409: Unfiltering Adoption: What's Been Filtered From Us Hurts Us Transcript

Episode 409 Podcast > Full Transcript

Lori Holden, Intro:
This is a really special episode for me because not only am I the host as I always am, I'm also a guest in a weird way. I'm so excited to announce on Adoption The Long View that within a month, a book I, along with my two guests, have spent the last three years envisioning, writing and polishing – so much polishing – will be out in the world through our publisher, Rowman and Littlefield. And we hope you get it in your hands, because the reason we wrote it was to reimagine adoption in a way that better serves the needs of adoptees and their parents.

The book I've written with adoptee, Sarah Easterly, and birth mum, Kelsey Vander Vliet Ranyard, is called Adoption Unfiltered: Revelations From Adoptees, Birth Parents, Adoptive Parents and Allies. When you think about it, if you come into adoptive parenting without knowing what adoption is like, from these vantage points, you are already at a disadvantage. So, along with a host of diverse experiences and viewpoints from other adoptees, other birth parents, other adoptive parents, and more, my co-authors and I bring forward some of the issues that (a) keep us in a state of misunderstanding each other, and (b) keep the general public in misunderstandings and stereotypes about adoption, which can ultimately affect us and our children. Who among us hasn't experienced that?

We bring forward ideas that will foster true openness on how we practice adoption in our homes and in our society, and make it truly adoptee centered. We offer valuable information about attachment (thanks to Sara's work with the Neufeld Institute, studying under the renowned Dr. Gordon Neufeld), we critically examine adoption policy (thanks to Kelsey's connection with the non-profit organization Ethical Family Building). We do not shy away from the hard topics within adoption, and in doing so, we've had to work through conflicts we experienced among us during our writing and editing processes. In other words, we have had to walk our talk.

So, I am thoroughly, one hundred percent excited to bring you once again, because we spoke together before in episode 205, my co-authors, colleagues in the adoption space, video podcasting partners and friends, Sarah Easterly and Kelsey Vander Vliet Ranyard.

Lori Holden:
Welcome, Sarah.

Sarah Easterly:
Thank you Lori. What a great introduction, and I'm excited to be here as well for the same reasons you just said.

Yeah, we're old hat at talking with each other on these things. Kelsey, welcome this morning.

Kelsey Vander Vliet Ranyard:
Hi, Lori. Very excited. It feels just like another one of our calls.

We've been meeting weekly. We've only all been together one time during this whole process, and that was really special. We've got some things planned in the future, though.

Let me share a little bit. Let me tell you each about you. Sarah Easterly is an award-winning author of books and essays. Her memoir, Searching For Mom, won a gold medal in the Illumination Book Awards, among several other honors. Her adoption-focused articles, essays, and book reviews have been published by Psychology Today, Dear Adoption, Severance Magazine, Feminine Collective, God Space, Her View from Home, and Inglewood Book of Reviews, to name a few. I'm going to add lavenderluz.com to that list, because Sarah has written some of my most popular and well-received guest posts. I'll put those in the show notes.

Sarah is founder of Adoptee Voices and previously led one of the largest chapters of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. She's on staff with the Neufeld Institute and oversees its children's book list.

And for Kelsey. Kelsey Vander Vliet Ranyard spent the last several years as Director of Advocacy and Policy at Ethical Family Building, a nonprofit organization where she worked on public policy issues impacting all adoption triad members. She's a birth mother of seven years who is passionate about raising the standards in adoption to better serve the children, mothers, and families affected by adoption.

Adoption has been a monumental part of Kelsey's entire life. She's the daughter and granddaughter of adoptees. She has worked in various agencies and law firms in the adoption field, and can be found fervently and frequently demanding, “How do we fix this?” She's also a co-host of the first ever birth mom podcast, Twisted Sisterhood.

If you pay attention to our work together, you'll notice that we have turned the typical pyramid of adoption speakers upside down. Instead of adoption professionals and adoptive parents holding the mic most of the time, instead of birth parents being absent from the conversation, instead of adoptees being considered the children in the configuration, we very intentionally place Sarah front and center in our writing, our interviews and appearances with Kelsey coming up next. And finally, me. That will be tricky today with me as the host of the show, but I'd like to invite you to start paying attention to who you listen to about adoption and what their filters might keep you from knowing.

So, if we jump right in, Sarah, can you explain to us what qualifies you to unfilter adoption from the adoptee perspective?

To begin with, I have 51 years of lived experience as an adoptee so far, so I am pretty familiar with what it feels like to be adopted and what the adoptee experience is like. I have been looking up close at adoption for the last 12 years, 13 years, I guess, and for about as long I've been studying attachment and child development through the Neufeld Institute, as you mentioned in the introduction, Lori. It's a lens that's been really helpful to me in understanding human emotions related to separation, whether from adoption or any kind of separation, really.

In terms of just other qualifiers for the book, no adoptee is a monolith. So, I recognize that from the beginning, and interviewed many other adoptees from a range of different experiences to help broaden the picture and tell a cohesive story. That's what I would say qualifies me to unfilter adoption.

You are so highly regarded in the adoptee space and in the adoptive parent space. My readers have so enjoyed learning from you in the post that you've written. And I get comments all the time about one of our other projects; our own adoption podcast, in understanding the adoptee perspective.

Kelsey, let me ask you the same question. What qualifies you to unfilter adoption from the birth parent perspective?

I think one part of my brain would be like, I don't think I'm qualified at all. I feel like I always am discounting my own, I don't know, expertise and knowledge. But I also know realistically that I've been in the adoption field working for six years, and I've been a birth mom for seven. And I think through all of my work and also the parallel journey of finding healing and seeking understanding of myself and from others on my experience, that has expanded my view of what being a birth mom is and the responsibility that it holds. And also has connected me with so many other birth moms with so many different experiences than mine. And so, in that I feel as though, because I have entered this journey with such an open mind and an open heart to all of the experiences that birth moms can have, I think that's what qualifies me to to unfilter this.

Let me talk here a little bit about the structure of the book, because it fits into this conversation. We have four parts in our book. The first part is Unfiltering Adoptees, and this is Sara's section, where she brings in other adoptees from her connections who experienced some similar things, but nothing like a monolith. We really explore what are the general common commonalities and how can different things manifest.

Part two is the birth parent: Unfiltering The Birth Parent Experience. And this is where Kelsey brings in her own experience, her own observations from being in this space for a while and experiences from other people.

My part is the third part, which is where I unfilter the adoptive parent experience. And if you're listening and you're an adoptive parent, you may feel most drawn to this section because it's your experience as well. But I want to tell you that you are going to get so much from also learning from the other sides that you don't know as well.

In the fourth part, we offer some suggestions for how to create policies and procedures that better serve adoptees and their families. So, that's how the book is arranged.

Let's talk about how the book came about. Sarah, I think you were the one who had the inkling for it. You want to talk about that a little?

Sure. I would love to. Yeah, it's a fun story. I love sharing this story. Yeah. So, Lori and I met at the book launch I was at in Denver for my memoir, Searching for Mom. And Lori, you were kind enough to introduce yourself me. And so, we developed a relationship right from that event. It was so great; just a nod to the power of in-person and community in the adoption space. So, thank you, Lori, for attending and introducing yourself. And then we just started a relationship. I wrote a few articles, as you mentioned, for your blog. We kept just kind of having interactions online. And then there was a situation where there was some, you know, as often happens or can happen in the adoption space, there's just a lot of heated emotions. And there was some comments. I don't even remember the comment anymore; that has fallen away. But I do remember that I reached out to you and we just started talking and kind of had this idea like, “We should write a book together.” We were saying really good things about the importance of working together across the aisles. And it was a real polarizing comment; I do remember that. And just the importance of working across the aisles; adoptees, adoptive parents and birth parents as well. And kind of just cheekily said, “Let's we should write a book together.” And then, once you put something like that out there, it grows and it's like, “Oh, wait, I think that was serious.” And then we knew that we wanted a birth parent as well.

And so, I think we sat on that idea for a couple of months, and then Lori and I both happened to be at a conference online, a virtual conference and Kelsey was one of the speakers. And right away, you and I were texting each other, “Oh, I think Kelsey's the birth parent we want.” And then all of a sudden, “Let's have a meeting.” Can't believe it; Kelsey said, “Yes.” Who are these people? But she said, “Yes.” And the next thing you know, we were writing an article together and outlining our book and just getting to know each other and having a lot of fun in that too. So, yeah, three years later and the book is becoming a reality.

And I believe that I started this podcast about the same time we started having those conversations. So, having the opportunity to talk with you and Kelsey on a regular weekly, biweekly basis, through this process, has really informed everything I write and speak about with adoption too. So, I can't recommend highly enough, understanding perspectives that are not your own perspective.

Kelsey, I wanted to ask you the next question, which is how do you think what's been filtered from us can hurt us? How can this not knowing what we don't know; how can that show up in hurting us?

I think that for birth parents, we are typically like kind of outside – on the outside of the, I don't know, they say it's a triad, right? And obviously a lot of people have corrected and said we should really start saying adoption constellation, which I agree with. But I also see adoption triad being used a lot. So, and it gives this perception that like we're this equal little triangle.

And that's really not been birth parents’ experiences. We kind of seen like the connecting line between the adoptive parents and the adoptee and then we're kind of like barely connected with like a dotted line and it's like goes outside.

So, I think that when things are filtered, I think it can kind of cause a mess of things that maybe were unforeseen at the beginning of the adoption journey, because no one really understands how adoption can impact you, lifelong. But I think that filtering things too much can lead to miscommunication. I think it can hurt birth parents, first parents, because we are the part that gets filtered. So, in that I think we're the part that gets misunderstood or maybe get told the half truths about.

And then in turn, I think that it's hurtful for anybody to be misunderstood. And also, when you're misunderstood and no one is even seeking to understand you, I think that's hurtful too. So, yeah, I think that's just how – that's a little bit of how it can affect the first and birth families.

And in our book, you make a metaphor about how the family's getting together in the living room and you're on the porch, kind of looking in; holding your casserole, but not really being in it. And I think that that's similar to what you're talking about being literally filtered out.

Yes. Yes. Like not invited. Yeah.

Sarah, what about what are your thoughts on that? How can what gets filtered out hurt us?

Well, I think for adoptees, what gets filtered out tends to be just the honest realities of what it's like to be an adopted person and what it's like to live with an just innate sense of loss and rejection and kind of feeling not good enough. So, I think I will just speak to my own experience for a minute here. Growing up, the story that resonates is how – that you hear your parents sharing and that you hear culture sharing is how wonderful adoption is. And it's just a win-win situation. And it built a family. It helped save a child, it did all the good things. And so, it doesn't leave room for all of the complexity.

And so, we push down on it as adoptees. We believe that, “What's wrong with me? Why do I not feel that? Why am I sad? Why am I struggling?” And we keep it very, very private or we tend to keep it very, very private. And so, that hurts us. That hurts our authentic self from growing. And then it hurts our families too, because we're presenting a false sense of ourselves. In my case, my family just and everybody around me drank up. You know, they believed it. I became a very good actor. I could make it look like I wasn't fazed and affected by adoption, but that ultimately did create problems. It distanced me from my adoptive mother and my adoptive father. It distanced me from almost everybody, I would say, including myself; it was hard for me to even know myself. And so, that's not serving anyone. That's really hurtful.

And I would also just add that it perpetuates things. A lot of us for adoptees, we aren't even able to go close to that pain for decades. For me, it was just the onset of about to be turning 40 that somehow was my magic number. Some people it’s sooner, some people it’s later. But that's a long gap. And so, there's a really long time for misinformation to be perpetuated. Because I spent 40 years, I mean, I helped many of my friends adopt because I was the poster child for adoption, so to speak, and saying, “Oh, you should adopt. Yes. Oh, yeah. I'll help. I'll be your cheerleader for adoption.” And okay, then, I start looking at adoption up close, and I've got friends who have young, adopted children. And all of a sudden, “What's happening over here? Sarah is saying adoption did affect me.” It seriously affected me.

So, that was a really big gap. So, that in that way, it hurts us as a whole, too, where we're perpetuating and not seeing that adoption is much more complex than we think it is.

We've started talking among ourselves and in interviews that we're doing about informed consent. And what I hear both of you saying is that in that win-win narrative that prevails about adoption, what's missing is grief. And in all three of our sections in the book focus on the grief that comes through adoption. A lot of times, for the adoptive parent, it can come through infertility or some other reason that brings us to adoption. But by glossing over that grief we don't like, you say Sarah, we don't give space for it to exist. So, we are not dwelling on the grief, but through acknowledging it is how we can process it, acknowledge it, and then deal with it in a more functional way with each other.

Because it shows up. It shows up if we don't deal with it some way. If we try to pretend it's not there, it does show up. And those are some of the ways that I think it can hurt us as adoptive parents as well, if we're not prepared.

Just this morning, I was reading in a Facebook group and somebody was very worried because their child's birth mother had shifted gears and had been doing such a, you know, being a really helpful, obedient birth mom and all of a sudden was making demands and wanting to do things. And she didn't know what had happened. And this is in our book, because Kelsey has kind of uncovered some of the arcs that happens with this, as this grief does come up, not right at the beginning, but later on. And then as adoptive parents, we sometimes see that in our children.

So, let's talk about an elephant in the room. We are three white women, which obviously brings its own not insignificant filters. What were some of our attempts to filter that? Sarah?

Well, yes, we are three white, cisgendered women, so we were very aware of that and very conscious of that from the beginning. In fact, I recall having conversations where we were saying, “Oh, one of us should go” and realizing, “Well, we're the ones writing this. We're the ones who started this and we're writing it, so we can't really do that.” We were so far in that we were all integral to this book. There was no removing one part. But we were very intentional about making sure that we had really good representation as much as we possibly could, to pull in and show the wider community.

So, we interviewed more than four dozen others from the adoption constellation, and we intentionally sought and included just a range of experiences and perspectives. So, a mix of open and closed adoptions, a mix of inter-country and domestic adoptions, interracial, same race adoptions. And really what we were striving for was diversity in every area we could get to diversity; race, age, gender, sexual orientation and more, including just perspectives on adoption. We really just wanted to show, as much as possible, what this adoption community looks like. And it doesn't look like just the three of us. So, lots of different perspectives; foster care represented. We have an adoptee from the disability community, single parent adoption, twice relinquished adoptee. Lori, you interviewed people who chose not to adopt and someone who aged out of the foster care system without being adopted. So, we really tried to go as deep as we could in terms of who we brought in.

Kelsey, do you have anything to add for that?

I feel like Sarah did cover it. Yeah, I think that we were super conscious of all of that. But I also think that no matter what, our book isn't enough, as far as like, we aren't experts on interracial adoption and we're not telling their story in full. We had all of these contributors who gave interviews, but that, of course, is not their full experience and picture. And so, and we could never do that, and we would never portray ourselves as having done that.

And so, I think that's also a really important point that this book isn't enough to give the full experience of adoption, because each experience is so highly individual. And so, we could never do that; I don't think anybody could ever do that. But if you read this and you're like, “I really need more from, interracial, transracial adoptees or any other kind of experience,” you're not going to get it from us. But we have given you a lot of names of contributors and authors and also our resource section to go and start there and find more.

Yeah, I'm really glad you brought up our resource section because that will be in the book. It'll live in a dynamic way on our website. And our book is a starting point. It is to help people start to see the filters and what unfiltering can look like. So, thank you for adding that.

Sarah, what would you most like adoptive parents to take away from reading adoption unfiltered? In other words, what do we tend to miss about the experience of being an adoptee?

Two key things, if I could distill it to that. It's hard for me to just pick two, but I'll try. And the first I would say is seeing, as you mentioned, Lori, seeing Adoption Unfiltered is informed consent that there's a lifetime of pain that goes with adoption. That's not to say that there's not wonderful moments that we can't be healthy, and we can't be whole, and we can't come to find our identity, but just that the inherent structure of adoption is founded on the ultimate separation between an infant or a child and our first attachments to our biological families. So, that's not a wound that's going to get, you know, you don't put a Band-Aid on that and call it good. I mean, it's going to it's going to affect us throughout our lifetime. And I'm still discovering new ways that it affects me as I'm in my 50s and I'm sure that there's more to come.

So, most adoptive parents today do recognize that, that adoption is hard, but I also hear a lot of adoptive parents, especially when their children are young, kind of having a mindset of, “Not my adoptee” or, “I think everyone else's child, but I don't see that happening in my child. My child is doing so well. Look at this.” Or thinking, “Times have changed and we're doing adoption better.”

I just want to say that just be careful of those temptations because no child can come out of the losses of adoption unscathed. It's just so deep. And even if our trauma looks like it's good, sometimes our trauma responses do. They mask what's going on. There's people pleasing, perfectionism. A lot of traits that we value in society that we think are good and that we adore in our culture are coming from trauma; a need to belong, a need to fit in, a need to not rock the boat. Attachment is our greatest need and it's a matter of survival. So, not to just take those and just decide that your adoptee is okay and getting off scot free. You know, even I insisted, like I said, for years that I was fine. And so, not even taking our beliefs at face value because it's just too hard to look at. And that doesn't mean you need to put it in our face, but just to understand that.

And then the second thing I would say, that kind of goes hand in hand with that, because there's the being aware of that, but there's also the kind of the opposite is pathologizing us. And we've been pathologized for a long time as well. And so, not pathologizing adoptees. And that is the big thing I really sought to do with our book and with my section in particular, the adoptee section, is just to normalize.

For me, when I found the Neufeld Institute and Dr. Gordon Neufeld's work, it was just so refreshing because I realized I had spent my entire life thinking I was crazy and that something was wrong with me. And then when I started understanding our natural emotional responses to separation, then I realized I'm not crazy. This is how my brain is wired. This is how humans are wired when we're faced with such deep separation. And so, just understanding that there are really natural, normal ways that we respond. And so, I think for adoptive parents to not take those responses personally, and then for adoptees to feel normalized and to have some understanding. And for parents to have that understanding to help introduce their children to themselves, which is so important and such a really, really important key so that their adoptees, that they're parenting are not raised feeling like something's wrong with them.

I love that part of our role is to help introduce our children to themselves by seeing them, allowing them to take up their space, and kind of getting our own selves out of the way. Also, to your first point, Sarah, it's been so helpful for me to understand that point you made about trauma looks good on you. I've seen that in your pieces where you say trauma looks good on you, because you can, through a trauma response, end up looking super well-adjusted. And I mean, even one of my other guests wrote a play called, The Good Adoptee. And we have this good adoptee held up as somebody who meets their parents needs until they can't do it anymore. So, these things, if they're not going to come up during childhood, while we are actively parenting them, they may come up later on in life to process because it is not nothing. As I say so often, adoption is not nothing. So, thank you for sharing those.

Kelsey, how about you? What would you most like adoptive parents to take away from reading adoption unfiltered? And what do we miss about the birth parent experience?

Yeah, I think the main thing for me is – and I think the answer to both the two-part questions is the same. And I think I want them to see the whole person that is the birth parent in their life. And so, I think there are a couple of things that happen (a) is the power dynamic, I think it causes adoptive parents to either look up at you or look down. I think looking up is sort of fictitious in a way, because I think sometimes we get put on a pedestal because we're so selfless, we’re so brave, we’re so amazing, blah blah, blah, blah blah. But I do think looking down is more realistic in the fact that I think it's a filter of pity, or it's a filter of just inferiority in a sense. And I don't even always think that adoptive parents recognize that they're doing it. I think it's kind of an inherent dynamic in all adoptions, the power dynamic of, “You’re up there. I am down here,” and I think it causes us to not fully embrace and understand the whole human that's standing right in front of us.

And so, I want adoptive parents to be able to understand that there's more to this person besides this tragic event that happened in their life. And it is tragic. And I think it's always tragic to, no matter what someone says about their experience, I do think that there is always underlying tragedy in having to part ways with your child. And so, I want them to understand that person as an individual; as an individual that doesn't always make the right choices just like they do. And also, the circumstances; I want them to understand that many birth parents circumstances have been so wildly different than what an adoptive parent has ever faced in their life, and I think that that deserves some kind of understanding and grace.

And so, yeah, I think that the power dynamic, kind of grappling with that or starting to for an adoptive parent, that's what I want them to take away from this. I want them to see the whole person and kind of just meet them where they are; see eye to eye.

Yeah. I think it is important to try to find that. I wrote an article once on how the power dynamic, if anybody is a supplicant, if it's imbalanced in either way – I'm doing things with my hands here – it's not a true relationship, and not everybody is being honored in the way that is going to serve everybody well. So, I appreciate that.

Let's talk about our other ongoing project, which is Adoption Unfiltered Podcast. It's on YouTube. You can find us at @AdoptionUnfiltered. And every month or so, we put out an episode where we're talking among each other, sometimes with a guest, about an issue that comes up for adoptive families and adoption constellations. Why do we continue to put our energy into that? Sarah, you want to take that first?

Sure. Oh my gosh. Well, one, because it's so much fun. But there's so much in adoption to unpack and to dive into. So, we have a hot topics list that we keep a running list of. And I don't know how many pages we should check. It's just a long scroller at this point. There's so many potential topics. We never run out of topic ideas. Adoption comes up in the news all the time, so there's always kind of a fresh angle or something to talk about, to respond to in the news.

As we shared earlier, there's so much more, so many more perspectives than just the three of ours. So, bringing guests on is so fun and so useful, I think, to just showing different facets of any particular adoption topic. And we have such a rich, vibrant adoption community. So, it's really nice to get to introduce, bring them in and bring our colleagues, our friends and get to know new people and bring them on our show and talk to them. So, it's been a really fun endeavor. I really enjoy it.

On occasion, we even bring in groups of people. We have some roundtable episodes. We've had one. We have another one planned where we're going to bring in just a host of people to talk around an issue. This is how we kind of get to the center of things, how we untangle the power dynamics and come up with a different way of looking at things than when we first come into the conversation.

Kelsey, how are you feeling about some of our podcast episodes that we've done together on Adoption Unfiltered?

Yeah, I mean, I enjoy it. I enjoy the conversation and hearing from people that we don't typically hear from. I feel like there's like the adoption community that I found was very different in some ways than the adoption community that other people found. And I think that we exist in, like these parallel spheres across the internet and not always aware of one another, just on different platforms. Like I came to the community via Instagram. Some people come via Facebook, some people Twitter. There's all kinds of different little bubbles that exist, and we don't always know about the other universe. That's kind of at our fingertips. So, I like that.

And I think that we've done that with our book to just kind of bridging different generations. And also, with those generations come different communities of peers that are able to kind of intersect and interact. And I think our podcast does that too. So, I think that's for me, something that's exciting too, is getting to know your people and you getting to know my people. So, it's a really rich audience and contributors.

I love that you brought up that aspect, because among ourselves we talk often about silos and de-siloing, and I can't let a single episode of this go by without a both-an. Both of those are necessary. I need my adoptive parent spaces where we can talk candidly about bad experience. And I know you both need your adoptee-only, birth-parent-only spaces, but I think what you're mentioning, Kelsey, is that to understand each other and to cross those silos in some of these ways is really important.

And when we each wrote our section of our book, we wrote it to be understood by ourselves, but also to bring forward understanding across the aisle so that adoptees and birth parents can maybe have a better understanding about why adoptive parents sometimes do this or act like this. You'll have to read the book to find out what those theses are.

So, to find our podcast, you can just go to YouTube @AdoptionUnfiltered. And our book, I'm going to talk a little bit about this at this point. If you're listening when this podcast episode comes out, it is available for presale. If you're listening sometime after December 1st, you can actually get it delivered to you fairly quickly through your favorite bookseller. Please visit adoptionunfiltered.com.

if you are willing to order through presale. That would be great. It helps us out so much. It signals the booksellers that this book is something that should be cross-promoted when people are buying other adoption-oriented books or parenting books. So, this is one we hope you really want to have on your bookshelf. Please do visit adoptionunfiltered.com. You can see some of the other events that we've got going.

In fact, Sarah, would you like to talk a little bit about our upcoming book tour?

I'd love to. Yeah, I'm so excited. I'm working on that right now and just so excited about how the details are coming together. We're going to start in my two home cities, I guess. Well, I've been a long time in the Seattle area, so we're going to start with a really big event at Seattle at Third Place Books and Vashon Island. Then we're going to take the train together down to Portland. Adoption Mosaic is hosting us for an event down there. And then we're going to be hopping on a train and going to Denver, which is where Lori resides, and my hometown, my other hometown. So, that's kind of our first mini tour. We've got a lot of virtual events.

And for our in-person events, we're really excited. We're working with a lot of others in the adoption community. We're going to have panelists, local contributors, speaking and panels. We're going to have vendor tables and some artists, and in some, depending on which city, we've got some musicians and just really kind of almost, I feel like it's an adoption extravaganza. I don't know what we're – we haven't really coined a name for it yet, but almost a fair festival kind of vibe. Again, just because we're about community and building community and showcasing the adoption community and putting the spotlight there and providing resources to people. So, that's really important to us. Very excited about our events and more information to come on our website. We've got some RSVP's. You can RSVP on our website and we've got more details there.

Thank you for sharing all that, Sarah. It's really exciting all that you've been putting together on our behalf.

So, Kelsey, how do you think we should we can best help our children build healthy connections and identities right from the start or from right this moment?

I do think that it sometimes can be a little more complicated for each individual child, but at its core, approaching parenting with an open mind and approaching our child for who they are and meeting them where they are, if they haven't met our expectations. And maybe we should open our eyes a little bit more and see them for who they are and change our expectations, or just get rid of them.

So, I think that I'm such in such an early part of my parenting journey with my own daughter. And also, I'm still in such a fresh perspective of being a birth mom only seven years. And so, I'm no expert on parenting, but I know that allowing our children to find out who they are and help and guiding them through that and approaching it with an open mind, I don't think is going to be a harmful way to be a parent. I think it could bring really good things.

That's beautiful. And I do think every human being wants to be seen for who they are. And so, adoption brings kind of an added layer to that. So, I love that advice. That's wonderful.

Sarah, how about you? How can we best help our children build healthy connections and identities from this moment forward?

Well, I don't know how to answer that succinctly, Lori. I will say that chapter 21 of our book, I think, might be one of my two longest chapters. It's competing with one other, but I think it may be my longest chapter; I should do a word count. But that whole chapter is on supporting adoptee maturation and it's advice for parents. And so, I want to say read the chapter. I have six ways outlined how to meet adoptees’ needs and support our maturation. And so, I think I really do believe those six ways are my answer. And I don't know how to distill that quickly. And I also kind of cheated because I have six ways. And then under each one I have sub points. So, I probably have more like 20 or 25 ways all in.

But I think, just on a high-level cliff notes, I think, I'll start with just welcoming our full range of emotions and providing a space and opportunities to feel our sadness, as I touched on before, so that that kind of win-win story of adoption doesn't always make space for that. So, inviting sadness. And that doesn't mean pushing sadness into us, into our faces. But I get into that in the book of how to gently do that and gently help us find our way to our feelings. Because adaptation does require that we feel sadness and that when we encounter futility, we feel sadness, and we don't get stuck in a loop of frustration or a loop of attacking energy or denial; those kinds of things. We do actually need to feel the sadness to adapt and to grow. And that's for everybody, but then with any loss. But that's definitely important because adoption, as I said, has so much loss. So, I guess I would start there and then say, read chapter 21.

The frameworks that you bring with some visuals and everything in the book on the frustration traffic circle in particular, have been so helpful to me, not only for seeing my children, but seeing my own behavior patterns. So, I do highly suggest people read that. I believe that is that in chapter four.

Three, four, and five, I believe. Again, I just have to give so much appreciation to Dr. Gordon Neufeld for his work. And he was really fantastic about working with me on my chapters as well, and reading those through and giving me feedback and suggestions. So, I feel like that definitely strengthens that whole message of our primary responses and the frustration traffic circle. And what happens. It may sound a little vague online, but you're right, there is a – we illustrate it in the book and try to explain it as much as we can.

And we got to interview Dr. Gordon Neufeld on one of our podcast episodes as well. So, that's something that is available right now. And I just love chapter 21 that you wrote, even just for the title, Supporting Adoptee Maturation, because it is so in line with what my podcast is all about, the long view of adoption. It's not just about dealing with adoption at the very beginning of an adoption. It's a lifelong journey with lots of developmental stages. And in working with you, Sarah, I've learned so much about those stages. And a normalizing process happens for me when I learn like that. So, any last thoughts either of you would like to share?

Thank you, Lori, for all your work. I appreciate you. I just want to say it's refreshing to work with an adoptive parent who really elevates other voices, and you have been doing that for a very long time. And I'm just so thankful for the work that you do and the ways that you reach across the aisle and build community yourself. Just really appreciate you bringing Kelsey and I onto this podcast yet again. It's really fun; an excuse for us to have another conversation. But just on a broader level, just to model for other adoptive parents what that looks like.

Adoptive parents do hold the privilege and the power because adoptive parents are the ones that are funding the adoption industry. And it is an industry. And so, you recognize that, and I do appreciate that you're using your privilege and that you're bringing us into the conversation again and again. So, thank you.

Thank you, Sarah. All right. Thank you both so much for being here with us and sharing all of your expertise, your experience, your wisdom, your insights. It's truly an honor for adoptive parents to be able to listen and learn from all that you bring to the table.