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I have been an adoptive parent for 35 years. I have learned a great deal in these intervening years. One of my biggest shifts has been embracing the realization that adoption is not entirely benign for adoptees. Adoption brings deep losses as well as gains. It creates life-long challenges that spiral throughout their lives. Until my husband and I learned to understand how adoption created unique needs which had to be met, we relied on old parenting techniques. If we knew at the beginning, what we knew decades later, we could have been better parents to our kids. They would have felt more authentically seen, heard, and nurtured.
This awareness sparked a passion to help other adoptive parents and children avoid some of the heartache and chaos that our family endured. We couldn’t change our family’s past. However, we could help other families extract benefits from our Hard Knock experiences. With this shared vision, in 2010, my colleagues and I founded Growing Intentional Families Together, a coaching company dedicated to providing Adoption Attuned education and Adoption Competent support. Naively we anticipated that folks would be hungry to learn this more empathic, authentic, understanding of adoption, one that affirms the realities of adoptees’ experiences and let go of the desire to paint a happily-ever-after fairy tale.
I’ve co-written three books on adoption, all of which have won awards, and yet… the message they advance is often met with a rebuttal (Oh, I don’t think that’s true for most adopted kids… Or responses that pit adoptive family against birth family in a contest to decide which one is real. Meanwhile, our kids lose out when adoptive families remain locked in the old Either/Or paradigm. Like Cassandra, the Greek goddess doomed to speak the truth and never be believed, we bring an unwelcome truth: adoption is complicated, messy, and not a fairytale.
We can do adoption better than we did 30+ years ago. We can preserve more families. We can acknowledge the truth of adoption complexity. We can and we must.
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