I was adopted at five weeks old and told about it so young I don’t ever remember not knowing. I didn’t experience adoption trauma until I hit 40 when I found out my childhood teddy bear was a gift from my birth mother. This caused an eruption of anger, feeling rejected and unloved, and kickstarted a learning journey that led me to heal and then want to help others.
I created the podcast so guests can inspire listeners along their unique healing curves, empower them with their learnings and insights and ultimately help them see their infinite worth. Oriana – CEO of the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families – came on the podcast and shared what she’s learned helping adoptive parents make today better than yesterday.
It’s all about understanding what’s happened to the children rather than what’s wrong with them. She went in-depth on resilience and flexibility to help children heal. (You can listen to her interview here).
The Coalition asked me to write a blog post about the most important things adoptive parents need to know. So, here goes.
1. It’s about YOU.
You may think it’s about your child, but it’s about you. Let me explain.
Mom (of nine, six by adoption) and adoption agency boss HollyAnn Petree spelled it out in our podcast together: Unpacking Our Own Baggage As Adoptive Parents.
The more you’re triggered, the less you’ll be able to handle the tough stuff that kids from hard places will throw your way.
The less you’re triggered, the more you’ll be able to bond, regulate and cope with your child when previously, your buttons would have been pushed.
So do your work. Therapy, mentoring, books, podcasts, blogs, courses, videos – whatever works for you to unpack your emotional baggage.
Your family’s thriving depends on it.
2. Be trauma-informed and hope-obsessed (not trauma-obsessed)
We need to understand trauma. But no amount of studying the darkness of trauma will bring you to the light of hope. Trauma is a toxic cocktail of destructive feelings like fear, anger, and insecurity.
But adoptees are the cocktail glass, not the cocktail.
Trauma veils who we are; it doesn’t change who we are.
The clearer you can see your child’s perfection (and yours ) underneath the trauma, the better your chance will be at pointing out your child’s perfection to them.
That’s vital because the critical issue adoptees have is feeling that there’s something wrong with them.
3. Find someone who’s ahead of you on the learning curve
Someone who’s been through what you’re going through comes out the other side to a better place.
They’ll give you hope; remember, we want to be hope obsessed.
They can share what they’ve learned. They can be a shoulder to cry on.
The Coalition can help you with all of this work–you simply need to reach out.
A special thanks to Simon Benn (56-year-old adoptee, speaker, and host of the Thriving Adoptees podcast) for his guest blog post contribution!