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.”
Have you ever wondered how to be a more adoption-competent or trauma-informed parent? Today’s guest, adoptive mom Adi Tilford, shares with you how she works to be a therapeutic parent and create for her children a therapeutic home. She has 3 questions that can get you thinking along the same lines.
Adi Tilford on Therapeutic Parenting
The evening started out like most: kids playing, and a feeling of weekend welcome enveloping the house.
Then our usual babysitter cancelled, cascading our children into chaos. Tired, my husband and I canceled our outing. Instead, we used our COVID date-night trick: the children watched a movie in one room, we had dinner outside and joined them after dinner.
As bedtime approached, one of our children became dysregulated. The child’s concern — ill-timed, unexpected, yet familiar to us — had the potential to escalate into fight or freeze or flight, any of which would shut down communication and connection entirely. In the past I might have spent the night arguing, ignoring or lecturing, locked in an unwinnable battle, failing to read the underlying need.
This time, though, I got intentional about being a therapeutic parent.
To launch the probe into her closed adoption, Julie McGue first needed the support of her twin sister. They made a pact: Julie would approach their adoptive parents for the adoption paperwork and investigate search options, and the sisters would split the costs involved to locatie their birth relatives. But their adoptive parents weren’t happy that their daughters want to search for their birth parents — and that was only the first of many obstacles Julie would come up against as she dug into her background.