There are few things more life- or soul-destroying than clinging to the feeling that you are a victim of your life experiences, and that the world owes you something for the pain it caused you. And there are even fewer things more life- or soul-destroying than not allowing yourself the space to really feel your loss, fear, and longing.
Adoption across the Rockies
At any given time last year, there were about 5,300 children and youth in permanent government care in Alberta. In the same year, 449 of these children found a loving and permanent home. Alberta children are almost always placed with Alberta families in order to keep them connected to extended family, culture, community, and resources.
Lose your expectations
When Ethan came into our family, he was very angry. My family and friends wondered what he had to be angry about. All they could see was that he was part of a loving family. They thought he should be grateful. It was interesting to me that these usually empathetic folks couldn’t immediately see the loss suffered by this child. Before I could understand what was going on, I had to abandon my expectations of them--and of Ethan.
Each year, around 550 children are adopted by BC families. There are probably children in your class who have joined their family through adoption. We have prepared this information to help you understand some of the issues that adoptees can face at school and how you can help them.
There are many good reasons to be sensitive to adoption in the classroom:
My first encounter with the idea of children in care who needed families was during a church service as a little girl.
The speaker shared unsettling statistics about kids who age out of care and end up incarcerated, homeless, or worse; kids who are separated from their siblings; and young adults who have no place to spend the holidays or summer vacation. I suppose it all resonated with me because I came from a family of five siblings, and I couldn’t imagine my life without them. At that church service I made up my mind that I wanted to adopt older kids one day.
Adoption adds complexity to the life of adopted teens, even those adopted as newborns.
All teens struggle with the question, "Who am I?" Finding the answer usually involves figuring out how they are similar to, and different from their parents--a task that can be particularly complicated for children who have both birth and adoptive parents. Unknown or missing information, or having a different ethnicity from parents, can make piecing an identity puzzle together especially difficult for adoptees.
Growing up you see your parents' "mistakes" in raising you, and you swear never to be like them. Then you become a parent.
Suddenly you no longer see your parents as having made mistakes; rather, they were surviving in the forever challenging world of parenthood.
A strengths-based approach
Everyone begins a new adoptive placement with high hopes that a “forever” family has been created. Sadly, about 15% of adoptive families find their dreams shattered as they realize that despite everyone’s best intentions, the adoption isn’t going to work.
So far in this column I’ve talked quite a bit about my second son, Ethan. I’d like to give you a little bit more background information about him so you can better understand where I’m coming from. First of all, you should know that Ethan is very bright and has a great sense of humour. He has his own brand of wisdom, which lives just under the surface of his impulsive little boy exterior.
Ethan did a ton of work with counsellors and therapists prior to coming into our family. He has “feeling language” down to an art and truly tries to move and heal his troubled soul.
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.”