analyze this

I had a busy day yesterday, with back-to-back appointments before I even made it to work. 

First I had a session with a new therapist. At one point she asked me to share my fears or concerns about adoption. I discussed a few issues that I had been thinking about, some I’m dealing with now, and some I anticipate could arise in the future. I talked about how my initial fears about adoption had subsided, how the more I learn the more I embrace the process. I explained our concern about making the right match, especially given our limited resources (logistical and emotional), the uncertainty of which can be a source of anxiety. I explained my concern about the loss our child may feel, and my inability to fulfill the fundamental aspect of parenting that comes with shared heritage. 

I also talked about how we have had to rebuild our circle of support since we received so little support during our infertility and losing our baby. I explained that so many people know so little about open adoption, yet it is difficult to know when and how to clarify some of the misconceptions I alluded to in my last post, to prepare our family and friends and ultimately try to protect our child from unnecessary pain or discomfort.

At first, the therapist suggested that I was overanalyzing these issues. She suggested that I didn’t need to put too much energy into these thoughts unless or until these issues arise. She suggested that I/we try to simplify the process by focusing on the present. There was no need to dwell on what may or may not happen in the future.  

My initial reaction was mixed. On one hand, she’s right that I don’t need to worry about every issue right now, especially with such little energy to spare. Not every issue may arise.  As we are learning, we need to trust in the process and put some faith in the universe to work its magic for the right situation to find its way to us, somehow. On the other hand, I wondered if she was truly appreciating the range and depth of issues we face, or if, in her attempt to help us simplify the present, she might have minimized the significance of these issues to me. Hmm… 

She thought trying to “educate” people now was not really appropriate or necessary, and suggested we could do that, if necessary, when our family and friends finally embrace our baby with open hearts. I’m not sure I agree with her on that point. As I said before, we talk about the process in part to share it with others, but there are also some misguided views I’d like to set straight now. Yet I am conscious of how awkward it can be to try to raise awareness (about positive language or negative myths) without preaching or lecturing. Still, I am left with the question of what to say and when, as I imagine I will be long after our child comes to us…

While I liked this woman and I imagine she may be an effective therapist, I’m not sure I would return to her to deal with adoption-related issues. She does work with adoptive families and adoptees, but her specialty is family counseling generally. Interestingly, she did caution us in parenting about viewing everything through the adoption lens. She said many parents make the mistake of attributing every problem to the fact that their child was adopted, when she does not believe that is often the case. 

Next up, I had my one-on-one with our case worker as the next phase of our home study. We met for 45 minutes, mainly going through my autobiographical questionnaire in our application. She asked more than I expected about my childhood and adolescence, about pivotal moments such as my parents’ divorce and my dad’s illness. She asked about my relationship with family members and their support of our decision. She asked about my work situation. Then she asked about M and what kind of parent he’d be, who would be the disciplinarian, and how we’d resolve our differences in parenting. All pretty easy questions to answer.

Then we had a very interesting discussion in response to her question about concerns that I may have about adoption generally. Again, I explained how my initial concerns had subsided and how I have come to truly embrace child-centered open adoption as beneficial for everyone. We talked about the importance of making the right connection. 

Then we talked about raising awareness in others about the issues surrounding open adoption. This woman, an adoptive mother, definitely got where I was coming from on this. We talked about how hard it is to decide when to make something “a teachable moment,” and when you just let it go. We talked about how people will inevitably say ignorant things, even in front your child, and while you might want to either reply or simply brush it off, you remember that you’re also setting an example for your child of how to respond in a similar situation. I got the sense that she was really trying to offer guidance in our approach to adoptive parenting, which I found very comforting.

Next week is M’s individual visit, after which our case worker will draft our home study and any clarifying questions for our final visit on September 5. I am happy to report that we have completed nearly all of our home study paperwork — we just need to follow up with our references! We are still confident we can finalize it by mid-to-late September. After that, the outreach phase begins…

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~ by luna on August 12, 2008.

15 Responses to “analyze this”

  1. The therapist thing can be tricky. I’ve got one I’ve been seeing for about 6 years now and really think she’s great. But when the IF stuff came up, I felt very frustrated that she didn’t “get it” and that a lot of the normal “lines” (e.g. be in the present) just didn’t seem to apply quite as tidily as she would’ve liked. However, as time has gone on, she really seems to have listened to me and picked up quite a bit — and now our working relationship seems better than ever.

    I will say the chemistry part is more important than anything. I’ve met with a few other therapists who “specialize” in IF, loss, adoption, etc. — and quite frankly that doesn’t seem to necessarily mean they’ll “get” you, even though the know the lingo, they have other case histories to draw upon, etc. Does that make sense?

    If you ever have any questions about what it’s like to be an “adopted kid”, feel free to contact me any time! Overall, I’d really say it’s something that didn’t really affect me much growing up (or I wasn’t conscious of it then, although I always knew I was adopted). But as an adult, I am having a lot of “a-ha” moments about it and pondering many more questions/sorting through some issues. My case was a bit odd, and my adoption completely closed, however…

    Yikes! So much typing. Anyway, keep up the great work! You are totally rocking my world.

  2. I tend to overanalyze things as well, and I’m not convinced that it is a bad thing. Sure, you need to temper it enough that it doesn’t make you crazy, but there’s something to be said for being prepared for what might come. It’s just important to find a balance.

    I really hope you can find that balance, with or without this therapist. But if she’s just not getting it, or maybe is the type of person who really doesn’t see a need to plan for the future, maybe she’s not the right therapist. I don’t know–it’s the effort involved in finding the “right” therapist that has kept me from even starting the search, though I’m sure it would do me a lot of good.

    I am so soothed/comforted/motivated by the shift in your story, from IF and loss to adoption. Thank you so much for continuing your beautiful blog.

  3. So glad to hear you could have an honest discussion with your case worker. Maybe other adoptive mothers or people who have been adopted can empathize best at times.

  4. I’m so glad that although it didn’t sound like the therapist really heard you on the whole “educating others” thing, the case worker really did. Maybe the universe is looking out for you on this one, and it’s a sign of many more good things coming your way very soon!

  5. You know, it’s funny how people who haven’t walked the same path rarely “get it” … the counselor vs case worker discussion being an excellent example of that. I’m thinking, though, if we open up more and talk about our unique experiences/challenges/choices the world can begin to understand, empathize, and become more compassionate. Maybe I’m just tired of my own silence 😉

  6. At this point, do you really need a therapist? Just a question. I’m sure there is a lot going on in your heart, mind, and soul, but you seem to be able to articulate it so clearly…

    What a great case worker, with such a helpful perspective! I’m so glad you have someone like that moving you through the process. I’m also glad you’ve got the end of this first stage in sight!

  7. I think (as others have said) that it can be very hard for someone who hasn’t experienced a situation to truly understand it. Though, honestly, I would expect a therapist to be a little more clued in. I overanalyze things as well, but I think that it’s often very useful to plan for issues and challenges that may come up in the future — even if some of them never actually arise.

  8. Luna — I have really been enjoying your posts about the adoption process. You’ve given me a lot to think about and process. And it’s been a relief to know that we share many of the same fears. Thanks for being so honest about everything!

  9. We go into therapy because we want to come to a greater understanding of ourselves – and that is inevitably a difficult and painful process, during which we may hear things that we do not necessarily want to.

    But I think that we also need to trust our gut instincts – a good therapist will not simply dismiss our anxieties as unfounded; she will work with us to help us understand why we feel that way, and will enable us to develop ways of coping with those issues.

    I am sorry that you didn’t find your session with this particular therapist more helpful, but glad that your one-to-one meeting wtih the case worker went so well.

  10. “Interestingly, she did caution us in parenting about viewing everything through the adoption lens.”

    I struggle with this. It’s a fine line between dwelling and denying.

    Also, I can say that so much that I worried about has never happened. And some things I didn’t think to worry about have come up. But, overall, I’ve decided I have pretty good instincts in dealing with things in the moment.

    I am absolutely sure you do, too.

  11. I’m so happy you are moving forward. I think like you…prepare, plan, resolve things now rather than be surprised later.

  12. Wow! All that and before work? You’re one tough cookie. Loved the thoughts around “a teachable moment.”

    In support (and as one guilty of over-analyzing most things in life) I think there’s significant advantage to thinking things through so you’re prepared and comfortable with what comes next.

  13. Glad you were able to connect with the social worker — I wonder if she might be able to give you the name of a therapist experienced with these issues for you to see on a longer-term basis.

    Sounds like you are moving forward — scary, but good! Thank you for sharing your process, too. As someone who may be exploring this option in the future, it helps to have your intuitive and sensitive perspective on the process.

    Thinking of you!

  14. […] each survived our individual interviews with our case worker (mine was last week, M’s was this week), without any especially tough or annoying questions. She […]

  15. […] errors were even more substantial. In several instances, parts of my interview were presented inconsistently and inaccurately, though unintentionally I assume. Still, […]

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