Posts Tagged ‘books’

Six Top Reasons You Want an Adoption-attuned Family Library

Wednesday, May 9, 2018 @ 02:05 PM
Author: admin


This may lead them to have conflicted emotions, identity challenges, as well as a lack of resilience to bounce back when things get tough.

If parents–consciously or unconsciously–telegraph to their kids that talking about adoption distresses parents, kids will stuff their fears and worries and will then struggle to handle adoption complexity on their own and without the “guardrail” of parental support. Intentional parents know their children need parental support to figure out how to braid together a healthy, cohesive identity that respects all of their parts. Books serve as an immensely valuable tool for helping families address adoption complexity. A loving parent’s lap offers the perfect, safe place to share a book that helps them talk about this significant part of their family. They benefit both parent and child in powerful ways. Here are the top six ways:

1. Because you built your family through adoption, you have some additional adoption-connected parenting tasks. When you adopted, you obligated yourself to become the best parent possible. This means you must educate yourself on how adoption adds additional layers or responsibility and challenge to your parental role, to family dynamics, and to be envoys for your children. To fulfill those tasks, you need help identifying and performing them well. Books provide insight, strategies, and encouragement. They introduce new ideas which parents can consider and they can reveal issues which parents may not even realize exist or need to be handled.

2. Your children also have “inherited” adoption-related tasks which they must handle to ensure they grow into their best version of themselves. Books offer a safe chance to explore the topic. They create a chance to ask questions that reveal a child’s beliefs and fears about adoption. Parents can then address them and allay their children’s fears.

FamilyAdoption-Library-path-to-healthy-adoption-conversations-shameful3. It is not easy to find the “right” time to talk about the challenges, questions, and conflicts that adoption creates. Books create non-threatening ways of asking questions, exploring solutions, and describing complex emotions. They offer models of possibilities and a chance to imagine how potential tactics might work. Families can discuss the strategies and decisions which the characters chose, how effectively they worked, and the likelihood that it might work for other families (including one’s own.)

4. An accessible, well-stocked adoption bookshelf sends a message: that adoption is a safe and welcome topic. It telegraphs to children that parents are comfortable discussing adoption, that they can handle the conversation, and that they believe it is something they want to discuss as a family.

5. Children can pick a book off the shelf when they feel the urge or need to talk about adoption. It’s easier for them to hand a book to a parent that to open a conversation with a “Mom, we need to talk…”

6. Books help parents and children feel less isolated, less different. They help families feel like part of a tribe of other families facing the same situations. This helps reduce the feeling of being different and encourages a sense of shared community.

For specific book suggestions, check out our list here. Be sure to consult, GIFT coach, Gayle Swift’s blog, “Writing to Connect” which reviews “general” books that are not intended to be about adoption. She evaluates them through an adoption-attuned lens that identifies ways of raising important adoption conversations in a natural, relaxed way.

Next week we will explore: Five Reasons Your Family Adoption Library Can’t Handle Everything.

Testing the Limits of Unconditional Love. Thoughts on “The Tell: A Memoir”

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 @ 01:08 PM
Author: admin
  • Two punk girlsHow many times have you said, “Through adoption I’ve learned to love unconditionally”? Have you ever doubted that belief? Has it ever been rocked to the core by challenging circumstances or by the vehement disapproval of your child by a neighbor, teacher or family member? Are there boundaries to your tolerance? Does your desire for your children to “make you proud” color your expectations of them? Can you imagine your child ever doing something that is totally outside your Values and how his choice might affect your relationship?Consider these scenarios:

1. Your newly-adult child who no longer lives at home, gets a tattoo. This violates your faith and your aesthetics. More importantly, the confrontational and demeaning CONTENT of the tattoo violates your Values in a profound way. How do you respond? How do you draw the line between him and his behavior/choice? What is your response? Do you ask him to cover up the tattoo in front of family, friends, neighbors etc? How does it affect the way you feel about him, his conscience, judgment, and moral standards? You know children speak the language of behavior; what is he telling the world through these offensive tattoos?

2. Adopted at seven, your daughter is nineteen and by choice no longer lives with you. She abuses alcohol, and several other addictive substances. You suspect she steals—or worse—to support her habit. How do you lead her out of this hell? How do you support her without enabling? Will you choose to involve the authorities?

3. You and your partner are both highly educated professionals who enjoy well-paid careers. Your son detests school. He graduated, but refuses to go to college. He wants to use his college fund to move to Los Angeles and pursue an acting career.

 These examples may challenge your thoughts on parenting, acceptance and unconditional love. How do you sustain relationships in the face of deep breaks in family values, family traditions and/or societal expectations? Spend some time thinking about it. There is no simple solution, no one-size-fits-all strategy.

Consider this adoptive family’s real-life nightmare. They confronted one of these buckle-your-knees challenges to their “forever commitment”.

The Tell: A Memoir by Mags Karn chronicles a family walking through the unspeakable horror of sexual abuse perpetrated by one child against his sisters.

Their story began like so many, a couple decides to grow their family through adoption. First, they adopt a little girl. The family settles into a contented life. Soon, they adopt a second daughter. Again, life finds a rhythm of connection and satisfaction. The Karns become advocates for adoption of other “needy orphans”.

They learn of a medically-needy, slightly older boy whose life hangs on a thread. Adoption offers his only hope to get the medical treatment that might save his life. The Karns work to find a family who will adopt him. Time ticks away. Finally, the family decides to step up to the plate. He becomes their son; they become his Forever Family. Little do they suspect how they will be challenged to fulfill this commitment.

His illness, surgery, healthcare, and recovery place huge demands on the family. He defeats the disease and comes home to join the family. Shortly afterwards, the nightmare begins. The Karns realize he had been extremely traumatized by his pre-adoptive caretakers. Eventually they learn he was the victim of degrading and ongoing psychological, physical, and sexual abuse prior to his adoption. The placing agency withheld this information that might have prepared the Karns to help their son and to protect their daughters. And so their nightmare began.

This book is powerful on many levels. It is a cautionary tale that highlights the need for full disclosure prior to placement. It also reminds parents to pay attention to their gut. When something feels really “off” check it out. Do not dismiss it.

But The Tell is also a testament to one family’s commitment to all of their children, of how the carved a way to heal and protect their daughter and to still maintain a relationship with their son.

Hopefully, your commitment and unconditional love for your children will not be challenged to the degrees mentioned in this post. But, use these as a way of preparing yourself for the hard moments that will show up in your family relationships. Preparation is key to problem solving!

Through testing, we come to understand what it truly means to love unconditionally. By raising our awareness  of how we interact with our children, we can better define and “live” unconditional love on a daily basis. Parents are human and don’t have all the answers nor can parents relate on a “perfect” level. Through constant vigilance and intentional recommitment, parents may model unconditional-love-in-action on a daily basis.






ABC, Adoption & Me– a Multicolor Picture book for Adoptive Families

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 @ 11:11 PM
Author: admin

ABC cover with badges - Copy

What compelled you to write “ABC, Adoption & Me”?

Adoption brought great joy to my husband and me. We were thrilled to leave childlessness behind and to join the ranks of “Parents.” As the children were growing up, we worked hard to make adoption a normal part of family conversations. Our placement agency operated on the philosophy that they functioned to find families for children, instead of children for families. They spent a lot of time educating us to have an open heart about the realities of adoption. We did not allow adoption blessings to cloud our awareness that adoption had its roots in significant loss for our kids. Our family library included most of the kid’s titles available at the time. Many were wonderful and we all—kids and parents—enjoyed reading them together.

But the difficult aspects of adoption never got a mention in kid’s books. None ever talked about the yearning, the unanswered questions, the puzzling challenge of having both birth and adoptive families. Like most adoptees, our kids wondered about their birth parents, where they were and what they were doing. And of course, the biggie: why were they placed for adoption?

We generated our own “teachable moments” to address these complex issues. We utilized Positive Adoption Language, referred respectfully to their birth parents, and celebrated the gifts their biology contributed to our family. Yet we yearned for a book that addressed this aspect. ABC, Adoption & Me is our answer to this gap in kid’s adoption literature.

Who will want to read your book?

Parents can read ABC, Adoption & Me to kids when they are young. Kids will relate to the simple concepts on a very simple level. As they mature, they’ll notice the nuances of the material. For example: bellybuttons. We’ve all got one. The littlest of kids can understand that. As they get older, parents can expand their conversation to connect having a belly button to growing inside their birth mother.

Why did you choose the ABC format?

We all learn new material most easily when it can piggyback on current knowledge. By using the ABCs—one of the most basic and earliest things kids learn—there is a ready framework on which to layer these new ideas. Everyone has internalized that little ditty. It’s common to all kids. And the adoption concepts the book presents, meld into this context of normalcy.

What goal do you have for your book?

When my daughter and I collaborated on ABC, Adoption & Me, we wanted to assist families in dealing with the realities of adoption, to reassure kids and parents that the ambivalent feelings and conflicting ideas are common and normal. By encouraging these open discussions, families can support each other in a very authentic way. No one has to pretend perfection.

Life is diverse. Families are unique. We made an effort to be culturally inclusive so that the book represents all kinds of kids and families. What connects us all is love. We believe that thread of love and acceptance is the heartbeat of the book. We trust that it will help smooth out some of the bumps in the road as families walk their adoption journey.
Gayle H. Swift and Casey A. Swift