Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sherrie Eldridge Presentation

Our local Families with Children from China group brought Sherrie Eldridge of Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew fame to the DFW area for a presentation today. She spoke for almost 3 hours, and signed books, including her children's book, Forever Fingerprints, and her newest book, Twenty Things Adoptive Parents Need to Succeed (one downside to my new Kindle -- kind of hard to get a book autographed! I showed her the book on my Kindle, which she found interesting never having seen one before, and got her to sign the program!).

I was really pleased to see FCC bring her to speak. I think Eldridge is mostly thought of in terms of domestic adoption, since she writes as a domestic adoptee. I sometimes find that international adoptive parents and international adoption groups don't feel there's much to learn from domestic adoptees. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. As my friend Anne says, internationally adopted kids have all the same issues as domestically adopted kids -- loss of birth family, feelings of abandonment, rejection, & grief -- plus some, like loss of culture and country and transracial adoption issues on top of that. But that base of loss is the same.

The attendance was a little lighter than I would have expected -- maybe the general membership of FCC was less willing to believe a domestic adoptee had something to teach us than the leadership of FCC was. The audience that did attend, though was very receptive, I thought. Or perhaps the attendance was light because many adoptive families find it hard to take what Eldridge says in her first book. I've seen her condemned on adoptive parent discussion groups because people think she is saying in her book that all adopted kids are going to suffer psychological damage from adoption, that every adopted child is going to react the same way to adoption, and so on and so on. . . .

I think she put that belief to rest for this group. At one point, she was talking about the stereotypes that people outside of adoption have about adoption. She would then ask us to raise our hands if we thought it was true. One of them was, "Adoption loss causes irreparable wounds." Several people raised their hands -- after all, we do know that adoption loss is wounding. But she chided people for accepting that, saying that the wounds are not irreparable, that we have tools to help heal the wounds. Quite a positive message from someone often demonized by adoptive parents.

I'll write more about the presentation, but not now. I'm worn out! There were many things Eldridge said that I thought were helpful, and some things I thought were not. I promise to tell you more later. . . .

6 comments:

Von said...

Tools to help heal the wounds yes but the scars never disappear, perhaps that distinction needs to be made clearer.
Some explain the difference by the number of traumas experienced.

Melissa said...

That is exactly the way Sherrie put it! The more we can educate people about adoption issues, the better things will be for all of us.

Dee said...

I read her book Twenty Things before I adopted my daughter Alesia in 2004. A lot of it didn't apply, but I was on a mission to read EVERYTHING. The biggest takeaway for me, as a parent of a child adopted at 13 and one adopted at 10, is I try to acknowledge there was a birth family before I entered the picture, and it's normal and fine to talk about them. I also try not to condemn the birthmoms of my kids, which is hard since they were very neglected and even abused. Alcoholism is a huge problem in Russia and Kazakhstan.

I wish I could've heard Sherrie speak, though. The more all adoption issues are discussed openly, even if we disagree, the better. I think the end result, more educated parents and kids, is a blessing.

All older adopted kids have wounds, BTW, and the hardest thing I see in fellow adoptive parents is an unwillingness to acknowledge their kids' past. You don't spend time in an orphanage without suffering, and parents must help their kids heal, usually with a good therapist.

My friend Cindy just returned from Kazakhstan with two older girls, 10 and 11, and her blog is like a primer for how to do things right.
www.lajoyfamily.blogspot.com/

Von said...

You also don't loose your country, culture and family without harm either, good for you for reading everything.You can never have too much knowledge.
Have you read "Ten Thousand Sorrows" by Elizabeth Kim (Doubleday)? Everyone involved in international adoption should have it on a compulsory reading list.

Margaret said...

I don't think it was necessarily the domestic adoptee speaker issue that accounted for the attendance. Would you be surprised to know that it wasn't just local FCC families who were invited? It was publicized to all of the regional FCCs, plus every other foster, domestic and international adoption group in the area? It was even written up in the local papers and on several event calendars. I think you hit the nail on the head with the feeling that parents find the concept of loss such a hard topic that they just don't want to think about it. I'm glad I attended--it was a good crowd with good questions and provided a lot of food for thought.

Tapestry said...

It is always a treat to hear a talented and meaningful author, such as Sherrie Eldridge.
You can find all her books at Tapestry Books as well as a wealth of knowledge about adoption books and resources.
http://www.tapestrybooks.com/search.asp?s=&sm=Sherrie+Eldridge&sc=&Submit=Search