Homework and Tools

So, some of you already know that I participate in a couple of online forums/discussion board relating to transracial adoption. And sometimes my posts here come from something I’ve read on one of the other sites. That’s the case with this one.

A recent thread asked what do you wish you’d known before you adopted your child. My answer was that I wish I’d better understand that dealing with adoption issues would be a lifelong journey for our family, not something that required only an initial adjustment period. But it was a couple of other comments that spurred this post.

One member talked about having the right “tool” to help your child, and I love that idea. So many parents I interact with (both online and IRL) aren’t on an adoption continuing education program. They might have read a book or two before their child came home. Or maybe they feel like that raising an adopted child is in no way different from raising a biological one. Or I’ve also heard several times that “it didn’t matter how much I read because nothing prepared me for the reality anyway.”

So I loved the idea of having the right tool for your child. But to have the right tool, you must have a toolbox. And for adoptive parents that toolbox is education and knowledge.

Yes, every adopted child is unique and each one may need different tools and approaches. But the fact is that human nature is human nature, meaning that we all have many commonalities among us too. So even though our children are unique, we can learn ways to help them by reading books and blogs, attending seminars and classes, and listening to the stories of those who have gone before us. Then we file it all away so it’s accessible when issues do arise. Having that information tucked away means you’re more likely to recognize an issue for what it is (adoption-related) instead of passing it off as age or phases. Then you know where to go to get the right tool for the job.

Another mother said she felt prospective parents should be asked to do “homework” before their child comes home. In doing this homework they would be asked to locate resources in their area and online that will be helpful as they raise their child (ethnic community resources like cultural schools/camps, restaurants, markets;  therapists in the area that work with attachment; online resources about adoption and cultural information; and adoption support groups). Then once the child is home, the legwork has been done and the parents know where to turn for help. That’s an awesome idea!

It’s true that book learning isn’t going to completely prepare you for the real-life experience of adoption parenting. But in my opinion without book learning, you’ll be completely lost as an adoptive parent. Yes, I’m only four years into my adoption parent journey. But one thing I’ve learned is that without education, most of it coming since our child came home, I really have  no hope on becoming an expert on my own child. If I don’t understand the role that adoption, trauma, loss, and race play in his life, I can never truly understand him and what he’s going through. Without true understanding, I can’t really help him as he processes his experiences.

It’s only through continuing education that I understand some of the ideas and thoughts my son has about our current, very unsettled existence. Only because I’ve made a concerted effort to gain knowledge and understanding can I approach the job of parenting my son with the right tools.

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My Korean Culture Blog

Just a reminder that if you want to learn more about Korean culture (both traditional and pop culture), language resources, and cooking, check out my other blog: thekoreanway.wordpress.com It's filled with resources for adoptive families or anyone interested in Korean culture.

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Be Strong, Geum-Soon
Please Teach Me English
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