SugarHouse Mama

Saturday, August 9, 2008

FSA Adoption Conference

Here are some general notes and comments regarding the classes I took at the Families Supporting Adoption Conference I attended this weekend:

Shifting Gears: Blessings and Challenges of Transitions

Talk about adoption.
Don’t ignore adoption in the home. Let the topic come up naturally, don’t force it or make a big deal about it, and keep it short.

Be honest with your Social Worker. Get help if you need it. Ask questions. Don’t think if you say everything is perfect, he/she will believe you.

Accept help. Life will not be the same. You are still a new parent, even though you didn’t give birth. Other things will fall away as you focus on parenting. It’s normal, natural, and expected.

It is normal to not be instantly bonded to your child. Bonding always take time and effort. Attachment is work no matter how a child is added to your family. Study and research development, and don’t leave your spouse out!

Attend to your marriage.

Recommended reading from this session: Post Adoption Blues; “Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence” (Jeffrey R. Holland).

Raising Adopted Children within Your Home

Learn what is normal for that age

Learn what is normal for your child

THEN it’s ok to ask if the behavior/problem is related to adoption. Hang things on the adoption hook last.

Share feelings/Share knowledge with your child.

Validate the child’s feelings

Creating Lifebooks

Keep it factual. The birth, reason for adoption, etc. need to be concrete.

Include the child in creation of lifebook when it is age appropriate.

Write it in story form so it is easy to sit down and read in one setting Lifebook answers Who Am I? Creates positive self-esteem, increases comfort level in discussing adoption. It’s a tool to discuss adoption from early ages. Provides attachment rituals.

Recommended reading: Lifebooks by Beth O’Malley.

Supporting Adopted Children Outside of Your Home

Children assess the significance of differences by teasing. It’s the response that matters. Teasing is part of a child’s development. It’s how they test social rules, etc. Don’t always step in. Children need to learn how to work it out themselves. BUT watch out for bullying. If it is hurtful to the child’s self-esteem, it has gone too far.

1. Model appropriate behavior for your child
2. Nurture his/her self-esteem
3. Resist the urge to minimize his/her experience
4. Resist the urge to explode with outrage
When child has an encounter ask him/her:

1. What happened?
2. How did it make you feel?
3. What did you say?
4. Are you happy with how you handled it?
5. Is there anything you want me to do?
Teach your child his/her options when confronted with questions, etc.

Walk-Away (typically used if teasing, bullying, etc. is involved)

“It’s Personal”

Share Something. (Typically something general. No need for personal, private information to be revealed)

Educate (Take a moment to teach the person something about adoption)

Understanding Transracial Adoption and Raising a Transracially Adopted Child

(My personal favorite class although you wouldn’t know it from my notes! It mostly involved discussing race and culture. It was really interesting and REALLY good.)

Utah has the highest rate of transracial adoption in the country. Go Utah!

As your child grows, he/she will start addressing race:

Preschool: Child starts to recognize differences. Parents need to acknowledge differences.

Elementary: Child starts accepting group identity (e.g. all the black children play in one group) Parents need to counter the dominant culture.

Pre-Adolescence: Child begins to search for personal identity. Parents need to support exploration.

Recommended reading: Black Baby White Hands, Courageous Conversations about Race, Does Anybody Look Like Me?, Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, Bill of Rights for People of Mixed Heritage by Maria P.P. Root.

Those are my lame notes! Lol. Most of the time I was so busy absorbing that I didn’t write down much, and you know how it goes, the presentation as a whole is never fully communicated in the notes one takes.

I met some really amazing people at the conference this weekend. I am so excited to get to know them better and learn from their experiences. There are some really remarkable people out there!

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