November: You Know What That Means…

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Sugar Coated HeartNational Adoption Month. Do we celebrate? No.

I’m not big on sugarcoating. It does no one any good, especially the child. Parenting is the biggest, most callenging “job” a person will ever have. Parenting adopted children can be even more challenging due to the complexities in adoption.

It should come as no surprise that I’ve never been a proponent of  “Gotcha Day,” “Forever Family Day,” “Adoption Day,” or any other day deemed significant that focuses on the adoption of the child. I’ve never been a fan of “celebrating” adoption.

Such celebrations can be triggers, calling forth emotions, and sometimes-painful awareness, tied to what having been adopted means. These celebrations—created to emphasize that the child is loved and was wanted—commonly gloss over the imbedded loss and, often, trauma that is part of adoption. Focusing on the gloss can cloud the lens of parenting.

I propose promoting mindfulness and advocating on behalf of the child, birth parents and adoptive parents. Educating others about adoption, including addressing stereotypes and misrepresentation. As a matter of course, for the whole child, his birth parents, culture of origin (is this applies), and his adoptive family. Not just in November, but yearlong.

As parents who are in the process of or have adopted, adults who have been adopted, and professionals who support adoptive families we can correct the misnomers and share the bad, ugly and great about adoption. Perhaps then more children will be welcomed home into permanent families, by parents who have the tools to parent them…

Discussion: What do you think? When and where are you going to begin?

~ Photo by ℓüñäŤ!Qüё

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Addison Cooper November 5, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Hi Judy,

Thanks for a thoughtful post! I’m an adoption social worker, and all of my adoption work has been in the foster care system. Many of the kids that my families have adopted have been older – old enough to even express their preferences and process their feelings, at least to some extent. For some of them – especially the older ones – celebrating adoption seems natural for them. They want to. I’m not sure if the celebrations happen every year, or if it’s really just a celebration of the actual day of adoption. That celebration seems helpful and appropriate though.

I think that celebrating “adoption day” can probably be more about the parents’ experience than the kid’s, and I think that “adoption day” can kind of be a crutch for families to gloss over the pain and bittersweetness that are part of adoption. But I also think that, for some families who are actively doing the good work of helping their kids process their feelings – both happy and unhappy – about adoption; and maybe even the work of maintaining birth family relationships – celebrating an adoption day could be powerful and positive. I don’t think it’s always a good thing to do, but I don’t think it’s always a bad thing to do. It probably depends on the specific family.

Did I come close to the mark :)?

Addison

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Judy November 6, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Hi there, Addison,
Thank you for sharing about your experience with kids who have been adopted at older ages and how some do want to celebrate. You bring other great points as well; I refer to ‘“adoption day” can kind of be a crutch for families to gloss over the pain and bittersweetness that are part of adoption.” So true, and yet, more parents understand that they do need to help their kiddos process their feelings.
Judy

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