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Help Your Child Share Their Story

The theme for National Adoption Month 2018 is “In Their Own Words: Lifting Up Youth Voices.” Children who have been adopted or lived in the foster care system have important stories that deserve to be told. Unfortunately, not all youth know how or are empowered to share their stories. That’s where you come in! Their devoted cheerleader and guide for teaching them how to use their voice. What are some ways you can do that?

Teach them how to journal. Journaling is such a beautiful way of expressing what’s going on in your head. Not only is it a powerful emotional release, but sometimes we don’t even fully understand what’s lurking up there in the darker recesses of our brain, until we give ourselves the opportunity to let it flow. Journaling doesn’t have to take hours. It could be something you do together quietly for ten minutes a day. Maintaining a journaling practice can be difficult, so making it a family activity is a beautiful way of bringing that routine and habit into your child’s life.

Have weekend poetry writing sessions. Each week choose a different topic — Empowerment, Self Expression, Bold, Fearless, Fearful, Confusion, Curiosity — and encourage your child to explore themselves through poetry. You could even bring in different types of poetry, like haiku or rhyme, to make it a fun, challenging, and educational exercise. We recommend not forcing them to read anything out loud unless they truly want to. It creates a safe space for them to explore everything they’re working through, whether or not they feel comfortable sharing it with others.

Encourage the activities they’re naturally drawn to. How does your child enjoy expressing themselves? Dance, acting, sports, painting, writing, speaking? Observe the environments they feel most comfortable in, and put your resources and energy into making that a safe and empowered space for them. Notice that they’re dancing around the house a lot? Enroll them in a dance course! Do they find fuel and pride in building their strength through sports and outdoor activities? Get them on a team where they can share that space with a like-minded community. You’re observing your child all the time. When do they seem the most joyful? Regardless of whether or not it’s what you had hoped or imagined for them, give them the space to soar. You will be helping them build their voice in ways you could never imagine.