AFABC has prepared this special needs supplement on trauma because, whether we like it or not, trauma is inextricably linked to adoption. Of course, not all children who join their families through adoption have experienced trauma, but many have.
When Tracy and Scott Hill adopted two older children, realizing that it’s not always easy for kids to make the adjustment to a new family, they decided to let the girls take the lead in what they should call their new parents. It took a while, but eventually those magical words “Mom” and “Dad”—that so many parents take for granted—started to come naturally. Here’s their story.
Out of the blue, about a month ago, I received a call from my youngest daughter’s birth parents. They were in town on a sudden, unplanned trip from the North to the Lower Mainland, and they wanted us to get together. I immediately invited them to dinner the next night. The minute I put the phone down, I panicked. We were at the end stage of a kitchen renovation; my stove had just been hooked up, but I didn’t know if it worked yet. The house was covered in drywall dust.
“She will need extra support both at home, and in the classroom, in order to meet the widely-held expectations for this age, by the end of the Kindergarten year.”
I recently found my seven-year-old African-Canadian daughter scrubbing her skin with a nail brush. She told me she wanted to be white like me. We have read books that portray people from other races in a positive light, and I have always talked very positively about her colour. She also has black friends at school. I am upset by her desire to change colour and I am not sure how to deal with this. Can you advise me?
by Shelley Brownwell in consultation with Delma Henning
Question: "We adopted our five-year-old daughter through a local adoption agency. We have never told her that she was adopted and now we don’t know how. Could you suggest how we could start the process?"
Two years ago, through the Ministry of Children and Family Development, Leah Elliott adopted a set of siblings aged four and five years old. These children joined the sibling group of three who had joined Leah’s family earlier. Leah wrote to Focus about the wonderful job Vickie, the children’s foster mom, did in preparing the children for this momentous move. Though each adoption is different, much of this foster mom’s painstaking and unselfish work serves as a blueprint for successful older child adoption preparation.
Five years ago Sophie Perkins* was an empty nester in her fifites with a busy career. She had no idea that she was soon to become a full-time mother again.
Though Sophie knew that her daughter-in-law and son weren’t parenting their children adequately, as she lived some distance from the family, she didn’t have a full grasp of the situation. Her son and daughter-in-law made great efforts to appear as though they lived relatively "normal" lives.
Karen Madeiros, Executive Director of AFABC, is the adoptive mother of two children from the US. She has personally experienced and been witness to the development of openness in adoption. In this article, which is an updated version of a previous article, she reflects on what she has learned about openness.
"Are we scaring you?" the facilitator asked me in a very concerned voice.
"Not at all," I lied.
My husband and I had recently brought home a sibling group of two, both of whom had been prentally exposed to alcohol and drugs. Despite all the reading and education we had done in advance, nothing prepared me for the reality of an FASD support group meeting.
Many of the parents were over 50 and most had adopted their kids when very little was known about FASD; some were parenting grandchildren who had been diagnosed with FASD.