Tag Archives: bad advice

4 Problems with NBC TODAY Parents Adoption Article

Beware any article that paints open adoption as terrible. Beware any article that paints open adoption as wonderful. Open adoption — which occurs when people come together under less-than-optimal circumstances — is a mix of the sublime and the sorrowful.

I was encouraged when I saw a headline for a TODAY Parents article: “Open Adoption is not something to fear.” That statement, I believe, is true. If parents are entering into the lifelong responsibility of adopting a child, they need to be willing and able to give her, over her lifetime, all she needs to become whole and integrated. This means adoptive parents must be willing to identify and resolve their own fears and insecurities  about not being the Only in their child’s life. (As the author says, she was “scared to death” about having to share her child. But she worked through that fear, as adoptive parents need to do).

So I’m on board with the title.  But much of what comes after that is problematic. Here are the top 4 issues that jump out at me.

4 problems with today parents adoption article

1. The Word “Our”

The article’s subheading “Finding Our Birth Mom” violates two oft-invoked rules in cross-triad groups, groups that seek to understand the perspectives of adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents.

Continue reading 4 Problems with NBC TODAY Parents Adoption Article

Dear Abby, We Need to Talk About Gotcha!

gayle swift on dear abby adoptionGayle Swift here, guesting in Lori’s space. She wasn’t ready to take on another adoption expert so soon after the last one, but seeing as how I have strong feelings about Gotcha, as well as ideas on a more attuned approach, I am happy to step in with my own advice.

Dear Abby: Three Reasons to Rethink Gotcha

Abby, you recently responded to a letter from an adoptive parent who wanted to share how she informed her child about his being adopted. Her solution was to celebrate his “Gotcha Day,” the day he joined their family. By making it a party day she hoped to take the sting out of telling him he was adopted (how and when to tell are a whole ‘nother issue).

While the intent of this unfortunate term is positive, the reality is a bit off the mark. It is good that Mom wants to strengthen her relationship with her child and tell him the truth, and you affirmed her celebration of this significant day. But please consider why “Gotcha Day” needs further evaluation.

  • First, “Gotcha” focuses on the parental experience instead of the child’s.
  • Second, it objectifies the child, like a prized toy that was finally acquired.
  • Third, “Gotcha” is often a term used to indicate victory or advantage over another person. Adoption is a life-altering experience for a child. “Gotcha” frames it in negative or depersonalizing language. This is not the best foundation for building a family; it almost certainly was not what this mom intended.

Alternatives to Gotcha

An adjustment in language can help. Some more suitable titles are: Arrival Day, Homecoming, Family Day, Johnny’s Day. They are all better choices because they affirm relationships and center on the child’s experience. Remember there are two sides to his special day: the happy part about joining a permanent, loving family, and the sad part, losing the family to which he was born. Be prepared for your child to feel mixed emotions. His attitude toward this day may evolve over time as he comes to understand how adoption delivered losses along with gains.

dear abby gotcha

Continue reading Dear Abby, We Need to Talk About Gotcha!

More Mucked Up Adoption Advice from Dear Abby

Dear Abby,

I wonder if you might consider outsourcing responses to questions you get about adoption. It’s evident from your previous misguided advice that you are sometimes out of your element adoption-wise. Let me get readers up to speed on this latest request for adoption advice.

Dear Abby adoption questions

Dear Abby: Should We Let Birth Grandparents In?

Uncertain Down South said that she and her husband met their daughter’s birth parents briefly in the hospital at the time of her birth, but the birth parents wanted no further contact. Continue reading More Mucked Up Adoption Advice from Dear Abby

Dear Abby Misses the Mark on Adoption Question

Dear Needs Help in Indiana,

It must feel like walking on eggshells for an adoptee to live in an Either/Or world. If you even think about your birth mom, some will judge you as disloyal to the woman who is raising you.  Because, y’know, there is room for only one set of “real” parents in Either/Or world.  About the anger you’re feeling toward your birth mom, you’re told — by Dear Abby, no less — to wait until you’re older to search for her, and in the meantime to just get over it (which is not all that helpful unless the advice also includes how to do so).

dear abby

I wish for you and my own similarly-aged daughter to instead grow up in a Both/And world. In this world, we don’t need to negate one mother in order to legitimize the other. In this world we acknowledge that both biology and biography have value in making a person who she is. In this world we encourage our kids to claim and be claimed by both their clans. In this world we strive to give our teen access to all her pieces (even if that means just wondering and talking about those missing pieces) as she does the hard work of building her identity.

It’s my belief that allowing for healing that split will, in itself, ameliorate some of the intense emotions you’re feeling.

I’m sorry that you are struggling and feeling angry. I wonder if being able to talk openly about your anger would ultimately help you release it. You are wise to see that unresolved anger can spill over into your relationships with friends and family members. Instead of stuffing down your feelings until some later date when you search for your birth mother, my advice would be to enlist your parents’ help* now to find an adoption-competent therapist.  To start your search for one, check with  Brooke, Judy, or Sherrie, all in Indiana.

Bring this book to your first therapy appointment and ask your counselor to read it, if s/he hasn’t already.

Come to think of it, maybe I should send a copy of Adoption Therapy to Dear Abby.

Being 13 is hard. Being 13 and having complex feelings about adoption and no one to process with is super hard. Please. Find someone to talk with you about it. There are people who know this path and can help you along your way.

Best wishes,
Lori in Colorado

* If you think they might not be open-hearted about this, ask them to read this book first.

Image by Benmckune at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

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Lori Holden's book coverLori Holden, mom of a teen son and a teen daughter, blogs 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.