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Rita Soronen, CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption

We are all homing pigeons at heart.
We know our families. We crave our families.

Rita Soronen,
President & CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption,
in Ep 208 of Adoption: The Long View

Have you ever eaten a meal at Wendy’s? Perused the list of top Adoption Friendly Workplaces? Felt an ache in your heart about children who are in foster care, growing up without a permanent family taking care of them, loving them, teaching them all the things people need to know to be independent and prosper?

If so, you may already be acquainted with this episode’s guest, Rita Soronen, who is President and CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (DTFA).

Dave Thomas founded Wendy’s restaurant chain in 1969. He was adopted as a very young child and became an advocate for foster children in his adulthood, founding the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption in 1992, with the mission of finding homes for children who need them.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month

Each year, 20,000 teenagers age out of foster care, leaving them at higher risk of homelessness, unemployment, and other negative outcomes. DTFA and Wendy’s Wonderful Kids programs are working to reduce that figure.

It is my pleasure to present Rita Soronen in the November episode of Adoption: The Long View, as this is National Adoption Awareness Month. This designation was originally established with the focus on finding permanent homes for children who needed them, but has grown to also cover domestic infant adoption (not without controversy; less awareness is necessary for newborns needing a home as opposed to older children needing a home).

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What an Adoption-Competent Therapist Thinks You Need to Know

Turn on the lights. If things are in the dark, you are reinforcing that Shame Core. So have a practice of “Hey, we have the lights on about this. We’re turning on the lights for you. We’re turning on the lights for me. We’re all looking at our stuff because this is just part of being a person and it’s definitely part of being a family built by adoption.”

Jen Winkelmann, MA, LPC, NCC,
in Ep 207 of Adoption: The Long View

Not every adoptive family will need an adoption-competent therapist on hand, but many will at some point. This is not to pathologize adoption; lots of non-adoptive families also end up also seeking therapy for various struggles. But adoptive families are statistically more likely to reach out for help. There are many possible reasons why, and those are beyond the scope of this episode. Instead, we’re coming at the topic of Adoption-Competent Therapy from this stance: you might one day need it, and when you do, you’ll want to already know about it.

In truth, parents themselves need to become adoption-competent, and it goes without saying, you don’t do that just by adopting a baby. So how DOES an adoptive parent become more adoption competent? For one thing, listen | to | adoptee | voices. Another thing you can do is to learn about adoption-competent therapy, which you’ll want to access long before you are in the throes of needing it.

Let’s take this first step by talking with a highly-regarded adoption-competent therapist, Jen Winkelmann, MA, LPC, NCC, about what you need to know and do for your beloved child.

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I attended a session a few years ago at the annual conference of the National Council For Adoption when it was in Denver, and I was blown away by the presentation of Jen Winkelmann and her colleagues at Inward Bound. I have also come to know Jen in other capacities, and I’m so excited to welcome her for Episode 207 of Adoption: The Long View.

Do Adoptive Families Really NEED an Adoption-Competent Therapist?

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How to Make Room for a Child By Dealing with Infertility Grief

Q: With your own parents, how do you think writing, or some sort of grief clearing, would have served you as their daughter?

Anne: It would have felt like I was driving a car that the windshield had been cleaned, instead of driving a car with a really dirty windshield and always having to focus on the dirt.

Anne Heffron, adoptee,
in Ep 206 of Adoption: The Long View

No baby should be born with a job, as Dr Phil has said (yup, he’s more entertainer than therapist, just like Dr Laura, but in this case it is good advice). It’s just too much to expect a baby to fix anything — a relationship, a heart, a life.

But many people come to infant adoption after experiencing infertility and enduring some sort of loss. They might think that finally getting a baby and filling their empty arms will heal all the hurt.

And it does heal some of the hurt. Adopting a baby does resolve parenting, but it does nothing to address the wounds of infertility, which can be deep and enduring.

Grief doesn’t go away on its own; it needs to be addressed and processed. But how?

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This month’s guest for Episode 206 of Adoption: The Long View is an expert on one way to process and possibly even release big emotions like grief. Anne Heffron is the daughter of parents who hadn’t worked through their feelings of inadequacy and insecurity, who hadn’t resolved their own losses prior to adopting their three children. Parents who couldn’t talk about adoption when Anne tried to bring it up with them.

Anne wrote through her own big emotions one summer a few years ago, resulting in her memoir You Don’t Look Adopted. Since then, her Write or Die! method has had a profound impact helping people heal their wounded places and make way for their next chapter.

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