Monday, September 21, 2015
The weather is changing in New York – from those hot days of summer to the cooler days of fall, which I love. Unlike many of my friends and neighbors, I like the crisper, cooler weather. But me – I like watching the leaves change color. Wearing a sweater is never a problem, and so much easier than trying to reduce clothing in the heat. I start thinking of the foods I will make as the weather drops and I don’t mind the heat from the stove or long stovetop cooking. I also am home more, so making slow cooking soups, stews or hot Italian treats is never a problem.
I also notice that somehow the noise in the City reduces as the weather cools. Maybe there are less people outside. Maybe the air quality somehow reduces the sound as it travels up towards my window. I know when it rains or snows, the sounds are muffled. One sound I do notice is that of parents pleading with their children to keep their jackets on. I remember this as if it were yesterday, although my youngest daughter is 24. We would be getting ready to go out and I was trying to get her into a sweater or jacket. She didn’t want one. It limited her mobility and movement. The compromise was that we would put it on in the lobby of the building. If, after playing for a while, she was warm, she could take it off. It always came off. But, again, she was the one who would play the lake for hours and didn’t come out until her lips turned blue.
Proving my point that children need a parent or caretaker to watch over them. To help them adjust to weather changes, clothing needs, safe activities, to eat properly and get enough sleep. I could go on and on.
As an adoptive parent, there is also a watching out for who says what and how your child reacts. Spending time with peers and their parents, whether in the playground or school things may be said. “How come you don’t look like your dad?”, “Where is your real mother?” or “Is that the child you adopted?” Starting school or a new activity this time of year, lends itself to talking about adoption and how to respond (or not) to such questions.
Even young children may find themselves in such a situation. Pre-school assignments of “How I’ve Grown” include baby pictures. What if your child doesn’t have one? Does this mean they can’t complete the assignment? Of course not. But it may open discussion of why not and how old they were when they came to live with you = adoption. Kindergarten and 1st grade have “Who is in my Family” assignments. What if your child wants to include birth family? How will you handle this with their teacher and classmates? As kids get older, there are more chances adoption will come into play with family, genetic or homework on heritage. How would you handle your child being told to do the country study of their birth culture, not because they choose it, but because they looked a certain way? This happens.
Adoption is a part of your child, their identity and that of your family. It is doubtful, you identify yourself as an adoptive parent vs parent. Why should your child need to wear that label? But, often, when a child doesn’t look like their parent – that is just what happens.
Take a preemptive stance. Talk to your child about adoption. To let them know they have choices. They can answer a question with specific personal information, teach the one who asked about adoption in a general way, tell them they have asked a personal question that they do not feel like answering or not answer at all. Make sure your child knows it is okay and a good thing to tell you if people are asking questions or making comments. Let teachers and caretakers know your child is adopted so they can let you know if anything was said, or if an assignment may pose an issue for your child.
While, we talked about adoption throughout the year – fall was the time I privately, spoke to teachers. To just let them know about the adoption and any other pertinent facts about my daughters. A quick chat - before the first parent-teacher conferences. I would tell my daughters I was doing this and ask if they wanted to be there. They did not want any more time “in school” when they could be playing with their friends. And that was fine. I did get some calls and emails about classroom conversations and upcoming assignments. This was a good thing.
Kathy Ann Brodsky, LCSW is a New York and New Jersey licensed social worker, adoptive mom and advocate for ethical adoption practice. She has prepared thousands of adoption homestudies, counseled adoptive parents and parents-to-be, and has trained professionals to work with adoptive families. She was Director of the Ametz Adoption Program from March 1992 to March 2015. She is Head Writer for Adoption.net, member of the Adoption Advisory Board of Path2Parenthood and has a private practice in New York City. She was a member of the Advisory Board for POV’s Adoption Series and named an “Angel in Adoption” by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in 2001. Follow or reach her at ADOPTION MAVEN BLOG or EMAIL.