Sunday, December 30, 2012

Accepting My Adoptee Fate, and How That Differs from "Moving On"

Lately, I've noticed a shift in how I perceive my adoptee experience. It's possible that I have moved into the acceptance phase of grieving my adoption-related losses. I am feeling lighter, more balanced, and holding a greater appreciation for all that my experiences have brought me. As an adoptee who has struggled to make sense of what it means to be a member of two families, I am perhaps more comfortable with duality, complexity, and ambiguity than I might otherwise have been. I tend to see things through the lens of "both/and" rather than "either/or." I've come to appreciate this about myself, to view it as part of what I have to offer the world.

Please read the rest at Lost Daughters.

Image courtesy of Pixomar at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Friday, December 28, 2012

Five Survival Tips for Adoption Reunion

imagerymajestic FreeDigitalPhotos.net
1) Find appropriate outlets for your "adoption crazy."

Adoption reunions can bring out the nutty in the best of us. Adoptees and first parents may both enter the reunion process with wounds and scars created by their separation from each other. Reunion also frequently triggers regression to an earlier age; the adoptee may regress to the emotional age of a young child and biological parents may find themselves traumatically "stuck" at the age of relinquishment in some aspects of their development. We may understand certain things with our logical brains while simultaneously experiencing strong emotions that defy and overpower logic. Anger, jealousy, and fears of abandonment or rejection are all normal parts of the reunion experience. Our emotions are real and valid and often very insistent, but that doesn't that mean we have to act on all of them. Take some time to let your emotions settle down before you send that email or text or post that facebook status. Write the letter you never send. Paint a picture. Go for a walk. Call a trusted friend and rant to him or her. Find some strategy -- whatever works for you -- that will allow you to create some space before you say something you will regret to the person you with whom you are creating a tender new relationship. This isn't to say that you should never speak your mind. There may come a time in the reunion process when an open, honest expression of the hard stuff is exactly what is required to move the relationship forward. But proceed with care. Hurt people often do hurtful things, and the results can be devastating.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Helping Our Children Cope with the Sandy Hook Tragedy

David Castillo Dominici FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Children who have experienced multiple traumas in the past are more likely to be vulnerable to the emotional consequences of this latest rampage. -- Parents Key to Easing Psychological Impact of Conn. Shootings
If you are parenting a child, as I am, who came to you by way of the foster care system, your child may be needing extra support around recent events, but really all children are likely to need some parental guidance as they attempt to make sense of something that is beyond comprehension, even for most grownups.

How do we best support them? What should we do, and what should we avoid?

My Body Responds to Tragedy

For three days I read emotional reactions to the recent horrific events in Connecticut, while I myself felt … numb. Meanwhile, physical symptoms crept into my body: neck, shoulder, and head pain that did not respond to over-over-the-counter analgesics. At 3 a.m. on Tuesday, I awoke with a start from a dream involving gunshots. My pain level was at an almost unbearably intense level. Only then did I consciously connect my physical pain with the events. I spent the rest of the night sitting in a chair with my eyes closed. At some point near sunrise I felt my body shudder and understood that in doing so it was releasing some of the traumatic energy it had been holding onto since Friday.

I highly recommend the following 5-minute video. It was created in response to the Aurora shooting but is equally relevant to the current situation.

Friday, December 14, 2012

B.J. Lifton on "the Best Interests of the Child"

At the end of her book Journey of the Adopted Self, Betty Jean Lifton includes a short chapter on serving the needs of the adopted child. According to Lifton, the best interests of adopted children can only be met under the following conditions:
When society recognizes the need for standards in the adoption field that protect the child: placing adoption practice in the hands of unbiased child welfare specialists, trained in the psychology of the adopted and without a profit motive. This would eliminate the need to advertise for babies and safeguard their interests.
When the child is seen as a real person--not a fantasy child, not an idealized child, not a special child, not a comodity--but a child with his own genetics, talents, and his own identity.
When the child is allowed to grow up in an open environment without secrets about who she is or where she comes from, including the right to an unamended birth certificate and to contact with her birth family.
When everyone recognizes the adopted child for what he is: a child with two sets of parents that give him a dual identity.
When the adoptive parents and the birth parents respect how they have filled each other's needs so that they can come together in some form of extended family for the sake of the child.
When everyone realizes that the best interests of the child are in the best interests of the adoptive family, the birth family, and society.

Friday, December 7, 2012

National Adoption Awareness Month Is Over. Now What?

So, November's over. Now what? If only there was some kind of holiday or something I could focus on in December. Oh, wait!

We actually celebrate two of the December holidays in our household, so I will in fact be busy and certainly blogging much less frequently than I did in November. But I will be posting periodically here, and there's still a lot of activity going on at Lost Daughters.

For one thing, the Lost Daughters blog has added several regular columns focusing on areas of specialization. I myself will be writing the column "Foster Focus," which will explore issues related to foster care and foster-adoption. I published my first piece in the series, sharing the story my own journey as a foster-adoptive parent, earlier this week.

We also published two pieces in the new Round Table series: "Holiday Season Adoption Triggers, Part 1 and Part 2."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Infertility, Part 2: Clarifications and Additional Thoughts

Thank you to everyone who read and commented on my recent post about adoption, infertility, and childfree living. I had hoped the post would spark discussion and it certainly did! In my responses to the many comments the piece stimulated, I clarified my position on several points. I would like to summarize some of what I said here in this follow-up post.

I do not consider myself to be "anti-adoption" and actually dislike that label. I do, however, consider the separation of a child from his or her biological family, and especially from the mother, to be a traumatic event that should never be taken lightly. I do understand that there are situations in which the biological parents are unable or unwilling to care for the child for various reasons, and I certainly never intended to imply that children should remain in unsafe conditions. I myself consider adoption to be a valid option in some circumstances, but I am also aware that it is an extreme measure, one that not only separates the child from the original family but alters his or her very identity. I believe that the adoption industry is very much in need of reform. I would like for there to be fewer adoptions. I believe that ethical adoption must be about finding parents for children who really need them, not about finding babies for people who want to be parents.

My previous post was not intended to be construed as advice to any individual about the choices he or she should make about family. That is a personal matter. I was, however, trying to make several points:
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