Understanding the needs and experiences of the children who have joined our family through adoption is a big task. There are so many aspects to consider. With the goal of helping you find your way, below is a list of some of my favorite resources.
Take a look through these, if you don’t find the information you are craving, contact me. If I don’t have an answer for you, I will help you find one.
If at some point you start feeling lost or overwhelmed, or the gap between what you know and what you are actually doing grows uncomfortably large, reach out to me. It’s what I’m here to help with.
Finally, before you start reading and clicking, consider taking a quick moment to breath and center yourself. Information gathered with your calm and collected parts will be of more powerful support to you and your child.
The Neufeld Institute – Dr. Gordon Neufeld is a developmental psychologist who was a University of British Columbia professor and now runs an Institute dedicated to teaching parents how to apply developmental science to their families. I could spend the rest of my life happily taking – and facilitating – his easy to understand and powerfully insightful courses. You’ll find great articles and helpful stories about the power of parenting on his site.
Dr. Daniel Siegel – Dr. Siegel has a ridiculously long and rich bio. He is a clinical professor at UCLA, founder of the Mindsight Institute, and also an internationally recognized educator, practicing child psychiatrist and author of many books, including a several aimed at supporting parents that I link to below in the Books section. Attending one of his Immersion Weekends is on my professional bucket list. You will find practical tools and resources on his website.
Pact, an Adoption Alliance – Pact is the very first place our family found to have nuanced conversations about race and adoption. The founders, Beth Hall and Gail Steinberg, started from the desire to meet their own transracially adopted children’s needs. The organization has an ironclad determination to help hold a space for the needs and voices of transracially adopted people. Check out the articles in their Resources Library and their webinars.
Attachment Parenting International – API promotes parenting practices that create strong, healthy emotional bonds between children and their parents. Exactly what our families need, right? The Seattle Chapter is where I first found my village and got started supporting families, and I still serve with API in various support roles. You’ll find articles and information organized on their website according to their 8 Principles of Parenting. API has done a lovely job over the years working to make their principles inclusive of the considerations of adoptive families. Look through information for various ages, you’ll find it can help you meet your child at their emotional age as well as their chronological age.
Dr. Henry Cloud’s boundaries.me – Boundaries was likely the first self-help book I ever read probably 30 years ago, given to me by a counselor I was seeing in my early 20’s after a series of huge losses in my life. Dr. Cloud’s website exploded into my awareness from about 6 different directions recently. Cloud clearly has a strong background in child and human development and combines it with unambiguous explanations of the human need for loving structure. His obviously kind heart and compelling storytelling help move the theories to doable practices. His books and videos are strongly Christian, but not to the degree of overwhelming the unique messages he offers. This is a great place to get help with understanding and setting limits and establishing appropriate consequences, enabling you to create the loving boundaries your kids need to grow and thrive.
I could write a book about all the books I love and find help adoptive parents become more the parent they want to be and that their child needs. Here is a short list. I’m including links to amazon because everyone has equal access to their site. Feel free to borrow a copy from your local library or buy one at an independent bookseller near you!
Holly is an internationally recognized expert on attachment and adoption – also an older sister to 5 adopted brothers, and the mother of 3, two through adoption. Her multifaceted understanding of the needs of both adopted children and their parents drives her to create therapeutically designed tools, exercises, and games that adoptive parents can use in their daily family life. Holly and I met about 13 years ago, and I’ve been training with her ever since. Her books are the kind to keep on your bedside table to pour over relevant sections when you’re up late worried because your kid just hit a new bump in the road. I read the first paragraph of the Teens section every day for months when parenting a 13 year old! We are currently collaborating on a workbook for parents to help get the powerful tools of the van Gulden Approach into your daily parenting life.
The Culture Translator
Their tag line is, “Teen Culture, Demystified.” I follow it because they do a fantastic job of emphasizing the crazy important role parents play in their teen’s lives, and their site provides great information to help keep me current about the constant and rapidly changing culture our kids are steeped in. This is another faith based resource, so take what works for you.
Great source for advice, news, and stories about how to raise a teen.
An online and paper magazine for Black girls. Their tag line is “Covering the Black Girl’s Mainstream.” I like it for their relaxed, encouraging, and positive focus on black girls.
A fantastic documentary about screen use and teens. Our family watched it as part of a community event, and the thoughtful discussions it open up with our kids amazed me. I highly recommend their newsletter, TechTalk Tuesday, for keeping non-shaming, power struggle free conversation flowing with your kids.
Trying to tell if the behavior issues you’re dealing with are “normal” or an adoption thing? This site is the Jackpot! of quick resources for developmental stages. Look at your kids’ chronological age for ag- appropriate needs and behaviors. Look through younger ages to identify “off-age behaviors” (Holly van Gulden’s term for needs and behaviors expected and appropriate for a younger child showing up in an older kid) to better understand where your child needs extra support for growth and healing. As tempting as it is, please don’t tell your kids when they’re acting “off-age,” just use this great resource to help you respond with clarity and compassion to their unmet needs.
The internet is a wild and woolly place with loads of positive experiences for our kids, and some really scary people doing scary and dangerous stuff. Our adopted kids, with their histories of loss and possibly trauma, can be more susceptible to the ills of the web. Qustodio will help you supervise, manage, and protect your kids’ devices. Our family has use Qustodio for many, many years. It’s not perfect, and it’s the best thing I’ve found out there.
Adopted kids experience about 2x the number of learning issues as kids born to their families, so you’re not alone! These centers understand the physical, mental, and emotional developmental growth of children and are aware of the additional needs of adopted children.
You HAVE to talk to your kids about sex, even though it’s hard and uncomfortable and maybe your parents never did so you have NO idea what to say. This goes double as our adopted kids approach adolescence and are trying to make sense of what sex, sexuality, and pregnancy mean about who they are and how they belong in the world. Amy Lang will tell you why, how, and offer you great scripts for how to get started! She and I met at a birthing class almost 2 decades ago – she has been hilarious and delightful and courageous from the first moment I met her. She’ll take good care of you.
Adopted Friends and Family of Greater Seattle Support group in the Puget Sound area