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by Thomas C. Rector

Several years ago, I participated as a panelist in a training conducted by Patricia Dorner, a national speaker on Open Adoption. As panelists, we shared our open adoption experiences in hopes the audience would be able to relate and therefore gain an insight of its importance. Each time I have participated in these trainings, I have come away with at least one new or reawakened insight.

I use the word ‘insight’ for it is a new pattern of thinking rather than information that I receive. It is the ‘insight’ element of this experience I would like to discuss.

The typical parenting model is based upon the parents and their family’s experiences. The Open Adoption parenting model is based upon the parents AND child’s experience. Adding the child’s experience to the parenting equation is a huge step. It means the adoptive parent must include people (and their extended family) who were not successful at parenting and many times are the cause of the child’s special needs.

As I listened to the panelist describe how her attitudes changed from loathing to acceptance to looking for opportunity, I could only feel admiration for the human capacity to make profound changes for the benefit of their children!

Here were decades of parenting beliefs being shifted within minutes by an ‘insight’ gained from the observation of the child’s behavior while interacting with his birth parent. In those few minutes, she achieved an ‘insight’ into human development. It is this ‘insight’ that empowers an adoptive parent with the courage and resolve to reach across the social barriers to include the birth family.

While it is a profound way of achieving this understanding, it is not likely to be an effective method of conveying this ‘insight’ to the population as a whole. So, what other way is there? Can we reach folks outside of the foster and adoptive arenas? What avenues are available to us to disseminate the fundamental understanding of human development?

I can think of a couple. The first is during our adolescence when our self-discovery is in full bloom. The second is during parenting classes where we have chosen to gain an understanding of the child’s needs.

Imagine how much easier it would be for us to understand the dynamics of a child when we have human development education! The same developmental knowledge would contribute to creating productive relationships for other family dynamics (i.e. divorce and loss of a parent).

The powerful part of this approach is its self-feeding loop; the more people who understand, the more opportunity for understanding to occur. Can we get there? Can we bring enough appreciation to the importance of understanding human development to effect a change in the educational processes?

I would like to think so!

For now, we share with prospective foster and adoptive parents our personal experiences with the hope they will gain an ‘insight’ into human development so the children may have the benefit of Open Adoption.

About the Author: Thomas C. Rector is the founder of Accrescent Institute, a national speaker and trainer on BioSocial Cognition; a methodology that brings clarity and understanding to behavior. He is a staunch advocate for children and dedicated to teaching and providing parents the tools to raise successful adults.

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