adoption narrative

Is There a Hidden Danger in the Adoption Story You’re Telling Your Child?

I’d never heard of an “entrance narrative” in adoption before talking with Joanna Ivey, this month’s guest on Adoption: The Long View. I now see how important it is that we be mindful of the adoption stories we tell our child — and ourselves.

Entrance narratives are the stories we tell about how our child joined our family. We create them to answer questions others have about the decision to create a family through adoption.

What plays well for one audience doesn’t play well for another.

Joanna Ivey, Ep 305 of Adoption: The Long View

What Adoptive Parents Must Know to Do No Harm

How we see ourselves as adoptive parents is intricately tied with how we see our children — and ultimately how they see themselves. Heroic narratives like “saving a child,” and innocuous ones like “we were meant to be together” may have unintended effects that parents don’t see on the front end — until after damage has been done.

the adoption stories we tell our child can help them or hurt them

Here to talk about taking the longer view right from the start – or wherever you are now – is a woman who is both an adoptee and an adoptive parent. Joanna Ivey helps us understand why such feel-good sentiments for parents, ones we often use as our “entrance narratives,” don’t always land in the intended way for the adoptee.

She also reveals ways to frame our adoption stories to be more accurate, more loving, and more effective in building connections for the adoptee, for ourselves, and between the two of us.

Ep 305 with Joanna Ivey: Adoptee, Adoptive Mom, Adoption Educator

It’s tempting for adoptive parents to package our grief, loss, and anger into a narrative that makes us the hero of the story, to say that our journey was meant to be, or God’s plan.

It’s okay to start there,
but not to stay there.

Joanna Ivey, Ep 305 of Adoption: The Long View

Joanna Ivey is an adult adoptee in reunion – and an adoptive parent. She helps prospective adoptive parents understand adoptee perspectives through her work as the owner of Our Chosen Child Adoption Profile Design.

Through her work with families she understands the complex emotions that bring people to adoption, and the questions adoptive parents have as they’re trying to understand the impact of adoption on adoptees. She educate sher client families so they are empowered to be better parents in the long run.

Prefer to read? Here’s a transcript (but listening is so much better!).

If your narrative has you as the hero and the child as being saved, your community will see you as a gift to your child, and your child will always carry the burden of being ‘saved.’

When you honor their birth parents through your actions and words, you reinforce to your child that their biology is a gift, that they are wonderful from the inside out.

Joanna Ivey, Ep 305 of Adoption: The Long View

In addition to her work with adoptive families Joanna is a speaker, writer, and sits on two national committees focused on adoption and ethics.

Listen in to hear:

  • How an entrance narrative can unintentionally hurt an adoptee.
  • What to consider when telling ourselves our adoption story.
  • Ways to make our adoption stories adoptee-centric rather than parent-centric.
  • How to make a course correction in an adoption story you’ve been telling.
  • The most important thing you need to know early in your journey as an adoptive parent taking the long view. Joanna’s answer is off-the-beaten path, and you’re going to want to hear it.

Show Notes for Episode 305 with Joanna Ivey

How to Tune In Regularly

adoption the long view

You can find us on any podcast platform and on Adopting.com.

A new episode comes out the first Friday of the month. Thank you for sharing, subscribing, and rating this episode!

guide to living in open adoption

Lori Holden, mom of a teen son and a young adult daughter, writes from Denver. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available through your favorite online bookseller and makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life. Catch episodes of Adoption: The Long View wherever you get your podcasts.

Lori was honored as an Angel in Adoption® in 2018 by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

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