The first exercise of the day was a reflection. We were asked to look at a set of characteristics that are necessary for successful parents and assess whether we feel we have them. One of them stuck out to me: "Awareness that healing doesn't come quickly, not all wounds can be healed, and your child may not attach to your family." While this was certainly a hard thing to hear, it is also reassuring. We're not adopting with the idea of "saving" a child. We fully recognize how very very challenging this path will be. I regularly read many blogs about adoptive parents struggling with their kids' Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). We're adopting because we believe EVERYONE deserves to be loved. EVERYONE deserves to have a family who supports and encourages them. I have hope because I believe that God can heal all wounds and soften all hearts. I am also realistic that faith in a loving God does not promise a perfect outcome. I accept that healing and attachment may not come, but I step out in faith because of the great love that I have.
A little while later in the training we did an activity to look at the racial make-up of people we regularly interact with. We had beads in a variety of colors, each representing a different race. The trainer would read a statement and we would place the corresponding colored bead into a cup. The statements were things such as, "My immediate family is...", "My close friends are...", "People who visit my home are...". After the statements had been read, the trainer asked us to look into our cups and consider what life would look like for a child of a different race. It's hard to put myself in that position. I was thankful to see that my cup was not all white, but it certainly was heavily tilted in that direction. I think my time teaching at St. Martin has helped me understand some of the challenges, but I think trans-racial adoption is an area that I want to read more about.
The remainder of the training was mostly dedicated towards talking about general issues that children who are adopted might have - grief, loyalty, control, self-esteem, etc. Much of this I felt was a duplicate either from past RAPT trainings or from my own reading. One new piece was our discussion about claiming, "the process by which the adoptive parents come to accept the adoptive child as their own as a full-fledged member of the family." To illustrate this, our trainer used examples from the movie The Blind Side. First she talked about how the family claimed Michael by including him on their Christmas card, which is an obvious statement to the world about claiming. She also talked about claiming in the scene where Michael sits down at the dining room table to eat Thanksgiving dinner and the family, who is previously eating in front of the tv comes to join him. This is an example where claiming can mean the bio family joining in with a tradition or desire from the adoptive child.
These illustrations from The Blind Side made me want to see the movie again, so John and I rented it on Saturday night. I remember enjoying the movie last time I watched it, but I certainly didn't cry as much as I did this time! While the movie certainly tells an uplifting story about adoption, it ends with showing images and news articles about those who were not so lucky. Sometimes I am overwhelmed with emotion when I think about the grave inequities in our world. Watching the movie made me want to read more about the real story, so I requested two books from the library: Michael Oher's book, I Beat the Odds and the Tuohy's book, In a Heartbeat. I'll be sure to post reviews after I read them!
Sorry this post was a little disjointed and rambling, but that's just how I roll :-)