After being immersed in adoption and learning more and about our kids and their past experiences, I’ve been learning some important things that are never taught by the adoption agencies. Or, being in the throes of the process doesn’t allow us to assimilate all the information that’s being thrown at us as we try to navigate through the emotions and logistics. Parenting for several years and building my adoption-tribe in the process has lead to more learning opportunities as all of us parents try to navigate our kids’ specific needs.
Let me make this clear before going on. One of the biggest lessons I have learned is that even though our kids are adopted from birth (and no risk factors identified), they have undergone trauma that affects their development. It’s easy to see trauma associated with a foster or international adoption story.
The idea of getting a therapist for a 5-year-old was first one that I fought against. Like, really? Is it just “the age” or is there something else going on? Well, we did it, and there was definitely something else going on. So, that was a good move. It makes for logistical challenges, sure, and it takes up a lot of time, and it brings up all kinds of sh*it for me personally. But it’s the best move we’ve made for our kid. Second kid is not far behind…
So, how to choose a therapist? I wanted to use the therapist we chose because we had taken a Transracial Adoption Bootcamp from her, when X was a baby and I knew I wanted to work with her. I didn’t even research any other therapists. I had a good feeling about her, about her focus, her background, and how she could help our kid. In my own experience choosing therapists, I haven’t been so intuitive (or I’ve ignored what my intuition was telling me), but this one was a perfect match.
As we’ve worked with her, it’s been a continually growing experience for us as parents learning how to support an intelligent kid who has things to work through. I’ve had to be talked down about homework (it doesn’t happen anymore), I’ve had to learn how to navigate a disorganized school administration in order to get my kid help and accommodations. I’ve had to deal with a teacher who has not been the best fit for my kid, or us. I’ve had to fight to get the accommodations (currently working through that frustrating piece now), and I don’t think I’d be doing this if we hadn’t been open to the idea of therapy. We wouldn’t have known what drives him to certain behaviors and how it’s hardwired into his brain, or that certain things can trigger him differently than other kids. We wouldn’t have known when to step in at the school and say, “this isn’t working”. I mean, we all think we’ll be able to do that, but for me and S, it’s tough. We’re pretty compliant people and tend to do what we’re told to do and if we weren’t both working really hard to be attuned to our kid instead of outside expectations, we’d be floundering and not serving our kids’ needs. We mostly feel like we’re floundering anyway, but trust me, it would be so much worse.
In our case, an adoptee-therapist is invaluable.
If you are considering therapy or currently searching for a therapist, check this out! An adoptee-therapist directory. All these therapists are themselves adoptees. I think that goes a long way in the type of care they are able to provide to other adoptees.