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Adoption Techniques for Treating Adoptive Parent Issues
Adoptive Parent continuing education psychologist CEUs

Section 9
Track #9 - Effectively Using the "Family Story Book" Technique

CEUs Question 9 | CEUs Answer Booklet | Table of Contents | Adoption
Social Worker CEU, Psychologist CE, Counselor CEU, MFT CEU

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On the last track, we discussed the shock of the child’s arrival.  This included the honeymoon, the adjustment and the possible absence of immediate love.

On this track, we will discuss seeing as the child sees.  This will include three techniques.  These techniques will include “dealing with adoption issues”, “imagining gains and losses” and the “family story book”.

I have found that these three techniques can help parents imagine what it would be like if suddenly they were moved to a new home with little or no preparation.

Blake, age 45, and Wendy, age 42 had just adopted Liam, age 10.  Blake asked, “What are some ways we can feel more empathy towards Liam, to see situations as he sees them?”

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3 Techniques to See as the Child Sees

Share on Facebook #1 Technique: Dealing with Adoption Issues
First, Blake, Wendy and I discussed the “dealing with adoption issues” technique.  I stated, “Take a sheet of paper and make two columns.  On one side write several core issues that Liam might deal with, such as grief, loss, rejection, guilt, shame, issues of identity, intimacy or control.  In the right-hand column, record your thoughts regarding each issue.  Ask yourself these five questions. 

Five Questions to Explore Adoption Issues

  1. Which of these core issues would I feel comfortable dealing with? 
  2. Which core issues might give me difficulty? 
  3. Why do I feel these particular problems would be more difficult to deal with than other issues? 
  4. Do any of these issues tap into my own unresolved feelings? 
  5. What can I do about my own unresolved feelings?” 

I explained to Blake and Wendy that they might gather information through books or adoptive parent groups that discuss some of the needs of adopted children.  Also, I encouraged Blake and Wendy to talk to other adoptive parents about how they had dealt with similar difficulties.

Share on Facebook #2 Technique: Imagining Gains and Losses
Second, I suggested that Blake and Wendy try the “imagining gains and losses” exercise.  I stated, “Imagine that you are a child and a stranger knocks on your door and takes you to a new home.  The home you were living in before may have had many problems, but it was the only home you’d ever known, and it was yours.  The stranger introduces you to your new family.  They greet you warmly and try to make you feel at home. 

"But the sounds, smells, and feel of things are very different.  The new people caring for you seem nice, but strange and unfamiliar.  Their voices sound strange to you.  They may even speak a different language.  Imagine how it would feel to sleep in an unfamiliar bed.  To eat strange food.  Imagine what it would feel like if suddenly all your old friends were gone.”

I asked Blake and Wendy to do a journaling exercise and write down the losses that Liam has experienced by being placed in their home.  Try to see it from the Liam’s point of view.  Now take another sheet of paper and list all the ways you could help Liam to deal or cope with these losses.  What are the positive things you could offer to Liam?

Share on Facebook #3 Technique: Family Story Book
Third, in addition to “dealing with adoption issues” and the “imagining gains and losses” journaling exercise, I discussed with Blake and Wendy the “family story book” technique.  Have you found, as I have, that claiming and belonging are often important aspects of adoptive children and parents forming an attachment?  I have found that it is often helpful and important for children to know their own life story, including their histories before they were with their adoptive families.  Family story books can be an effective way to record how an adoptive child’s family came into being.

I stated to Blake and Wendy, “The story book can be added to over time.  Some examples of topics you might include in your storybook for Liam might include the date and time of your birth, your parents, their ages when you were born, and some brief descriptions.  You might include names of your brothers and sisters.  You might include a brief funny baby story; as well as a “proud moment” story; and even perhaps a brief story regarding mischievous behavior.  You might also include your education and career choice.  You might also write briefly about your decision to adopt.  First, you might include your desire to have a family.” 

I explained to Blake and Wendy that if infertility was an issue, the story book could help to introduce the subject.  One example I gave was writing a sentence in the story book like, “Mommy wanted a baby, but she didn’t get pregnant.  She was sad.”  Second, I explained that Blake and Wendy might write about how they learned about adoption and made their decision.  I stated, “You can end by describing your joy at learning you could adopt.”

I continued, “Each of your children can have a chapter, in the order in which he or she came into the family.  In Liam’s case, you might include a description of your preparation, and how you felt waiting for Liam to arrive.  If you can, describe the first time you met Liam.  What had you been told about him?”  I explained to Blake and Wendy that they might include what they know about Liam’s birth parents in the story book, including their names and why the birth parents chose to give up their parental rights

I stated, “If you don’t know the reasons, you can use ‘maybe’ statements, such as, ‘Maybe your parents were too young and couldn’t take care of a baby.’”  I further explained that Blake and Wendy might describe any arrangements that they made to ensure openness between themselves and Liam’s birth parents.  I encouraged them to try to create a realistic picture of Liam’s birth parents as real people.

I stated, “You might include Liam’s age, weight, what he looked like, and perhaps a ‘first day’ story.  Then describe Liam today.  You might list favorite colors, toys, things to do, as well as information about friends and school.  Try to include one “great moment” story.  You may want to include information about the places where Liam lived before he was adopted.”

I explained to Blake and Wendy that, at the end of the book, they might create a chapter about their family.  I stated, “This might include family traditions and records of family vacations.  Include a funny family story and other stories that are important to your family.”

Do you have a Blake or Wendy who wants to feel more empathy with his or her child?  Might he or she benefit from hearing this track?  On this track, we have discussed seeing as the child sees.  This has included the “dealing with adoption issues” technique, the “imagining gains and losses” technique and the “family story book” technique.

On the next track, we will discuss trans-religious adoption.  This will include the “questions to journal” technique.

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 9
What are three techniques that might help a parent to see as their child sees? To select and enter your answer go to CEUs Answer Booklet.

 
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