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Trauma-informed parenting: A guide for families 

A mother hugging a girl who looks upset, offering support.

Download this free digital guide that covers important topics like the different ways kids might respond to trauma, how to adopt a trauma-informed parenting approach, and the impact on parents and caregivers.  Chances are, you or someone you know has experienced trauma. Almost two-thirds of Canadians report that they’ve experienced a potentially traumatic event. All […]

Child sexual abuse: A guide for parents 

A black girl holding a hand, looking concerned.

Detecting signs of sexual abuse—and then determining a course of action—may leave parents feeling overwhelmed. This free digital guide is a helpful starting point for adoption and permanency parents, and essential reading for anyone who parents or works with children and youth. As the parent or a guardian of a child who has been adopted from […]

Ask the expert: Trauma-informed care

The back of a little girl wearing a white shirt with black dots. There are a lot of pink flowers in the background.

Rebekah Craig, former Education Manager at the Belonging Network, sat down with Registered Clinical Counsellor Carrie DeJong to discuss trauma-informed care. You can also view the full video of the interview here. Why it is important to consider someone’s past that may have had exposure to trauma? Trauma produces a lot of emotional, behavioural, or […]

Racism and your child

A sad boy holding a book. He is in a classroom.

When kids experience racism, what can their parents do? Here are some resources and tips from an experienced adoptive parent. Editor’s note: Some of these tips are aimed specifically at white parents. The Belonging Network recognizes that adoptive families are incredibly diverse, and that transracial adoptive families include parents from all backgrounds, heritages, and experiences, […]

Gotcha Day

A young girl surrounded by a group of people, her eyes covered by a lady's hands, with a surprise birthday cake placed in front of her.

Gotcha Day is one of the names many adoptive parents use to mark the day their child was adopted. While is it intended as a celebration, adoptee Mila Konomos shares a different perspective, along with her personal adoption story. Mila is a transracial, transnational Korean American adoptee. She has been in reunion with her Korean […]

Finding (some of) my roots

Roots of a big tree.

Another adult adoptee shares here story of searching for her birth family, and finding roots that, while limited, help ground her.  I was born in December 1953, when my birth mother was almost 30 years old. I always knew I was adopted. I looked like my adopted family on the outside but I didn’t feel […]

My search story

Silhouette of a woman watching the sunrise over the ocean horizon.

This is an article about the challenges and complexities of searching and reconnecting with a birth parent, and learning to cope when things don’t work out the way you’d hoped they would. I was born in 1973, relinquished at birth and adopted as an eight month old infant. I was born healthy in all respects, […]

Adoptees and suicide risk

A teenage girl with pink hair and a sad expression is sitting on gray stone stairs.

Adoptees are four times more likely to attempt suicide than non-adoptees. There’s no easy way to talk about this topic, but talk about it we must. As the adoptive mom of four young adults — two sons adopted as babies and twin daughters adopted at 6 years old — I know what joy adoption can […]

Somatic therapy: A new approach to adoption trauma

A pebble tower on a rocky beach.

For more than 25 years, Catherine has worked in and with the adoption community as a therapist, an adoptee, and an adoptive mom, always searching for a truly effective approach to adoption therapy. In this article, she explains an approach that she’s found to be highly effective for issues related to adoption trauma. The lasting […]

Be ready to support LGBTQ youth

Two young adults with backs turned, draped in LGBTQ flags.

For many youth, foster and adoptive homes can be safe places for care and support when the biological family does not provide appropriate care. Unfortunately, many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth are placed in foster homes where their caretakers do not understand or accept these youth because of their gender or sexual orientation. […]

Shame and the adopted child

A blond kid, wearing a yellow T-shirt and jeans, is playing on the sand with a yellow and red truck.

Catherine is the co-founder of the non-profit organization We Are Adopted/Adoptees Association. In this article she draws on her personal experience as an adoptee and an adoptive mother as well as her professional experience as a registered clinical counsellor to explain why shame and adoption are so intertwined. Shadowed by shame Shame is something that […]

Early adversity and mental health

A little girl with two ponytails looking out the window and holding a teddy bear

This article was originally published on the Adoption Council of Ontario’s blog for Bell Let’s Talk day (a social media campaign that encourages Canadians to talk openly about mental health). We were inspired by Kathy’s insight into the connection between early trauma and mental illness in adoptees, and by her ideas on how to help […]

Filling in the blanks

A hand holding a pen and white paper featuring hand-written text.

Storytelling can help your child receive a more accurate assessment. Introducing Cat In 2006, Cat went to Liberia, West Africa, to adopt a little girl and planned to spend six months working on opening a health clinic. This experience was life changing, though she witnessed only a small portion of the trauma suffered by the […]

Adopted voice: If they could turn back time…

A child handing a yellow flower to his parent.

What adoptees want parents to know If we could go back in time and, with the wisdom of hindsight, ask our parents to do things differently, what would adopted people request? It’s a dream question, of course. What person wouldn’t want the chance to set their parents straight? To help me answer this question more […]

Trauma matters

A girl of African descent is seated on a windowsill. She's holding her legs.

Advice from a counsellor on how to recognize and help wounded children and youth. Trauma: adoption’s shadow Many children and youth who are adopted have been exposed to highly stressful situations and traumatic events; however, the resulting special needs these children can experience aren’t always recognized or supported. It’s vital for caregivers and professionals to […]

Adopted voice: Looking homeward

The back of a young woman with brown hair looking at the horizon.

I remember the noise the most. Car engines idled noxious gasses into the air; heavy footsteps snapped across well-worn concrete. The delicious yet unfamiliar smells of Asian street food filled my nostrils. I stood close to my parents, at the edge of a street corner. Together, we gazed across the road to a building. Above […]

Adopted voice: Finding silver linings

The back of a woman with black hair looking at the ocean.

Sticks and stones Remember that rhyme you learned as a child? “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Obviously words can’t cause physical harm, but I’ve learned they definitely can cause emotional pain, the kind you hold in your heart and wear on your sleeve. The kind that leaves […]

Meet the Yrjana family

A shadow of family of four with sun setting in the background.

Colleen and her husband of 17 years, Jussi, live on Vancouver Island. Colleen, a former foster parent for over 20 years, also has three grown children and three grandkids. Her oldest daughter was a neighborhood kid that came for the weekend and stayed for 28 years, according to Colleen. “We have no legal paperwork, but […]

Adoption against all the odds

A man comforting a young girl, holding her hand and talking.

The following story is far from typical-most BC families that adopt from the US have a much easier experience. This story speaks to the immense strength of the desire to become parents. Despite the enormous difficulty of their journey, the couple we feature here persevered. That is a characteristic of many adoptive families-it is a […]

Navigating anxiety

A young woman is holding his face with her hands. She seems to have anxiety or depression.

I have always been anxious. I didn’t recognize it until my mid 30s, when I went through full-blown, severe anxiety and depression. After months of hell, I saw the pain as the message it was: “you need to change.” During a lengthy process of growth and learning, I looked back and saw the patterns of […]

The truth about confabulation

A young boy is sitting on the floor and pretending to use his hands as binoculars.

Is it lying? No, it’s confabulation and there’s a big difference! Time and time again we hear from adoptive parents that one of the hardest behaviours to take is children lying to them. They experience the lie as a personal affront, a show of disrespect, and a harbinger of anti-social behaviour to come. There are […]

The language of hurt kids

A little girl looking out the window with a sad expression

Psychologists have given us a concept of non-verbal communication that makes an incredible amount of sense in the context of adoption — it is called inducement. Those of us who live or work with adopted children need to understand that inducement is the language of the abandoned. Inducement is the most important conceptual tool we […]

Helping children cope with and understand abandonment

A young boy with brown hair gazes out the window, appearing lonely and sad.

We know that the stress of  growing within a mother who is considering whether she will be able to raise the child she is carrying affects the developing brain of the fetus. Primed to connect on an unmistakably profound level at birth, the newborn or older baby or child, regardless of the excellence of the care […]

Developing brains: Building attachment in adopted children

Parent and child holding hands up close

Trauma and brain development The brain develops from the inside out. A newborn’s brain has about 100 billion cells. At birth, the primitive brain, called the brainstem, is sufficiently developed to insure that vital functions can be maintained independently for a short period. Baby can breathe, the heart beats, the body temperature self-regulates, reflexes are […]