Friday, April 1, 2011

Helping Adopted Kids Navigate the Bumpy Waters of Adoption

It isn't often that I run across a talking-to-kids-about-adoption article that doesn't make me go, "yeah, same-old, same-old." (It's not that I'm all-knowing, it's just that I've read LOTS of them!) This one offers a slightly different perspective that I like:
You and your child each have a unique “life story.” The narratives of your lives weave together both things that have actually happened to you as well as your internal experience of those events and create the subjective sense of life. According to the most current research in neurobiology, the ability to know and make sense of your story is essential for well-being, happiness and resilience. For an adoptive family like yours, each of you has a story that began before you came together. As a parent, you will have many opportunities to help your child understand and make sense of his story. Embracing your child’s natural curiosity will set the tone and encourage on-going moments of knowing, understanding and healing. [Emphasis in original]
 The advice given is familiar, but still important.  Here are a few that caught my eye:
•Children intuitively pick up on verbal and non-verbal cues from you – so allow yourself to get comfortable with the topic of adoption. Consider the option of therapy, to help process your feelings.

•Separations and transitions often create anxiety for adoptees. Let your child know what to expect, when you’ll pick him up, arrive home, etc, and be intentional about following that schedule. Before a new experience, act out what will happen with play or drawings, to provide reassurance.

* * *

•When possible, immediately answer your child’s questions to let him know it’s okay to talk about adoption. Timeliness conveys the message to your child: “I won’t hurt mommy’s and daddy’s feelings with my curiosity.”
 And I like the reminder in the last paragraph of our job as our children's curiosity grows as their understanding of adoption grows:
Keep in mind, as your child gets older, his questions will evolve and become more complex. At the same time he is searching for answers and processing feelings, he’s highly aware of your reactions. He is hoping you’ll respond with honesty, and the assurance that you’ll stay present to help him navigate the waters of his experience as he continues to author his powerful individual story.
The bumpy waters of adoption are for our kids to navigate;  our job is to offer truth, our presence, and reassurance. And an imporant job it is.  I'd certainly hate to think of my kids in rough waters without me.  If our kids think adoption is a taboo subject, they will be all alone out there.


a Tonggu Momma said...

Loved this week of posts, Malinda. Thanks for some very informative ones.

Mama C/Catherine said...

You always distill things so beautifully. This is indeed one that takes us deeper into the bumpy waters with assistance. thank you!