Archive for the ‘Adoptive Parenting Skills/Tool’ Category

“Parenting in the Eye of the Storm”: an Important Resource for Families

Wednesday, June 7, 2017 @ 12:06 PM
Author: admin

Parenting in the Eye of the StormParenting in the Eye of the Storm by Katie Naftziger, LICSW has written a readable and practical book. Katie is both a therapist and a transracial adoptee originally from Korea. Subtitled, “The Adoptive Parent’s Guide to Navigating the Teen Years,” her book offer insight, encouragement and strategies for families. Adam Pertman, President and CEO of the National Center on Adoption and Permanency in his introduction to the book , opines, “Whys wasn’t it [Katie’s book] around when my wife and I needed it. No Joke.”

I experienced a similar sentiment while reading it. While this book is widely applauded by seasoned professionals, adult adoptees also chime in to praise Katie’s book. Their perspective speaks volumes to me; who understands adoption better than the adoptees that are living it? As an adoption coach and a parent whose family weathered some extremely turbulent times, I can also add my voice to those who say that Katie has created an important book.

If you are parenting teens now, or will be in the future, this book offers a welcome resource for navigating the challenges of this stage of parenting. If your children are younger, begin now to master the skills she outlines. It just may smooth the path ahead for you and your child. Overwhelmed parents will appreciate both her clarity and practicality and also her brevity. Katie conveys her insights and strategies concisely. Parenting in the Eye of the Storm packs a lot of value into 160 pages. This is a book which parents will refer to again and again.

Among several premises presented in the book, Katie suggests that adoptive parents need to master four skills:

“Unrescuing” your adoptive teen  [Are you exhausted from being expected to be the EMT to the rescue at a moments notice? Want to nurture your teens capabilities–for their sake and yours? If so, this skill will interest you.]

Setting adoption-sensitive limits [Because you’re committed to Adoption-attunement and are trauma-informed, do you struggle to balance empathy with accountability, responsibility and respect? If so, this skill will interest you.]

Having connected conversation [Do you struggle to have conversations which create intimacy instead of eye rolls and annoyance? If so, this skill will interest you.]

Helping your teen envision their future [Do you sense that both you and your teen have some ambivalence about their “fledging the nest”? Does the history of grief and loss which has touched the family color your thoughts, beliefs and concerns–consciously or unconsciously? If so, this concept will interest you.

Do you see a pattern here? Katie understands what adoptees and their families are facing. She’s been there. Her insights offer hope and compassion not judgment. She presents her ideas in an inviting and approachable way. She’s not looking to scapegoat or criticize, she’s committed to increasing capabilities, awareness and nurturing healthy families. Respect and loving boundaries are an integral part of the structure of a steady family. Ironically, parents sensitized to adoptee losses and triggers, many times flounder in their ability to establish these important guard rails. The sample conversations offer insight and ideas on how to master this skill. The dialogs feel natural, not rehearsed or overly contrived–like words parents might actually speak and teens might actually “hear.”

Naftziger also highlights the importance of parents nurturing the natural inclinations and talents of their adopted children. We all know kids “listen to” and learn more from our example than our lectures. In the absence of direct information to the contrary, they may infer that the only acceptable future for them is one that mimics their adoptive parents’ path. This can create a significant double bind for them, especially if they’ve been adopted into a family whose talents and past patterns diverge from the innate talents and inclinations of the adoptee. If a family whose highest passion is sports adopts a child who inclines to the cerebral and abstract, there is a danger the child will feel that he can never meet the expectations of his parents. Even worse, he may never feel permitted to become his authentic self.

Naftziger asks adoptive parents to examine how well they are helping their child identify their innate talents and how clearly are they encouraging and valuing those aptitudes. We want our kids to know that we love and accept them for themselves not for some cartoon imitation of an idealized parental fantasy.

If we think back to when we were teens struggling to figure out how to carve a future for ourselves, imagine how much harder it would have been if our parents insisted–overtly or covertly–that even though we had zero interest in mathematics, we had to become an actuary–or some similar disconnect between our talents and our parents plans. It is certainly a parent’s duty to encourage children to plan for the future and work to bring that future to fruition. We must ensure that our child’s dream is genuinely their dream and not their interpretation of what they believe our dream for them is.

We often talk about being sure to take the time to care for yourself and your relationship with your partner. This book just might be a significant part of that self-care. Check out Parenting in the Eye of the Storm I believe you and your teen will be glad that you did. Marshal all your resources to prepare you for the parenting task at hand. The more prepared you feel, the easier it will be to stay calm and Intentional in the midst of the storm. In addition to reading pertinent books, attending workshops and chatting with other adoptive parents, partner with a an adoption coach (like GIFT) and/or an adoption therapist.

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)

Dear Abby, We Need to Talk about Gotcha

Wednesday, March 8, 2017 @ 02:03 PM
Author: admin

Gotcha-Dear-Abby

For adoptive parents, the arrival of their children is a miracle beyond conception and an event which they love to celebrate. In a recent letter, Dear Abby extolled the virtues of “Gotcha Day” as a wonderful way to celebrate an important and life transforming event. As Adoption-attuned parents, we understand that adoption is a beautiful way of forming a family. But, the Both/And reality of adoption means it has its roots in loss and grief for each member of the adoption triad. Thus, as an adoption professional and an adoptive parent, I’d like to offer three reasons to rethink “Gotcha Day” and to provide some alternatives. Please click this link to read my complete essay which appeared on Lori Holden’s blog Lavenderluz.com author of The Open-hearted Way to Open Adoption.

For me, Gotcha Day feels a bit like a hair shirt. It’s intended to generate warmth but it itches like crazy and somehow doesn’t accomplish the job.

Gotcha-Dear-Abby-The Open-hearted Way to Open Adoption,

 

 

Will 2017 Be Smooth Sailing for Your Family Or …?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017 @ 03:01 PM
Author: admin

January traditionally motivates us to review the recently ended year and to set our intentions for the new year. As adoptive parents this practice takes on extra significance. Parenting is challenging. Adoptive parenting has additional complexity and responsibilities so we have an intensified need to learn how we did and what we can do to improve. This January scrutiny  is like standing on the pinnacle of a mountain to capture a unique 360° perspective. As we pause to examine the challenges we faced–and handled–we can assess what strategies and decisions served us well and identify the behaviors and decisions that sabotaged our intentions and/or fell short of the mark. We can notice gaps in our skill sets, lapses in commitment, acknowledge times we couldn’t or didn’t put forth our best effort, spotlight missed opportunities and roads not traveled.

With these data points in hand, we can then determine when and how we want to do differently in 2017. As we begin this year, let’s get clear about the priorities which will drive our choices. Resist relying on autopilot and commit to being fully engaged and conscious about any decisions and choices.

Last year many of our blogs encouraged parents to focus on Intentionality and on increasing our commitment to Adoption-attuned Parenting.* We hope that those concepts will continue to significantly influence your choices. Using these two criteria as a rudder makes it easy to decide if something will serve our family or will undermine it. Life is a balancing and priority-setting challenge. Time always seem insufficient and responsibilities ever-present. Still we invite you to try this simple activity. I promise it will take only a few minutes.

Draw two circles on an index card. (A small piece of paper would also work but will be less sturdy.). Use the sample “pie” graphic as a model. Title the first one Priority. Change the tags on the individual wedges to reflect your family’s deeply held values. (Feel free to divide the sample equally (as shown in the sample) or weighted according to importance. Use pencil so you can edit the labels  if you have any change of heart. Be intentional as you name each section with a category that indicates how you want to live as a family. Consider each of the Prime Values that guide you as adults and by which you want to raise your families. No need to fuss or worry about making this graphic pretty. It’s only meant for yourselves. No one else needs to see it. For Your Eyes Only–unless you choose to share it.

Pause and read the labels out loud. Absorb what these priorities mean. Imagine a life truly lived as an embodiment of such deeply held principles. Feel the inspiration, the hope, the reassurance and the energy it calls forth. Hold that vision. Note what you feel emotionally, mentally and, physically.  Becoming conscious of these elements allows us to “package” them as a resource to access in the year ahead. You can connect with them in moments when things become difficult, when you need a boost of hope or a reminder of what you committed to be as parents, as families. A light at the end of the tunnel.

Now we are ready for the second circle. Title this one Time.

For the next two weeks, track the time you spend on each of these categories. Use a simple shorthand –like having each tally mark equate to fifteen minutes. There are innumerable ways to track it on your phone, if you find a tech approach easier. The important thing is to track how you actually spend time versus how you wish you spend your time. Graph your time on the pie. Begin in the center and move out. How smooth is the wheel?

Challenge yourself to make a few predictions about what this times chart assessment might reveal. Will you be pleasantly surprised? Or, will your predictions fall short of your best intentions? The first step to making change is establishing a clear picture of current reality! In two weeks, we’ll look at your results to see what might make your family life easier.

These time/priority wheels were adapted from ©Resource Realizations.

 

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.