The Best Advice for Adoptive Parents Taking the Long View of Their Children’s Lives

Roundup: Best Advice from 12 Adoption Thought Leaders

It’s very easy to center yourself in everything.
We adoptive parents think about ourselves
and our needs, and that’s natural.

But I try really hard to remember that I’m the person
with the most power in this dynamic.
Always, I get to make the choices.
I’m the one with the legal standing.
I have more power than my daughter.
I have more power than her mom.

So it’s my responsibility to step back sometimes
and give power where I can.


Leah Campbell, single adoptive mom & author of
The Story of My Open Adoption
in Ep1

Episode 12 of Adoption: The Long View

With Episode 12 we close out our first season. What a success it’s been! I’m so grateful for all of you for listening. Thank you for tuning in, for sharing with others, and for continuing to support us.

Prefer to read Episode 12? Here’s a transcript (but listening is so much better).

I’m also grateful for the 12 amazing guests who talked with me during Season 1, a remarkable group made up of 4 adoptees, 4 birth parents, 4 adoptive parents, 1 researcher, 4 activists, 1 therapist, and 1 in a double-position (don’t even try with the math!).

Each has delved into the complexities of adoption in a way that helps us become more comfortable and effective at the difficult parts of adoptive parenting. I’ve found that these parts get easier just by acknowledging them, being willing to look at them.

Continue reading The Best Advice for Adoptive Parents Taking the Long View of Their Children’s Lives

Do You See a Baby as a Blank Slate? Lesli Johnson on the Neuroscience of Adoption

Separation from one’s biology — it really changes the way people view themselves in the world. Some common themes and beliefs adoptees have are:

It’s not safe to trust.
I’m not lovable.
People leave.
I’m not worthy.
I’ll be whatever you need me to be.

Lesli Johnson,
Marriage & Family Therapist,
adoptee, adoption thought leader —

Lesli Johnson, MFT, on What Adoptive Parents Need to Know about Adoptees

Therapist and adoptee Lesli Johnson, my latest guest on Adoption: The Long View, was a consultant about adoption and parenting themes for the Hulu series Little Fires Everywhere. Lesli also wrote an article many years ago that goes viral just about every year. In 10 Things Adoptees Want You to Know, Lesli reveals so many of the things we adoptive parents need to know to create the trusting and connected parent-child relationships we long for.

What Happens When We See Baby as a Blank Slate?

For decades, we considered an adopted baby as a blank slate and formed our adoption and parenting practices accordingly.

In this episode, Lesli and I explore old concepts about newborns, babies, and toddlers in light of newer research in neuroscience. We cover what this means for more effective approaches to adoption and parenting today — knowing what we now know. Here’s some of what you’ll hear:

  • Is a newborn baby a blank slate?
  • The nature vs nurture argument.
  • Implicit memory, grief and loss, loyalty and wondering about/searching for birth parents.
  • The easy-to-shift mindset that can keep adoptive parents from evoking divided loyalty in their child (painful!).
  • How adoptees are in reunion whether they’re searching or not.
  • A special story at the 22 minute mark: “I have permission to tell this story. Their son was 8 years old, he was having trouble in school. His parents wanted me to work with him. And he was adopted…
Many see a baby as a blank slate. Therapist Lesli Johnson talks about the latest brain science.
Continue reading Do You See a Baby as a Blank Slate? Lesli Johnson on the Neuroscience of Adoption

To the Woman Who Longs to Be a Mom and Who Says “I Want a Closed Adoption”

Hello, 30something woman on baby forums and infertility groups. May I call you Jessica? You don’t know me, but I was once where you were. I had finally met the man of my dreams, the guy I wanted to build a life with, the father of my future children. I felt so lucky!

Then after a few years of near-unbearable amounts of physical and emotional pain and expense, it became clear we could not make a baby. No way, no how. End of story. Not gonna happen. So WRONG. So unfair. So unlucky.

It was the most horrible thing I’d ever been through. It almost broke me. I was so deeply hurt. Angry. Jealous. Lost. Devastated. I couldn’t take much more. I wanted to be a mom. Was that so wrong? People do this effortlessly — even accidentally! — all the dang time.

Adopting After Infertility

Eventually, we set foot on the path of adoption. Surely after all we’d been through, the gods would bless us with an easy path. Surely we deserved something simple and doable. After all that bad luck, things had to even out, right? Please god, just bring us a baby. We will be the best parents ever. I promise promise promise.

Continue reading To the Woman Who Longs to Be a Mom and Who Says “I Want a Closed Adoption”

adoption, parenting, mindfulness, open adoption