SUPPORT GROUP – Be a part, don’t be apart

Being parents is more important than becoming parents. Adoption Support Group is a vital ingredient in the ‘being-parents’ process of nurturing a child.

If you are an adoptive parent, you must be a part of a parents’ support group. Convinced?
If you are … already … then you may stop reading further.

In the past decade we have found that couples are often reluctant to reach out to a support group. This is a reflection of their misunderstanding of what adoptive parents groups do. Patricia Johnston who has written books on adoption points out that ‘These are the real experts, whose personal experiences have taught them how important it is to be well informed. Couples do themselves a serious disservice if they do not take advantage of the educational, referral and advocacy opportunities available through support organizations’.

As per Patricia: ‘David Kirk’s theory supported by observation over an extended period of time, notes that when adoptive parents and adoptees are able to consistently accept/acknowledge the difference that adoption brings to their lives (AD behaviour), they eventually develop closer relationships. Many adoption–built families of infertile couples tend to practice Rejection of Difference (RD) behaviour. They pretend that their families are just like families built by birth, they read little about adoption, they don’t belong to adoptive parents groups. For many, the RD is a continuation of the loss reaction brought about by their infertility. By denying the differences in adoptive family relationship one can try to deny the discomfort of the losses of their pregnancy experience & of their genetic continuity’.

Today the preparation process for aspiring parents is more supportive and more empowering than it was in the past. Hence the percentage of families who are able to practice RD is plummeting. Nevertheless, there is a general tendency for adopters to erroneously reject adoptive parents groups, thinking – ‘those are for people with problems. We don’t need help’.

Talking of needs, it is interesting to note how Abraham Maslow’s concept of a hierarchy of needs is valuable in our discussion here. He suggested that individual needs are arranged in an order of prepotence – the stronger at the bottom of the pyramid and weaker (bit more distinctively human) at the top. At the base is Physiological needs, the need for food, shelter, warmth, sexual gratification & other bodily functions. Then comes Safety needs, the need for physical, mental & emotional security. The Social needs are next, the need for belonging & love, the need to feel part of a group or organization. Implicit in it is the need to give and receive love, to share.

untitled 5: Growth, Personal development, etc
4: Self respect, Recognition, etc
3: Belonging, Friendship, Love, Social, etc
2: Security, Protection from danger, etc
1: Hunger, Thirst, Sleep, etc

Maslow further observed that if one of our stronger needs is threatened, we jump down the steps in the needs hierarchy in order to defend it. For example, we do not worry about status if we are starving. In the adoption scenario, if someone were to not worry about being part of a support group, to put it crudely, this might perhaps mean that their physiological and security needs or probably under threat.

Maslow also stated that a satisfied need ceases to motivate. If an adoptive support group is perceived as another club where similar families meet, and if you are already part of some club, then that would prevent your motivation to join the support group.

To see the distinct advantages of being part of an adoption support group, it is worthwhile to take a look at what Mr.Gopalakrishnan of the Tata Group has to say in some other context. Talking of sharing, he refers to some inputs from an unrelated field – zoology. In California, zoology Prof. Allan Wilson, has researched and hypothesized that from a species point of view there are certain aspects that becomes essential for inter-generational learning. He studied the behaviour of two sets of birds, the Blue Jay and the Robin. These birds used to peck the cream from milk bottles kept outside the homes in Britain in the 1900s. During the Second World War, aluminium caps were introduced. The Blue Jay found a way to peck the aluminium foil and access the cream while Robin could not. The Blue Jay continued this way to grow and prosper, while the Robin could not. Hence, their evolution has taken different paths. The question here is: What made the Blue Jay learn to peck the foil, collectively and what prevented Robin from doing so.

The Robin lived independently, protecting their turf sharply with a ‘my nest is mine’ attitude. The Blue Jay stayed in flocks and hence ideas could spread. Prof. Wilson postulated that there are three important things for any species to adapt better and to progress:

Innovation: the ability of a species to get an idea, individually or collectively and to get more out of the environment they are in.
Social propagation: the ability for a direct nexus between those who have experienced and others who have not.
Mobility: the ability, the inclination to face different challenges so that learning is accelerated for the species as a whole.

This is so relevant and important for adoptive families to remain in flocks, not in the sense of physical proximity. We need to innovate, socialize and be mobile, as one flock.
Become a part of a support group right away to help our intergenerational learning.

Now, please answer the following:
Is your physiological & safety needs taken care (not threatened)?
Do you want to exhibit AD behaviour in coping patterns?
Do you want to contribute to intergenerational learning for adoption-built families?

If your answer has been a resounding YES to all of the above – Be a part, don’t be apart. In your interest! In your child’s interest!!!
Best wishes

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This bulletin has been specially compiled, evolved and developed for adoption support group SuDatta Vishwa Pariwar, at Chennai, Bangalore, Mysore, Mangalore, Pune, Coimbatore
The views expressed are not necessarily those of individual units. Please mail your questions/comments to sudattaparivar@gmail.com