Growing Intentional Families Together knows that Ukraine is the birth country of many adoptive children. Russia is also the homeland of many adoptees. The recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia may be felt very personally by these children. We see this with our clients. They feel deeply emotional about this. They worry about their birth country, their birth parents, and other relatives. These troubling events will likely trigger powerful emotions, activate feelings of loss and grief, guilt and shame, and may dysregulate them in unpredictable ways.
Adoptions from Ukraine still occur1 although they are paused as the crisis continues. These waiting children will be affected in ways we will only begin to know as they grow up. It will also touch the waiting parents who worry about the safety of the children with whom they have been matched as well as the folks who are caring for the children.
Each child and each family will have unique responses and challenges to face. So what can you do?
Ten things you can do to support your children are:
- Plant the seed of a conversation:
I wonder if you worry about your birth family?
What are your concerns?
Do you have any questions?
What are your ideas about how our family can help?
- Validate your child’s thoughts, feelings, and concerns.
- Avoid minimizing or dismissing them.
- Tune into your own thoughts and feelings as well as to your child’s.
- Address the fears and grief that these events might trigger.
- Anticipate and watch for trauma triggers and trauma-driven behaviors.
- Muster additional empathy and patience for your child during these troubling events.
- Spend extra time on self-care activities–your own and for your children as well.
- Adjust priorities to accommodate the time and space for your child to grieve and cope.
- Amplify the expressions of love and connection with your child, especially in your child’s love language.
The circumstances in Ukraine highlight an important fact: that as adoptive families, we know that our children have faced losses not common to children raised by their original families. While we realize instinctively that parenting our children calls for a unique approach, we may not consciously know what kind of approach is called for. In the next two blogs, we will be sharing five effective ways to parent your children so that they will feel and know that you love them.
1 Ukraine 249 adoptions finalized in Ukraine, 49 getting finalized in the US for a total of 298 Ukrainian adoptions. FY 2019 Annual Report .pdf (state.gov)
Learn how the coaches at GIFT Family Services can help you and your family navigate your adoption journey. We’ve faced our share of family challenges and crises, ridden the metaphorical rollercoaster, and our families have not only survived; they have thrived. We offer experience, neutrality, and understanding. GIFT coaches are available to present workshops online. Contact us: 1-800-653-9445. Visit our Facebook page to join the conversation.
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