Entitlement Issues: Are We the Real Parents?

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Whether pursuing international or domestic, open or closed adoptions, all adoptive parents face a major task of parenting in order to bond and attach fully with their precious much wanted child. That is developing what is termed " entitlement" in adoptive parenting.

"ENTITLEMENT" as defined by Lois Melina in her book "Raising Adopted Children" is:

"Developing a sense that a child "belongs" in the family, even though she wasn't born into it, is a crucial task for adoptive parents. Unless parents develop a sense that the child is really theirs, they will have difficulty accepting their right to act as parents." Follow up work suggests that the amount of entitlement parents feel can be determined by looking at the extent to which they take risks with their children, deal with separation, handle discipline, and discuss adoption with the child and others."

Infertility Resolution, - work is a must if parents are to move into the realm of healthy entitlement. Parents who are still "angry and unresolved" will convey this to the child who will view himself as "defective" in some way.

Bonding/attachment - is impaired when there is not grief work completed around infertility. Parents with impaired bonding do not feel entitled to parent an adopted child. They tend to be fearful and rigid in parenting style.

Individuation/Separation - Is impaired when entitlement is missing. Children from these families tend to be more Immature than their peers and difficult and or disruptive in classroom settings.


1. Feeling you have a right to a child.

2. Commitment to the adoptive relationship.

3. Good strong self-concept.

4. Psychological pregnancy-rituals are important.

5. Empathy is developed regarding the child's past.

6. Where you can see something of you in your children as they get older, maybe in looks or personality.

7. Remembering that developing entitlement is a slow unfolding process.

8. Coming to terms about your fantasies about the child.

9. Adoption openness with the birth family.

Credits: Ellen Roseman

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