Archive for the ‘Adoption-attunement’ Category

Faith Communities and Adoption

Wednesday, May 31, 2017 @ 11:05 AM
Author: admin

Faith communities and adoptionAs Intentional adoptive parents, we understand that our families need resources. Not just any resources. We need Adoption-attuned* resources. Any professionals whom we consult must understand the nature and challenges of adoption. They must realize that adoption is not a fairy tale. Rather, it encompasses an entire range of emotions, some heart-warming and some heart-aching. With this Adoption-attunement in mind, adoptive families should consider how well their faith community meets their families’ needs–especially the needs of the adoptee.

Through conversations with adult adoptees we’ve come to realize that while faith communities can be sanctuaries of support and healing, they can also be the seat of judgment, dismissal and blind-sightedness. Faith communities are run by people and thus, can fall to the vicissitudes of human failings, bias and judgments. As part of our commitment to spread the awareness of Adoption-attunement, GIFT coaches Sally Ankerfelt–a Lutheran minister–and Gayle Swift decided to write a book centered on faith communities and how they serve–and sometimes, fail to serve adoptees. Next month, at the North American Council For Adoptable Children Conference,  Sally and Gayle will be presenting a workshop on this subject. To ensure that they are basing their book on what adoptees actually experience, they have been speaking to adult adoptees, engaging in on-line communities and compiling responses from an on-line survey.

We invite readers of this blog to support this information gathering. Become part of the solution process. Help us help adoptees. Please share this survey with any adult adoptees you know. If you are an adoptee, please participate in the survey, and or message us you thoughts regarding your experiences with your faith community (church, synagogue, etc.) How have they best met your needs? Where have they missed the mark? How have they been part of the challenges facing adoption?

If you prefer, you may copy this survey and email your responses to Gayle@GIFTfamilyServices.com

We are two adoptive parents who want to help faith communities become Adoption-attuned. To accomplish this, we are writing a book that uplifts the voices and perspectives of those with the greatest insight: you, adult adoptees. Thank you for sharing your personal experiences with us. Feel free to pass this survey to other adoptees who are interested in sharing their experiences. Your input is valuable to us and much appreciated.  Gayle and Sally, GIFT Family Services, LLC.

1. How well has your faith community served your needs?

 

2. What role has your faith played in your family life?

3. To what extent did adoption affect your response to Scripture, Biblical themes and rituals?

4. List any specific liturgy, ritual, Biblical theme that resonated and/or challenged you as an adoptee.

5. How would you suggest faith communities might better address the adoptee experience?

6. What is your first and last name?

7. What is your email address?

8. Please share any additional thoughts which you might have on the topic of faith and adoption.

9. If we quote you, Would you like to stay anonymous?

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Podcast Series: Questions to Ask before, during & after Adopting

Wednesday, May 3, 2017 @ 03:05 PM
Author: admin

GIFT coaches Susan David and Joann Distefano host a podcast called “Essentials for Adoption-attuned Parenting* If you haven’t tuned in, you are missing out on valuable tips, strategies and insights for navigating your family’s adoption journey. Susan and Joann examine issues from a coaching angle. This means that they help you determine how to handle what is on your plate by identifying leverage points for action, change, strengthening attachment or, muscling through a difficult situation.  (Like all of the GIFT coaches, they are both adoptive parents and certified coaches. They support families with judgment-free neutrality that understands the unique challenges and needs of adoptive families.)

While their particular experiences may differ from yours, they arise from actual adoptive family life. Real families. Real life.They understand what you are facing because they too, have confronted similar challenges. Their parenting  began over twenty-five years ago so they have seen prevailing thought, social norms and professional advice evolve over the past quarter century. They know what helped–or hindered–the functioning of their families. They believe their stories can help other adoptive families.

Their current series focuses on questions adoptive parents should ask “before, during and after adoption” and on the differences between adoptive parenting and parenting biological children. Some of these differences and needs are quite distinct and significant. Understanding these differences and learning how to handle them will benefit adoptive families.

Their discussions are rooted in the GIFT Adoption Philosophy and coaching presuppositions and the knowledge that Intentional Parenting, and a commitment to Adoption-attunement* will help ensure success for adoptive families. Joann and Susan emphasize one vital point: talk about these issues, concerns and choices. Make you decisions intentionally. Base them on accurate information, soul-searching and a commitment to the life-time success of your adoptive family. Step beyond the emotions that flood your heart and fuel your desire to adopt. Build a healthy foundation based on what is best for your child. The entire family will benefit. For a lifetime.

Subscribe to the podcast. Listen at your convenience. Amplify your Adoption-attunement* and prepare for your life to bloom and grow.

Some important distinctions to discuss with your partner and your professional team:

 

  Adoptive Parenting             Biological Parenting            
  Privacy     Shame
  Boundary Setting   Open Book
  Open Adoption   Closed Adoption
  Agreement   Compliance

 

Some important resources

Organizations:

NACAC (North American Council for Adoptable Children)

(GIFT coaches Sally Ankerfelt and Gayle Swift will be presenting a workshop at the NACAC Conference which will be in Atlanta, Georgia, from July 20–22, 2017. )

Donaldson Adoption Institute “is an independent and objective adoption research and policy organization that addressed the needs of all those touched by adoption – first/birth parents, adoptees and adoptive parents.” They offer an on-line open adoption curriculum.

DTFA “is a nonprofit organization that helps find adoptive homes for children in foster care across the U.S. and Canada … North America’s only national nonprofit charity dedicated solely to finding permanent homes for the more than 130,000 children in foster care.”

Books     Dear Abby-Gotcha-The Open-hearted Way to Open Adoption,GIFT’s resources pages include reviews of many wonderful books.

Check out the list to find valuable titles.

Two books that are essential for every family contemplating adoption are:

For children we recommend

  

(Again, our resource pages includes a more comprehensive list)

5 Tips for Course-correcting Family Dynamics

Wednesday, February 8, 2017 @ 02:02 PM
Author: admin

Course correctingLast month we focused on accumulating information to underpin some intentional change-making. Today’s tips can help you implement change even if you didn’t participate in last month’s series. (It’s not too late to follow the exercise outlined in the series, define a goal, implement your resolve and begin. ) We ended the series with a final question: What will be your first action step in response to this exercise ?

Let’s stipulate that your first criteria was tuning into your Core Values. What principles determined which step you decided to take first? Some folks choose the change they think will bring about the greatest shift. Others  select the one that connects with their heart most deeply. Some people elect to begin with one, small step to which they believe they can and will commit. (That’s an important distinction: ability versus intention and follow through.) And some will choose based on the change they expect will get the best “buy in” from their entire family.

All are good options; the essential thing is simply to take the first step.

Tip Number 1: Choose an intentional frame for your selected change. How we view change can also affect our response to it. Pause and seriously consider what metaphor comes to mind when you consider creating changes in your family dynamics. Does it feel like jumping off a cliff? Climbing a mountain? Herding cats? Paragliding over the Pacific? Setting humor aside, one can easily see that viewing change through a lens colors the way we experience it–with dread, enthusiasm or fear–or a combination of similar emotions.

Tip Number 2Remember that change takes time. Allow yourself and your family time to find their new footing and for a new balance point to emerge. Imagine for a moment a large jar stuffed with several balloons. Whenever one balloon is squished, shaken or moved, all of the other balloons will reflect that motion in some way.  Similarly, whenever one person in a family changes in behavior or attitude, every family member responds. Some will welcome the change. Others will feel threatened, frustrated, annoyed or resistant.

Tip Number 3: The only person whom we can compel to change is ourselves. We can invite, persuade and encourage change in others but the decision remains theirs. Even when no one else embraces the suggested change, it is still possible to make a difference in the family dynamic. Merely by focusing on one’s own change process, a shift will occur. Because we behave differently, others will receive different “input.” Consider this example. Decide to remain neutral when  a teen vents and uses deliberately provocative speech. You’re not my real mother and I hate you! 

The most typical parental response tends to be anchored in hurt feelings which then lead to angry words, righteous indignation and “consequences.” While those reactions are understandable, they tend to inflame the situation and to give power to those words. This increases the likelihood that the child will use them again because they succeeded in unloading their pain and anger onto the parent. By not reacting, the inflammatory words lose their power. Thus, it is less likely to be the “go to” phrase they’ll use in the future.

Something even more powerful can happen however, when parents don’t bite the bait and instead listen and then respond with genuine empathy. You must feel very angry. Usually the child will respond with still-angry words. However, instead of arguing about “realness” the focus becomes a validation of the child’s feelings. Things tend to de-escalate. Later, when emotions have settled mother can address the disrespect.

Tip Number 4: Value the relationship more than “being right.” Parenting, especially adoptive parenting demands a fierce, intentional love. Because of adoption’s inherent duality–the coexistence of gain and loss, grief and joy–both parent and child have emotional raw points that can trigger one another. When we are in emotional meltdown, like the scenario described in Tip 3, we must remind ourselves of that soul-deep yearning that propelled us to adopt. Remember the impassioned promises we made, if only we could be lucky enough for this child to join our family. We can use that resonant memory to refocus us on how much we value the relationship. Preserving that attachment is far more important than winning an argument at that moment. We are building families for a lifetime. That is the greater victory!

Tip Number 5: We must set aside the traditional parental templates. Most people learned how to parent by being parented. They use that experience as an unconscious template to guide them. But, unless we ourselves were raised in an adoptive family, we have no template for how to deal with this adoption complexity. We cannot default to autopilot (parenting like we were parented in our own families.)  to handle the unique needs and circumstances that adoption imposes  on families. We have no learned experience to tell us how to relate with  members of birth families, and overlapping roles. We find ourselves building the blueprint as we go along. Using threads of love, commitment, mutual respect and empathy, we weave a tightly knit family. How does being an Adoption-attuned Parent* benefits your family? When Intentionality, Adoption-attunement and fierce love, work hand in hand, what amazing things result?

Bonus! Tip Number 6: Consider partnering with an adoption coach. How might your family benefit from working with an adoption coach? What would it be like to work with a coach whose focus was your family, your goals, your needs? Imagine having the guidance of a professional who is also an adoptive parent, who will  listen to you without judgement. How can this common bond help you achieve your dreams for your family?

Adoptive Families Give Thanks

Wednesday, November 23, 2016 @ 02:11 PM
Author: admin

Thanksgiving, Gratitude & the Adoption Connection #RoomAtTheTableForAll

Thanksgiving centers on gratitude; that is the very reason for its existence. As adoptive parents we must be mindful of the hot button issue that often connects gratitude and adoption. Adoptees frequently hear that they “should” feel “lucky” that they were adopted and be grateful to their parents. This attitude/expectation ignores and trivializes the losses that co-exist with the benefits of adoption. Avoid commingling the desire to encourage gratitude with the burden of this misguided cultural expectation.

Yes, help them tally their blessings and observe the genuine spirit of Thanksgiving. As a family, join together to give thanks and share the holiday. Joyfully celebrate the genuine treasures of our lives: the people we love and cherish, good health, and commitment to one another. Remember those present and those at a distance. Make space for all the important relationships in our families’ lives, birth and adoptive. We are all in this together! We are family. For a lifetime.

Remember too, that November is National Adoption Month and the purpose of that observance is to highlight the need for permanent families for kids in foster care. For too many children in foster care family remains a dream. Hold tight to those you love. Teach them good values, nurture their talents, and teach them well.

thanksgiving-collageConsider sharing these Thanksgiving-themed books. They offer good opportunities for conversations about important themes like gratitude, history, truth-telling and the Promise that is America. For children adopted internationally, the  book “How Many Days to America” gently describes some of the forces that drive people to choose to leave their country and emigrate to the United States. Read the complete reviews on Writing to Connect.

podcast-graphic-templateRemember that GIFT’s newest free resource is now available on demand via  iTunes. We air a weekly fifteen-minute podcast called  “Essentials for Adopted-attuned Parenting.*” Listen to learn practical tips for building and strengthening your family. Podcasts will air for approximately 15 minutes. (They’ll be concise and to the point so you can easily squeeze it into your busy schedule!) The coaching and discussions will focus on real situations confronting adoptive families. Available on i-Tunes.
How often have you yearned for support from someone who understands adoptive family life who doesn’t judge you or your child for the struggles that you face? Wait no longer. Tune in and discover how it might help you and your family. Hear how other families handled similar situations. Experience a sense of judgment-free community, possibility, and hope. Click on this link and begin. How might this resource benefit your family?

Adoption Attunement.lighting the wayHappy Thanksgiving from all of the coaches at GIFT Family ServicesWe feel privileged to be your partner Growing Intentional Families Together.

“May your blessings be many, your sorrows be few. May the love in your hearts always be true.”

–an Irish blessing

 

Adoption-attuned Parenting* Essentials, the Podcast Series

Wednesday, November 16, 2016 @ 01:11 PM
Author: admin

podcast-graphic-templateToday, as part of our observance of National Adoption Month, Growing Intentional Families Together (GIFT) debuts our newest resource for adoptive families: a weekly 15 minute podcast– Essentials for Adoption-attuned Parenting*.

Listen to learn practical tips for building and strengthening your family. Podcasts will air for approximately 15 minutes. (They’ll be concise and to the point so you can easily squeeze it into your busy schedule!) The coaching and discussions will focus on real situations confronting adoptive families. Available on i-Tunes.

Adoption Attunement.lighting the wayHow often have you yearned for support from someone who understands adoptive family life who doesn’t judge you or your child for the struggles that you face? Wait no longer. Sample the free series. Discover how it might help you and your family. Hear how other families handled similar situations. Experience a sense of judgment-free community, possibility, and hope.

Joann DiStefano and Susan David have developed these podcasts using coaching principles and a healthy, relational adoption philosophy that views adoption not as a one time experience but a lifetime journey. They look forward to its launch and to connecting with our listeners.

Adoptive families real factor AQGIFT Family Services has consistently advised parents to commit to Intentional Parenting and to develop a high AQ* (Adoption-attunement Quotient* ) because we believe Adoption-attuned* advice and methods best suit adoptees and their families. This acompanying graphic summarizes the Adoption-attunement* approach. Copy and save it for future reference.