Sunday, June 23, 2019


School is out for the summer and new schedules and activities are starting for you and your child. It can be an exciting and wonderful time. Yet, for some children any transition can cause stress and anxiety. Over the years, I have been asked if this is "an adoption thing".

We are each programmed to react in a unique way. Some of us are up for adventure and new experiences. Parents describe these kids as "having no fear", "up for anything new" or "easy to entertain". Some of us are more cautious. Parents describe these kids as "standing back and observing", "shy" or "needing help to engage with a new person or in a new activity".

In adoption any transition can raise anxiety (for you and/or your child). For your child, it could be a concern about being away from you and worrying if you will be there when they return. This is often related to a feeling of abandonment by a "first parent".

For you, worries may include your child being safe, people saying insensitive things or being picked on or bullied. When choosing a new activity or camp, explore the diversity of the population and the staff. Ask if they have ever had or will have adoptive families in their program. Offer to educate the staff, if necessary. Your goal is to make the venue a comfortable experience for your child.

One of the best ways to prepare for new situations is to talk to your child about what to expect from a new activity or experience and helping them learn what to say or not say if adoption comes up. Your child should have a toolbox of specific responses, generic responses or knowing when no answer is needed.

Although your child may not overtly display concerns, as they grow, it is still important to provide them with a toolbox of options on how to talk about adoption. And while you didn't ask for the job, you (and they) are ambassadors for adoption and adoptive families. The more you convey comfort, including the use of positive adoption language, the better it is for everyone

Summer activities are usually more relaxed. Enjoy the less structured time with your child. If they are home for the summer, try to carve out time for special activities in and out of your home. If they are away, stay in touch frequently. I wrote and mailed letters to my girls every day they were away at sleep-away camp to keep in touch and I sent them off with stationery and self-addressed and self-stamped envelopes to encourage them to write. While not expecting much correspondence from them, I still have many of those letters in a memory box.

Wishing you a wonderful summer.

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 the  Adoption  Advisory  Board  of  Path2Parenthood, She is currently a  Adoption   Professional   Advisory  Council  of  HelpUSAdopt , a member of the Advisory Board of the Family Equality Council 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