Adopting parents often ask me how they can build a strong parent-child connection. They are nervous and excited about “getting it right.” I believe that building a strong parent-child connection comes down to several key points that must become lifelong commitments.

Be proactive.

Educate yourself by reading adoption books and websites. Create a library of adoption literature and go-to resources. Commit to lifelong education, as the needs of your child and your relationship evolve. Here are some of my favorites:

Books:

  • What To Expect From Your Adopted Tween, by Judy M. Miller, MA, CGE
  • The Connected Child, by Karyn B. Purvis, PhD., David R. Cross, PhD., and Wendy Lyons Sunshine
  • Adoptive Parenting, edited by Jean McLeod and Sheena Macrae, PhD.
  • Attaching in Adoption, by Deborah D. Gray

Websites:

Be compassionate and develop empathy.

Many of the children being adopted come from “hard places,” meaning they have been subjected to non-optimal care—neglect, abuse and little to no nurturing. Many don’t understand the concept of family. And all experience loss, sometimes many losses. These losses and experiences often impact their belief systems about themselves and their relationships, even and especially if there are no cognitive memories of these occurrences.

Understand that your love is not enough. You need to be willing to be open, and work through the tough stuff, possibly revisiting events that trigger you feeling the need to avoid the unpleasant and face your fears, and help your child heal.

Always ask yourself, “How can I help my child?”

Provide boundaries:

All kids thrive when they understand what the limits are and what to expect. These include things like daily schedules, house rules and how we treat people. Boundaries build and reinforce respect and trust. Keep it simple and always provide your child with choices, possible asking them, when you feel they’re ready, for their input and agreeing on one you can live with. This provides them some control, an issue many adopted people struggle with.

For discussion: What other ideas can you share that are important or have helped you in building a strong parent-child connection?

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I Believe…

December 31, 2013

Amidst winter’s flurries and the waning hours of 2013 I reflect on what a year it has been while looking ahead to the coming days, weeks and months of 2014. I believe:

Children are our future. Children possess clear voices and are astute observers of what goes on around and involves them. They are mirrors of our verbal and nonverbal behaviors. Listen. Watch. Learn.

Parents should be child-centered. I believe it is all about the child, putting their needs and best interests first. That said…

Parents should focus on taking care of themselves. We know all too well how quickly and seriously unbalanced life can become if we are out of balance.

You need to make time for you. Take care of yourself, one or two steps at a time. Eat foods closer to their source. Drink water. Take a fifteen-minute walk. Plant a garden or pull weeds in your yard. Enjoy a cup of tea or coffee, with or without a friend. Find something simple that centers you, and commit to sticking to it.

Slow down.

Prioritize.

Realign.

Simplify.

De-clutter.

Make time.

Appreciate.

Breathe.

You will experience a sense of opening up—a shift in your mindset, and you will find that you are more present, patient, empathetic, and compassionate. Great tools for parenting.

Happy New Year!

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Open Adoption Bloggers Adoption Interview Project 2013

November 12, 2013

“You have wrecked me. In the most beautiful, scary, miraculous, terrifying way, you have wrecked me.”  ~ from Lindsay’s letter to her son Hunter, December 2012 I am excited to once again participate in the annual Open Adoption Bloggers Interview Project, to raise awareness about adoption and to also share perspectives from various key participants […]

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Some Thoughts About National Adoption Awareness Month

November 8, 2013

This year’s National Adoption Awareness Month (NAAM) focuses on “Partnering for Permanency,” emphasizing “the partnerships necessary to create permanent connections for the 100,000 children and youth in foster care waiting for adoptive families.” While this is well and good, and appears to be child-focused for domestic adoption I’d like to see a far broader and […]

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Overthinking It?

September 16, 2013

Today I’m wearing both my parent  and educator “hats.” I had an interesting and lively conversation with my oldest daughter during a very long drive home from a soccer match this past weekend. I share this because it’s unusual for three reasons: 1)   Her siblings weren’t in the car to interrupt us. 2)   She didn’t […]

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Teen Prescription Drug Use and Abuse: Sharing Stories to Raise Awareness

September 12, 2013

I was honored to be part of an emotional, personal and powerful storytelling event for The Medicine Abuse Project during the evening of September 10th with ten other brave woman, and amazing writers: Janelle Hanchett Brandi Jeter-Riley Sherri Kuhn Heather King Lyz Lenz Lisa Page Rosenberg Alexandra Rosas Ellie Schoenberger Zakary Watson Melisa Wells The […]

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