The tension between gratitude and grief is a very real part of foster care and adoption.
It’s the season for gratitude, the time of year when we are constantly being reminded to be thankful. We all know that an “attitude of gratitude” has many powerful benefits. No one argues these benefits, things like; improving our health…physically, spiritually, and emotionally, strengthening our relationships, increasing productivity, and even improving our sleep, just to name a few.
Gratitude is something we have to practice, a choice we get to make, moment by moment. My husband, Kyle has practiced gratitude his entire life. Kyle was adopted when he was 6 weeks old and holds a tremendous amount of gratitude for the life he was given, but there was always an undercurrent of loss and confusion that left Kyle asking questions like,
“How do I have a sense of gratefulness, while possibly still allowing myself to wonder beyond what I’ve already been given?”
Children in foster care and who have been adopted, are processing tremendous loss, while at the same time, trying to establish a sense of safety and connection with their new caregivers, who are often times complete strangers.
As foster and adoptive parents, we must be mindful of the monumental loss and of the grieving process. We must first and foremost, remember while foster care and adoption can be a beautiful blessing, this blessing has come come at a heavy price. And the blessing, for us as parents, is often experienced immediately, but this is not likely to be the case for the child. It’s important to be aware that there are steps in grieving loss that cannot and should not be overlooked or invalidated. There is plenty of information available on coping with the grief of adoption.
For Kyle, music has been, and remains, a pathway for connecting his grief and gratitude.
“Songs are a very controlled way for me to connect with my emotions”
In this week’s episode, Kyle shares his story of reconnection with his birth family and how that reunification forever changed the way he sees himself. Kyle metaphorically describes the beauty birthed from pain and struggle in his song, The Pearl.
DEEPER DOWN THE WELL
Music therapist, Arvis Jones reminds us that music is a right-brained activity and that listening, playing, dancing and singing all engage the mind’s emotional sphere. Check out When Words Fail, Grieving Children can Find an Outlet in Music.