Family and Friends Night
Sierra Forever Families hosts an informational Family and Friends night every six months. Why is this important? We have found over our 33 years of supporting families who adopt children from foster care that our families do better when they have a strong circle of support. Therefore we like to bring families and their supporters together for an evening and talk about how friends and family can support each other through the life long journey of adoption.
- There are 5 roles for friends and family in the Circle of Support, which we have described in an earlier blog. As a reminder the roles are: a rock, the wise, the passenger, the helping hand, and the advocate. We believe that every adoptive family needs a friend or relative to be the “passenger” who will learn alongside them. The Friends and Family night is a great way to have your “passenger” come alongside you to learn.
- At Sierra’s education classes we train our families to embrace the 7 Core Issues of Adoption developed by Deborah Silverstein, LCSW and Sharon Roszia, MS. This model provides a framework that families and professionals can use to understand and communicate the adoption process.
- The 7 core issues of adoption are: loss, rejection, guilt and shame, grief, identity, intimacy, and finally mastery and control. We will go into more detail about the 7 Core Issues in future blogs and articles, but today we are focusing on the first two, loss and rejection.
- We can say that without loss there would be no adoption. Adopted children suffer their first loss at the involuntary separation from their birth family. No matter how we feel about what was done to these children, they still feel it as a loss. They can lose their biological, genetic, medical, and cultural history. We must recognize that this loss is ongoing and this is one reason we educate our families to understand that adoption is not a single event but a life long journey.
- For the adopted person, rejection is at the core of their struggle in coming to terms with their adoption. While a child is never responsible for being adopted, it is difficult for them to comprehend why they were adopted. Often parents will say that the adopted child was “chosen” but parents, family and friends need to be careful about using this as it implies the child was first “unchosen.” Just as their child can feel rejected, parents can also feel rejected. It often feels like their adopted child puts them on and off the “rejection roller coaster” as their child tries to understand who they are and build a sense of self.
Understanding and navigating through just these 2 core issues of adoption are tricky and emotionally difficult for our families. As the Passenger your role is to support our adoptive parents when they need help. By attending a Friends and Family night you can come alongside your adoptive family and learn alongside them.
Look for our upcoming article which delves deeper into one of the 7 Core Issues of Adoption, Loss.
To learn more about Sierra Forever Families education and support services visit our website at sierraff.org