November brings to mind Thanksgiving. As adoptive parents we feel deeply grateful for the added blessing of our children. It feels particularly apt to observe National Adoption Month in November.
Note, however, that the original (and on-going) mission of National Adoption Month focused on finding families for kids languishing in foster care. When adoptive parents heard about National Adoption Month, they enthusiastically embraced the month-long observance through a lens which celebrated adoption. The adoption-as-amazing-blessing movement gained momentum and overshadowed the original purpose.
This resulted in two significant losses. One, the mission of finding families for foster kids fell to the periphery. Two and most important, viewing adoption through rose-colored glasses ignored—invalidated—the very real co-existing losses for adoptees, the persons at the center of adoption.
Several years ago, some very brave adoptees responded to the “co-opting” of National Adoption Month. They stood up and insisted that their voices also be heard. Loudly. Passionately. Yes, and sometimes angrily. Very angrily. After all, who understands adoption better than an adoptee? Thus the #FliptheScript movement arose. Courageous adoptees shared their stories, destroyed the fairy tale and replaced it with their individuals truths—warts, heartache, short-comings, and all. They acknowledge what worked and they refuse to suppress what did not. Some of their narratives fell heavy on our hearts. It pained us to listen.
But listen we must. It is imperative that we heed the lessons that #FliptheScript reveals. It is knowledge garnered at a very steep price and which will help us parent our children better. Read their posts with an open mind. Set aside any adoption-is-totally-awesome bias and consider their stories. Listen even if it makes us squirm. Prepare to be “triggered.” It may be the cost of discovering uncomfortable awareness of how our parenting might currently fall short. By listening deeply, authentically without any urge to refute or deny, we can understand our child’s needs better. And then we can parent them better. It empowers us to improve. Isn’t our deepest desire to be the best parent to these children whom we love so fiercely, and whom we yearn to protect?
If, because it is too painful to heed, we choose to plunge our heads in the sand and ignore #FlipTheScript’s perspectives on the unique needs and realities of adoption, we shortchange the children we love so much. None of us would willingly choose our own personal comfort over the very genuine needs of our children. Let’s Google the hashtag #FliptheScript, fasten our seatbelt, open our hearts and minds and listen. We just might discover precisely what our child needs and understand and embrace the need for reforming adoption practices.
Honor the mission of National Adoption Month by advocating for foster kids who need families now. Help make their dream of a loving family come true. Then yes, hug your kids a little closer. Enjoy a moment of profound gratitude and then set the stage for some important, ongoing conversations about the complex realities of their adoption experience and acknowledge the losses as well as the gains.
Check out these book reviews to help you start. These books validate the adoptee's experience and offer a wonderful way to discover what your child is thinking about his adoption. And believe me, they think do about it even if they don't speak about it.
The best way to enter their interior world is to create a comfortable forum where they know their thoughts and feelings are welcomed. These books make it easy to have that kind of loving conversation. Prepare to listen deeply.