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consequences of openness in adoption

I Went to Orlando for Adoption, Not Disney

Last week I set out from Denver to head to Orlando for a conference about adoption laws and practices.

Denver International Airport blue horse
A poster of”Blucifer,” our airport’s public art, which spooks visitors on their way into and out of the airport terminal.

I got to stay in in a Doubletree Hotel Resort for a couple of days. The grounds were beautiful.

sea world doubletree hotel orlando
Palm trees! We do not have such things in Denver. My skin loved the humidity; my hair, not so much.

I was there to attend and speak at the Florida Adoption Council’s annual conference.

florida adoption council conference
Two days centered on post-adoption support.

Shortly after arriving, I met Ashley Mitchell, who was there to present as a birth mom, and who is the force of nature behind Big Tough Girl (TM).  (Ashley and I have known each other for awhile, but this was our first meeting. Of many, I hope.)  

ashley mitchell of big tough girl
Ashley is gorgeous inside and out. And you may be wondering if I’m wearing any clothes.

(Just to prove that I did wear clothes, here’s this.)

See how much my hair loves the humidity?
See how much my hair loves the humidity?

Adoption attorneys and social workers gathered around the theme of post-adoption support. The conference offered updates in adoption laws (adoption birth records are still sealed), as well as how to make adoption practices work better for the people who place a child, for the adoptive families that are formed, and for the children themselves.

Ashley spoke to the latter, as did a panel of adopted persons, as did I.

Lori Holden speaking at Florida Adoption Council
Ready to roll: My hair was on fleek for about 5 minutes. By the time I got downstairs to my breakout room, it was again on frizz.

My workshop was titled “What Today’s Climate of Openness Means To You: Setting Up Your Clients for Long-term Success.”

what adoption agencies need to know
…whatever “success” might mean.

I covered how, with the Internet and advances in DNA testing, adoption professionals must help their clients realize that nothing is really closed any more, and that they must prepare folks for not just contact, but true openness, for relationships. For mess and for clarity, for grief and for healing, for waning and waxing, for hard things and for rewarding things.

I covered my definition of openness, which is dealing with What Is. And my definition of closedness — not dealing with What Is, maybe not dealing at all. I shared the possible consequences of each approach.

consequences of openness in adoption
Who would want all that stuff on the left for their sons and daughters?

The attendees were incredibly receptive to the message. Many said during later during lunch that they had been wanting a simple way to help their families embrace openness. They were happy to have a framework that will enable them to easily articulate to clients both the why and the how of cultivating openness in their relationships.

I’ll take all that over Disney any day.

More on this topic:


This post is part of #MicroblogMondays? Whazzat? A post that’s not too long. Head to Stirrup Queens to join the fun.

Lori Holden, mom of a young adult daughter and a young adult son, writes from Denver. She was honored as an Angel in Adoption® by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

Find Lori’s books on her Amazon Author page, and catch episodes of Adoption: The Long View wherever you get your podcasts.

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11 Responses

  1. Oh, I wish I could have seen you speak! The conference sounds amazing, and inclusive. I feel like Florida and sleek hair are not friends… so I’m amazed yours looked so amazing even for those moments! And ha, the naked picture. 🙂 What a great experience.

  2. Very cute, frizzy hair or no! (I can relate – it’s one of the reasons I’ve cut my hair off.)

    I’m glad you’re able to help adoption professionals, and in turn the families and adoptees.

  3. Disney would have been the icing on the cake? 🙂

    I love that concept of accepting the What Is. I think it’s applicable to so many places in life where our openness to the situation (rather than trying to deny it) could serve us better. Trying to look at the what is today and move with it rather than against it.

  4. I’ve never done the Disney thing – only time I’ve been that part of Florida was for a Tupperware convention! Your event sounds like it was as amazing as the smiles you and Ashley had. Oh, and Blucifer – holy cannoli, Batman!

  5. Well, they got a sweet deal on a speaker at that meeting! Too bad it was in Orlando, though – you could have met me in St. Pete too. I hope that everyone who attended took away a lot of good information.

    And if Orlando was anything like St. Pete, you should be looking like a giant puddle of Lori, instead of merely slightly frizzy. IT WAS SOOOO HOT THERE!!!!

  6. I think one of the greatest things you do for people (one of your greatest gifts, to be sure) is how you whittle down all of the huge anxiety-filled, scary unknowns of adoption and open adoption and bring them to a human, person-to-person, one-on-one level that people feel they can not only understand but handle. I’m sure you’re a great comfort to the people whom you advise.

  7. The consequences list is great information. Reading it, I can only think, yeah, that’s so easy and should be easy knowledge, but I can also see how it isn’t. I love that you make it simple and easy for anyone to understand. And like Mel said, it can be applied to many facets of life.

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