For more info on the book we are reading, click HERE. All passages with page numbers are from Sherrie Eldridge's book, 20 Things Adoptive Parents Need to Succeed.
Since I've never been in book club before, I really have no idea what to do. So let's just dive in and see what happens. Use the comments area to chime in the discussion, ask questions, or give your own opinions on the book. What's important here is the conversation, and to build a community where we can support one another to become the best parents that we can be!
Suggested discussion questions from the book:
- How would you have defined successful adoptive parenting before reading this chapter? Use descriptive, powerful, one-word definitions. Then think of an example that illustrates your one-word (or several-word) definition.
- How would you describe the sweet spot of success for yourself as a parent of an adopted child? Have you experienced it? If not, what might you do to find it?
- Describe the difference between defining one's worth as a parent, or child, by performance instead of by person hood. How would both a parent and a child behave under each of these categories?
- What do you need from the group before meeting again?
As I read, I highlighted the things that spoke to me, and I realized there's a bit of a theme. Here's the passages that stuck out to me:
"Perhaps they're studying the map for the exit called "Normal, which will lead them in the direction of knowing what is normal for adoptive parents and children." (pg xxii)
"You face parenting with an extra layer of challenges that the nonadopted world likely will never comprehend: your child's abandonment and attachment issues, unresolved grief, loss of the birth family and foster family, missing or painful birth histories...all occurring before your child came to live permanently with you." (pg 8)
"Your child's positive, negative or passive response to all of your input doesn't indicate success." (pg 8)
"Parenting Success, Adoption-style: to base love and acceptance of my child on his personhood, not his performance. (pg 9)
"My love as a mom is one of commitment---one that doesn't quit even when they want to." (pg 10)
"...the core need of an adoptive parent's heart---to know that your child loves you." (pg 11)
I acknowledge that my concerns, at this point in our journey, are largely related to my role as a parent--my need to know I'm doing this parenting thing right. I'm also feeling a bit unsure of myself and LM's feelings for me. I
The worry about what is *normal*---yeah, I do that alot. Right now, I wonder "is this normal toddler behavior or is this because he's grieving?" and the thing I grapple with is that I'll never know for sure. That's tough for me because if I don't know what the problem is, how can I *fix* it? And even that statement is silly, because adoption isn't something you can *fix*. And really, what does it matter if anything is normal or not? I'm trying to understand how I can accept things as they are and not hold them against some imaginary bar of *normal*.
I love the quote about love being a commitment to our children. This quote really highlights my relationship with LM right now as he tends to push me away when he's hurt or frustrated even though I know that he wants the closeness. I have felt hurt when this happens, but struggled mightily to not go to that place of feeling rejected. I try to identify with how he must be feeling (frustrated, scared, etc.) and that keeps me rooted in his emotions instead of mine.
To address a few of the discussion questions--
1. My definition of successful parenting (adoptive or not) would be to raise compassionate and independent children by being encouraging, committed to them, and truthful with them. Those definitions hold for me after reading the chapter. I'm not sure I'd change that definition because we are an adoptive family.
3. This is a really key point for me. I tend to base everything on outcome. Right now, I'm embarrassed to say, that I frequently define worth by performance. I hold myself to that standard, which means that I often have a love/loathe relationship with myself depending on my performance at that moment. Not able to nail the perfect photo at a crucial time? I'm a terrible photographer and need to find a new profession. Handled a tough discussion with a friend in a sensitive way? I'm a great person!
I've also transferred this type of judgment to my relationship with The Man. He says something snippy to me? He's a jerk. He remembers to pick up milk on his way home? He's the best husband ever. There is no gray for me, it's all good or all bad.
That's my type-A perfectionism kicking into overdrive. And it's not healthy for any relationship, because the people who I hold to this standard are constantly in a competition with themselves. They don't know it, but if they aren't performing up to snuff, I'm noting that. This is exhausting, ridiculous and sad. I've been working on it for years, and there's probably some deep psychoanalytical reason why I do this. Maybe to keep me from feeling hurt when I'm disappointed. But it also gets in the way of having the close and intimate relationships that I want. It's still a work in progress, but I know that it's even more important to pay attention to now.
OK, your turn. What's your take?