An Effective Writing Project for Shut-Down Adoptees and Foster Kids

This photo of hands writing in tablet depict an adopted or foster child engaging in a writing project to help them start talking, whereas before, they were shut down.

Write your story” is what’s trendy now in adoption circles amongst adoptees.

YIKES…I can’t do that.

I’ve written seven books, some which tell the circumstances of my story,  but my voice…it’s missing.

Last night I lay in bed, panicked about not being able to find my voice.

Where is my voice?

How can I find the voice of the baby, toddler, school age, teen, and the married Sherrie?

She’s hiding somewhere. 

Recently, I wrote what would probably be the first few paragraphs of the story. It came together in an almost magical way and I felt so pumped after writing it.

It was then that I remembered what my friend, Shefalie Chandra, taught me about stack dolls. As a therapist in the UK, she uses them to help clients get in touch with the developmental stages of their lives.

When an adopted or foster person is shut down and depressed, traditional ways of reaching them won't work. The solution lays in finding a creative way to by pass defenses. This activity of stack dolls can do just that.

When adoptees and foster kids are shut down, it’s not likely that they will open up to a therapist or parents in traditional ways, such as talk therapy and common conversation. However, if they are engaged in a creative activity, their hearts will be freed to discover things about themselves they hadn’t previously considered. Thus, conversation ensues.

The writing project:

First, invite your child to pick out stack dolls online that appeal to her.

Then, when they are in hand, explain the different sizes and what they might mean.

  1. The biggest doll is current age
  2. The next doll 10 years earlier
  3. This continues all the way to the end…to the little me

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Then, the present-day me asks baby me some questions:

Present-Day Me: ”There you are, sweetheart…I  found you! Oh my gosh, you are so beautiful. Your skin is so pink and soft and I love your brown hair and eyes.  I am here with you now and I will always listen to your voice. I know that you’ve been through a lot already because your birth mother didn’t  want you. You even knew that before you were born. Will you let me hold you? Will you let me cuddle you close? I love you so very much.”

Baby me: “Wah, wah, wah. I can’t stop crying. My tears won’t end. I am afraid for you to hold me because no one ever did after I was born. I was put in an incubator and I felt so all alone. I don’t know what love is…is it being sent away from my mom to be alone in an incubator? If that’s what love is, I don’t want anything to do with it. Don’t look at me.”

This is how I will start my writing project.

Perhaps these ideas will be beneficial to you?

Oh, and when looking up stack dolls online, I saw that they make them with nine dolls. I think that would be perfect for each stage in life

  • What a brilliant concept! Good luck with finding the voices for your other dolls; sincerely.

  • I love using concrete visuals with the kiddos. The youngest two have written their narratives in modified TF-CBT. Our daughter drew her story and verbally told it while the therapist wrote it down. Our son actually types it. I will say they used a modified form of TF-CBT that was slower and gentler. It’s designed more for prolonged developmental trauma rather than single-instance trauma (like a robbery or car accident.)

    I love your writing and cannot wait for your book. Your voice is there. I hear it in your blog posts. I’ve heard it in your books and your interview with Dawn Davenport years ago. Soon I hope to read more of it.

    Thank you for educating us APs ❤️

  • Great idea Sherrie. Can’t wait till you write your story so I can read it from start to end rather than bits and pieces here and there in random posts online. You can do it.

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