If nothing is happening in the process – READ and the READ some more.
“Children who have experienced traumatic times, as we know, do not just ‘get over it’. Better to come to terms with this than live in hope that one day all will be fixed” – Sally Donovan – The Unoffical Guide to Adoptive Parenting
Today sees the release of Sally Donovan‘s latest book – The Unoffical Guide to Adoptive Parenting. It’s a terrific book from someone who both understands the realities of parenting an adoptive child and who herself has read and learned as much as possible to help herself be the best adoptive parent she can be [Read my review here] With that in mind I was thinking about adoption books and reading and concluded that the best advice I can give to anyone considering adoption is to read. Read every step of way: when you’re considering adopting, when you’re in the process, when your child has been placed – READ. There are a lot of books relating to different aspects of childcare, attachment, trauma, and the adoption process, try and read as many as you can. Some will infuriate you, some will chime true with you, others will seem like new age or whishy-washy twaddle, some will manage to do all of this at different times within their pages. Some will only hit home somewhere down the road. The value to be gained however is immeasurable.
Here are a few I have read over the last 18 months and one example of things they said which connected with me. These may not be deep and meaningful or things that are world changing, but instead they are just simple things that made me go, oh yeah.
“A child’s History isn’t only in the past. It affects the present and the future.”
“Your child’s needs are like your needs: the need for structure (such as regular meals and sleep time); stimulus (such as going to see a show and being with a friend) and support (such as having someone to talk to and feeling safe enough to ask for a caring hug) in life. As parents you ensure these needs are met, because you understand them, while ensuring that you also take care of yourselves so that you own needs met, in order to be potent role models for your child.”
“Behaviors are not causes; they are effects. This means that we behave as we do because we think and feel in certain ways, not the opposite.”
“Behaviour systems which may work for other children, may not work for adopted children. For example, behaviour systems which involve public shaming or which are long-lasting may just teach a child already well-acquainted with shame that they are indeed bad and everything is their fault.”
“Consequences only work when the child is able and motivated to achieve the positive outcome, and is already trusting in the relationship so they know they are an ok person even if they’re getting a negative consequence. As we’ve seen many children who come from a background of trauma, abuse and neglect are missing so many basic experiences that they aren’t familiar with the idea of a caregiver who cares about them and holds them in positive regard, let alone one who is consistent about what is expected of them and keen to support them to achieve the best possible outcomes.”
“You cannot be perfect. Children can be vert trying at times for any parent, articularly when challenging and testing boundaries through their behaviours. No one feels good all the time, everyone is allowed to snap sometimes. This is normal. Do not add you difficulties by trying to be perfect all of the time; it’s impossible”
“Children who have experienced neglect and loss can find it hard to play by themselves. They can feel abandoned or rejected if told to go off and play. They benefit from much more adult-led play than you would expect for a child of their age.”
“It is important for adoptive parents to discern what kind of fantasy the adoptee has of the birth parents so that honest, loving, and healing thoughts can fill up the void where fantasy reigns.”
And I’ll leave the last word to Sally, and the importance of focussing on you and you child not how it looks to others.
“I now give much less of a shit what other people think. Not giving a shit has been of great benefit to me and mine”