While I was training for ILDC in Kiev, Ukraine in early November 2012, a woman attending the workshop, Triggers, What Can Cause Adoption-Related Crisis?, stood up while introducing herself. She stated, “I feel I must stand while introducing myself to you because your books saved my adoption.” She began to cry as she shared that her 10-year-old adopted daughter, has serious behavioral challenges. Prior to the adoption, her daughter was institutionalized for several years following the deaths of both of her drug-addicted birth parents. I thanked her for her kind words and began to train. Of course, we discussed the issues of psychological presence and divided loyalties. I encouraged trainees to bring the birth family explicitly into the adoptive home through open adoption communication. Several examples of open communication were given, including “Your birth mother would have been so proud of you today.”
The following day, this same mother attended a second day of training. She was very excited to share that the previous evening, her daughter sang beautifully in a music recital. At the conclusion of the event, the adoptive mother hugged her daughter and said to her, “Your birth mother would have been so proud of you tonight.” Again, the adoptive mother began to cry as she described the way her daughter’s face lit up, “transforming her features” from an angry, avoidant child to one who was surprised and happy to see her birth family acknowledged and accepted. It was moving to see how eager families and social workers are receive information that will impact the lives of children as well as the stability of the adoptive families caring for them. It certainly made the long trip to Kiev very worthwhile! It is startling to see the rapid progress made in Ukraine by ILDC; they are certainly earning their name: International Leadership and Development Center.