Sunday, September 14, 2008

Jane Brown Playshops

At Culture Day, they displayed the quilt made by kids who attended Jane Brown's Adoption Playshop in the DFW area in February. You'll notice several articles from Jane in the On-line Resources list. She is a social worker, and adoptive mom, and she does these playshops throughout the country. Zoe attended her first one when she was 5, and then again at age 7. Both were very positive experiences for her.

This year, her group made quilt squares that were later put together in the quilt, above. Jane let them make whatever square they wanted related to adoption. Some of the squares show the hotel their parents met them in, the actual meeting, the orphanage, a map of China, etc. Zoe did two squares. The first is Zoe being born.
Everyone is saying "Welcome Zoe! Zoe is here!" Notice that most of the faces are happy, but there are a few frowny faces. I wonder what that's about . . . .
Her second square is saying goodbye to her birth parents -- or maybe goodbye from her birth parents? The birth parents are crying. The black square on the left is "the box." Remember, I've mentioned that Zoe focuses a lot on the box she was found in, so of course it makes it into this picture.

In one square, Jane recorded the statements/questions the girls had about their birth families. I bet you can tell which question was Zoe's!

I'm a huge fan of the Jane Brown Playshops. They have been an extraordinarily powerful experience for Zoe (Maya has been too young to go, darn it!). How wonderful to have a safe space to explore adoption issues and race issues with children JUST LIKE HER and with an experienced, knowledgeable, compassionate facilitator! If I had to use just one word to describe what Zoe got out of the playshops I would use EMPOWERMENT. With role-playing, stories and crafts in a secure environment, Jane gave Zoe permission to feel however she wanted to feel about being adopted, gave her language to describe those feelings, and gave her practical suggestions about how to deal with others who don't understand adoption and are insensitive to issues of race.

One of the most meaningful craft projects Zoe came home with after her first Jane Brown Playshop was a braided necklace – one strand representing her, one her birthfamily and one her adoptive family. What a wonderful way to honor the role her birth family played in her life! She can still tell you that the three strands together are stronger and more beautiful than any one strand by itself. This time, making her quilt squares was very freeing for Zoe -- I'm not sure she would be talking so comfortably about her birth parents now if it hadn't been for the playshop.
If your FCC or FCV or FRUA group brings Jane Brown to town, I highly recommend attending. If they haven't invited her, maybe you could suggest it. (Just to make clear, I don't know Jane personally, I don't have any financial incentive to recommend her!).

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