I recently had the unique opportunity to discuss adoption with a 30-year-old adoptee, who due to war, was orphaned as a toddler. This young woman thinks
about her loss everyday. It has become a part of who she is.
Sherrie Eldridge writes, "As with most everything in life, adoption has
positive and negative elements. None of us wants to acknowledge the
negative, painful side -- that is loss. But the truth is, the very act
of adoption is built upon loss.... What some adoptees say about the way
that they feel: 'It's a vague feeling inside that something is wrong.
It feels like a part of me is missing. It's an intangible battle
between heart and soul. I have spent my whole life roaming and never
felt stable. I search for answers I am never sure I can find. I look at
life through a lens of rejection, expecting it at every turn.' "
Concurrently, I had begun rereading the book, Twenty Things
Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew by Sherrie
Eldridge, so the topic arose with this young woman as to how to best
foster the attachment early on with our daughter given this deep sense
of loss that she will undoubtedly feel. My friend's suggestions included:
*get involved with a group of parents of adoptees from China so that our daughter can connect with others who "look like her".
*celebrate and embrace her unique differences.
*keep her immersed in her culture as much as possible.
*create a Lifebook for our child with as much information as possible about her life before adoption.
I've begun working on a toddler lifebook and have nearly finished writing it. All that is left is to fill in some of the information that we will learn once we return from China and then assemble it into a book. I also plan to create a more detailed lifebook for Elyza to give to her when she is older.
For those of you who may be in the "waiting" period, now is a great opportunity to start thinking about creating a lifebook for your child. It's a wonderful tool to foster self-esteem and security. A few great resources include, Lifebooks: Creating a Treasure for the Adopted Child,by Beth O'Malley who is also adopted. Also, visit www.emkpress.com where Carrie Kitze writes about her experience with lifebooks. Scroll down to Narratives and Lifebooks section. Another helpful resource has been http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CHINALIFEBOOKS. A tutorial can be found on www.adoptionlearningpartners.org.
It's easy to get overwhelmed by all of the information but there are lots of great
examples shared on the yahoo group and in Beth O'Malley's book. Below is a sample outline:
1). Introduction page
2). Birth page
3). Chinese name
4). General China page
5). Province page
6). Customs/traditions of Chinese culture/families (not toddler version)
7). One Child Policy/possible reason for abandonment (not toddler version)
10). Orphanage/foster home
11). Paper chase/wait
12). CCAA matching/referral
13). Leaving for China
14). Adoption Day
15). Meaning of Adoption
16). Coming home
17). Forever family
May our children grow up with a greater sense of belonging and peace as a result of our earnest efforts.