Today I finished reading Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew and I hope that every single adoptive parent out there will take the time to read this book and put its ideas into practice. As I read the book several things occurred to me. (I’m adopted myself.)
1. I wish with all my heart that my adoptive mother had read this book before I was adopted.
2. I felt angry toward my a-mother as a teen, and now know that it is common for adoptees to misdirect their anger towards the adoptive mother. (Of course, she was VERY hostile toward any talk of birth mother, or birth family, so I didn’t have support for the grieving I needed to do.)
3. I can say that I am not “accepted” by my birth family. The book gave me another way to look at that rejection…and it was very helpful! (I love my birth family, and do not judge them for their “non-acceptance” of me. I represent a difficult time in their life, and it would be unfair for me to believe that I should “fit in.” I could say LOTS more about this, but I won’t. If you’d like to talk to me personally about it, please do not hesitate.)
4. I am finally at peace with my adoption.
5. I hope that I can be supportive of my daughters in their need to grieve, process, search and close (if that is possible) their adoption story.
Some of the things that we do to support our daughters are:
* Celebrate “Gotcha Day” (On Gotcha Day DA and I write letters to the girls telling them how happy we are that they are a part of our family, and how we would not be the parents or family that we are today without them.)
* Understand that birthdays are fun and difficult at the same time.
* Celebrate Chinese Holidays with our Chinese friends and with our Adoption groups.
* Spend time with other adoptees.
* Visit China, the girls orphanages and their finding spots. Spend time in their hometowns getting to know the area and the people. Our goal is to visit China at least once every three years. (Which would mean that we need to make a trip in 2010!)
* Each girl has their own “adoption journal.” They can write made up stories about their birth parents (fantasy), stories they know about their adoption (reality and fantasy), letters to God, etc. in these journals. We have photos printed up from their adoption and our trips to China that they are free to use in these journals. They mark each entry with a Green dot or a Red dot. Green dot means that its okay for Da and I to read, Red dot means that they would prefer us not to, and we respect their privacy.
* We have made adoption video’s that contain the story of their adoption trip. They are not narrated, but have music. We let the girls watch these when ever they want. Sometimes we turn of the music and narrate them, and sometimes they narrate them for us. It is good for the girls to know their stories and how excited we were to bring them into our lives. When they narrate, sometimes they are happy and sometimes sad. We allow them both options.
* We all write letters to God. Some are private and some are shared with the family. My letters tell everything from how sad it is to be infertile, to how happy I am to have my daughters from China. The girls talk about missing birth families, missing out on culture, how life isn’t fair to how happy they are to have us, the Gospel and live in America. I’m sure these letters will become deeper and more fulfilling as they grow older.
* We found a black and white drawing that represents our girls birth families and made a blown up copy. It is framed and hangs on the wall with our family photo.
* We pray for our girls birth-families. These prayers are very private, but include many things from the birth families peace and happiness to our desire to share our faith with them.
* All our girls know that we will support a birth family search. They know my birth family story, and know that there are rarely happy endings. Their families will speak different languages, have different customs and may have no desire to reconnect. We are preparing them as best we can for any outcome.
* We are trying to learn the Chinese language as best we can, trying to learn as much as possible about their customs, history and belief system.
Most adoptive families have traditions surrounding their adopted children, and this book will add many more. They are all important for different reasons, and overcoming the fear of opening wounds is one of the biggest subjects this book will discuss. Just like a physical wound, emotional ones must heal from the inside out.