When people ask me what I do, I often have a tough time answering the question. Not because I can’t explain it, but because it’s kind of a mouthful. My canned response is, “I’m a family coach, which means I do in-home, trauma-informed behavior management with families that have adopted.” But as soon as I get to “trauma-informed” people usually tune out because it’s relatively unfamiliar and most people don’t identify with it.
So in an effort to keep people engaged in my work, I’ll add something like, “Kids who have been adopted have been through unthinkably hard stuff, hence the need for adoption, but just because they’ve been adopted and they’re now in a home that’s safe and happy, doesn’t mean all the stuff they experienced goes away magically. I help families work together to heal from trauma so everybody feels safe and has a good quality of life.”
While this doesn’t help my verbose-job-description-problem, it does sometimes offer up an opportunity for the person to relate. And if they do, it’s usually because they know someone who has adopted, and that someone has had a difficult time.
That sad reality is why I have a job.
It’s unfortunate that one of the most common reasons people know anything about adoption is because they know a story of someone’s struggle. Adoption starts from a place of brokenness, so it makes perfect sense that the road to “happy family” will be challenging. But that road is why my job exists.
Stand Up Eight is here to say, “Hey, we know what you’re doing is hard, and it might be that way for awhile, but we’ll walk alongside you and help everybody heal. Together.”
My dream is that one day I’ll tell people what I do and instead of responding with a story of their friend who adopted two kids and how they’ve struggled ever since, they’ll respond with a story of someone they know who has adopted two kids and how people have helped them thrive as family.
But there are a few things that hinder this dream from becoming a reality. First, if you’re reading this and you are part of an adoptive family, I’m here to beg you to ask for help, seek counsel, call on people. Even if it’s not from Stand Up Eight. The biggest disservice you can do for yourself and your kids is by keeping your struggles to yourself. Instead, tell the people you trust the hard parts about adoption and ask for help when you need it - and even when you may not. You aren’t alone in this, and you shouldn’t feel like you need to go at it on your own.
Secondly, YOU. Anyone and everyone reading this, I’m talking to you. The way we can change stories of adoption from struggle to hope is awareness. Make yourself aware of the needs of adoptive families, and familiarize yourself with useful tools! Know a family who has adopted? Check in with them, talk to them about how things are going, and if they’re struggling, tell them about who we are and the hope Stand Up Eight offers.
We all have the power to be an influential person in someone’s life, but we need the boldness to speak up. It could radically change a life.