When kids experience racism, what can their parents do? Here are some resources and tips from an experienced adoptive parent.
Editor’s note: Some of these tips are aimed specifically at white parents. AFABC recognizes that adoptive families are incredibly diverse, and that transracial adoptive families include parents from all backgrounds, heritages, and experiences, including parents of colour who have firsthand experience with racism.
For many youth, foster and adoptive homes can be safe places for care and support when the biological family does not provide appropriate care. Unfortunately, many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth are placed in foster homes where their caretakers do not understand or accept these youth because of their gender or sexual orientation.
My daughter Libby was born as I held her birth mother Carla’s hand, breathing with her through the agony of labour. When her daughter drew her first breath, Carla looked at me and said, “Congratulations on your new baby.” Then she asked me to cut the umbilical cord.
Advice from a counsellor on how to recognize and help wounded children and youth.
Trauma: adoption’s shadow
Many children and youth who are adopted have been exposed to highly stressful situations and traumatic events; however, the resulting special needs these children can experience aren’t always recognized or supported. It’s vital for caregivers and professionals to learn the signs and symptoms of trauma as they present in children and youth, and to know how to find and access age-appropriate trauma-informed care.
I grew up in care from the time I was two years old until I turned 18. I don't really remember a lot of my first foster home or much of my childhood. I was abused by my mom and ended up with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I was also diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).
I do remember moving into my grandparents' house at the age of four. I lived there until I was 12. It was then that my disabilities began to show. I wasn't sure how to express myself or my feelings in a respectful and mature way, and it was getting hard for my grandparents to take care of me.
Early intervention for adoptive families
“I was going through a very difficult time at the beginning of my adoption,” says adoptive mother Carrie Crowley. “I was breaking down and was desperate for support. I was isolated and emotionally exhausted.”
Your adopted child’s early life experiences may have caused a delay in their emotional development. Child and family counsellor and behaviourist, Carol Olafson, explains how paying attention to emotional development can help you and your child.
Emotional development is thought to be one of the most important factors in individuals being able to function well in the world. In fact, researchers have coined the term “emotional intelligence” to refer to how well a person uses both his or her cognitive and emotional development to succeed as adults.
Britta West is a Registered Clinical Counsellor and Clinical Traumatologist located in Burnaby, BC. She completed her Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology from Yorkville University in 2009. In 2012, Britta completed the Clinical Traumatologist specialization from the Traumatology Institute. Her areas of expertise include attachment, trauma, mental health and behavioural health diagnoses and parenting. Britta provides therapeutic interventions to address these issues in the context of the family system.