These days, there seems to be an excessive amount of lists online related to every subject imaginable: “Ten Things You Shouldn’t Bring to a Party!”, “Top Five Reasons You Should Buy a New Car in 2015!”, “Ten Things to Do Before You Bring Your New Cat Home” (really, I didn’t make that last one up). These lists, varied and diverse, are attractive and appealing because they are as attention grabbing as they are easy to read.
In the realm of adoption, list-making seems to be very popular as well. Lists such as “10 Things Not to Say to An Adopted Child” or “Eight Things You Should Know About Adoption” are used in excess across parenting websites.
This “list-grabbing” approach seems best utilized in the Sherrie Eldridge books, Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wished Their Adopted Parents Knew and Twenty Things Adoptive Parents Need to Succeed. Easy to read, Eldridge’s books provide an overview of common adoption themes, providing case studies to illustrate how adoptive parents can both improve their relationships and communications with their adoptive children.
A few months ago I wrote a great deal about Adopt4Life, a non-profit advocacy and support-based organization for both prospective and waiting adoptive parents pursuing adoption, (including public, private, international, kin care, or customary care). Membership is free and joining online provides members not only with important adoption information, but direct connection (via a private, Adopt4Life moderated, Facebook group) to a large network of prospective, waiting, and adoptive parents.
In February, Adopt4Life ran a series of narratives about adoption. 29 stories described the struggles faced by parents during adoption before, during and after the adoption process. The larger goal of the project was to address the ongoing need for systematic change and permanency support in Ontario as the stories described families who have either overcome, or continue to struggle with, a lack of provincial support. Whether you are beginning your adoption journey, waiting or contemplating next steps, these narratives will help provide you a realistic understanding of what an Ontario adoption can look like.
A few days ago I came across a similarly titled project called 30 Adoption Portraits. This list is a series of stories written by adoptees, adoptive parents, birth parents, adoptive parents, waiting parents and foster-parents-turned adoptive parents with “widely varying experiences”. One such portrait, entitled, What an Adoptee Wants You to Know about Adoption written by Madeline Melcher, was highlighted in the Huffington Post recently.
There are many such articles likes Melcher’s, with varying lists of must-dos, must-dont’s and must-reads, but Melcher’s post is timely as it reminds parents to focus on their adopted child’s interests and needs first and foremost: “If you are a parent through adoption, listen to YOUR CHILD, because ultimately, with all the voices you will hear about adoption, theirs is the most important. Let your child be your guide.”