Should Adoptive Parents Share Painful Pre-Adoption History with Kids?

“I Need to Know the Truth About  My Conception, Birth, and Family History, No Matter How Painful the Details May Be.”

Betty Jean Lifton, author of Lost and Found: The Adoption Experience, describes the adoptee’s growing awareness of his desire to know more about his biological family as an awakening: “The act of adoption puts us under a spell that numbs our consciousness. When we awaken it startles us to realize we might have slept our lives away, floating and uprooted…The adoptee awakens when he or she realizes that not to know (who gave them birth) would be to live life without meaning. The curiosity has always been there, waiting to be released.”

Awakenings happen at various times for adoptees, sometimes and to some degree during childhood, often to a greater degree as the adoptee grows older. My greatest awakening was at mid-life, when I enrolled in a college writing class and was assigned to take a few facts, weave them together with historical data, and create a story. Since I only knew a few details about my birth family, I chose that as my topic.

I remember sitting for hours in the library,  my head buried in the study cubicle, pouring over tattered, musty books describing maternity homes in the 1940’s. I learned of the awful stigma and shame society laid upon women experiencing untimely pregnancies. I learned about the vulnerability of married women whose husbands were off at war. Dark thoughts and emotions stirred in me and my heart began to weep for the birth mother I never knew. 

For many adoptees, the need to find the birth family becomes all-consuming and an actual search begins. I grew relentless in my search for more information. I interviewed elderly nurses and found out what procedures were used during births. “What was my birth like for my mother…and for me?” “Was anyone there for my birth mother?” “Did she ever get to see me or hold me?”

I thought for the first time of the excruciating pain of having to give up a child, leave the hospital with empty arms, and go on with life as if nothing had happened. I longed to tell my birth mother that she had done the right thing. I wanted to let her know that I was all right.

Little by little, my birth family was coming to life in my psyche. Finally I realized what I had been searching for all my life: a connection to my “real” life–the real me–before I was adopted, and the whole truth about my past that would enable me to live my present more honestly and fully.

Going Through Home Again

As a parent you may be wondering, Why is it so important that our adopted child know the truth about her origins? What good will that do? Why put her through all that?

Author Carlye Marney, in Achieving Family Togetherness, once suggested that there are at least 80,000 generations behind each one of us, and that we are incapable of blessing ourselves or giving blessing to others until we are first able to bless our origins. Marney terms this process of blessing one’s origins “going through home again.”

Going through home again is no easy process for an adoptee, for her origins are often shrouded in secrecy. Secrecy about her conception, secrecy about her birth, and secrecy about her family history. How can she bless her origins if she doesn’t know what they are? 

Webster’s says to bless means:

  • to bestow good of any kind
  • to honor, to beautify
  • to be in favor of
  • to endorse
  • to smile upon
  • to pardon.

Think about these words in regard to your child. I know you would agree on every point that this is what you want for her. You want her to be able to smile upon herself…to be in favor of herself…and ultimately to pardon others who may have given her a painful beginning. In other words, you want to implant in her a healthy self-esteem, regardless of her past history.

The saying, “When you know the truth, the truth will set you free,” is applicable here. I am reminded of a poster with the above verse and picture of  a rag doll being pushed through an old-fashioned wringer. A good reminder that the truth is often painful.

For example, when Cathy found out that she had been conceived in rape, her heart sunk at the sound of the words. She was one who therapist Dr. Randolph Severson, in To Bless Him Unaware, described as a “child whose life leapt into being through a degrading, terrifying act of sexual violation.” Cathy never imagined in her darkest fantasies that this could be a possibility. Yet it was her truth, and it led her to a greater truth: that something good came out of that terrible violation of her birth mother. That good thing was her. It also helped her learn about her birth mother and all that she had been through in order to give her life.

There may be many truths that will be difficult to tell your adopted child. Perhaps the birth mother was a crack addict. Perhaps there is a history of mental illness, neglect, or sexual abuse in the family.

 Jeanine Jones, MSW, CCSW, and adoptive mother of seven said in an article appearing in Jewel Among Jewels Adoption News: “No, it is not a joyous time when your child wants to see all his information and you’re concerned that what he reads will hurt him. This is a time for honesty, compassion, and relationship building.”

Your child, at the appropriate age, can actually benefit from hearing painful information about his past because he will know that finally you are telling him the honest, gut-level truth. Kids are geniuses at detecting untruths. This giving of information doesn’t have so much to do with the truth about his past as it does with his relationship with you and with himself. He is learning to trust you at a deeper level and he is also developing self-esteem. He is possibly having some of the ugliest and most painful information about his past revealed by you, yet at the same time you are demonstrating that you love him just as he is. 

As this relationship of trust and love deepens, he can decide what he wants to do about the option of searching for more facts or for birth family members. Whether or not he goes ahead with an actual search, the relationship between you and him will have grown tremendously.

How to Know When Your Child Is Searching

Now I am beginning to see the necessity of the adoptee going through home again, as well as the challenge, you may be thinking. Are there any  behaviors I can look for in my child to know if he is wanting to go through home again?

Yes, there will be behaviors that will help you know if your child is inwardly heading in that direction. Learn to listen, as you have been, with your heart. Keep in mind the wise words of Drs. Brodzinsky and Schecter from their book Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self. These doctors have thirty years combined experience in dealing with adopted children. When asked what percent of adoptees search for their birth parents, their answer was one hundred percent. “In our experience,” they said, “all adoptees engage in a search process. It may not be a literal search, but it is a meaningful search nonetheless.”

Sometimes the adoptee’s desire to go through home again is subtle or masked. Following are some ways adoptees may express their unspoken need.

For children:

  • The search begins in their imagination, through the telling of fairy tales and stories.
  • Can show up as early as three years old through play. (Look particularly for themes of loss and rescue–lost animals, lost children, etc.)
  • After you tell her about her adoption, she asks, “Why did it happen?”
  • She may wonder where her birth parents are now. “Where are they?” “Will she come and see me someday?”

For adults:

  • “You can take a dog to a vet and find out what kind he is, but I can’t even find out what my heritage is.”
  • “I wish I could tell her (birth mother) how much I love her for bringing me into the world.”
  • “Meeting my birth father was validating for who I am.”
  • “Now that I have met her (birth mother), I know how to be.”
  • “Knowing your birth family gives you a point of reference.”

The truth can and probably will be painful for the adoptee, but most of us want it all. We want truth on every level–physical, emotional, and spiritual.

What Parents Can Do

At the earliest age possible, introduce information about the birth family. The words “birth mother” and “birth family” shouldn’t be some strange term imposed on the child later in life. Instead, the child’s history should be presented in terms which even the pre-schooler can understand. I am so glad your birth mommy gave you to us to love. Maybe it was your birth mommy who gave you that beautiful curly hair!

Vicky remembers her mother’s anxiety about the subject of her birth mother. On the night before she was married, her mother nervously revealed her birth mother’s name and the few facts she knew about the birth family’s history. “Not only did it seem awkward and out of place, but it felt like a betrayal,” Vicky said. “Why didn’t she tell me earlier? Why did she withhold something so vital to my well-being? It also created feelings of shame. Was there something awful about my past or  me that made her so nervous?”

It wasn’t until many years later that Vicky learned that her birth mother had been raped.  She was confident am sure her adoptive mother was aware of this because her grandmother was the social worker who handled her private adoption.

“If my mother had shared that information with me earlier in life, I am sure I could have handled it,” Vicky said. “Yes, it would have been painful. Yes, it probably would have created more questions about my history, but it would have empowered me to be able to trust and love my adoptive mother more.”

Vicky realizes the toll it took on her. “Because I was not given the painful details of my conception until I was forty-three years old, it took me a lot of time and energy to be able to separate the circumstances of my conception from who I am as a person. For years after finding out the circumstances, I said that ‘I was conceived in rape.’ Whenever I said those words, my soul flooded with shame and sadness. One day I realized that I was carrying the pain and shame of my birthmother. After that I learned to simply say ‘my mother was raped.’ That removed the incessant shame from me and enabled me to love my birth mother more.”

What a gift you would be giving to your child by sharing all of his history with him as the time arises. You would be able to help him work through the complex task of separating the painful circumstances from his who he is as a person.

I am not advocating that you sit down with your four-year-old child and share the negative aspects of his conception and birth, but I am advocating answering his questions honestly whenever the opportunity arises.

 Let the child lead. You will know when the time is right because he will begin to ask questions. Expect questions about his birth mother as early as age three. Adoption may seem like a wonderful thing to your pre-school child, but when he reaches school age, he will begin to realize that to be chosen means that he was first rejected by someone. Why didn’t my birthmother want me? Where is my birthmother now? Did you ever meet her? Do you think that she would like me if she knew me now? 

I cringe when saying the word “rejection” because it sheds an unfavorable light on the birthmother and her decision to relinquish. This is not my intent. However, it is important to realize that relinquishment translates to the adoptee as rejection no matter how much the birth mother loved him. This is the adoptee’s emotional reality and probably the point at which his  questioning will occur.

Think through possible scenarios of how you will answer your child’s questions before he becomes curious. When the time comes, your confidence and serenity will let him know that it is okay to ask questions and express his true feelings. 

 You probably will not have all the answers to his questions, especially if you adopted internationally. Nevertheless, he can learn to have a settled peace about his origins knowing that in this life there will always be unanswered questions. 

Learn to listen to your child’s spoken and unspoken messages. This will clue you in to what part of the information upsets him. “You’ve got to be kidding?” “Oh, no way.” “That is horrible.” “I don’t want to hear any more.” These are indications that he has digested all the information he can at this particular time. What are the non-verbals? Remember that this is your first avenue of communication before words. Does he throw up his hands in utter disbelief? Does he get a far-away look in his eyes or drift off into a catatonic stare? Does he swallow hard? Does his body stiffen? If so, pay close attention. If he stares, he is likely frozen in fear. If he is swallowing hard, he may be overwhelmed. If his body stiffens, he may be communicating that he just can’t tolerate any more.

Remember that adoption is a life-long journey. Questions about his birth and birth family will surface at each developmental stage of life. Times of change–going to high school, leaving home for college, getting married and having children of his own, mid-life, old age–will often be the precursor to history issues resurfacing. However, the information you have already given him will not be a millstone around his neck; rather, it will provide him with a context to learn deeper lessons about what it means to be adopted. Ultimately, growth will occur.

You probably would agree that “going through home again” by learning birth history is not an easy task for most adoptees. Some adoptees have no desire to learn anything beyond the adoption story. However, when your child expresses his need to go through home and learn what he can about his past, no matter how painful the details, trust his instincts.  The end result may well be that he will finally be able to look back on his past with pardon and upon himself with favor.  

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

The Special Needs of Adopted Children

What Are The Special Needs of Adopted Kids?

Adopted children have special needs that adoptive, first, and foster parents must learn  in order to become their child’s #1 cheerleader.

Use this list as needed and as age-appropriate for discussing special needs with your child. You might say, “An adopted person wrote a list of her special needs. Would you be interested in seeing it? I’m curious if you identify with any of the needs that are mentioned.”

Remember, with young children, keep it simple-rephrase into kid speak, and stick with the words: SAD, MAD, GLAD ANGRY.

Scripture verses are included for those who want them.

EMOTIONAL NEEDS:

  • I need help in recognizing my adoption loss and grieving it. (Ecclesiastes 1:18)
  • I need to be assured that my birth parents’ decision not to parent me had nothing to do with anything defective in me. (Proverbs 34:5)
  • I need help in learning to deal with my fears of rejection–to learn that absence doesn’t mean abandonment, nor a closed door that I have done something wrong. (Genesis 50:20)
  • I need permission to express all my adoption feelings and fantasies. (Psalm 62.8)

EDUCATIONAL NEEDS:

  • I need to be taught that adoption is both wonderful and painful, presenting lifelong challenges for everyone involved. (Ezekiel 17:10a, Romans 11:24)
  • I need to know my adoption story first, then my birth story and birth family. (Isaiah 43:26)
  • I need to be taught healthy ways for getting my special needs met. (Philippians 4:12)
  • I need to be prepared for hurtful things others may say about adoption and about me as an adoptee. (John 1:11)

VALIDATION NEEDS:

  • I need validation of my dual-heritage (biological and adoptive). (Psalm 139:16b)
  • I need to be assured often that I am welcome and worthy. (Isaiah 43:4, Zephaniah 3:17)
  • I need to be reminded often by my adoptive parents that they delight in my biological differences and appreciate my birth family’s unique contribution to our family through me. (Proverbs 23:10)

PARENTAL NEEDS:

  • I need parents who are skillful at meeting their own emotional needs so that I can grow up with healthy role models and be free to focus on my development, rather than taking care of them. (II Corinthians 12:15)
  • I need parents who are willing to put aside preconceived notions about adoption and be educated about the realities of adoption and the special needs adoptive families face. (Proverbs 23:12, Proverbs 3: 13-14, Proverbs 3:5-6)
  • I need my adoptive and birth parents to have a non-competitive attitude. Without this, I will struggle with loyalty issues. (Psalm 127:3)

RELATIONAL NEEDS:

  • I need friendships with other adoptees. (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
  • I need to taught that there is a time to consider searching for my birth family, and a time to give up searching. (Ecclesiastes 3:4)
  • I need to be reminded that if I am rejected by my birth family, the rejection is symptomatic of their dysfunction, not mine. (John 1:11)

SPIRITUAL NEEDS:

  • I need to be taught that my life narrative began before I was born and that my life is not a mistake. (Jeremiah 1:5a, Ephesians 1:11)
  • I need to be taught in this broken, hurting world, loving families are formed through adoption as well as birth. (Psalm 68:6)
  • I need to be taught that I have intrinsic, immutable value as a human being.
  • I need to be taught that any two people can make love but only God can create life. He created my life and I’m not a mistake.  (John 1:3)

Your greatest challenge as a parent is to first identify the special need that has arisen and then to help your child verbalize it. This gives him some sense of mastery and control over something that feels out of his control. Helping your child heal is largely centered on honest, productive dialogue between you and your child.

Once you as a parent gain such a depth of understanding of your child’s special needs, you will be able to give him the support he needs not only now but throughout all of life. His special needs, in turn, will become deep wells of personal strength and empathy within him as he grows older.

Friends, be sure and add your email address at the right hand corner. Blogs are only once a week…you will not be inundated with unwanted mail. I’d love to stay connected with you.

This list may be reproduced, only when credit is given to the author and the book: Copyright, 1999, Sherrie Eldridge, Random House Publishers-TWENTY THINGS ADOPTED KIDS WISH THEIR ADOPTIVE PARENTS KNEW.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

What Happens When Adoptive Parents Reflect On the Miracle of Adoption

Singing A Song of Celebration During Painful and Pleasurable Times of Adoptive Parenting

Without a doubt, you know that an absolute miracle transpired in your heart when you adopted your child. Trying to describe it would be impossible, for it is like a million emotions exploding simultaneously—like fireworks! Debbie describes it well: If I had to pick just one moment of absolute, unadulterated joy it would be the moment I saw her photo pop up on my computer screen.  I kept saying, ‘That’s her, that’s my daughter, my daughter, my daughter!’ And somehow, in all the crazy excitement of the moment, I felt my heart fold itself around her half a world away.

This miracle needs to be reflected upon and celebrated often, especially when times get rough.

It is my belief that becoming a parent through adoption parallels becoming a parent biologically, except for the fact that are some more wondrous parts for parents through adoption, as well as some more painful aspects. Let’s talk about the pleasurable part first!

Conceived Again in Your Hearts

Think about the fact that every person on the face of this earth is conceived physically and the parental awareness of that conception might be pleasure or displeasure.

However, the adopted child is conceived again in your hearts, at a specific time and a specific place. Twice conceived! What a wonderful assurance for both parent and child. The first time the thought entered your mind about adopting a child, that likely was adoption conception. You may be understandably thinking that those thoughts enter the minds of many. Surely, but they wash away, like sandcastles in the tide. For adoption parents, the thoughts return, not in an obsessive and upsetting manner, but as consistent heart impressions. You know you want to parent a child. Your motivation is not to fulfill your need to become a parent, but to fulfill the needs of a child who needs good parents.

This brings us to a sensitive point about adoption conception, but one which must be addressed concerning sincere people of faith. Barb Testa Butz, M.S.W. and leader of “Moms through Adoption” at Willow Creek Church in Shaumburg, Illinois says, “I find that churches often have a confused view of Adoption ministry, somehow viewing the act of adoption as a ‘ministry’ vs. born out of the desire to become a parent. I think the Scripture verse about caring for  widows and orphans gets misapplied oftentimes, and ‘rescuing’ orphans through adoption becomes viewed as a ministry. If we are to
care for widows and orphans, is the church called to start a ministry to
marry-off those widowed? Of course not! Neither are we ‘called’ biblically
to adopt orphans — it is personal heartfelt choice. Rather, we are called to serve those who are widowed and orphaned, whether financially,
spiritually, relationally, or emotionally. Adoption is a wonderful
option for those who desire to parent another child. Too often, I hear folks
view it as a ‘ministry,’ as though we are ‘rescuing’ kids in need. I am not
in the ‘savior’ role for any child, just a parenting role here on earth. The Bible does not call us to adopt, but to love and to serve — and we can serve countless more orphans through committed financial support to
trustworthy organizations than by adopting only one or two.” ( )

Unlike the various parental reactions to the news of physical conception, adoption conception is always a joyous occasion, even though a couple may not arrive at that conclusion at the same time, which may cause stress. There may be a “dragger” and a “draggee!” Perhaps one person experiences adoption conception and it takes a while for the spouse to become convinced. This was the situation with Laurel and her husband. “I had a dream and in the dream was picture of children—two Chinese girls and a boy. Laurel and her husband had already adopted two little girls from China. Thus, when Laura woke up, she wondered, “Who is the boy?” Her mind began reasoning that it’s nearly impossible to adopt boys from China. Then a friend  who knew nothing about her dream, said, “So, are you planning to adopt again? Yesterday, I heard about a boy from China who is available for adoption. Let me give you the web site.” Laura went to the site, read the information and printed his photo, but no lightning bolt of insight hit her, even though she began praying for him. After two months, she was convinced about adoption, but her husband wasn’t. Then, the adoption agency called to say that the boy was now unavailable and the paperwork was returned to China, which made adoption almost impossible.  Months later, her husband told Laura that he thought they should adopt the boy. In an incredible turn of events, that night the head of another adoption agency called to say they’d been doing research and Michael had just been added to their list for available adoptees. Before long, the little boy from China that Laura first dreamed of, was a member of their family. ( )

For Melissa, it happened when she learned that an acquaintance, still a child herself, was expecting a child facing the hardest decision of her life. Melissa wept for the birth mother and the unborn baby she was carrying. At that moment, the thought of adoption entered Melissa’s heart and seven months later, that baby was placed in her arms by a loving birth family.

Placed Miraculously in Your Arms

Prior to that adoption day, a child has neither a home nor parents who are prepared to parent. Sleeping in a long crib with other babies, she may never leave the nursery. On adoption day, the orphanage worker hands her to the parents, wrapped in a tattered bedspread that the orphanage worker must keep. Without a stitch to her name, her parents reach out as the bedspread unfolds that small body and the hand-off takes place At last, they can touch her soft pink skin and hold her close. Their dream has come true. The child that was conceived in their hearts is now in their arms. After the long train and plane rides home, she settles into her own crib in her own room, surrounded by the loving gifts of friends awaiting her homecoming. To look at her months later, she’s sitting on a soft carpet, dressed in a dainty pink and white lace dress, circled by admirers. What a beautiful picture of adoption—a child who had nothing is embraced by parents who have given her a name, an identity, a forever home, unconditional love, a nurturing family, and security.

Cari and Phil Alt from Indianapolis said after bringing their daughter home from the Ukraine, “Bringing her home and realizing this is OUR baby and she is here to stay is joy unspeakable! She is not from my womb but I feel she was and is ours! I walk into her nursery and feel overwhelmed, knowing a few weeks ago she was somewhere way around the world, and now she is here.”

Rebecca’s family from New Jersey adopted a twelve-year-old child. “The first day we met was incredible – it was as though she had been waiting for me, as though she knew me when she saw me, as though she could understand the words I spoke to her, as I knelt before her.  When I asked her if she wanted to come home with me, be a family with me, love each other, she didn’t waver in her gaze but stretched her little arms out to me, asking to be picked up.  In my embrace, she wrapped her arms around me, grabbed handfuls of my hair, searched my face again, and cuddled into my neck.”

Kristen and her husband from Nevada adopted a newborn domestically. “I felt every emotion, from A to Z, the moment we got the call that our precious daughter was born. The first time I held her and our tears mixed, I knew she was mine. The memory of watching my husband holding her and looking so happy still brings tears of joy.”

Connected Forever to Your Soul

There are so many parents I have interviewed that have expressed the belief that “this was meant to be.” They know, without a doubt, that this child was meant from all eternity to become a member of their family. Adam Pertman, father through adoption and CEO of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute says, There’s always the feeling in my soul that this was meant to be.

As an adopted person, I will never forget the realization as a young adult that my biological parents and my mom and dad had been handpicked for me. In my mind, to this day, there were no coincidences and no mistakes. 

There is a wonderful plan behind it all that I can’t see, like looking at a beautiful tapestry from the underside. Someday I will see it in all its splendor. I love the sovereignty of it all.

By the way, parents, this is a point you want to emphasize with your children—that this was meant to be. No mistakes! We adoptees secretly believe that our lives are a mistake because of the circumstances surrounding our conception or relinquishment. Others feel like “aliens” who were just dropped into their mom and dad’s home. Your child will wholeheartedly be able to celebrate adoption with you when he knows “it was meant to be.”

Lest we get carried away with euphoria and verge on the precipice of romanticism, let’s remember that not all adoption days are filled with joy. Some are downright painful and parents must remember that this is no reflection on them. “The first night our baby came to us,” Julie sobbed, “I dreamed she pulled a silk scarf over her face. I woke startled, but she was asleep in the bassinet beside our bed. I didn’t fall in love with our baby at first sight. She cried and cried, and I couldn’t comfort her. For the first 100 hours we were together, she cried or slept—exhausted.

Elizabeth D. Branch describes their experience on the first day with their their-and one-half year old daughter: “How do you love an adopted child? Will you love her as much as your biological children?” With a resounding yes, of course…However, you never asked yourself if she would love you. This is my story. This is where my bubble popped, and our difficult journey began. The next morning, our first morning together with our daughter, my husband walked into the living room where I was playing with her. She took one look at him, then hung her head down and started to cry—not just sniffling, but deep, terrified shrieks of fear. We were confused, thinking it was a one-time thing. Unfortunately, this behavior continued for the rest of our trip.”( )

Some adopted children are extremely needy when you receive them and no matter how hard you have worked at being ready to connect on a meaningful level, your child may not be ready to connect with you…yet.

Adoption authority Gail Steinberg says in an article from OURS Magazine:

Newborns and parents don’t always fall in love at first sight. Thankfully you have a lifetime to work on it. There’s no race. What matters is your commitment to attach no matter how long it takes. ( )

Also, let me add here that in the best case scenario adoption day, it is STILL stressful, even though a wonderful thing is occurring. We will talk more about that later, but first let me share a story that reminds me of you and your relationship to your children. Perhaps it is one you can share with your children someday!

Once a man named David was traveling with his university’s drama club. On one particular stop, a yachting club sponsored their play and after the performance, gave a dance at their clubhouse on the waters of a lovely lake. A member of the club was appointed as a host for David. When the orchestra at the yacht club took a break, David’s host took him out to the veranda, saying that he wanted to show him something. David followed him through the clubhouse door that opened on to an unlit balcony over the lake. Bright lights from the yacht club’s ballroom streamed through the doorway and the moon was making soft hues on the rippling waters below. David couldn’t figure out why this man had invited him out to the balcony, but within seconds, the man thrust his hand into his pocket, pulled out something, and held it in the light from the doorway for David to see. Looking David straight in the eyes, he asked if he had ever seen anything like what he held in his hand.

On his open palm lay about ten little pale stones. As David gazed at the stones, each one was shooting fire-ruby lights, emerald lights, amethyst—they were indescribable. It was as if tiny living rainbows had been captured and put into pale translucent prisons, from which they were sending forth rays of fire. David was amazed and couldn’t stop looking at them. When he asked his host what they were, he was told that they were Mexican opals. The man said that he liked them so much that he carried them loose in his pocket because he liked to put his hand down and feel them, even if there is not time to take them out and admire them. The man then added that he carried them everywhere he went.

Like the man at the yacht club, you consider your child a jewel that you carry everywhere you go, not necessarily in your arms or in a baby trecker, but in your hearts…deep in your hearts, no matter what their age, no matter what their successes or failures.

When our first grandchildren were born, identical twin boys, I put my index finger near them in their bassinets and said, “Welcome to the world, Austin and Blake! You are so precious to me. You don’t have to do anything to make me love you. I adore you just because of who you are.” Suddenly, a tiny hand grasped my index finger. I have given the same message to each of our six grandchildren and I carry them as my jewels in my heart, wherever I go.

This is where inspiration and vision for your child’s future begins, and the place you must return to often, especially when discouraged, for it will build faith and hope.

SHERRIE’S INVITATION

When you get some free moments, pull out your child’s baby book, or life book, make yourself a cup of coffee or tea, curl up in an easy chair and allow your mind to remember the wonders of your child’s adoption. Even if it was a painful experience at first, reflect upon how you grew strong through it and how you and your child came through it successfully.

SHERRIE’S ASSIGNMENT

Establish a “reflection ritual” with your family. Explain to them how important it is to remember the miracles of adoption and talk about it with one another often.

  • Set the time for your conversation with your family about “reflection night.”
  • As a family, determine the date of the first reflection night and brainstorm on something special each person might bring to the evening: bake cookies, find a poem about adoption, share your first memory, find a contemporary song about adoption, etc.

Now that we’ve assessed your stress level, determined ways to get started on taking better care of yourself, and begun remembering the absolute wonders and miracle of adoption, let’s prod a little to make sure there are no hidden defenses in your hearts so that are totally open for renewing your passion and purpose.

We have just talked about that blissful, amazing honeymoon stage of adoption. Savor it while it lasts, but realize that it’s only a fraction of the big picture, kind of like a slivered almond.

I’d like to challenge you in the next chapter to be open to hearing the voices of parents who were receptive to hearing about adoption realities, those who resisted, as well as those who didn’t have information available. Perhaps you can identify yourself in the mix?.

CREATE A “PARENT” LIFEBOOK

Recognizing that the wonders of adoption involve pain as well as pleasure, the best thing for you and ultimately your children, is to first of all, recall the joys thus far of adoption parenting. Currently, it is popular to make a life book for your child, recounting his/her story in order to celebrate and remember often. What about a lifebook celebrating your life as a parent, not necessarily for the edification of your child, but of you.

MAKE UP A SONG FOR YOUR CHILD

Reflect back on the thought “we were meant to be” and write a song that you can sing to your child from day one.

(Excerpt from 20 Things Adoptive Parents Need to Succeed book: Copyright, Sherrie Eldridge).