Tuesday, October 20, 2015
I wish I could protect my child from the outside world. It’s not just the adoption thing, but everything. There are bullies and perverts, toxins and bad drinking water, hurricanes and floods. But, alas, kids must interact with the outside world, people, places and things, good and bad.
I prepared my kids for everything I could think of: Don’t talk to strangers or accept food from anyone you don’t know. Do not drink from unopened drink bottles. Be respectful, but don’t believe everything people say. Treat others with respect, but don’t let them walk all over you.
Sounds as if I think everyone is bad. Actually, I’m a very trusting person who sees the upside of most situations. I have taught my kids to believe the same. But, I am also a realist, reminding myself and my kids that not everyone is cut from the same cookie cutter. There are bad, unreliable and dishonest people out there.
So how do you know the difference?
I told my kids to listen to their internal voices and their external radar. If someone or something does not seem right, it probably isn’t. It is okay to say no and repeat it louder or walk away, if someone doesn’t respect your decision. Always, listen to mommy’s voice inside your head.
And, we continued to talk about situations in which they could find themselves. TV and movies generated a lot of good opportunities. Whether realistic or not, it was a chance to get a feeling into what they thought and to talk through various scenarios. There were certainly references to adoption.
Sometimes, my kids would say something to me. Often, I would say something like, “What did you think of ___?” I remember specifically several kid’s movies or books they read in school with adoption themes or dead or missing parents. While upsetting to any child, for an adopted child, this may raise added concerns over losing a parent..
While you cannot keep them from hearing or seeing anything – you can talk it through, ease their concerns or fears and help prepare them as to how to handle comments or questions from others.
Giving them a sense of self, including how adoption fits into their life and identity, is critical. Teaching them how to handle comments from others is part of the lesson plan.
Letting them see you talk about adoption with them and others provides them with a toolbox of options. Discussing how some people do not understand adoption and that you and they can be ambassadors and educators, is a great starting point to how and when to discuss adoption.
And that’s my role as a parent. I can never encase them in bubble wrap. Besides, if given the chance, my kids would probably pop each and every air pocket. And maybe that’s the point. We start by protecting our kids from everything and everyone. As they grow, and the bubbles start popping, we have to hope that we provided them with the tools to help them protect themselves.
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.