Let me start by saying that I believe most people mean well, but good intentions are just that, good intentions and nothing more. It always amazes me what complete strangers feel the liberty to say to people they don’t know. Some of the things I’ve heard as an adoptive dad Read more…
As adoptive and foster parents encounter challenges and struggles, many of them discover that much of their frustration and disappointment is rooted in their own unrealistic expectations. Watch as Michael Monroe provides insight into the importance of realistic expectations and how by holding their expectations loosely, parents can actually begin to make progress toward greater healing and connection.
The ability to see, think, and feel things from another’s perspective – to empathize – can be difficult for anyone, especially parents. I often find myself more focused on what my kids should be doing rather than considering why they’re doing what they’re doing.
What we know is that empathy is learned. If I want my children to learn to respond with empathy, then it is up to me to model it for them. This requires that I acknowledge their emotional reality even if I can’t give them what they want in that moment. This means that I need to slow down, at least long enough to look in their eyes and let them know that I’m with them. That if they’re hurting, I’m hurting. That I am on their side; that I am for them. That their feelings and their hearts and our connection are more important than my schedule.
I recently read a study that highlighted the difference between our ability to recall images versus words. There were two control groups. The first was shown a picture of a circle. The word “circle” was written down for the second group. The groups were re-convened 72 hours later and asked what they were shown. The group that saw the picture recalled that it was a circle one and a half times better than the group that only saw the word.
Maybe this helps to explain why physical wounds often get so much more attention than emotional wounds when it comes to our children.
What we have learned over the years parenting children from hard places is that physical wounds leave physical scars; emotional wounds scar our children’s ability to trust.
I remember the first time I heard it said. It came out of nowhere during a conversation with an adult adoptee, and I recoiled as the words made their way to my heart. “There is no adoption without loss,” she declared, “but sometimes adoptive parents tend to forget that.”
Such a categorical statement. So black and white. Surely there had to be an exception. Certainly there was some gray. “All adoption is born of loss?” I remember thinking to myself. All?
Parents can often feel pressure to respond to each of their children with ‘sameness’ instead of true ‘fairness’ based on individual needs and development. Watch as Michael Monroe offers helpful insights about the important question of ‘fairness’ and encourages parents to focus on meeting the unique needs of each child in order to help their children heal and grow.
Parents often struggle to blend the parenting approach they used before they adopted with the trust-based parenting approach they are now using to meet the unique needs of a child from a hard place.
Watch as Dr. Karyn Purvis explains how parents can effectively meet the needs of all of their children — biological, adopted, foster — by using a parenting approach that focuses on building trust. In addition, Dr. Purvis offers valuable insight to help parents explain changes in their parenting approach to their older biological child, and encourages parents to give these children a voice as the family welcomes new children through adoption and embraces their needs.
As adoptive parents walking a journey of healing with our children, we have an opportunity to enter into their world with empathy and compassion in a way that points them to the hope of the Savior. God has given us the divine honor of being mom or dad. We have the privilege of nurturing our children’s hopes and dreams, giving them goodnight kisses, wiping away their tears, teaching them as they grow and mature, and being the ones they look to for acceptance, security, and love. Parenting is holy ground, and we are allowed a front row seat as we watch their stories unfold and God does His work in and through them.
But as amazing and wonderful as being a parent can be, it can also be exhausting and at times terrifying.
Everyone loves a story with a happy ending. It’s the stuff that best-selling books and box office hits are made of. Happy endings lift our spirits and inspire us to dream. They get us started, keep us going, and give us reason to believe.
When families adopt they too dream of living out a story with a happy ending. And well they should. After all, adoption is full of joys and blessings, and for many these experiences are the hallmarks of the journey itself.
But there’s just one problem when it comes to our enchantment with happy endings – they don’t always happen. Not in life and certainly not in adoption.