As Intentional parents, we understand the importance of having a well-stocked family adoption library. In last week’s blog we explored the top six benefits that it can serve. Of course, like most things connected to adoption, the reality is more complicated than one might first expect. Having an AQ library is an awesome first step, sends an important and affirming message of validation to our kids. Let’s consider five reasons 2. your family adoption library can’t handle everything.
Until somebody pulls the book off the shelf, it’s nothing more than a piece of décor filling a bookshelf. A book is only a good tool when it is read. Parents will want to introduce each book to their children by reading it together. This collaborative reading sends a message that the parent values the book and that is something that they want to spend their time reading it with their child. (Parents will want to consider a child's degree of interest. If he is reluctant, offer some genuine encouragement. However, if a child rejects it, honor their decision with an important caveat: make certain that they understand you think it is important to share the material together and commit to doing it another time. Then make sure that you try again in the future.
[ctt template="3" link="yHeUf" via="yes" ]Do not mistakenly assume that a child is so comfortable with his adoption that he does not need to talk about it.[/ctt] Coming to term with his adoption is a life-long, complex process, one which they truly need the guidance, empathy, and insight of parental guidance. Parents must overcome any personal discomfort or reluctance so they can skillfully lead their children through the emotional maze that adoption creates. In the absence of parental guidance and openness, kids must struggle on their own, with limited experience, understanding, and skills.
If a child consistently rejects the chance to read a book, explore their reluctance. What is spurring it? Does his reluctance reflect a general disinterest in reading?* Or does it only show up when it comes to reading about adoption? Perhaps he’s afraid, uncomfortable, or sad. Talk about these emotions. Ensure that he believes your willingness to read and talk about adoption is authentic. Most importantly, he must trust that parents are capable of hearing all of his feelings on the subject, not just the happy and positive ones. A child must be absolutely convinced that his parents want to hear their truthful feelings, not just candy-coated ones. This is not a one-and-done message; they must hear this consistently over time. And parental actions must align with their words.
Many adult adoptees report that they frequently decided not to talk about difficult stuff out of fear of hurting their parents, of making their parents too sad or out of fear of their parents' anger. Kids must be convinced that the conversation is safe to share, that it will not endanger the parent/child relationship, and that they won’t be “punished” for expressing difficult thoughts. Some kids fear parents might hold a grudge or might use their words against them in future moments of parent/child conflict.
Many adult adoptees also say that they refrained from talking about their feelings with their parents because of fear that any negativity on their part might trigger rejection by their (adoptive) parents. After all, they reasoned, it happened once—they were relinquished by their birth parents—and they were unwilling to risk it again.
How can you best use your adoption-attuned library to benefit your child, to increase your own Adoption-attunement and to nurture an open and loving forum for family discussions?
How do you discover the best books for your family? What do you learn when you discuss these books with other adoptive parents?
*Ensure that any possible learning disabilities have been identified and take the appropriate interventions.