I recently co-facilitated our third meeting of the LA Adopt Support group this past weekend. I had the privilege of working with the tweens and teens that came. While the parents were in discussion with the adoption specialist Jeanette Yoffe (see www.yoffetherapy.com) and the younger kids were having a great, supervised time in the playground we had the opportunity to spend some time getting to know each other in some cases and catching up with each other in other cases. Of the three times we’ve met I think this might have been my favorite ( and I am looking forward to the ongoing evolution of the group). There’s always a different group of kids depending on who shows up and Jeanette and I have always planned a specific activity for the group. This time we were able to fit around one table and spent quite awhile sharing what was on each person’s mind. Some of it touched on adoption and some of it didn’t but all of it was shared in the context of everyone at the table being part of the adoption universe in some way – a very special club indeed.
I think the importance of sharing experience with those who are walking the same path as you are cannot be overstated. Especially as a child starts to engage the roller coaster of adolescence – which can be isolating all by itself – adding the impact of an adoptive status can up the ‘feeling different’ quotient in a substantive way. As Debbie Riley explains in her well-regarded book Beneath the Mask: Understanding Adopted Teens (link here), the necessary tasks of separation can get tangled up in fears of losing a set of parents all over again. This isn’t necessarily conscious and can easily manifest in challenging behavior that is actually defensive and protective at heart. Understanding this dynamic can go a long way in helping adoptive parents and teens navigate the adolescent years in a way that ultimately reinforces and sustains family connections – a very important thing indeed.
At LA Adopt we’re committed to providing a regular, monthly opportunity to join with others who are also on an adoption journey. Even though each group (parents, teens/tweens, kids) has a forum to meet with peers, we are also exploring the possibilities of some activities that cross group lines – older kids mentoring younger ones perhaps or maybe parents and kids reviewing the Wise Up workbook together. We have a lot of ideas and know that much direction will come from the group itself. We’re looking forward to the growth and evolution of LA Adopt as a shared safe place for all of us in the Los Angeles adoption community to take a breath and re-charge.
So please join us if you’re interested. Check out the flyer on my site; we meet the second Saturday of every month from 3:00 to 4:30 at the Palisades Lutheran Church (15905 Sunset Blvd). There is a suggested donation of $30. Or contact me and let me know you want to be on the mailing list for monthly reminders.