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.
I’m not worthy.
I’ll be whatever you need me to be.
— Lesli Johnson,
Marrriage & 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:
Continue reading Do You See a Baby as a Blank Slate? Lesli Johnson on the Neuroscience of Adoption
- 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…“
It takes a strong back and a soft front to face the world.
— Roshi Joan Halifax, Zen teacher,
as quoted by NYT best-selling author
Elizabeth Lesser in Cassandra Speaks
and by Brené Brown, PhD on Unlocking Us —
And, I submit, to cultivate an vibrant and effective open adoption — as you’ll discover with this latest episode of Adoption: The Long View.
Three things converged as I prepared for this episode.
First, The Talk
I interviewed Kim Court, a birth mom who placed her son for adoption in 1988, and Linda Marie Mueller, who became an adoptive mom to a son in 1992. Both are my friends, and I have long wondered how each of them figured out how to create a healthy open adoption way back in its early days, before practically anyone else was doing it and before there was much guidance on it.
Prefer to read Episode 10? Here’s a transcript (but listening is so much better). Continue reading Strong Back, Soft Front, Wild Heart: Two Open Adoption Pioneers on Figuring it Out
I was surprised at how much positive shift there was in families’ approaches and beliefs about open adoption. That gave me hope that adoptive parents can change and adapt. They come to see the birth family as human beings, and they’ve developed empathy for people who they may have been fearful of.
They might have initially approached theoretical birth parents with suspicion or fear.
But they open up and grow.
— Abbie Goldberg, PhD,
Professor of Psychology and
Director of Women’s and Gender Studies
at Clark University, —
Abbie Goldberg, PhD, on How Adoptive Families Evolve Over Time
In this new podcast episode of Adoption: The Long View, Abbie Goldberg, PhD, tells us
Continue reading Abbie Goldberg, PhD: What New Research Reveals about Adoptive Families
- how families tend to change over time regarding openness;
- how their level of openness/closedness impacts their children;
- the role of adoption agencies in setting expectations on both sides;
- and other wisdom gleaned from 15 years of following adoptive families.