A Gift Only Adopted and Foster Kids Can Give

Adopted and Foster Kids Are A Gift to One Another

It’s a gift adoptive parents can’t give, birth parents can’t give, or adoption professionals can’t give. Only other adoptees can give it to one another.

I’ll never forget sitting next to an adoptive mom at an adoption carnival where I was speaking. At the end of the day the time came for the children and teens to come on stage and show the parents an adoption art project they had been working on.

When all the kids were in place one of the therapists yelled, “Who’s adopted here?” Everyone’s hands flew up and squeals of delight burst forth from the little ones.

“Me!” they yelled in unison.

The mom leaned over and said, “I’ve never seen that expression on my daughter’s face. Look at her! When she said ‘me,’ her face absolutely glowed!”

Something unique happened to her daughter that day. What was it? Was it the excitement of being with kids the same age? Was it a sense of pride about her artwork or love of the spotlight? I don’t believe so. I believe it was because she had been given a gift that was brand new to her—the gift of fellow adoptee friendships.

The psychological drive that makes this gift so special is that it involves our basic need for connection. Drs. Brodzinsky and Schechter, adoption specialists with 30 years of combined experience, say that connection to an adoptee is like food to a starving man.

For those adopted at infancy or a young age, any connection to our heritage helps satisfy that need. Ancestry.com has helped make those connections. Original birth certificates. A name or photo of our parents. An adoption story that included our birth parents. A reunion with our birth parents.

If we were foster kids and adopted at an older age because of troubled parents, that need for connection may manifest in an unexplainable loyalty based on vestiges of fantasy of what life might have been like had we had nurturing parents and remained in their home.

Many times this connection with our birth families is not an option. International adoptions often make it impossible. Sealed records keep vital information irretrievable.

Nonetheless, our friendships with one another are simply amazing!

 The Amazing Gift

By being in the presence of fellow adoptees, we discover:

  • We Are Like Family. Linda says that knowing adoptees has created a wonderful bond because there is a kind of “sisterhood” and “brotherhood” amongst us that has filled some of the void of not knowing her heritage.
  • We Are Drawn to One Another. Gary said that his young daughter seemed to gravitate to other adoptees in her preschool class. Of course she didn’t know they were adoptees, but there was that pull.
  • We Have a Unique Emotional Language. Sherry says that adoptees can “read” each other from just a few words or their body language, which she says makes adoptees feel like they belong to each other.
  • We are like Triple-Chocolate Cake. I never had an adoptee friend until I was forty-five. Her name is Jody Moreen. We spent hours in our favorite little tea room sipping spiced tea and “talking adoption.” Life doesn’t get much better than that!

Looking back, I can say that not having a fellow adoptee for a friend was like going through life and having missed triple-chocolate cake!

If your adopted child doesn’t have fellow adoptee friends, start searching!

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 Copyright Sherrie Eldridge, 2006. Based on Sherrie’s second book, Twenty Life-Transforming Choices Adoptees Need to Make (JKP, 2014).

How To Enter the World of Your Adopted Child

I Avoid Telling My Adopted Child the Truth about His Background

Imagine yourself boarding a jet to a foreign country. Anticipation is high as you place your bags in the upper compartment, listening to chatting.

Upon arrival, the heat is stifling and the people pushy.  You meander the streets in search of an appealing restaurant and when the waitress brings the menu and water, you can’t read it–it’s a foreign language and she can’t speak English.

All of a sudden, a situation you thought was going to be wonderful has produced feelings of isolation and loneliness. No matter how hard you try, you are not able to make a “connection” with anyone or anything in this foreign country.

This illustration can be compared to how adoptees and foster kids feel when they lose their first (2nd, 3rd, 4th) family.  I’m aware it’s difficult for adoptive parents when I say that this is how adoptees feel when they arrive at your home.  We don’t know you, even though you are loving strangers. You don’t smell, feel, sound, or look like our first moms. Even though this is tough to read, it is an essential step for connecting with your adopted child, no matter his/her age.

Many who adopt newborns believe that “babies don’t remember.” Oh, yes we do. Our first mom’s womb was our first home. We felt the warmth of her body, the steady rhythm of her heartbeat, and we even knew if we were wanted or not. It is in the womb that the emotional landscape for the baby is put in place as a reflection of the mom’s emotions. (Check out THE SECRET LIFE OF THE UNBORN CHILD, by Dr. Thomas Verny).

So, the dilemma is: How can you enter this other world of the adopted child, teen, or adult. Here are a few pointers for entrance to the infant, child, teen, and adult adoptee hearts:

  1. Acknowledge the reality of adoption loss from day one.Newborn: On the way home from the hospital, “I know you must feel very sad and I am sad with you for not having your first mom. I want you to always know that I will never leave you or forsake you.”Older child: I tell you, friends, I have been with some social workers who have their “client kids” with them at an event. These workers gloss over the child’s loss callously. At one event, I talked with the teen who had just been transferred to yet another placement.
    “This must be so painful for you.”
  2. Honor the first parents, no matter how painful the backstory.

Just having found the paternal side of my first family, I know first-hand what it means to come from a painful history. My first father was a very broken man, now deceased, but leaving six children from six marriages in the wake.

I am fairly convinced that my adoptive parents knew the back story, but it was never shared. I’m convinced, also, that the hospital where I was born knew the back story, for after multiple attempts to get my newborn hospital records, even after a court order to release, I was denied access.

Now, even if my parents knew the truth, would it be appropriate for them to share it with little Sherrie, the Sherrie who sat on the green couch with French knots with them and heard what was age appropriate.

My answer is, “no!” Ask an adoption-certified therapist about the correct age.

However, at the age-appropriate time, tell your child the truth, for it is truth that sets us free. Free from unexplainable anxiety, free from a painful past, free from non-existent self worth.

So, if I were my adoptive parents (and remember that I grew up in the closed adoption system…so give them grace as I do), I would have said something like this:

Your first mom and dad must be fine people because they birthed you. But, they are very broken people who have made a lot of choices that weren’t healthy. ” Emphasize that “you” and your life weren’t one of those unhealthy choices.

Now, something important here. Please don’t explain adoption to a child, teen, or adult adoptee by saying, “Your first mom loved you sooooo much that she gave you to us.”

The adoptee response would likely be, “Well, if that’s what love is, I don’t want anything to do with it and you’re love.”

So, parents, you have every right to enter your child’s world,  but it must be entered with finesse. I know you’ll do great.

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Why Choose Adoption Over Abortion?

I Can't Believe I'm Pregnant. Maybe I Should Abort My Baby

Just like the young woman in this photo, many face the decision about whether to choose adoption or abortion. If this would help someone you love, feel free to share.

  1. Any two people can make love, but only God can create a life.
  2. No matter what the circumstances surrounding the conception, the baby growing inside you belongs to God and was created by him for his purposes.
  3. God loves you and has a special plan for your life as well as your baby’s.
  4. Choosing abortion will result in endless grieving for the child you might have had. Parental loss of a child is particularly devastating grief. Motherhood does not end with abortion.
  5. You will likely spend a lot of energy keeping the abortion secret in the future, and will experience guilt, anger, unconscious fear of sex, tenseness and uneasiness around children and depression.
  6. This child is part of you. Choosing abortion instead of adoption will not only kill your baby, but also a vital part of you.
  7. You will place your very life at risk through the abortion procedure.
  8. You will jeopardize your ability to conceive again.
  9. You will long to hold the child for the rest of your life and will wonder what he/she may have looked like when you see another’s child at the same age yours would have been. You will have lost not only an infant, but also a preschooler, a teenager, a young adult and your grandchildren.
  10. You will secretly wonder what your child would have grown up to be.
  11. The child you are carrying, like all of us, deserves a right to have a chance at life.
  12. The institution of adoption has changed dramatically in the last few decades. There is now such a thing as open adoption, where an arrangement can be negotiated between both sets of parents (birth and adoptive) for the welfare of your child. You can choose the birth parents for your baby.
  13. You can have a vital impact on the life of your child. If you choose adoption instead of abortion, he/she may need and want you to be an integral part of his/her life.
  14. If you choose adoption instead of abortion, you will ultimately see that you have touched by adoption for a purpose and that your son or daughter will be grateful to you for sacrificially carrying him/her for the first nine months of life.

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