November is National Adoption Month. So each week for the month of November, I be posting some adoption related info, links, books, and shouting from the rooftops that our beautiful world sadly has many beautiful children in it without families!
The familiar adoption narrative is almost always told through the eyes of the adoptive parents. These narratives often focus on the positive and redemptive aspects of adoption experience, as seen through the parents eyes. We rarely hear the adoption story through a lens of loss, confusion, frustration, heartache, and even anger that are experienced by the adoptee. Many adoptees learn to “parrot” the redemptive,positive adoption narrative as told by their parents since it seems to be the more accepted perspective and also because this is the narrative their adoptive parents prefer to hear.
Especially for children adopted internationally, their entire wold was virtually flipped upside down when they were adopted so their perspective on the adoption experience is typically one of fear, unfamiliarity, and confusion. In other words, the opposite of their adoptive family who are overjoyed after waiting and waiting to bring this child home. These “homecoming” stories however are not where the experience of adoption end for the adoptees.
Psychologists, therapists, and counselors will all tell you that hushing of the adoptee is the wrong way to approach the adoption narrative. Children and adult adoptees alike should be free to voice their experience and their parents should be there to help facilitate and welcome those discussions, even if they are painful for both parent and child. As Patty Cogen states in her book Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child, “what is mentionable, is manageable.” Parents and communities need to open our minds to hearing about the adoption experience through another lens. This is how the healing process can begin for the adoptee, and adoptive parent’s fears that talking about it will make it worse are completely false. The fact is that having the airwaves open for these discussions will help the child to feel more, not less, connected to their adopted family. They will feel more understood and accepted by their adoptive family, which is why these discussions are such an integral part of the process!
You don’t have to take my word for it, even though I could talk your ear off on the subject for hours, but I won’t… BUT if you want to read more check out the book referenced above or this one!
Hearing about the adoption experience through the eyes of adoptees shouldn’t be something new, but unfortunately, theirs is often not the version of the story we hear. If we as communities, families, & churches are going to throw our support at friends and family who decide to adopt, then we, as a community, should also be listening to the adoptee’s stories and learning what we can do to support them through their healing process and beyond.
Now, I will step down from my soapbox, but please lets hear adoptees voices during National Adoption Month! #flipthescript on adoption!
See what they have are saying in some of the video clips below…
Or view the extended version of the above video here.