Coaching & Support Before, During, and After Adoption

Adoptees Are Not Broken

by | Jul 16, 2014 | Blogs by Gayle Swift

Little asian girl in flower fieldsAdoptees are not broken but they are profoundly influenced by their adoption. Shaped, not defeated, or doomed by it. Being adopted gives rise to unique needs that must be met so adoptees can grow a healthy, confident adult identity. This process requires an appropriately tailored parenting approach. To support children in their life’s journey, adoptive parents must develop special skill sets to meet the unique needs of their children. We must develop a high AQ.

That’s not a typo; AQ stands for Adoption-attuned Quotient. AQ requires a 100% commitment to the adoptive family experience. Once we understand parenting-with-an-adoption-spin, we free ourselves from the patterns and expectations of traditional parenting methods that fail or damage our kids. We care less about an outsider’s judgment of our families and concern ourselves with being the parents our children need. (For a more detailed discussion of AQ, see below.)

Part of AQ parenting is acknowledging our children’s special needs. Accepting the reality of these needs does not exempt children from learning to be self-regulated, productive, and contributing members of the family. It simply means that we understand the path to that destination may be filled with twists, turns, pot holes, and detours. And, it may require a slower pace and increased practice before that lofty goal is accomplished.

Support and empathy do not equate with enabling. They focus instead, on how to grow competencies, attachment, and resilience. This growth occurs under the sunlight of truth: adoption is complicated and includes significant losses as well as significant gains. Our children are not damaged goods but they are like the exotic flower: in need of the appropriate care and environment. The child’s adoption-needs are not denied; they are met. By nurturing in an AQ-rich environment parents provide a custom-tailored approach that supports the actual child-we-have-and-love instead of the idealized child who lives on the greener side of the fence, or the child whose life has unfolded without trauma, neglect or tragedy.

How are you practicing AQ parenting? What are some of the benefits of this parental style? Once the damaged goods view is replaced by the child-with-unique needs approach, how does it benefit the entire family?


*Adoption-attunement Quotient

AQ considers how adoption influences a child and includes:

Adoption-sensitive parenting techniques

Sound adoption language

Knowledge of the attachment process

Consideration of grief and loss issues

Respect for birth parents

Modeling healthy boundaries

Educating family, friends and teachers on adoption

Remembering that a child’s story belongs to him

Recognizing that adoption is a family experience

Encouraging playfulness and good humor as a family value

Integrating a child’s birth heritage