In our previous blog, we named Isaac Etter as the 2024 recipient of our SHAPING THE FUTURE AWARD. We believe that his insightful work is making a difference in support of adoptees and the families who love them. We wanted to recognize how Isaac was shaping the conversation in the world of adoption. We created this award because we believe that recognition matters. In fact, it matters on several levels.

Recognition Matters

because it encourages Isaac in his courageous endeavor to improve the adoption experience for adoptees. He is putting himself “out there”  revealing his own experiences and he is risking so much. Especially because he is speaking up in public venues! We are all familiar with the trolls and harsh critics that thrive online. So, our award affirms Isaac’s efforts in a public way that helps counterbalance the damage inflicted by trolls.

Recognition Matters

because it calls attention to Isaac’s good work,  raises awareness, and expands the reach of his message. It also spurs others to think more deeply about adoption complexity, transracial adoption, and the unique ways each member of the triad perceives and responds to the repercussions of adoption in their lives.

Many of Isaac’s materials and presentations feature conversations with his adoptive mother. Together they model how these important conversations can unfold. They show it is possible to discuss things that might be uncomfortable or even painful to hear and address. They face the hard stuff because they understand that the way to improve things is to talk about what worked as well as what did not. It gets people thinking and talking which is a good thing. A very good thing!

Getting people to communicate and share difficult conversations is a core vector of our mission at Growing Intentional Families Together. We help family members build authentic relationships and draw together with intention, honesty, and vulnerability. We recognize that this requires strength and courage so we support clients through the process. This will help them to share their genuine selves, thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

Recognition Matters

because it triggers thoughts and sparks conversations that might not otherwise occur. Recognition helps us to see what we might otherwise ignore or not notice. Isaac’s work highlights the importance—the necessity—of having a dialog about adoption complexity. These conversations must occur between child and adoptive parent, child and birth parents, as well as between adoptive and birth parents. Similar difficult conversations also must occur in communities, schools, and churches to name a few venues. Awards and the recognition that they shine casts a light in spaces that might otherwise remain hidden in the dark.


Recognition Nurtures Courage

Because it elevates the benefits of working together, of sharing those challenging and uncomfortable conversations. Everyone knows how tempting it is to avoid, postpone, or never actually hold Difficult conversations. But, when the conversations never occur, the problems remain unresolved and often worsen.

Recognition Matters

Because to deal with the hard stuff, one first has to see it, acknowledge it, and recognize it.

We support having these discussions in all of these contexts.  Seeing others braving the hard conversations persuades us that the discomfort is worth it. More importantly, being genuine and honest with one another allows us to build healthier and more authentic relationships.

Listening Matters

Of course, deep, authentic listening is indispensable. It is vital to listen with open minds and hearts even when what is being shared is difficult to hear or doesn’t quite align with one’s own perspective. Even when they reveal that our words, deeds, or inaction have fallen short and/or actually hurt the other person. Avoiding the hard conversations allows the old patterns to continue. The ostrich approach deepens the rifts and causes further harm to the relationship.

It is vital to be able to sit with a level of accountability and discomfort because it is through such honest, open, and vulnerable discussions that we can heal, repair, and avoid hurting one another. We have quoted David Augsberger many times in this blog, “Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person they are indistinguishable.” I would assert that all parents want their children to feel loved, heard, seen, and valued.

Recognition Matters

Isaac Etter-identityIn this month’s blog, vlog, and podcast our group discussion focused on how Isacc’s award interview landed on each of our coaches. We all tried to listen attentively and neutrally. And, we recognize how our “roles” in the adoption experience as an adoptee, a birth parent, and adoptive parents also influence which points resonated most easily, most strongly, or most uncomfortably with us. We learned from Isaac’s insights and know that you can too! Please tune in and listen. Isaac Etter can be reached at

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