Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Before one of my best friends passed away suddenly, she told me that when a number is repeated at least 3 times, it means an angel is watching.
I'm not a superstitious person, but I am fascinated by these words of wisdom.
I can't tell you how many times I've caught myself looking at a clock. When the numbers line up, I smile. Every time.
One time I was frustrated by something that had just happened. I glanced at the clock. It was 5:55. Immediately, I smiled. My angel was watching and the situation that upset me passed - just like that...I wish all of life's problems could be handled or diffused so easily.
Wouldn't it be great if there was an adoption angel who would show up every time you had a question or concern, and "puff" - it would be gone? Someone who would provide guidance and wisdom at that very moment when you needed it the most.
No kid comes with instructions. And adding adoption to the mix raises even more complexities. The best thing any parent can do is prepare and be open to suggestions and assistance from others. Not knowing what to do or say is not a personal weakness or a judgment on your parenting ability. It is a new experience and one in which you will improve with practice.
So what can you do?
BEFORE YOU ADOPT
Talk to other adoptive parents. Most days, they are dealing with general everyday parenting such as juggling everyone's needs and schedules, providing balanced and various food choices and creating a loving and nurturing environment. Ask what "adoption" issues they encounter in their everyday parenting. Is it figuring out how to share the adoption with their child, answering questions from others or how to tackle a homework assignment? Are there ongoing relationships with birth parents or thoughts of opening an adoption? Do they wonder if they are talking about adoption too much or too little?
Read about adoptive parenting. There are many books and online resources with articles covering everything from how to adopt, choosing the professionals to help you, how to develop relationships with birth parents, what medical information to collect and more.
Join an adoptive parent group. There are many local and online options offering insight and support for singles and couples in all stages of the adoption process.
AFTER YOU ADOPT
Continue to explore parenting AND parenting through adoption. Having prepared for parenting, you will now experience the day to day joys and challenges. While you were told, you will probably not be fully prepared for the extreme fatigue you are experiencing. Do your best to meet your own needs, as well as those of your child.
Talk about adoption from the start. It is important for you to be comfortable talking about adoption BEFORE doing so with your child. If you have an infant - practice saying the word and some short sentences like - "I am so glad I adopted you." "You were born in _______ and I came to bring you home." If you adopted a toddler or older child, they will already be able to perceive your body language and comfort talking about adoption. It is important for your child to see you as someone with whom they are comfortable to ask questions or voice concerns.
Look for opportunities to raise adoption with your child as they grow. There are many on television, in movies and throughout their school and peer experiences. You can ask your child what they thought of something they saw or help them process what a friend or classmate asked or said.
Remember secrecy vs. privacy. Your child's history and adoption information belongs to them. They should hear it from you, when you believe they are ready. You can share generic adoption information with others, but let your child decide what details of their history they wish to share with others.
Seek guidance and support. If you are not sure how to handle a situation involving adoption or are feeling overwhelmed, there are adoptive parent support groups and professionals with specific adoption expertise. The social workers who were involved in your adoption process are good resources. But, if you are hesitant to contact those who helped you with your adoption, reach out to local resources who can help you identify an issue and provide assistance in meeting your child (and your) needs.
Remember how you tackled anything new in your life. Do your research. Adoption and adoption parenting are new to you. They have their own language, process, joys and challenges. While the Congressional Coalition on Adoption names "Adoption Angels" each year, you will need to find your own angels - the ones you can reach out to when you have those moments.
Perhaps going forward, when you look at the clock and the numbers align, you will remember what my friend told me and feel that someone is watching over you. You will remember something you read or were told that will get you through that exact moment. Or you will have someone you can call and get advice. You will take a deep breath, know you can do this and be the best parent you can be.
Happy holiday (whatever you celebrate) to you and your family.......
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 of JCCA from March 1992 to March 2015, was Head Writer for Adoption.net, a member of the Advisory Board for POV’s Adoption Series She is currectly a member of the Adoption Advisory Board of Path2Parenthood and active in the Adoptive Parents Committee in New York, where she has a private practice specializing in adoption and adoptive parenting. She was named an “Angel in Adoption” by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in 2001. Follow or reach her at ADOPTION MAVEN BLOG or EMAIL.