The Unmurder Tree

There is no longer such a thing as a quick trip to the library. Whenever she picks up her new book or drops off her old one, she always takes the opportunity to sit in the town square and gaze on the tree. The previously nothing-special tree.

It’s a typical town square tree: a not-too-big trunk you can wrap your hands around, a canopy you can walk under without ducking, its leaves providing a small radius of shade during the hot parts of the year. The tree emerges directly out of a grate plopped into the pavement. Along with a few identical siblings in the square, this tree has borne witness to frolicking children of summer and cheerful holiday carolers in winter, plus various festivals throughout the year.

Now the tree IS special. Not for being the backdrop to happiness, but for being the closest witness to a tragedy, a horrible tragedy.

This tree is the marking place where Officer Ben Gladley fell on that dreadful day, the first day of summer, a time that should have been all about fullness and promise.

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Rita Soronen, CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption

We are all homing pigeons at heart.
We know our families. We crave our families.

Rita Soronen,
President & CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption,
in Ep 208 of Adoption: The Long View

Have you ever eaten a meal at Wendy’s? Perused the list of top Adoption Friendly Workplaces? Felt an ache in your heart about children who are in foster care, growing up without a permanent family taking care of them, loving them, teaching them all the things people need to know to be independent and prosper?

If so, you may already be acquainted with this episode’s guest, Rita Soronen, who is President and CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (DTFA).

Dave Thomas founded Wendy’s restaurant chain in 1969. He was adopted as a very young child and became an advocate for foster children in his adulthood, founding the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption in 1992, with the mission of finding homes for children who need them.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month

Each year, 20,000 teenagers age out of foster care, leaving them at higher risk of homelessness, unemployment, and other negative outcomes. DTFA and Wendy’s Wonderful Kids programs are working to reduce that figure.

It is my pleasure to present Rita Soronen in the November episode of Adoption: The Long View, as this is National Adoption Awareness Month. This designation was originally established with the focus on finding permanent homes for children who needed them, but has grown to also cover domestic infant adoption (not without controversy; less awareness is necessary for newborns needing a home as opposed to older children needing a home).

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Living in the Ghost Kingdom with Playwright Maggie Gallant

It’s the week of Halloween, the time of year when we love to scare ourselves. Who hasn’t had a run-in with a ghost this time of year? Or even been one?

People in adoption live with ghosts year ’round. Not the kind that cause physical harm, but those that affect our psyches. These ghosts can be so omnipresent — and therefore powerful — that we can’t afford to even acknowledge them.

Betty Jean Lifton, PhD, a renowned psychologist and adoptee, called this the Ghost Kingdom of adoption. Her idea has resurged since the hit NBC series This Is Us featured it on Episode 513 as the backdrop to exploring the inner life and identity of adoptee Randall Pearson.

I’m pleased to present a guest post that further explores the Ghost Kingdom, by playwright and adoptee Maggie Gallant. Maggie’s new play, which delves into the Ghost Kingdom, is called Betwixt & Between, and it premiers in early November at the Adoption Knowledge Affiliates (AKA) 2021 Conference. You can witness the premier! Tickets to Maggie’s event can be found here. I’ve got mine, and I hope to “see” you there.

More details on Maggie after this fascinating essay about her Ghost Kingdom — and the Ghost Kingdoms of her parents.

My Ghost Kingdom

“The ghosts who trail everyone in the adoption triad make up a shadow cast of characters. These ghosts are too dangerous to be allowed into consciousness. Instead they are dissociated, consigned to a spectral place I call the Ghost Kingdom. It is not located on a map, but in the geography of the mind.”

— Betty Jean Lifton, PhD, 1994

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adoption, parenting, mindfulness, open adoption