On Radical Acceptance (& Not Fixing Your Kid)

Take a few moments and breathe in this stunning tale of Radical Acceptance by Heather Kirnlanier. I needed to hear this. Maybe you do too.

Star In Her Eye

There’s a small town in Belgium named Geel (pronounced hale with a throaty, Germanic H). By 1930, a quarter of its residents were mentally ill. If you know about Geel, you know this was not because something lurked in the water or food supply. It was because for 700 years families in Geel accepted mentally ill patients, or “boarders,” to live with them in their own homes. The town got a nickname: “Paradise for the Insane.”

I’ve never been to Geel, but I recently heard about it on NPR’s Invisibilia podcast. In the episode, reporter Lulu Miller interviews Ellen Baxter, a researcher who earned a grant to live in Geel for a year. Prior to this trip, Baxter had faked her way into a mental institution, wanting to find out about the therapeutic practices used. She saw virtually none. What she did see: people watching television, looking out the…

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7 ways childhood adversity changes a child’s brain

“The number of adverse childhood experiences an individual had predicted the amount of medical care she’d require as an adult with surprising accuracy…” –Donna Jackson Nakazawa (ACES Too High News)

ACEs Too High

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If you’ve ever wondered why you’ve been struggling a little too hard for a little too long with chronic emotional and physical health conditions that just won’t abate, or feeling as if you’ve been swimming against some invisible current that never ceases, a new field of scientific research may offer hope, answers, and healing insights.
In 1995, physicians Vincent Felitti and Robert Anda launched a large-scale epidemiological study that probed the child and adolescent histories of 17,000 people, comparing their childhood experiences to their later adult health records. The results were shocking: Nearly two-thirds of individuals had encountered one or more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)—a term Felitti and Anda coined to encompass the chronic, unpredictable, and stress-inducing events that many children face.
These included growing up with a depressed or alcoholic parent; losing a parent to divorce or other causes; or enduring chronic humiliation, emotional neglect, or sexual or physical abuse. These…

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A YA book (in English) that could be a good read for teens

My thanks to the Mandarin Immersion Parents Council for sharing news of The Blu Phenomenon with their students, parents, and instructors! Just in time for the Olympics!

Mandarin Immersion Parents Council

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I got an email a bit ago from a writer who’s also the adoptive mother of a Chinese son. She’s got a young adult novel out that might be of interest to Mandarin immersion students.
From the book blurb:
Thirteen-year-old Chinese adoptee Cal Vandiver resides in California with his adoptive parents, plagued with an ever-present fear of being “taken,” exacerbated by his uncharacteristic blue eyes and extraordinary athleticism. Cal and his band of friends discover someone really is watching him. What happens next thrusts his under-the-radar existence into the spotlight, forcing him to a place that’s anything but safe as he trains for the 2020 Olympic Games.
The Blu Phenomenon was read and studied this school year in a South Carolina school (Honors Program) and the author visited the class and lead discussion. A guest visit could also be available to classrooms via Skype.
The book’s a suspenseful read, even as it covers…

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Thank You, Harry

On Wednesday, May 25, at the Library of Congress, thousands will give tribute to the life and triumphs of Harry Wu, a Chinese political prisoner turned human rights activist.

No one could have foreseen how Wu’s courageous trip back to China in 1991 with Ed Bradley (Sixty Minutes) would have resulted in Wu’s Laogai Research Foundation (Washington, D.C.), which continued to expose atrocities against the people of China by their own government.

As an adoptive mother of a Chinese child, Wu inspired me too. When I wrote a novel, The Blu Phenomenon, illustrating how Chinese children welcomed into US homes were a latent power for change in China, Wu agreed and wrote a book endorsement. Wu’s work will continue, though perhaps in new ways, by new hands, maybe even those China abandoned.

#TheBluPhenomenon.com

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Stay Calm (Surrender Again) and Carry On

Facing Down Codependence After Years of Caretaking

movingboxesThe subject never came up. Not in therapy sessions. Not in any of my reading over the years as the adoptive mother of a Chinese son. Fast-forward 18 years and this same son is stepping away into a life of his own. Now I’m face to face with it: codependence.

First came the mood swings. Mine. Next, I noticed that these swings were in synch with my perceptions of how my son was faring. Was he happy? Was he struggling?

Something was amiss and my therapist friend gave it a name: codependency.

Yep. After the boxes were gone I discovered I had, for years, hyper-linked my inner life to that of a child who had a tough start. Really tough. And when he left he packed up my long-time vocation: caretaking. For too long I had been under the impression that my “job” was to bear his emotional load and lessen the pain of his consequences, which I threw myself over like a live bomb.

Just recently, I accepted a new job. It only asks that I surrender and, through radical acceptance, make peace with myself over all I hoped to control but could not. My next steps will be to continue to sweep out the corners of codependence, to regain my footing, and to journey on with a lightness that frees me to love with equal or greater intensity. Just without the pain of shrapnel.

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