Friday, October 6, 2017
It's another unexpectedly warm day here in New York. When my kids were young, I remember going to parks that had sprinklers, staying in the shade, arranging indoor playdates and making sure they stayed hydrated. I also got creative with indoor activities. They played in the tub a lot, helped make flavored ice pops, which they later devoured, and even played quietly in our apartment's cool outer hallway and lobby.
For some children, this can be a time to imagine what life and the temperature would be like if they were raised in the state in which they were born. Would the summers be cooler or hotter? Would they be playing indoors or outdoors? Would they be in daycare or camp or who would be watching them? These thoughts and questions in no way negate an adoptive parent's role in a child's life. It is just a reality for any adopted child. Their life is shaped by whoever became their parents, as well as who their birth parents are.
In the same way adoptive parents grapple with how nature and nurture shaped their children's lives, an adopted child can consider who they are and how they came to live within their current family. This incremental exploration enables a child to make sense of their early history, while knowing their parents are willing and available to help them process this information.
Even something as simple as the weather provides opportunity for such discussions. My children came from Texas. At times, we saw stories on the news about tornadoes, rain storms, or droughts in that state. This is now happening in places hit by the recent storms and the concert attack in Las Vegas. This was a chance to reach out to the birth family we had reestablished contact with, to make sure everyone was okay. When 9/11 occurred, and then Hurricane Sandy, many birth parents thought of children placed with New York City families and reached out through attorneys and placement agencies to assure themselves that they were all right.
As I sit in my office and write this blog, I am surrounded by pictures of my girls throughout their growing up years. The photos themselves do not reveal any of their thoughts on being adopted or birth family. But, knowing how old they were when the photos were taken, I remember what they asked. I always listened carefully, addressed their concerns or got as much of an answer that I could for them. When we didn't have an answer, we imagined various scenarios.
An adoption plan is a moment in time. Living as an adoptive family or adopted person consists of a lifetime of experiences. As parents, we need to make sure our children know that they can share those experiences with us and ask questions. As parents, we need to make sure they get assurance this is all a normal part of growing up and maturing. As parents, we need to face and slay our own dragons regarding adoption and parenting. Only by coming to terms with our feelings and thoughts can we best help our children.
Kathy Ann Brodsky, LCSW is a New York and New Jersey licensed social worker, adoptive mom and advocate for ethical adoption practice. Through her private practice and agency affiliations, she has prepared thousands of adoption homestudies, counseled expectant, birth, pre/post adoptive parents and adopted persons, as well as trained professionals to work with adoptive families. She was Director of the Ametz Adoption Program of JCCA and a member of the Advisory Board for POV’s Adoption Series and is currently a member of the Adoption Advisory Board of Path2Parenthood and active in the Adoptive Parents Committee in New York. Her blogs and written contributions can be seen throughout the Internet, including her BLOG and as Head Writer for ADOPTION.NET She was named an “Angel in Adoption” by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in 2001. You can reach her directly at EMAIL