This past summer our country experienced many challenging situations, which have a unique impact on families formed through adoption. At Adoption Associates, we want to take the time to unpack these events and give families some tools for responding to and processing the latest news and media.
Identity, Religion, And Race
The current Trump administration has made its plans for managing immigration apparent, and while adopted families may not directly be impacted by pending legislation, they may be experiencing fear or confusion about headlines in the media. The administration has expressed a desire to build a wall between the USA and Mexico, threatened to deport immigrants, and Donald Trump recently announced that he plans to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration (DACA) policy, which allows individuals who entered the U.S. prior to their 16th birthday to register to remain in the country, provided they pay a fee and meet certain requirements related to their education and criminal record. Children who are adopted internationally may have questions about this and their own status as American citizens.
Poor International relations with North Korea and Russia have led to increased tensions between the United States and these countries. Families who have children adopted from these two countries may be faced with the challenge of explaining these strains and the potential safety threats. Adopted children may feel confused and torn about these situations and classmates and peers maybe speaking to them about these tensions as well.
The events in Charlottesville, Virginia highlighted racial and religious tensions in America. For transracial families, if your child is old enough to understand the implications of this event, they may be experiencing a number of feelings including confusion, sadness, frustration, anger, and fear. As parents, you may also be having a strong emotional reaction. How do you manage your own thoughts and feelings while supporting your child as they ask you questions about this event and its potential impact on your family?
Hurricane Harvey recently washed through Texas and Louisiana and Hurricane Irma made its way through the Caribbean and southeast coast of the United States. These storms and floods left many families displaced and homeless. For adopted children, witnessing any grief or loss even if it does not directly impact them can trigger a variety of emotional responses.
What Do We Do As Parents?
Being a parent is one of the most difficult jobs in the world, and given the current climate in our country it is even more challenging than ever. Below are some tips for engaging in a dialogue with your child on any of the events listed above.
- Make sure that you are feeling calm and have managed own feelings related to the issue before engaging in a dialogue with your child.
- Promote positive coping and problem solving skills (i.e. taking deep breaths, exercising, seeing friends, & practicing yoga etc.) to manage stress. YOU ARE YOUR CHILD’s BEST TEACHER. They will watch how you react to these events and how you speak about them with other adults.
- Meet your child where they are developmentally. Even though their chronological age may indicate that they’re ready to have these conversations, oftentimes adopted children’s emotional development may be delayed. Do not force them to engage in a conversation if they are not willing to now.
- Manage your child’s exposure to the news and media as best as you can.
- Acknowledge and normalize your child’s thoughts feelings and reactions. Help to guide them to understand why they feel this way.
- Honor your child’s resiliency!
- When speaking with them, use open-ended questions “how are you feeling?” vs. leading questions “you must be feeling really angry about this?”
- Always answer a child’s question truthfully and with simple answers without adding more detail than necessary.
- You maybe asked to repeat your answer several times. Be consistent in your reply and be aware that this is building the child’s sense of safety.
- Empower your child in their desire to help or support where possible (i.e. if they want to donate to Harvey efforts or make cards for children in Texas help them with this).
- Parent groups often give us perspective and help us to manage and deal with the isolation and concerns we feel in coping with this.
- If you find that you or your child is suffering from sleep disturbance, changes in mood or appetite, lack of interest in activities that previously brought you joy, anxiety, or recurring fears about death or loss, contact a counselor immediately for support.
The Ant Hill Disaster by Julia Cook
101 Mindful Arts-Based Activities to Get Children and Adolescents Talking by Dawn D’Amico
How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & Listen so Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
Little Book of Mindfulness: 10 Minutes A Day to Less Stress and More Peace by Patricia Collard
We are in the process of organizing groups for the fall. Please contact our Group Coordinator by phone (617) 965-9369 x 1 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.