Don’t be an Adoption Expert: Be an Expert Parent

Martha Crawford is a Psychotherapist and has experience working with adoptive families and adult adoptees, she is also an adoptive mother. One thing that Crawford does not claim to be is “an adoption expert.” Crawford recently wrote a blog post entitled “This Is Not an Adoption Blog, and I Am Not An Adoption Expert.” In the post she reasons that even though she works with adoptees, has an adopted sister and is an adoptive mother, she can not truly understand adoption because she was not adopted. Instead, Crawford ends the post by saying “Any fantasy, myth, generalization, romanticization, stereotype, unconscious bias or assumption that I have ever made – in any direction – about adoption, adoptees, original parents, has been soundly turned on its head, repeatedly. And perhaps that is the point: these are not experiences for me as a non-adopted therapist, a non-adopted adoptive parent, to identify with, co-opt or fully comprehend. Perhaps the call is to behave with consistent respect for what I can never understand.”

I think Crawford makes several valid points throughout the blog post and would recommend taking the time to read the entire post, however her closing thoughts are what struck me most. I have been at Adoption STAR just over eight months and have learned more about the adoption process then I ever thought I would. However I could never truly understand what the experience is like for an adoptee, or an adoptive parent or birth parent since I have never been in their situations. When Crawford writes that she does her best to “behave with consistent respect for what I can never understand” she is not just referring to using “positive adoption language,” she is saying that is truly impossible to know what an adoptee or birth parent is feeling if you have never placed your child for adoption or were adopted yourself, and that it’s important to respect peoples feelings and emotions as unique to them.

By understanding that you can not “fully comprehend” your child’s adoption-related thoughts, questions and concerns, you then have the ability to be open and honest with your children with what you can understand and be loving and supportive in those other moments. You may not be able to be an “adoption expert” but you CAN be an expert mother and father to your children.

To read Crawford’s full blog post, click here.