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Preparing for Adoption

Family Development In Adoption

I get to meet some absolutely beautiful families in my work, and I learn so much from some of them. I would like to share one family’s insight in particular about how they prepared their children (biological and adopted)—indeed their whole family– for their next adoption, in a transition they called moving from Donaldson 6.0 to Donaldson 7.0. (references used with permission of the family)

I have provided a link to Mr. Donaldon’s blog post, but in summary families, like groups and teams, go through stages of development, and often repeat these stages in the face of transitions. These stages have been referred to as “Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing.” (Tuckman, 1965) More concretely, families “form” as they learn about and connect with one another; then they “storm” as they gain a deeper understanding, reveal who they truly are, and define their roles; then they “norm” as they integrate those new roles and systems and begin to work together; and finally they “perform” as they provide mutual support to each other and function with openness and flexibility.

I love the intentionality with which the Donaldson family worked to prepare themselves for their next adoption. And I love the metaphor of adoption moving us from one type of a family to a different type of family, much like upgrading your phone to the next operating system which can feel somewhat the same, but really different too. Adoption obviously changes the world of the adopted child, but maybe less obviously but just as importantly, it changes the life of the family. We need to pay attention to that and be ready for the forming, storming, and norming that must occur before we can fully settle in after the life-changing event of adoption.

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