An Exercise for Shifting Perspective on Adoption Loss


Take Me with YouThis post is shares one of the exercises that I and many other adoption educators, social workers, and parent coaches have used to facilitate easing parents into the “pay attention” mindset when preparing to adopt or parenting their adopted child.

Adoption is seeded in loss. In other words adoption cannot happen unless there is loss. Are you mindful of what your child or the child you hope to adopt has lost?

You need a paper and a writing implement. You are going to make a list that will help you shift your perspective about the child you hope to adopt. I encourage you to take your time when answering the questions. Please do not skip ahead or read through the entire exercise before answering each question in order. Whether you have already adopted or are in the process this exercise will be beneficial in creating mindfulness.


  1. Who the most significant person in your life? One person only. Their first name is fine.
  2. What is you favorite place? Keep it to one.
  3. What is the most important role you have? Only one.
  4. Who is your primary support group or person? Again, only one.
  5. What knowledge do you have that allows you to function on a daily basis? This answer may be quite substantial. For example you have the knowledge that you will not go hungry. *When you mover to Part Two, you will use the word “KNOWLEDGE” to encapsulate this answer.
  6. What is your ethnicity?
  7. What is your original citizenship?
  8. What do you know about your culture of origin first-hand? For example, do you know and practice the customs or do you speak the language?
  9. Write down the word “RESOURCES.” Resources are all of your material possessions, assets, and items of value.
  10. Write down the word “VALUES.” Values are the principles and standards you hold yourself to and possibly judge others by, how you order your world, your faith, rights and wrongs, likes and dislikes.
  11. What one thing brings you the most joy? This can be a person, place, thing, or activity. There it is again—one.


  1. Choose FIVE things from your list that you can live without. Cross them off your list. How are you doing?
  2. Good. Now choose THREE more things from your list. Give them up. What are your thoughts at this point? How are you feeling?
  3. I will only ask you to give up ONE more. Write it down or cross it off your list..
  4. What remains from your list? What emotions and revelations are you experiencing? How might this impact your parenting?
  5. How do you think this might impact your child ongoing?

~ Photo by Caroline Gos

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