Winter still holds much of the country in its chilly grip. Easter/Passover have come and gone. Spring is on the horizon. Crocuses burst through the snow displaying a welcome burst of color and beauty. This climactic swirl serves as a metaphor for adoptive families who may be mired in challenging circumstances. Many struggle to help children heal past wounds. Others concentrate on integrating birth and adoptive family influences. Most focus on strengthening attachment relationships.
Easter and Passover remind us to take stock of our faiths and recommit to our beliefs. As adoptive families one of our most important goals/values is attachment. Intentional parents understand the importance of developing a high AQ* (Adoption-attuned Quotient,) They recognize that attunement is the channel that entwines a loving family. Attunement provides a child the sense that he is seen, heard and understood. This feeling of being in synch is elusive and requires constant re-balancing as circumstances and emotions ebb and flow.
Bessel A. Van der Kolk, MD., an expert on treating childhood trauma, writes in his book, The Body Keeps Score, "Trauma results in a breakdown of attuned physical synchrony ..." which complicates the attunement-building process. If parent and child cannot even be in tune physically, this increases the challenge to nurture emotional attunement. Later, Van der Kessel adds, "When we play together, we feel physically attuned and experience a sense of connection and joy ... Learning to become attuned provides parents (and their kids) with the visceral experience of reciprocity."
Remember that the goal is not project completion. The aim is to spend time together in a way that nurtures individual spirit and leads to meaningful family ties. For example, your initial idea to plant a garden may require you to take a left turn as you notice that Johnny digs awesome holes but loses interest in the planting phase. Highlight the "skill" he is able to demonstrate. Remember that old Kenny Roger's song "I Am the Greatest." about the little boy who kept striking out? He didn't despair; he reframed his performance: "Even I didn't know I could pitch like that."
As adoptive families with a high AQ*, we commit to that kind of stance. Avoid falling into the trap of focusing shortcomings. Flip perspectives: instead of noticing how far away the finish line remains, celebrate the distance from the starting line. Reframe for the positive. Look for the learning and the small steps toward progress. Just as seedlings need sunshine and water, kids need encouragement, attention, and time. Growth occurs over a season, or longer. Some seasons are longer than others. some winters make the record books. Finally, Spring arrives, ripe with new growth and beauty.
What activities are you sharing to add playful moments to your families? How is your family synchronizing both emotionally and physically? Which activities produce positive connection? What do these activities have in common? How do you help yourself and your children notice the good feelings, the brief moments when you are flowing together?