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- Be able to create a nurturing, loving and peaceful home.
- Be able to read, watch videos and have a desire to create a peaceful home.
How to create a nurturing, loving, and peaceful home with your adoptive child. You will learn step by step how to identify your adopted child's needs and build the relationship you've always wanted! Through the stories I tell in this footage, you will begin to see that you are not alone if your adoption journey is not the picture perfect experience you expected it to be…
- Parents or other family members who have adopted a child or are planning on adopting a child.
Hi! I’m Becky Walker and I’m so glad you’re here. In this section, I am going to share with you my experience as an adoptive mom and the surprises that came along with bringing my daughter Emilia home from Russia. Through the stories I tell in this footage, you will begin to see that you are not alone if your adoption journey is not the picture perfect experience you expected it to be…
Emilia came from a Russian orphanage at 6 years old. Our time together was very, very difficult from the beginning. It was very clear from the moment the adoption was completed that she was uninterested in having me as her Mom. I couldn’t cuddle her or hold her. I didn’t know what to do and was searching for help. I tried things I thought might work, and nothing seemed to work. You may have a similar experience.
One of the first, most helpful things for an adoptive parent is “self-care”. Our job as a parent, especially of an adoptive child who has experienced some sort of trauma and separation in their life, is to create a safe place for them to heal and have the emotional growth they need. Providing a safe place allows them to become self-sufficient and self-regulating. Providing a safe space can be exhausting work. It is very important that we take care of ourselves first. We are going for the relationship here, for the connection.
We have expectations about how we think things will go and our experiences help us set expectations. Our extended families influence the way we think things are going to happen. Most of us want and believe in fairy tale endings, and it may take some time and work to create a fairy tale ending. Adopted children almost always need to mourn the loss of their birth parents, no matter the circumstances. As adoptive parents we want our children to be happy, the truth is keeping happy all the time does not always meet the child where they are. A bridge needs to be built between what was and what is. The brains of a child will develop coping mechanisms to take care of the absence of the nurturing and bonding that is missing. This is not insurmountable, it is not a disaster, it is important to remember that these children have lost something. They may need to name what they are missing.
It takes practice to learn how to mourn our loses and manage our expectations. It is important to remember we are not blaming the child for the way they feel - we are opening the safe space to allow them to feel what they feel and identify feeling and needs inside. We need to be patient with ourselves, we may have different ways of understanding our child. Please know you are not crazy, you are not wrong… it really is happening the way it is happening for you. The child does not want to be rejected again, so their brains develop survival mechanisms to cope. We need to hold self-empathy for ourselves.
Note: Make sure you download the Reflection Journal! You'll need it moving forward in the course. A Journal Developed from The book, “Why Don’t You Just Send Me Back?” by Becky Walker. The journal helps students to reflect on what they have learned and identify what their current situation is, in order to work towards a peaceful home. The journal gives more in-depth information on the Parenting Styles and Values and has space for the student to journal daily.
This video introduces the Journal and the Action Guides and how to use them. The Action Guide is a single sheet to help take action quickly. It zeros in on what is happening in the moment and how to work with the adopted child.
Download the first Action Guide in the next lecture. ->
We all have some core beliefs. As adults our truths are based on our experiences and environment. Adoptive children have core beliefs that can be very troublesome. For example, they may believe they can’t rely on adults or they want to always be in control of their lives. The truth for a child who has experienced separation or loss or abuse or lack of nurturing is that they think they are not worthy. They often feel shame and hold themselves apart. They believe since their birth mother or father did not want to keep them, then there must be something wrong with them. List of signs and symptoms of trauma in a child’s life and the behaviors they display as coping mechanisms.
Be mindful we have triggers, and you deserve a big portion of empathy when you are experiencing disruptive behaviors from your adopted child. Understanding what we may need as parents and how we can quickly recognize a trigger. Emotional maturity can sometimes be delayed if a child has suffered childhood trauma or separation. They may not understand things like respect. They may look like they are mature, but not be emotionally mature. They are not trying to hurt you it is more about how they are protecting themselves.
Thinking styles or thinking preferences based on the brain model used by Herman International. There are 4 thinking styles; the rational thinking style (asks “what”), the safekeeping thinking style (asks “how”), the feeling thinking style (asks “who”), and the experimental thinking style (asks “why”). Explore styles to see if it can help in communication with your child. Bring curiosity to a moment when you are observing a behavior in your child. Get a list of feelings and observe the behavior - tie the behavior to the need they are trying to get met.
We build our emotional maturity one building block at a time. The early building block are so important to become self-regulated and emotionally mature in life. The early building blocks are: nurturance, bonding, comfort, love, touch and affection (birth to 2 years). These are necessary to establish choice, stability, trust, fairness and friendship. Adopted children have an extremely high need for choice, since they did not have choice when they lost their birth parents, left their country, etc. Provide opportunities for choice for your child.
Empathy or self-empathy, is not sympathy. Empathy, the quality where we take a feeling word and match it with a need word in order to confirm that we actually get what they are dealing with. It is saying I understand what is going on with you. I understand what they are experiencing. Self-empathy is where we can reflect back on ourselves.
Providing opportunities for emotional safety for our children is essential. It is very likely they are hyper-vigilant if they have had emotional or physical abuse. Fear resides in someone who has experienced trauma. This can be a high characteristic in an adopted child. Try not to dissuade them from their feelings. Always go for the relationship. We need to be careful not to fall into the trap of trying to get the child to be, do or say what we think is the right thing to do. Consider something that can be very difficult, that a situation that appears to be very bad, may not be the most terrible thing that can happen to you and the child. Disruptive behaviors are clues to unmet needs. When a child does this they are screaming for someone to help them with their pain. Let them know… “I see you” what is it you need for me to hear. “I care more about you than I care about that action.” A peaceful home really is possible. Appropriate boundaries and limits are helpful for having a peaceful home. And choice is also very important to an adopted child. Be in a supportive role and allow them to develop the skill of self-regulation.