family about your spouse's flaws or misbehavior.

If your child's biological mother or other family member is still in their lives, you might need to address that relationship in your parenting plan. Your family law attorney can help you.

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