Friday marks the celebration of Earth Day which puts me in mind of nature and the cycle of life. Seeds. Roots. Growth. Pruning. Grafting. Without roots, a plant cannot survive. Without leaves, sunlight, water it cannot flourish.
In many ways trees serves as an apt metaphor for parenting, especially adoptive parenting. Children benefit from healthy growing conditions, careful nurturing, a supportive environment, and hospitable climate. They need strong, well-anchored roots too.
But a metaphor illuminates only so much. Children are most definitely not plants but human beings, with bodies and spirits which are both simultaneously resilient and fragile. Love, empathy, trust, and attachment take time and reciprocity to mature.
Last week we explored how life deals surprises, challenges and blessings; we never know when any/all of them will arrive. Parenting through adoption frequently creates extra layers to face, additional hoops through which to jump, and more challenges to field. Our kids know this truth in a visceral way: they have experienced the loss of their first family. We cannot opt for the "luxury" of denial or delay. We love them, so we prepare for such dire eventualities and design the best safety net possible.
To help those who haven't finished this important task, here are a few points and questions to consider.
Who would you trust to raise your children?
Have you confirmed they are willing?
If a couple, would they both be equally committed to your child?
How will they enmesh your child into their family? Their extended family?
What do they know about Adoption-attunement and its importance to your children?
What do they know about the inherent losses and grief in adoption?
What do they think about the historic as well as the ongoing role of birth parents?
How do they discipline their own children?
How will they adapt their parenting style to accommodate adoption-attuned parenting?
Activity: Create a family tree from your fingerprints. Use a marker to draw the trunk and branches. Have each family member color one finger tip with ink or paint. Randomly apply fingerprints to the tree. Note the beauty that the various colors contribute. Each person's prints remain uniquely theirs and together they become more beautiful and dazzling.
GIFT coaches created this tree on one of our retreats. We had such fun and we treasure this symbol of our mutual bond.
Why not plant a tree and watch it grow in strength and size. Like your family, it weathers the seasons and the storms yet continues to hold its ground.