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Parenting with Narratives: The A, B, C's of Adoption Stories

Bonding & Attachment Post-Adoption Therapy

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  Written by Jean MacLeod on 14 Jan 2016

"All children struggle with "Who am I?" as well as "Who are we--as a family?” The story of the life of an adopted child "needs to go deeper" than statements of fact. The adopted child needs to experience her story from many perspectives and with both the mind and the heart. He needs to know that the mystery of his spirit is fully welcomed by his adoptive parents. She needs to know that her unique story has its place among the community of stories that have emerged over the generations, among the cultures and nations of the world. By bringing stories into the home and by creating their own stories--together--parent and child are jointly creating interwoven stories of their family history.

Stories need to have a central place in the ongoing development of the adoptive family." (Daniel A. Hughes, Ph.D.)

Once Upon a Time is a magical phrase that conjures up a faraway world from long, long ago. For our internationally adopted children, it is also a phrase that bridges the huge chasm between their early lives and who they are now. When life feels like a fairytale of good and evil, love and loss, reality and fantasy, it sometimes takes a story to create sense and meaning. How will your child see her or his adoption? What “story” will they read into their own lives as they gain awareness of what happened to them as young children? Parenting narratives (stories with purpose) help the child to see a complex tale from different perspectives, and can give a child the opportunity to examine serious thoughts and emotions in a familiar format. They also allow the parent to present the truth in several age-appropriate ways and provide point-of-views that are personally empowering to the adoptee.

Parenting narratives can take shape through a parent’s use of

• Children’s literature

• The oral tradition of storytelling (a favorite at bedtime)

• A co-created Lifebook

• Adoption videos or photographs

Realizing that there are gentle and creative ways to approach the issues of adoption and the intense feelings of adoptees, and that children’s books and story-telling can help provide the tools, is a relief for all of us adoptive parents who have taken on this monumental job without much tech support.

A child’s attunement to his or her adoptive parents, and co-creating a Life Narrative with an adopted child, are both part of an overlapping, circular process. The parent-child narratives

Adoption issues are normal. Some require a therapist’s attention, but the issues that most often get expressed by adoptees are usually addressed at home by mom or dad. We want our children to express all of their feelings surrounding adoption because it allows us to do our job: we are the responsible parent and we need to encourage, support, listen to, and walk with our adopted children through their personal stories and beliefs.

The benefits of Parenting Narratives are what I call The A, B, C’s of Adoption Stories:

Attunement and Attachment -- stories can help teach a post-institutional child the meaning of family, and help him or her to learn to love, trust and feel secure

Building Identity -- children need a foundation for “self”; they need the truth AND they need to feel empowered by their story. Kids can’t go forward without a past!

Communication and Connection -- children need to be able to talk about adoption’s tough stuff, and they need to be able to count on YOU being there next to them when they do

Our internationally adopted children come to us missing the first steps of the Dance of Attunement. Attunement happens between a newborn and a mom as they learn to pick up and respond to each other’s verbal and non-verbal cues. Voice, eye contact, facial expression and touch, all play into this amazingly essential give-and-take; a baby learns she has control over this all-important mom (equating to control over her own world), and she learns she can trust mom to understand and respond to her needs.

This natural dance between mom and baby is the foundation of attachment. It takes place in hundreds of moments every day, and is so hard-wired into healthy moms and bio-babies that it is not even noticed. When a child and a parent are attuned to each other the child is able to self-regulate. This doesn't mean that she is tantrum-free, but that she is able to draw upon the inner structures she has in place (from her mom) to calm down and make sense of her moods and feelings. A child who is securely attached is not ordinarily out-of-control angry or fearful; she is attuned to her mother's unspoken words and expectations. She knows the

A post-institutional kid has missed the early formative groundwork that moms and infants do with each other, and must be taught to attune/attach. It is much harder to do with an older baby, toddler or child who has had their trust bruised, but it is crucial in having the kind of bond (and behavior) that brings joy to the entire family. In order for us to have the relationships that we dreamed of having with our children, we need to work a little more at connecting to them—and we need to teach them to connect to us. Attunement is a graceful dance between two people who know the steps, who can both lead and follow, and who can anticipate the change in music…

How do we foster this dance, this connection, in our toddlers and older children? Most of us are not experienced attachment therapists or adoption social workers, yet we parents can do what moms and dads have always intuitively done to connect: we can create shared emotional experiences with our children. We can involve our children’s “perceptions, thoughts, intentions, memories, ideas, beliefs and attitudes” (Dan Siegel, MD). We can use our facial expressions, voice, and body movement to MATCH and/or RE-DIRECT our children’s affect and response. We can verbally help our children understand what they are feeling by communicating our own feelings.

We can tell stories.

Stories are universal and personal. They can be utilized as shared emotional experiences, and we can use dramatic voices and active body language to help our children become involved. We can share our own emotions, and help a child reflect back on their own. When we are aware of our children’s body signals and emotional cues, we can tailor our storytelling to feed our children’s needs.

We can connect on the cognitive level, and from our hearts.

Adopted children may need to re-learn to love, trust and feel safe. They may need to learn about families and relationships—children who have lived some or most of their young lives in an institution cannot be expected to understand the unseen structure of a family, or the role of a mom or dad. Stories and books don’t make attachment happen, and they don’t heal a traumatized child or cure attachment disorder. But used with a parent’s awareness of attunement, they can provide a “warm fuzzy” on the long chain of warm fuzzes that are necessary to build a loving relationship.

CHILDREN’S BOOKS can provide the tools to facilitate stories that promote parent-child attunement. Tools are not always easy to use… reading a story to a child is fun; reading a

Storybooks can assist children who are navigating a new environment. They can be used to begin a conversation or open a topic, and can be personalized to a child’s circumstances. Books are user-friendly and non-threatening, and can help a parent find the words that unlock shared feelings.

Parenting favorites that claim and celebrate the nurturing bond between a parent and young child:

Baby-Steps by Peter McCarty

I Love You Like Crazy Cakes by Rose A. Lewis

Even If I Did Something Awful by B. Shook Hazen

I Promise I’ll Find You by Heather P. Ward

Little Miss Spider by David Kirk

I Don’t Have Your Eyes by Carrie A. Kitze

Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joasse

The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

I Love You As Much… by L. Krauss Melmed

Hush Little Baby by Sylvia Long

Over the Moon: An Adoption Tale by Karen Katz

Tell Me Again About the Night That I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis

The Little Green Goose by Adele Sansone

Hazel’s Amazing Mother by Rosemary Wells

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell

Using Books to Create Closeness
Almost any book with any kind of happy or sad “feeling” can be used to leverage attunement. Older children can be similarly reached with a good tale and an exploration of its theme. I read the dog classic Lassie Come Home (the big, beautiful, illustrated version of the original, by Susan Jeffers / Rosemary Wells) to my nine year old, who had been adopted from China as a baby. We were both teary-eyed by the end of the story, and I took advantage of the opportunity. I asked, “How do you think Lassie felt when she was lost and all alone?”

We talked about poor Lassie, who had been abandoned and who was searching for her birthparents—oops! I mean human family. Well, you get the idea… adoption, and the feelings a child has about her/his adoption, can be discussed via a story without an older child shutting down. The attunement came after we discussed Lassie’s sad, dire circumstances: I told my daughter “If Lassie had been my dog, I never would have let her go! I would have searched every inch of England AND Scotland, and I never would have stopped looking until I found her!”

I didn't change the sad stuff the poor dog had to experience, but there is always more than one take we can make on every finish. "Changing the ending" of a sad story doesn't mean I stealthily add an ending that is happier... it means that I can help my child change HER PERSPECTIVE of the ending. The truth never changes, but our understanding of it can.

"Changing the ending" are words for a powerful tool: our parent voices giving our children alternate perspectives, choices, and control over circumstances they may encounter in their own lives. It doesn't mean censorship even in the ‘protective’ sense-- it means empowerment. Words ARE powerful and although they can be hurtful, they can also help heal and strengthen.

My daughter and I ended up in a hug after sharing our sadness (and relief over Lassie making it home!), sitting close together, both of us enjoying the moment and each other.

When using stories to do “the dance of attachment” with your child:

• Infuse your stories with drama and feeling

• Take verbal and non-verbal cues from your child (listen and watch!)

• Reciprocate with the next-step verbal/physical cue (show them!)

• Give actual words to shared emotion

• Encourage physical closeness

When reading stories, keep in mind:
Books that might appear “too young” for a child’s chronological age, may be very appropriate for that child’s emotional age. Do not hesitate to use younger-level picture books that have stories that touch all ages on a deeper level. The books do NOT have to be about adoption to be useful.

Reading a book with your child in your lap is cozy and comforting. Alternate with having your child sit directly in front of you, knee-to-knee, while holding the book up and open.

“The most powerful of our non-verbal communication instruments is the face. A child's face, and yours, is a barometer expressing interest, investment, curiosity, joy, fear, anger, confusion, or doubt.” (Dr. Bruce Perry)

Some children are wigglers, and have a difficult time sitting still to listen. Author Susan Olding suggests a solution that worked for her family:

"A few disastrous experiences showed me that if I ever hoped to get my daughter to accept me as I am (somebody who loves to snuggle up with a book or twenty), I'd also have to show her that I accept her as SHE is (somebody who NEEDS to move, to think!) So from the time she was about eighteen months on, I built in time before, between, and after stories to shake the sillies out. In our house this even included the special privilege of jumping on the bed. At that stage, I also read a lot of "action" books to her (Eric Carle's Head to Toe comes to mind) and we'd both act out the pictures. I also allowed her to turn pages (until and unless she sabotaged that, in which case I would just put the books away.)”

Use a lot of expression! Be passionate! Use gestures! Some children have difficulty in “getting” non-verbal cues, and are helped with story interpretation through exaggerated, dramatic interaction. Change the tone and volume of your voice (whisper to get a child’s attention). Stories with repetition and catchy say-aloud lines are fun to read together.

Be aware of your child’s physical and verbal cues. If a story makes him or her uncomfortable, stop and talk about it. Trust and emotional safety are key to attachment, and it is up to the parent to listen to the child, acknowledge the child’s discomfort, and take the lead in either continuing the story, deciding to offer another story, or by suggesting a different joint activity.

Story-time can be an example of “reciprocal communication of thoughts and feelings, and shared activities” (Dan Hughes, Ph.D). Dr. Hughes’ P.L.A.C.E philosophy --Playful, Loving, Accepting, Curious, and Empathic interactions--reinforces attunement, and according to Dr. Hughes, facilitates the capacity for fun and love. Ask your child specific questions about what they think and feel about the story. Share your own opinion/feelings. “Spin” the story and explore alternate endings. Have fun together!

There is no perfect, pre-determined set of children’s books that work for every child. Therapists that work with narratives believe that the parent understands the child better than anyone else, and will have a better feeling for stories that will touch the child on some emotional level.

Narratives are a PROCESS; There is no “right” way to tell a story; if you screw up, there’s always another chance to re-tell it!

Dealing with Disney; Disney movies are a particularly vivid form of cultural “storytelling” that children (and parents) either love and cherish, or hate and fear! We can use these films, if our children are open to them. Elaine Hannah wrote:

"Disney movies can be a wonderful starting point for discussing bigger life issues. When my daughter has expressed fear of the necessary mean character, be it witch, queen, or stepmother, I explain that without evil there can be no happy ending. Without a nasty character how would we measure the character of the good one? In life good things happen and bad things, there are good people and bad. There can't be one without the other. I try to boil the story down to the bone. There is challenge and evil, but courage and pureness of heart triumph and everyone lives happily ever after. Sometime on a daily basis."

A Disney movie, like a dark fairy-tale, is an opportunity for talk, and for a release of emotion. It is an opportunity for a parent to attune with a child and help them emotionally “re-write” the ending. We can use Disney to declare what we, as parents, would do to help our children no matter what happened. AND what our brave, creative, strong children could do to help themselves!

CLAIMING NARRATIVES take parent-child stories a step closer and deeper, and offer a warm and caring “re-write” to a missing early chapter of the relationship. Typically, a claiming narrative is told in first person using storytelling’s oral tradition, and is used to build or repair an emotional bond.

Claiming and Re-parenting
Mom or dad tells the story of how they would have taken care of the adopted child, if he or she had been born to them. The tale can begin in imaginary-utero and progress to the detailed, daily maintenance of a well-loved infant. Most children, even older children, like to be occasionally babied, and a claiming narrative allows a parent to physically act out caring for a “baby” while simultaneously telling the story. The emotional connection of re-enacting a happy, playful infancy is further reinforced by expressing the poignant, underlying wishes of both parent and child:

Mom: “I wish you had grown inside of me”; or, “I wish you had been my baby from the very first moment of your life”; or, “I wish I could have taken care of you the way you should have been taken care of”

Child: “I wish you had been my birthmother”; or, “I wish my birthmother could have taken care of me”

A child that expresses a wish to be with his or her birthmother is generally not taking a personal shot at the adoptive parent. A child feeling “safe” enough to express this kind of honesty is usually speaking to the loss that has rocked his or her world, and is not trying to be

Dan Hughes said that a parent that helps their child “co-construct an interpersonal reality gives a child the tools that she needs to make sense of the internal and external worlds in which we live.”

We parents give meaning to our children’s experience, and we help them learn to analyze how they feel and what they think. Our children borrow our strengths, and our filters, and by sharing ourselves (our thoughts AND emotions) we help them grow. Ultimately, an attuned dialogue on a sensitive topic like birthparents could prove to be an affirmation of the strength of the adoptive parent-child relationship. Children’s books can provide an introduction into this kind of sensitive parent/child dialog:

“I may never know you
but I wonder
who you are,
and what you look like.

Do you wonder too?

The full moon glows
heavy in the night sky
a beacon of
beauty and truth.

Why did you leave me?

It’s soft light
filters through rustling leaves,
making shadows
that play on the grass.

Do you remember me?”

(excerpted from We See the Moon by Carrie Kitze)

Claiming and Family Membership
Claiming narratives have traditionally been used to pass on a family’s history and rituals. Older adoptees can benefit from “family stories” that introduce their new family members (Great-Grandma Millie and Crazy Uncle Ed), and that include the adoptee in the group experience. It is a huge comfort for a child to feel that she belongs in her adopted family, that

Susan Olding made audio-tapes for her young daughter that recounted stories from Susan’s own childhood, and used the connecting power of a mother’s voice:

“The stories on my daughter’s most recent tape are indeed ‘family stories.’ Tales about me when I was a little girl, and a first version, storybook-style telling of her own baby story. The Family Narrative has been so important for my daughter. She ADORES those stories of my own childhood naughtiness or silliness. She likes to hear how her grandma (my mother) responded. This morning she asked me if Grandma was young when she adopted me. I gently reminded her that I was born to Grandma, not adopted by her. For a second I thought this might upset her. But instead, she said, "Hey! I know a birthmother!"”

A claiming narrative does what the Story Maven, Sharon Falter, states is the most important reason for reading books and telling stories in the first place:

“Storytelling creates a connection between people. What more can a parent give to their child than the gift of a story? It is a gift of meaning. It is a gift of understanding. And it is a gift of self.”

“When a child is born of the Bear clan, you’ve got to tell him what it means to be part of the Bear Clan. He’s got to be given a name that fits with Bear Clan customs. He’s got to know that he has this whole identity and that identity goes right back to the myth, right back to the beginnings of time. That is strength. That is power. That makes you feel good about who you are. And if you don’t know who you are, then you don’t know where anything else fits.” (Native American / retold by Rev. Katie Lee Crane of First Parish of Sudbury-UU)

Helping a child develop an identity that includes the past, the present and the future is integral for a child to feel whole. For adopted children five to ten years old, identity may be the consuming core issue. Their realization of the blank space in their early family history coincides with the hollow feeling they carry inside, with a profoundly sad result. They don’t know who they are.

How do we help our adopted children develop a sense of identity? Particularly, how do we help international adoptees feel pride about where they were born, AND help them be comfortable in the world they live in?

We can tell stories.

“I still wonder about my life in China.

I love my parents very much and I
wouldn’t want any other family, but
I think I will always miss knowing the
parents that weren’t mine to keep.

My mom says that I am a brave kid
and that my life has been an amazing
adventure—that I have experienced
enormous changes, and I have survived
them all. I like to think about it that way;
it helps me bring both my sides together.

I was born in China and now I’m from
here, and my before and after is all part
of who I am: one girl from two places
who is growing up to be at home in this
big, wide world.”

(excerpted from At Home in This World by Jean MacLeod)

As parents, we also tell stories to change a child’s view of themselves. For instance, the protagonist in At Home in This World has had sad things happen to her, but she is not a victim. She is coming to terms with her story and it’s enigma, and she is empowered by her (and her parent’s) particular view of her life. The Family would categorize At Home in This World as a “Successful Child Narrative”. The Dulwich Centre, specializing in Narrative Therapy, would call it an “Alternative Story”.

“There are many different sorts of stories by which we live our lives and relationships – including stories about the past, present and future. Stories can also belong to individuals and/or communities. There can be family stories and relationship stories.

An individual may have a story about themselves as being successful and competent. Alternatively they may have a story about themselves as being ‘a failure at trying new things’ or ‘a coward’ or as ‘lacking determination’… All these stories could be occurring at the same time, and events, as they occur, will be interpreted according to the meaning (plot) that is dominant at that time. In this way, the act of living requires that we are engaged in the mediation between the dominant stories and the alternative stories of our lives. We are always negotiating and interpreting our experiences.” (Alice Morgan, Dulwich Centre, Australia)

How do we negotiate and interpret these important stories about identity in a way that allows our children to really integrate what we are saying about them? A narrative can help to change a child’s reality (or “internal working model”, as trauma-specialist Dr. Bruce Perry calls it). Dr. Dan Siegel has been researching the kind of narratives that have the power to effect positive change in our adopted children. What he has found is that certain interactions can model and facilitate brain-integration of the thinking and feeling—the key is in using verbal and non-verbal signals at the same time to help integration of the story take place (language plus emotion, for example).

Dr Siegel uses the word collaboration for attunement, and he stresses that it can be taught to parents to use with their children. This includes involving a child by sharing “eye contact, facial expression, tone of voice, gestures and timing and intensity of response.” This also means sharing reflective dialogues about inner “thoughts, feelings, perceptions, memories, sensations, attitudes, beliefs and intentions.”

Both Dr. Siegel and Dr. Hughes have researched and clinically validated the importance of marrying thought and feeling when working on attunement/collaboration and attachment. It is impossible to really help a child deal with their adoption stories or adoption issues, without having or fostering parent-child attunement. It is the BASIS for telling stories, and on a much deeper level, for building a child’s identity. Healthy growth isn’t possible without a firm foundation.

Attunement with our children helps them to create their own positive self-image. Therapist Denise Lacher said, “If you change the story, you can change self-understanding.” I just call it “spin”, but they both work the same way. When you talk with your son or daughter about their birth story and abandonment, you have the power in your words to make your children feel like Heroes or like Victims. We are all multi-storied people, and we have choices we can make about our life-narratives.

Narrative Spaces
Narrative Therapy uses a correlating concept called “Narrative Spaces”, that is helpful to apply to our kids. Below, I am using an example with permission from the Dulwich Centre website, but applying it to an adoption story:

Picture Stonehenge. Between the gigantic boulders that form the circle, are big spaces. An adoptee is used to getting his or her story told by the big, powerful boulders (society-at-large and the media), and has not had much choice but to internalize a demoralizing reality: “unwanted, abandoned, unloved, left on a street corner.”

But the spaces “in between” the boulders are equally powerful. A parent can utilize those spaces to bring a different, alternative meaning to what the boulders have proclaimed. For example, the space-in-between: a child who was left on a street corner as a baby and later adopted is not a pathetic, perennially wounded kid. He/she

By helping our children to see the spaces in their story and in the world around them, we can give them a tool that is truthful and life-changing. Words have the power to change; it is a force majeure to hand that power to our children, so they know that the rest of their story, their ending, is within their control.

A pre-adoption life story, or Lifebook, can help define a narrative space, and an adopted child can better learn to acknowledge the empty places in her history when they are re-framed and normalized by the principal adult in her life. It's all about empowerment; a co-created Lifebook (shared words and emotion!) gives a child ownership of her life story, and all of her thoughts and feelings.

Dan Siegel said that we can “collaborate in the construction of a coherent reality for our child, and help them connect the past, present and future to create an autobiographical form of self-awareness.”

At Home in This World, a China adoption story by Jean MacLeod

Twice-Upon-a-Time: Born and Adopted by Eleanora Patterson

Before I Met You: A Therapeutic Pre-Adoption Narrative by Doris Landry, MS

When You Were Born in China by Sara Dorow

When You Were Born in Korea by Brian Boyd

When You Were Born in Vietnam by Therese Bartlett

Over the Moon: An Adoption Tale by Karen Katz

We See the Moon by Carrie Kitze

Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis

Through Moon and Stars and Night Skies by Ann Turner

When I Met You by Adrienne Ehlert Bashista

The 'Baby' Lifebook
A 'Baby' Lifebook is easily created by putting chronological photos in a sturdy mini album. Begin in your child’s birth country, with the earliest referral photos you have of your child. Include photos of the birth family, foster family or orphanage caretakers, if you are lucky enough to have them. Add photos of your child’s city or province, the local people and rural countryside (use the internet to obtain pictures if you or your friends were unable to take them yourselves). Periodically flip through the album with your young child, and matter-of-factly discuss each photo. No writing required! This automatically, naturally and regularly makes parents use words like adoption, birthmother, orphanage, abandonment, finding place, Baby House, and foster parents.

The photos also give parents a chance to talk about how the child must have felt at the time of each photo, judging by the facial expressions and body language in the pictures. Talking about the ‘emotion’ in the photos help children to think a little more deeply about what they are looking at, and helps parents get comfortable with adoption conversation. Use copies of the original photos for a Baby Lifebook, so that a child can keep the album on his own shelf. You can end the album at a first birthday at home, or first adoption anniversary, but it doesn't really matter; the focus just needs to be on the child’s life, pre-adoption, and on his transition to his new family and home.

Stories COMMUNICATE our thoughts and emotions. They CREATE A CONNECTION between people, AND between the past, present and future. Life Narratives are an identity tool that can present an opportunity to use stories and mixed media as part of an attuning activity. Creating a Lifebook, watching and discussing an adoption video, and looking at pre

ADOPTION VIDEOS and PHOTOGRAPHS can be used as a jump-off point to conversations about a child’s early life, and can give clues to a child’s pre-adoption history. Looking at these tools analytically, a parent and child can discern the emotions of all involved and sometimes deduce relationships, level of pre-adoptive care, and a physical and developmental history.

In looking at your child's adoption day video or photos and the first months or year at home, it's important to talk about the emotions that the baby in the images might have been feeling, and the emotions your child has today watching herself on tape. It's okay to talk about the fact that she might have been scared, or grieving a caregiver or foster family during the adoption, and you might point out how your own happy expression does/doesn't match hers in the video. Ask her if she can see the difference, and can she guess why?

"Where did I come from? What did my birthparents look like... what will I look like? What was my life like before I met you? Why was I abandoned?" are questions my daughter has asked me, and she and I have looked for clues together. We might never find definitive answers, but we piece together what we can and find comfort in the process.

How can adoptive parents make sense out of the sometimes trivial, sometimes confusing, sometimes overwhelming information we have for our children?

We can tell stories.

My daughter and I watch her adoption video and discuss the feelings she had when she met us, that are evident by viewing her reactions on tape at ten months old. We talk about how happy I look, and how wary she looks. We watch her private interaction with her caretaker and understand more about her life in the orphanage. We watch, and talk about the area she is from, what the local people look like, and why she might have been placed where she was found. Without a lot of concrete answers to give our children, a lot of small clues can be surmised by viewing video footage or early photos of the adoption, and of the first months at home:

What was the caregiver's personality? Name?

Was your child healthy, well-fed, happy? Developmentally on target? (if not, look for visual clues "why")

What was she wearing?

How did he play? What amused him?

What was her reaction to you? Is this how she still deals with change? (one clue to personality and early life experience)

Did he look sad, happy or scared when he met you, and did his expression change over the next two weeks together, and next couple of months at home? What do you think she was thinking/feeling?

If you visited the orphanage, where did he spend his time?

What was the atmosphere? Who were his friends/crib-mate?

What were How did your child interact with her/his caregiver?

What were her milestones, once home? First tooth, first word, first step?

Photos and video helped to familiarize my daughter with her beginnings, and the visuals helped me to talk with her about the bittersweet side of adoption. Our video is part of my daughter's life story; it is part of my ‘mothering’ story. It is a precious piece, because it captures loss and love, and the first tentative moments of family connection.

Pictures do tell a story… but it’s equally important to communicate how you and your child feel about what is gleaned from these visual puzzle pieces. An empathic, attuned parent-child relationship will remember the “dance” steps through the questions of childhood, the angst of pre-adolescence, and the teen identity crisis. Ultimately, we want our children to be comfortable with all of their pieces and with who they are, and giving a child ownership over their history is part of a Parenting Narrative.

Attunement, Building Identity, Communication and Connection…

The A, B, C’s of adoption stories provide us with some of the fundamental tools of family. We can’t be untruthful about a child’s life story… but we can help our children connect a narrative that hangs together from the fragments that are known, and re-story the whole with our love and strength.

Jean MacLeod Copyright 2003-2012, MacLeod, All Rights Reserved



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