Marilyn Schoettle, M.Ed., created a wonderful system for teaching adoptees, no matter what our age, to take our power back when misunderstandings and insensitive comments come our way.
A Win-Win System
It is a win-win system, for it not only teaches the one who is hurt to make the right choices, but it also educates the sender about the appropriateness of the message. It is also suitable for parents because oftentimes bullies can be adults. “How much did she cost?” “Who is the real mom?” “Why is his skin a different color?”
Schoettle named it the “Wise-Up Power Book” and based it on the acronym W-I-S-E, with each letter representing a choice to take one’s power back when misunderstood. Let’s go through examples of each option:
W— WALK AWAY! This provides maximum self-care for the child and inadvertently teaches the other person about adoption— that was a hurtful, inappropriate statement. For example, after your international adoption, a woman may come up to you in the grocery store and ask, “Why did you go way overseas to get a child when there are so many children that are waiting to be adopted here? If your anger was about to spill out and you were in an extremely vulnerable spot, you would choose to walk away.
I—IT’S PRIVATE! This sets a verbal boundary and doesn’t let the person go any further. Suppose an adult adoptee announces to his friends that he’s going to begin searching for his birth family. They say, “Why would you want to open that can of worms?” Simply using this option, with a smile, would stop further insensitivities. If not, you could resort to W.
S—SHARE! Here the adoptee begins the opening up process when he/she feels strong enough to reveal feelings. The adoptee may say, “I am so glad that I was adopted.”
E—EDUCATE! This is sharing knowledge about adoption to help the insensitive person grow. For example, an adult adoptee who was reunited with her birth mother, discovered that her birth mother was riddled with guilt. The adoptee could choose to educate her birth mother by saying, “Almost every birth mother I know has this kind of guilt. In fact there is a classic book about birth mothers, The Other Mother, by Carol Schaeffer. Why don’t we go to the library and find a copy?”
Ideas for Teaching the WISE-UP Method to Your Children:
• Purchase The WISE-UP Power Workbook, by Marilyn Schoettle:
• Purchase a stack of colored cards, loop them together, and put a situation on each card that would require a WISE-UP choice.As different experiences happen within your family concerning this topic, add them to the deck of cards. Role play the scenarios together, ahead of time, so that you and your children will be prepared.