303: Helping Your Child Put Together Their Identity Puzzle Transcript

Episode 303 Podcast > Full Transcript

Lori Holden, Greeting:

This is Adoption: The Long View, a podcast brought to you by adopting.com. I'm your host, Lori Holden, author of The Open Hearted Way to Open Adoption. Join me as we take a closer look at what happens after you adopt your child and begin parenting them. Your adoption journey isn't over then; it's just beginning.

In this podcast, you'll hear from a variety of thought provoking and influential guests as we help you make the most of your adoption journey. Like any trip worth taking, there will be ups and downs and challenges. Here's what you're going to wish you'd known from the start. Ready? Let's go.

The Long View - Ep 303

Lori Holden, Intro:
It's normal, celebrated even, to wonder about and ask ourselves, “Who am I?” After all, genealogy is cited as one of the top hobbies people have. There are TV shows with names like “Finding Your Roots”, “Long Lost Family” and “Who Do You Think You Are?” helping people answer that fundamental question, all while millions of others tune in to watch those discoveries be made.

For families formed through adoption, we must adopt a more expansive view of family, and we must extend that expansive view to our children. Chances are high that they too will naturally wonder, “Who am I?” Why wouldn't they?

Now, this is not an episode about genealogy, but it is an episode that centers on that basic question humans work out about themselves over their lifetimes.

My guest, Damon L. Davis, explores this with his guests on his own podcast, which is titled, Who Am I Really? That last word added because Damon and many of his guests are adoptees who share their experiences of pulling all their pieces together and discussing what drives them to do so. Something we adoptive parents should be clued into. Damon and his wife are also adoptive parents to two children via kinship adoption.

I'm so pleased to welcome Damon with us today. His guests have made him the holder of countless stories that answer the question, “Who am I really?” Including his own. So, get ready for some illumination on what goes on for adoptees as they work out this question, during their growing up time with parents and after, and the things parents do that can either help or hinder the adoptee’s quest to form and integrate their identity.

Welcome, Damon.

Thank you so much, Lori. I really appreciate it. What a wonderful intro. It's so interesting to hear how you view the world and sort of respect the adoptee’s position in the family. It's really awesome.

Thank you. Damon, I'm so glad you're here. And so, let me tell a little bit more about you. Damon L. Davis is the host and producer of Who Am I Really? This is a podcast where adopted people tell their stories of adoption and share their experiences, attempting reunion with their birth families. He has interviewed over 160 adoptees from a diverse set of adoption experiences.

In his autobiography, Who Am I Really: An Adoptee Memoir, Damon shares his journey to becoming an adoptive parent and his emotions over the birth of his natural son, Seth. And we will have links to all of these resources and others in the show notes. So, Damon, I'm so glad to have you here with us today.

To start things out, would you briefly tell us your story of answering your own question, “Who am I really?”

Yeah, I'll give you the short version because I could just talk on and on and on and take up the whole set of time. But the quick version is basically in 2008, my biological son was born. And when Seth was born, I had this moment of sort of hovering over him, marveling at this infant that we had created out of love and out of some challenges. We had tried in vitro fertilization. My wife had unfortunately had some complications that made it so that we couldn't have a child in that moment.

And eventually, Seth was conceived naturally. And it was just this amazing moment of crossing the finish line, of trying to have a child and then having this child in front of me and then realizing, “Oh, my gosh, this is the first blood relative I have ever known in my entire life. And we just made him.” And it was just incredible.

But then it made me realize that there are other blood relatives out there that I don't know. And I always grew up comfortable as an adoptee. My family is homogeneous in that my mother is a light-skinned African American woman, my dad is black, dark skinned African American man and I'm middle brown. Sort of, we're in the middle. I'm in the middle and I look like I could have been their child.

So, adoption wasn't really challenging for me because I grew up with the notion that I was adopted. It was something that I was helped to feel comfortable with because it wasn't suddenly revealed to me. There was no big moment where there was a sit down discussion. I had never really contemplated looking for biological family until that moment when my own son was born.

Prior to his birth, I will say that we did go through our kinship adoption where we adopted my niece and nephew from my wife's side of the family, and they came to live with us when they were nine years old respectively. So, my daughter came to live with us when she was nine. Her brother came two years later when he turned nine. So, we had a full-on family with a mix of experiences.

I was very fortunate to join the Obama administration in 2008, but right before that I had begun my search for my biological mother. And I raised my joining the administration because the search took place relatively quickly. And when she was located, it turned out that she was found working right around the corner from me at the Department of Health and Human Services. She was working at the FAA and the Department of Transportation, literally only two blocks away from me. It was absolutely astonishing.

When I got to know her, I ended up finding so many similarities between our personality. Sort of when I talk to her, I could sense her view of the world. I could sense sort of a similar calmness of her nature. Needless to say, when we got together for the first time, I was looking at our faces together in the pictures that we took in the aftermath of our reunion. And I was astonished, for the very first time, to actually see true biological mirroring. Like I said, I looked like I could be my parent's child, but I'm actually her son and my face shows it. And that was the first time I had ever been really freaked out by that mirroring.

Sort of fast forward a little bit. Unfortunately, she died six years later. We had a wonderful relationship. And she had told me who my biological father was. And so, I sought this guy out. We had no connection whatsoever, no rapport. I just felt nothing for him. And it turned out he wasn't the guy. We were doing DNA testing through Ancestry, sometime later, because coincidentally, my mother-in-law is also adopted, which meant we didn't know some of my wife's biology because my mother-in-law didn't know some of her biology.

So, we were doing the ancestry DNA for purposes of understanding more about her, and then a little bit more about my wife Michelle and my son Seth. And lo and behold, I'm sitting at my laptop one night in bed and I get a hit for two biological relatives, one of which, of course, was going to be my son Seth. We did a test and submitted for him, but I couldn't figure out who this other person could be. And I was astonished to read the line that said, “This person is your father.”

And it just blew my mind because, one, I had stopped searching for my biological father. And two, it was not the guy that my mother, Ann, had said it was. So, she went to her grave thinking that my biological father was somebody who it was not.

And to fast forward, we ended up having a wonderful trip to Las Vegas to meet him for the first time. I took my son. I took Michelle. And so, three generations of men from his lineage, himself, me and my son, Seth, are standing there together for the first time. And we have this great photo where, as we're standing together, as I’d reflected on it later, I looked at all of our smiles and I could see how he, my birth father, Bill, and I squint our eyes the same way. And just like you could really see our resemblance when I'm standing next to him. So, again, that sort of freaky mirroring thing that I was not even expecting reared itself again.

So, I've just had this amazing, very fortunate journey of trying to discover who my biological family are. And I've been very lucky to have been welcomed by both of my actual biological parents. And my experience has been colored by what ended up being a secondary rejection by the middle guy. The dude that Ann said was my biological father who was not. He actually sent me a note in the mail and said, “I'm sorry, I'm not the guy.” And so, that was a rejection that I had to sit with prior to finding Bill and being welcomed into his home.

So, it's been a wonderful story and an amazing experience. And I'll just say, too, that one of the things that happened was I would tell my story much the same way that I'm telling it to you now, Lori, and I would I would learn that someone else I was speaking with was an adoptee. And that adopted person would say, “Oh my gosh, that's amazing. I'm so happy for you. I wish my story would come out like that too, but…” and they would then tell me the reason why it would not. “One, my adoptive parents won't give me my records or won't tell me anything” or “Two, the state of New York, at the time, had closed adoption records.” And I had a woman say to me, “I have been to the records office. I know my record is in there, but because the law prohibits me from getting it, I will never know what's on that piece of paper behind that door.” “Three, I found my biological family and things went horribly wrong.”

So, as I started to share my story, I had my eyes opened to the stories of other adopted people. And it helped me realize that the scenario of adoption that we typically think of, the sort of the musical Annie, where this young adoptee is in hard times and is rescued and everything turns out roses; it's a classic narrative that we hold on to because it's such an awesome story, but it's not true. It's made for entertainment, and real life doesn't go like that.

And the stories that I've helped other adopted people share on the podcast are their real story; their truth. It's from their heart. It's from their experiences. And they talk about everything; from what it was like to grow up in adoption to what it was like to try to figure out who their biological family was. What brought them to the moment of deciding to search, how that search went, what were their methods and techniques, and how long did it take? How did reunion go? Was it awesome or awful? And how did they share reunion with their adopted family? Because adoptive families are not necessarily always supportive. Some are super supportive, and others can't bring themselves to support an adopted person looking for the people that they're biologically related to.

Yeah, that's one of the questions I had for you as you're telling this story is for your adoptive parents. Did you, finding your biological mother and father, subtract from your adoptive parents?

No, it didn't, because there's a wonderful woman who's an adoptee who does a podcast and a whole bunch of great work out of New York. Her name is April Dinwiddie. And she calls her parents, her adoptive parents, her parents of experience. They were there. They did the work. They loved on her. They raised her, reared her, and made her part of their family. And that's what a parent does. You invest the time, the energy, you lavish the love and you're there.

And then there's what we loosely call birth parents. And many birth parents don't necessarily like that term because it makes them sound like a vessel through which a person was brought into the world, and then that parent was tossed aside. So, I use it as a label because it's clear in people's minds, but I recognize that it's not always something that resonates with people.

So, the birth parent is obviously who I came from. And there's a natural curiosity to try to understand what that connection is. Before we got on line today, I was thinking about some of the crazy analogies that come to mind. If you've ever watched a movie like E.T., you know, this alien, this extraterrestrial is put on another planet. And he doesn't look like anybody here. He's not related to them. And all he wants to do is figure out how to get back home.

Now, it's a loose analogy because he wasn't, like, brought up in the family and then suddenly wanted to search. But the idea being that he recognized, I'm not with my “people.” I'd like to find where I am connected and get back there.

And that's something that sometimes happens for adoptees is they recognize like if I was brought up in, say, a white family in the Midwest, the family photo would always show two white parents and a brown child. And I would always see that I was adopted. There would always be a reminder of that. But the love is lavished if you do all of the things that families are sort of stereotypically supposed to do; sticking with each other and binding to each other. You do very much become the parents because you're there putting in the work and the child is part of your life. Family just kind of makes itself from an adoption experience.

And you'll hear a lot of adoptees on the podcast say, “You know, I felt really guilty about wanting to search for my biological parents. I love my parents. They were awesome. But I did want to know, like, why am I this short, round person in a family of tall people? Why am I blonde and everybody's brunette? You know, here I am this Latino or Latina and everybody else doesn't look like me.” You just can't help when you're in some way different from everybody else wondering who the people you come from are. And if you're like them in any way.

One of the nuggets that I've gleaned from talking with adoptees over the years is this idea of adoptee math and that anything that adds to my child doesn't necessarily subtract from me. And it sounds like your parents were knew that. They knew that intuitively.

And I have noticed in some of your work, Damon, that you often start an introduction of yourself with something that you just said. You said you are someone who had had wonderful adoptive parents. What is the reasoning behind putting that forth, right at the beginning of your episodes, your memoir, things like that?

Because I want to give credit. I wouldn't be the man I am today were it not for the parents that I had. They loved me. They encouraged me. My mother used to say to me; she would say, “You can do anything you set your mind to.” You know how empowering that is to tell a child you can do anything? Not every child gets that kind of endorsement, that kind of push, that open advocacy.

And they were great. You know, she used to hug on me and love me and kiss me and all kinds of stuff. Just great parents. My dad, I had a friend say one time, “My dad would rather be my friend than my dad because he wanted to hang out and take me around and do fun stuff and all kinds of things like that.”

And so, I say that to folks, one, to sort of set the stage, because it's important to for people to recognize sort of who my parents were to me. And I appreciate them for everything that they did. And I don't want it to sound calculated. Like, I don't want it to sound as if what they did was something they were hired to do; it's not that.

I appreciate my parents as my parents. Still, in recognition of being an adoptee, there is an inherent recognition of the fact that I am biologically related to other people. And it's natural to have a curiosity about that. So, that's why I start off with paying homage to my parents, because I think it's important and I love them. They're awesome people.

And on this side of things, I think there can be a deep seated fear that if my child one day does decide to search for or know better their biological family, then that means that I haven't done a good enough job being everything for them. And that's not necessarily the case. It's more of a “both and” than an “either or.”

Yeah, I'm glad you raised this. I thought of a really interesting story that one of my adopted people said on the show. This guy was talking to me about his family and his discussion with his adoptive parents about his desire to search for his biological parents. And some folks in the family had basically expressed concern for why he wanted to do that, “You know, weren't our parents enough?” Maybe it was his siblings. I don't know. “Weren't our parents enough?” “Aren't you going to hurt them by doing this?” “Why would you go look for other parents?” You have to.

And his response was basically, “Well, let me ask you this. Our parents had you as a child and then they had me. And then they had another one. But there was enough love to go around for everybody, right? So, why do I have to limit the love that I have for our two parents when our parents have enough love to go around for multiple children? There's a difference in trying to find somebody because you need answers to satisfy elements of your heart and mind versus trying to find biological parents because you're trying to replace other people.”

We've had some challenges with our adoptive children, and I told my wife, “We have to be able to look in the mirror and say we did everything we could for that child. And we did our best.” And if you can't do that, then, yeah, maybe you should question why that child is looking for somebody else. If you can't look in the mirror and say, “You know what? I have loved that child as hard as I could, and I gave him everything.”

And still you should also look in the mirror and say, “You know what? This is not about me. This is about them. They are on a journey. They need to figure this out.”

And then kids go through a lot of journeys. They try to explore sports and academia and music and art and all kinds of things. And you've got to let them go on that journey because it's all part of developing themselves as individuals and finding their place in the world. And this, too, is part of that journey.

If I'm going to go out and search for my biological family, it's because I'm trying to find a piece of myself. And that search for myself does not necessarily mean that I'm trying to get rid of memories of you and all of our experiences, and I'm not trying to replace you.

So, I encourage any adoptive parent, be they an adoptive parent with an adult child whom they (for lack of a better words) fear is looking for their biological child. Or if you've got small children whom you've adopted and you're concerned about this going forward. I think you've got to get right with yourself and recognize you have loved that child as best you can and this journey is one of self-discovery that they have to go on. And you have to be supportive of it, otherwise they're going to cut you out of it. And that's what you don't want.

If they feel that you're not supportive, if they feel excessive jealousy, if they feel any kinds of emotions that are going to preclude them from speaking openly to you about this, you will get cut out.

And I want to say one more piece about that. The adoption journey to reunion also isn't necessarily one that's planned. Sometimes – you've done it before. Any one of us who has a device in our hand has had a question in their mind. And what do you do? You go straight to the Internet and you ask that question, right? “I wonder how many stars there in the sky.” Type it in; you get a number. “I wonder how many people live on the continent of Africa.” Type it in. You get a number. “I wonder who Dorothy Smith is, born in Indiana in 1942.” If that was my biological mother's name. It just happens. The search just starts.

Or if you've seen your birth certificate or whatever, and you've got some identifiable information in there about Southern California, you might just be at your desk one day daydreaming and think, “I should look into California birth records.”

And so, you can't, as adoptive parents, necessarily expect to know when the search is going to start. It might just happen spontaneously one day and the adopted person is just going to go down a rabbit hole and start searching. And they may include you at some early point. They may come to you at the end. And you've got to be prepared for that eventuality regardless of how it unfolds.

And this is really part of looking at adoption in the long view. Because when you have a baby or a toddler and they're dependent on you for everything, it's really hard to imagine that one day they might be doing their own pursuit of looking at their roots in their own way.

And so, you're right. We as adoptive parents at that stage, when they have agency, we can either be joyfully joining along for the ride to be alongside them, or we can be cut out of it if we don't feel safe to our children.

Mm hmm.

Another thing I wanted to go back to, you said, that I think was so impactful and it relates to the adoptee math, is that logic you used about we understand that parents can, of course, love more than one child because love multiplies. And if it multiplies going in that direction, then of course it can multiply in going the other direction too. Children can love more than one set of parents without it taking away from anybody. So, I thought that was really, really profound. Thank you for that.

You have mentioned a couple of deep-seated questions that adoptees often have about their birth families, even when they have loving relationships with their adoptive parents. Would you explain a couple of those and tell us why they arise for so many adoptees?

Of course. So, I named the show Who Am I Really? Because these kinds of questions come up. Some of the first ones I think that people might think about are, “What happened with my biological mother and my biological father?” “Like, if I am adopted, then where are these people and why?” “And there's a reason for the adoption. And I'd like to know that. That's a piece of my personal history that is important to me.”

There's the sort of broader question like, “What is the story of my adoption? What were the circumstances that happened that made me be in a position where it was required that I was available for adoption?” And those can range widely from coercion to put up a baby. You know, there's stories of third world countries where women are coerced into relinquishing their child because they're taught that this child is not going to live a good life here. There are stories of mothers of birth mothers who are like, “You are not having that child in this house, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And we're going to put it up for adoption.” And there are stories of all kinds of heartache that have led to adoption.

And I want to underscore here, something really important to recognize is in all of the discussions that I have ever had about adoption and its beginning, it has never started from a place of positivity. There has always been an adverse circumstance that has created a reason for a child to be available for adoption. There's strife and trauma in the home, and the child is removed for the child's own safety. There has been a young couple that has not had the means to care for a child, and the parents of those children think they know better and they force the child, the infant, to be adopted. There are children languishing in foster care who need a home. There are so many adverse circumstances that start an adoption and make a child available for adoption.

I think we have to acknowledge that adoption comes from some level of trauma and it's our job as parents to acknowledge it, address it, and try to heal it as best as we can, and support the child in healing it themselves because they're going to find different ways to do that.

Other questions that come up for adoptees are things like, “Why couldn't my parents take care of me? You my parents here are doing just fine. Why couldn't my parents do it?” It's a legitimate question that people deserve some sort of answer to.

The things that I alluded to earlier are other questions, “Who do I look like?” You heard how amazed I was when I told my story about how much I look like my birth mother, Ann, and how much I look like my birth father, Bill. If I don't look like you as my adoptive parent, if I don't look like my siblings, if I don't look like my community, if I'm an African American child in a predominantly white community, I'm going to wonder, “Who do I look like?”

And then there's things that are a little bit deeper, like, “What is my heredity? Where do I originate from?” You know, I've had people say, “Everybody thought that I looked Italian.” And I'm not speaking of me. I've had guests say, “Everybody thought I looked Italian and it turns out I'm from Spain” or whatever.

And then along those lines, there are health conditions that are inherited as part of your bloodline. And people often want to know, “What is inside of me? Am if I'm a woman, do I have an increased risk of some form of breast cancer, for example?” I know that I, Damon, am a sickle cell trait carrier. That's something that is important to me to know as I proceed with finding a mate and having a child.

And so, as adopted people become adults and they start to think about forming their own families, it's a real challenge to think, “Oh, my wife knows all of her lineage. She can take her family all the way back to 500 years. I have no idea where my biology comes from. So, I don't know, when we start to form this family, what I'm contributing to this child we're about to make.”

And that can be really scary for people. And adoptees have told me in the stories that they've shared, “I have a condition. And when my daughter was born, that condition got passed to her. And it wasn't until I reunited with my biological mother that I learned she had that condition and she introduced me to her specialist. And now we've got the best care we've ever had.”

It's those kinds of disconnects that come with adoption and the absence of information and sort of poorly documented records and things like that that can be real blockers for a person understanding sort of who they are and how they fit into their own world. It's really challenging.

And I mean, I'm sure we could name another ten questions that adoptees tend to ask themselves, but those are some of the top ones that come to mind.

That's really helpful. And I hope listeners will click over to your podcast, “Who am I Really?”, and listen to your episodes that resonate for them, because there are so many good things there. And I want them to see that the image, the logo that you have for your podcast is a set of a heart made of puzzle pieces. So, as you were just talking about those deep seated questions that adoptees answer, I'm kind of seeing those puzzle pieces fly in.

The biology includes two puzzle pieces, one, “Who do I look like? What's on the surface?” but then there's also the health piece, “What's in my body? What am I passing on? What am I in for later in my life, perhaps?” And then there's also the circumstances; that's a piece, too. Wanting to know, “What led us to me being here in this family?”

And I also realize, as you're talking, that you're gathering these pieces not just for you, but for the people who come after you, for your son Seth, for your other son and your daughter.

Yeah, that's right. You point out exactly what I was trying to get to with the logo of the show is the idea that we all have a heart and everybody's heart is made up of a variety of pieces. It's the family you come from, the family you've made, the community you are part of, and all of your life experiences.

And my logo, very intentionally, has one puzzle piece missing because, as an adopted person, if you don't know some of these pieces of your lineage and your heritage and your family and stuff. There is a missing piece, whether you're able to acknowledge it or not. Not every adopted person is there and able to say, “I'm ready to search.” Some people feel very comfortable right where they are. They don't need any more answers. And I totally respect that. Other people are on the opposite end of the spectrum and they've wanted to search since the moment they heard the word adopted.

And so, either way, both of those folks and everybody along the spectrum, there is a missing piece in their heart of sort of knowing what their biology is. And that's why I chose the logo to represent that missing puzzle piece.

One of the many things I've been learning from you, Damon, as I'm listening, is –This is a little tidbit– you have observed that male adoptees tend to get interested in a bio family search later than female adoptees do. Do you have any guesses why that might be?

I have a couple, and some of them are rooted in science and some of them are rooted in my own personal opinions about guys versus girls. I believe that obviously, I think we can all agree women are sort of more empathic and emotional and more understanding of themselves at an earlier age. Women mature faster than men. And let's face it, guys can be just kind of emotional dummies, right?

So, as we traverse our lives, there's a natural separation of how women perceive themselves, perceive themselves in the world versus how men do and when we start to truly, deeply think about stuff.

And along those lines, men are often discouraged from expressing our emotions. And so, you don't think about stuff as deeply because you're not allowed to express your emotions as much. Those are two factors that sort of create a separation as to when women might start to think about themselves in the world.

And, for example, like women can create life; men cannot do so without a woman. And therefore, a woman, when she comes of age, is thinking to herself at some point, like, “I could have a baby.” And I suspect that that contemplation of the ability to have a child, if you're an adopted person, could also have you start to think more deeply about your own adoption, because you will probably make the connection more quickly that as you could have a child, someone had you. And so, I think there's a lot in the space of why men search after women.

And I'll tell you, my social worker, when I began my search, told me that fact. She had been doing search and reunion for years. And she said, “Women tend to search more earlier than men. And men tend to search when they've had their children.” And I thought that was fascinating because that was exactly what had happened for me. I was I literally was sitting there with my son, Seth, laying on his back, looking up at me. And that was when it hit me, like she couldn't have been more right about that. So, it's an interesting thing to kind of contemplate. But I my suspicion is I'm mostly right about those three things.

That sounds really insightful. And a lot of the people listening who are adoptive parents are also adoptees. We get a lot of adoptees who are also adoptive parents. And so, this may help them kind of understand their own stuff if they're getting ready to think about things in that stage.

Yeah, I hope so. Yeah.

So, we're coming up on the last question here. And this is something I'm asking of all guests in Season 3. From your perspective, Daemon, as an adoptee and as a repository for adoptees stories, what do you think is the most important piece of the long view of adoption that people tend to miss on the front end?

It's a really good question. I think part of it is the idea that you have to figure out what kind of parent you want to be and strive for that goal. And recognize that the factors that the child brings to your family, you will have to deal with along the way.

But in figuring out what kind of parent you want to be, my belief is that you have to also examine your own experiences. And I say that from a couple of angles. One, think about how you grew up. If you had – I often referred to adoptions as awesome or awful, right? Because frequently, there is a spectrum. But that's the loose way that you can think about it.

And if you come from an awesome adoption, I suspect you're probably more likely to be an awesome parent. But if you've come from an awful adoption, you kind of have to sit in that for a minute and examine what was wrong about it and how you are not the results of that adoption as a parent. That you want to be a different kind of parent than what you experienced.

And this goes to for non-adopted parents. I think you have to think about, very clearly, sort of literally, “Who am I and how am I going to parent this child in order to focus in on when the challenges are presented to you?”

And I think also there's the parent thinking about themselves as how they grew up and how they want to be a parent. And there's also sort of looking at the child themselves and respecting who that child is and letting them be what they want to be. And you have to sort of both be hands-on and take a step back and allow the child to sort of grow up.

So, it can be really – It's all challenging. Listen, there's no right answers. But I think I guess what I'm alluding to is we all have to do the work. You have to sit and think to yourself, “How am I going to handle certain situations when they come up?” and try to prepare for them. Because adoption is challenging.

And I say that, you know, we were talking before, Lori, about sort of in sitting and doing the work, examining those deep seated, fearful questions that you think you might have. For example, if my child comes to me and says, “I think I want to look for my biological mother”, you should script in your mind what you would like to say that will be supportive before you get there.

I joked before that when you're driving in traffic and someone cuts you off, you script in your mind, “Oh man, if I had a moment to pull over, I would say this to that person.” And you script in your mind work scenarios, “If my colleague says that one more time, I'm going to say this.”

So, script in your mind what your responses will be to certain situations that you suspect are coming in adoption. If your adult child has come to you and says, “Listen, I've found my biological parents”, you should script in your mind, well in advance, an appropriate answer for you.

If you're fearful of that, maybe you should say something like, “Wow, that is really fascinating. I wasn't expecting you to say that. Do you mind if I just take a moment to process that? And can we come back to this maybe tomorrow?” Because you don't want to overreact and put the child off, then they might think, “I never should have come to you with this.” Script what your answer is going to be.

Conversely, if you're supportive of their search, you could also have it scripted in your mind, “I'm so glad you shared that with me. I'd love to hear more when you're ready.”

But if you don't take the time to script in your mind what your appropriate response is going to be, the first thing out of your mouth is likely to be wrong and you can never unsay it. So, I think I'll wait it off on a tangent there, but that was just that kind of popped into my mind. So, go ahead.

That was beautiful because it echoes so tightly running theme that we've developed here on this podcast, which is, “Do your own work, people; adoptive parents.”

Because we all come to parenting with a template of how we were parented. And whether we liked it or not, it's our template. And we come with our own attachment issues. Everybody has them; some to varying degrees. And if we don't go in with the intention of being intentional about it, which is what you're talking about, have a plan. Choose your response instead of have a reaction when these things come up; when our kids are little and when our kids are big.

But if we are doing that work, all along the way; it's not something you do once and then you forget about it. It's an ongoing amount of just being devoted to doing your internal work all along the way. So, I love that you've said that.


It's been such a pleasure to have you here, Damon. I just am grateful to you for sharing all of your insights, from your own story and the people you've heard from. So, thank you so much for being with us today.

It's my pleasure. I'm really glad to be here, Lori. And I appreciate what you're doing to try to bring adoptive parents some insights as to how they could potentially do better, be their best. It's not easy.

And this is true for adoption as well as just regularly formed families. Like it's just not that easy and there's no right answers. But again, if you if you put in the work to try to make sure that you put your best foot forward, you know, that's all you can do. And you kind of have to hope for the best.

And a lot of times it comes out really, really well. So, I'm happy for all of those folks out there that have adopted. I think you guys are doing an amazing thing.

And encourage your children, too. Like the same way. I'm trying to be the best parent I can be, you need to also tell your child, “Listen, all I can expect of you is that you're the best kid you can be.” And from there forward, you guys hopefully, will find your path to being a solid family.

Wonderful. Thank you, Damon.

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