Knowing when to lead and when to follow is important. Even more so in parenting the child who has been adopted.
Sometimes one of my children lead with their own comment, observation or question. And I follow their lead with my own comment(s) and observation(s). And I typically look for opportunity ask open-ended questions (to encourage the conversation) as well.
I find questioning serves a deeper purpose. Questioning helps my child think and expand his or her confidence in how to handle sensitive issues surrounding adoption and race. Asking my children questions can help them reframe how they will handle a similar situation in the future. What do I ask?
- What happened?
- How did it make you feel?
- How did you answer or react?
- How did that make you feel?
- What would you like to change?
- Do you want me to help?
Sometimes my children don’t want to talk, so it’s up to me to look for the cues, trust my intuition, and initiate the conversation when the time is right. For example during the trigger times—birthdays; birth of children; anniversaries; cultural celebrations; depictions of adoption, birth parents or lack of parents in children’s movies; talk of their birth country or culture. Or they feel “injured.”
Sometimes I share one of my stories that relates to what has happened, explaining how I felt, reacted and grew from it. Encouraged by my sharing (permission), my children follow, more eager to express and share.
Adoption conversation: in a sense, a dance. We take turns leading and following. Connecting. We observe the nuances, learn new steps and, hopefully, we improve as we practice.
Parents: What analogy works for you when you consider how you parent your adopted child, especially when it comes to the evolving conversation about adoption?