Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Teachable Moments December: Make Communication the Rhythm in the Relationship With Your Child

December 2012

Thank you for reading!   I am so glad you are here.   Currently, I am a licensed, certified and have a Master's Degree.  Absolutely, every child is unique and beautiful.  However, every adoptee uniquely wrestles with certain basic developmental issues.    In this column, I will address the adopted child’s core issues.  In doing so, I will offer easy How To Guide and practical Teaching Tips that can be applied today.

As an infant, I was adopted into a closed system. In my 40s now, I am a mother, wife, child advocate and in reunion with my natural parents.  In 1993,  my natural mother found me.  And then in 2010, I found my natural father.   Over time,  I have come to understand that adoption creates challenges unknown to the non-adopted.  My goal is fairly simple.  Through my blog column, I hope to educate those affected by adoption: the triad (adoptees, adoptee-parents and the natural parents.)   I believe that education and communication dispel all misunderstandings and misgivings.  Here, in the Teaching Tips column, I provide simple and daily tools necessary to guide our adoptee children to become secure, confident, and loving people.   Please join me!

The develpmental issue: TRUST

Left at birth.  A lifelong wound and scar.  Scary emotions that many adoptees cannot and will not address.  We were abandoned.  And our trust in humanity broken before we formed any sense of self.  Throughout our lifetime, we awaken to buried and frozen feelings of loss and grief.  The heartache bubbles up at different times, places and ways.  We each carry unique experiences and genetics and our adoption journey is also unique.  But, we, as adoptees we all experience the lifelong walk of the orphan.  We must overcome the loss, and I quote here"…adoption loss is the only trauma in the world where the victims are expected by the whole of society to be grateful..." Rev. Keith C. Griffith
Building TRUST through communication

Society does not like the orphan image.  It is not fun, happy or for small talk.  But abandonment and loss are core developmental issues.  We know that all children must develop trust with their parents or guardians.  Devoloping trust is a milestone and creates strong self-esteem and self-knowledge of oneself and world.  But, adoption demands extra attention and patience with the child.  So, my teachable moment today is about Building Trust.  How do we build trust for adoptees?  There are many ways to build trust.  But, right now, let us focus on communication.

Communication sets us free.  Acknowledgement of our joy and pain builds trust.   So, we need to listen, talk, listen, talk and guide.  Be an open and safe place.  Even when it is hard and sad.  Even when you want to run and you are shaking inside.  Keep talking and keep listening.   Ask questions.  Listen, be patient.  Construct the foundation of trust.  I suggest a life-long open ended conversation between yourself and your adoptee child. 

Back in childhood....

I can’t remember a time when I did not know that I was adopted.   Open communication built trust between myself and mother.  We don’t need to protect our children from the adotion truth. 

My mom tells a story about the two of us in California.  I was about 2 yrs old, with an immense vocabulary, no doubt in part, due to her communication style.  I toddled down the parquet floors and claimed,  “I am adapted."  I’m sure my mom smiled.  "Well, honey, actually, you are adopted."  "That too!" I said. 

My adoption was never a secret.  Later, openess helped me when I felt the loss.  Open, honest communication encouraged thoughtful conversations and healing.  Sometimes, the loss overtook me in a wave of anger.  Other times, slow, sad raindrops drifted down on me. Throughout my life, I knew that I could talk to my mom and she would listen.  She put herself aside and put my needs first.  And her love and open communication created trust. 

So.  My teachable moment of the day:  Listen, talk, listen and talk.  Make communication the rhythm in the relationship with your child.  It opens doors to the heart and soul.