Adoption, Fear and the REAL Factor, Part 3 frightened child..8ccd54c7-ec88-45df-bc38-6826706e85e4In recent posts, we’ve gotten REAL about relationships and adoption complexity. To continue this conversation, let’s examine how fear, self-doubt and rivalry can undermine us, color our thoughts on adoption, on permanency and on beliefs.

Without doubt, we have a fierce love for our children. We strive to be the best parents possible. Because we understand that adoption is complex, we accept the need to develop a healthy adoption-attuned awareness. This commits us to do everything in our power to become adequately educated and sensitive to the needs of adoption. We accept that we must go the extra distance.

Adoption, Fear and the REAL Factor, Part 3, DNA Real factorWe recognize that birth family is a REAL presence in our children. It exists in their DNA, their psyche and their hearts even when they are not physically in touch. We understand that biology influences their beliefs, self-image and their behavior. (Betty Jean Lifton, a pioneer in adoption calls this presence the “Ghost Kingdom”–the great if onlys or what ifs which underlie every adoption. Birth and adoptive parents and adoptees wonder about alternate realities: What if I’d been able to raise my child? What if we’d conceived a child? What if I lived with my birth mother?)

These “ghost” relationships can challenge us in many ways. Sometimes they can blossom into fears. Fears that we aren’t good enough parents. Fears that our child might choose to leave us in the dust when they reach eighteen. Fears that our children might be better off with their birth mother, especially if their race or culture differs from our own. Fears that we have not embraced their cultural or racial roots adequately. Fears that we are falling short or doing it wrong in adoption. Fear is an intimidating and dangerous adversary.

Adoption, Fear and the REAL Factor, Part 3.multiracial familyIn response to a recent article written by a transracial adoptee which I shared on the GIFT Family Services Facebook page, a subscriber** commented, “Sometimes it’s hard for me to hear the experiences of children in my children’s situation. But in order to love more completely, I need to take it in and be receptive and then open to change within myself.” It requires courage to face our shortcomings, to see our need to grow or learn so we can do better.

Adoption, Fear and the REAL Factor, Part 3Fear lies to us, seeds mistrust, throws us off balance, and undercuts our relationships. We must learn to recognize fear as the dissembling factor that it is. When fear arrives, first, perform a gut check; sometimes fear is actually our subconscious messaging us that we are lying to ourselves or are resisting action that needs to be taken.

This requires courage because admitting our own shortcomings is unpleasant. Plus, once we allow ourselves to see we have unfinished work, we can no longer live in the fantasy of denial. We must take the necessary action, make the change, express the apology, offer forgiveness, etc. or we will continue to tumble in the undertow of fear.

Once we’ve determined we are living in our integrity, we must move on. Leave fear in the dust and get on with the REAL business of loving and living, of facing the hard stuff and savoring the good stuff. Strive to have routine conversations within the family that address these REAL issues and the power that fear wields. Fear can drive an adrenalin-fueled challenge to change or grow. Or, it can hurl a tidal wave that drowns us. We determine which.

Adoption, Fear and the REAL Factor, Part 3, book Dark, dark caveSubscribers to this blog know I believe general-interest books offer an excellent gateway to important adoption-connected conversations. Consider this delightful picture book, A Dark, Dark Cave., written by Eric Hoffman and illustrated by Corey R. Tabor. It follows two children and their dog while they explore. They aim a flashlight into the abyss. Will they respond with excitement or fear when braving the darkness? Will they choose to enter the cave? Yes! An adventure of sight, sound and emotion begins as they explore. They cautiously, bravely continue and encounter a variety of surprises–bats, lizards, sparkling crystals. Until …

Imagine the potential discussions it might spark when we ask our kids the kind of things they might fear in the dark. How might you gently nudge the conversation towards adoption? How might this discussion benefit the entire family? Read my entire review on Writing to Connect.

**Used with permission