Multiple points of view can be true at the same time! Adoption proves this fact every day. We experience this reality in deep, visceral ways.
Case in point: adoptive parents celebrate their child’s arrival. Birth parents grieve their loss. Children experience a seismic realignment of their lives, even in open adoptions. They were "pruned" from one family tree and "grafted" into ours.
This is the tough reality. No way around it. While adoption brings many benefits, we must not sugarcoat it. Doing that would hurt the children whom we love so deeply.
Rebecca Swan Vahle of the Family to Family Support Network describes it as a "wedding and a funeral" in the same moment. Gut wrenching stuff to admit, however, when we do acknowledge this fact we validate, reality. This enables us to deal with things as they actually occur instead of as how we wished they were. No one needs to pretend or role-play, or contort themselves to be or think what they think others expect of them.
With this level of honesty parents can support their kids through the emotional challenges and hard realities of adoption. When parents connect at this level with their children, strong bonds grow. It is immensely validating for kids to have parents "see" them in such a deeply authentic way and to "hear" them without refuting, justifying or minimizing. This lays the foundation for growing healthy, permanent attachments and benefits children and parents (birth and adoptive).
Most adoptive parents struggled to build their families. We plowed through paperwork, jumped through hoops and vowed not to quit until we were matched with a child in need of a family. We must bring the same passion and relentless determination to our pursuit of skills and understanding so that we become the parents our children need us to be. For each of us, that process is unique. The needs of the actual children whom we adopt will define the specific credentials and resources we need to amass.
How have you polished your adoption-attunement skills? How did it benefit your child? How is Deep Listening benefitting your family?
If we agree, that multiple viewpoints can be true at the same time, how do we encourage our children express theirs? How do we ensure that they feel safe in entrusting their "hard stuff"? How do we convince them we WANT to listen, even if it is as hard for us to hear as it is for them to express?
Books, movies and TV and social media can offer some useful conversation starters.
For many useful suggestions, check out
by Addison Cooper, LCSW
Writing to Connect for book reviews through an adoption-attuned lens.
Check out this relevant book review post that details how to use books that are not connected to adoption to open important conversations about adoption. Coexisting Viewpoints: Equally True, Wildly Divergent