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Episode 26

3 Things Families Should Know Before Bringing Their Child Home

Trudy Landis, Director of Families Are Forever

You’re listening to Together by AGCI. I’m Dayn Arnold, and I’m Melissa Rush.

Before we get into this episode of Together by AGCI, we wanted to let you all know about AGCI’s Exciting milestone in 2021: AGCI is turning 30! Later this year we will be hearing more about where AGCI has come from in the last 30 years, and where we are heading, but we wanted to make sure you knew AGCI is no longer a 20-something, and has finally moved out of its parents’ basement.

It must have been my larger than life personality that got me hired to tell stories for AGCI, because it certainly wasn’t for knowing anything about adoption. I’m just kidding. My personality is a bit like an oversized bowl of unflavored oatmeal. Okay, maybe not that bad, but when it came to knowing much about adoption, I didn’t know much. I mean, I knew the basics, but I really hadn’t put a ton of thought into the complexities or the mechanics of what means to be an adoptee or what it means to be an adoptive parent. Diving headfirst into the adoptive world, unlearning what little I DID know, and looking at it not simply as an altruistic act of selflessness on the part of the adoptive parents, but as a mix of loss and trauma and restoration and learning to trust and all the hard and beautiful things that come with intentionally pursuing a loving relationship between a child and their new parents. It’s complex, and to say otherwise would be an oversimplification.

So how can a family feel prepared in any way for bringing a child into their home?… That’s where our next guest comes in. She has over 30 years of experience supporting children and families through transition and trauma, holds degrees in education and child development and is a long-time educator, child development specialist, and TBRI® Practitioner. She studied with Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross, authors of ‘The Connected Child’ and enthusiastically joined in their enduring passion of bringing healing to children from ‘hard places’ and to the adults who love them so that they may give voice to those children. She is also the Director of the adoptive parent education platform, Families Are Forever. 

We want to give a warm Together welcome to Trudy Landis.

Welcome Trudy. Yay. Thanks for joining us. Thanks guys. I do feel welcome. That was quite a story. So many credentials that it takes Melissa several minutes to read through it. All. It takes us age. You guys, I don’t know about that. Yeah. I was like, how do I time my breath to get through these like amazing accomplishment? And this is just a fraction of them. You guys, I like there’s a lot. Um, Trudy is, is amazing and just given her background, um, and her current role with families are forever. We thought she’d be an awesome person to talk to and ask about, uh, three, you know, it’s hard to trim it down to three things, but three things that families should know, um, before they bring their child home. Um, so today we’re going to talk about, uh, expectations and motivation, attachment and empowerment. Um, but before we get into that, we kind of just want to hear a little bit more about you, Trudy, can you tell us a little about yourself? Well, thanks. Um, well, I guess the most or the most important things is I’ve been married for 38 years. I just, when I think about that, I’m pretty amazed, but I got a great guy and I’ve been married for 38 years and we have two young adult children and a beautiful daughter-in-law and just, um, love being family, even in time of COVID. And I’m just grateful to get to

do what I do every day. Well, that is a huge accomplishment. Um, I’m actually getting married this summer. And so that is a huge inspiration to think about 38 years happily married and still counting that as like one of your biggest blessings. That’s great. Can you tell us a little bit about how families are forever? Got its start became what it is? Um, well, I was working in a faith-based setting here in my city of Austin and was, um, you know, increasingly aware as years went on that there were a lot of families in need and some came about that. Many of the families were coming from, um, adopting children domestically and internationally. And, um, I was always looking for ways to get more training just because they were coming to me. And I was like, okay, I have a background in education and child development, but there’s more going on here. And I need to know. And so I had the opportunity to become a part of what’s called the Travis County collaborative. And that was an initiative started by a doctor’s Kiernan, Karen Parvis son, David Cross from TCU. And they came to my County, which is the, um, uh, the Capitol in Texas in Austin, Texas. And, um, they began to train everybody whose life patched, a child who was in the child welfare system. So that included, um, CPS workers and therapists and people like me who were in faith based institutions

and, and family court judges and just everybody. And, um, so we all got trained in this trauma informed care method called trust-based relational intervention that was developed by Dr. Cross and, and uh, Dr. Purvis. And so our County started to change and the ways that we supported children and then, um, more and more families that seem like came out of the woodwork and, uh, were asking for help. And it was a lot, and there were a lot of us trained, but not, um, most people went back into their places of work and started to change their institutions, but there weren’t a lot of therapists and I’m not a family therapist. So I was like, Oh my goodness, what do I do? How do I, this is fantastic information and how do I get it to families more? And, uh, about that time, one of my, uh, one of the families that I was seeing, uh, came to me and I was, uh, was actually the daughter of a friend. And I had been her babysitter when she was a little girl and now she here, she was grown up with children and, uh, she came to me and we had lots of several good conversations about what was going on with her child. And then, um, it turns out she was a friend of Holland Frazier. Who’s the president of August children international. And she told Holland about me and I, I don’t, I don’t

know exactly what happened in that conversation, but, um, the next time Holland was coming to Austin, she wanted to get together. So we met in her hotel and we had a conversation over coffee and she asked me a ton of questions. And I, I honestly didn’t know much about international adoption. And I just knew when families showed up in my practice that, um, they were kind of wrecked in. And so I was seeing the other end of things and, and Holland asked me the, a really pivotal question. She said, what do we need to do in international adoption to make it better? And, um, not knowing much, I, I had two quick answers. I said, number one, we have to do a much, much better job of educating families before they welcome a child home who has experienced a lot of loss and, and a lot of trauma usually. And so, uh, she kind of looked at me with big eyes and nodded her head and said, what else? And I said, well, then we need to train nannies and professionals who work in institutions and in children’s homes, in the countries where we’re adopting from, because these are people who are often very often give amazing care to children, but they don’t have the training that would really help them to support vulnerable children. And so, um, every child doesn’t get adopted. And so how do we help these childcare workers to really meet

needs and provide care for children? And again, she, uh, she looked at me and nodded and she said, well, let’s do that. And so that was really how families are forever got started, um, a visionary leader like Holland Frazier and somebody who didn’t know much, but, um, had like Collin a heart for children and families. So, um, I started having conversations with my friends at the time. It was just the Institute of child development at Texas Christian university, where Dr. Purvis and CROs were from. And, uh, now of course it’s called the Karen Purvis Institute for child development at Texas Christian university. And we began to have conversations and to figure out a way to use the fantastic material in from TPRI to really serve families. As I talked with the staff of the Karen Purvis Institute, we worked to find a way to use this transformative. The transformative principles of TPRI into the foundations of families are forever. So TPRI, the definition of TPRI is, um, TPRI isn’t attachment based trauma informed intervention. That’s designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children, and TPRI uses the empowering principles to address the physical needs, the connecting principles for attachment needs and the correcting principles to disarm fear-based behaviors. And so, um, while the intervention is based on years of attachment sensory processing and neuroscience research, the real heartbeat of TPRI is connection. And so that’s where we started using the foundational material and adding

elements to meet Hague convention requirements for international adoption. And then, um, we added classes that from our knowledge, families need both pre and post adoption. And then we transformed again for domestic adoptions and we’re adding classes all the time. How many, like how many courses are there within families are forever now? Well, there are three phases of families are forever phase one and phase two phase one is, um, HEG meets all the HEG requirements for families adopting internationally. And there are eight classes in that phase. And then there are eight more classes in phase two that, um, is just information that we have come to understand it’s really beneficial to families. And so, uh, eight more classes there. And then we have a phase 300 that I’m not sure we’ll ever know what number of classes it has in it. Cause we keep adding to it and we’ll talk to a family and they’ll say, Hey, I need to know more about so-and-so and we’ll go, okay. We can make a class for that, you know, and then we did some research and find material and, and just find ways to meet the needs that parents are telling us they have. Does that, do you get more and more excited? The more deep it goes? You know, I do, uh, we just had a talk the other day, the team that puts classes together and it was, uh, there were probably four new ideas and

I don’t know which one to get started on first, but I think what’s coming up next is a class for, um, Chaco professionals have to have, um, ongoing education. And so, Oh my goodness, that sounds like a rich topic. And then, um, something that we just developed last year, um, just because of what’s going on in our culture and then what lays heavy on our hearts is, uh, all about transracial adoption. And so we have several new classes on transracial adoption, and we’re really, really grateful that we have new material for those classes because families it’s what families are asking for and what w uh, what we see that is really needed. Um, another one that’s coming up that I really enjoy is called a family mission statement, and it guides families through talking to their kiddos and coming up with a, who are feeling who we are as a family, and gives a lot of focus to that topic. So families are loving that one. So cool. Um, so what, you know, we, we talked about kind of at the top of wanting to talk through a few different things that we well, that, that you shared with us that are things that families, uh, have questions about when they first kind of come into the families are forever fold to add another F to that. Um, and so the, the first thing that we wanted to talk about is, um, it’s kind of

like two topics, it’s motivation and expectations, but they’re, they seem like they’re probably intertwined enough that it really is one. Um, I mean, just from my own personal experience, like, I think motivation is a tricky one for, for me, because, you know, a lot of motivations are layered, at least, at least in my experience where they’re, they’re more complex than like one single thing. Um, so what, what are the kinds of motivations that a lot of adoptive parents have for even entering that world of well, I’m finding that most adoptive parents are, you know, they’re kindhearted people who see a need and they really want to do something practical. And, um, they often just have these really big hearts, you know, and they, they may have traveled and may have seen, uh, orphanages or children’s homes in other countries. And they just, they haven’t just have a great desire. Many of them are, um, Christians and they see a calling to reach out to help the vulnerable, and that’s why they want to adopt. And, and, uh, as I talked to these families, it really comes down to love is really the only sensible motivation to adopt. And, um, so often when I’m talking with families, we talk about what real sacrificial love is. And, um, if you want to know what that is, we always read Corinthians 13 and it talks about if you want to love, and you want to adopt, think about

love, like love is patient and kind, and it is a proud in it doesn’t dishonor, and it isn’t self-seeking, and it isn’t easily angered, and it doesn’t keep a record of wrongs and rejoices in the truth. And it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres in love, never fails, and you don’t have to be a perfect parent. None of us are, but you have to be ready to, um, commit to practicing that kind of love, I believe in adoption. So we talk about that a lot as parents adoptive parents, many times I find adoptive parents have waited so long and adoption has been on their hearts for a really long time. And, um, they need to be reminded of what’s the motivation behind that adoption, and what’s your expectation. And so I really love it when families can, uh, be reminded of that all the way through the families are forever classes that, um, what’s really, uh, the expectation is really that when a child comes into your home, it’s, their whole world has changed. And your whole world is about to change too, with this child. Um, I have had a couple of families, one family recently who said, um, I really didn’t have any idea that facing the reality of my own early life would enable to me to be the connected parent that my child needed. And I think that’s so true that that families who are going through an education

process really realize that, um, they need a little, um, a little self-care too, and a little focus on what’s what’s going on with me and where I came from so that I can meet a needs. What are, do you feel like, uh, most people know what their expectations are like it, in my own experience, I know that there have been many times where like, I feel really, uh, like it’s usually when my expectations haven’t been met, but I haven’t defined those expectations because I don’t really know that I even have them, like, is that something that you ever talk with families about is like really helping to define what those expectations are? Yeah. I don’t think any of us, um, even if we brought a child home from the hospital had any idea what we were getting into. And, uh, we, we all live with those expectations of, um, you know, snuggling perfectly in our rocking chair with our newborn who isn’t crying and doesn’t have a dirty diaper and, and, you know, doesn’t have a need that I don’t know how to meet. And, uh, we, so we all get surprised in parenting. The thing about adoptive parents is they didn’t bring that child home from the hospital. And that child has a history that came before they brought him or her home. And so, yeah. And so, um, just helping parents to understand that this child does have a history and they experienced

great loss before they came to you. Even if you, if they came to you really young, they still experienced the loss of their first family, their full first culture, their first home, and all of that is a big deal and affects a child. And so understanding that makes a whole lot of difference in your expectation of a child’s behavior. So many times, um, parents will tell me, well, you know, our biological children, this worked great with them. And, and, um, this is the way we approach family life and discipline and structure and, and mealtime and practical things like bedtime and clothing and all those things. And, um, I don’t want it to be a surprise to our adoptive families that your expectations of this child really need to be different. Yeah, well, that, that really, like, I, I would think if, if I was going into an adoption and having had at least the minuscule amount of familiarity that I do with families are forever. And some of the stories of, of the families that have been in that program and have been, you know, in AGCI like, I think I would come in and thinking, Oh yeah, I’ve got three kids of my own. Uh I’ve I’ve been a parent for seven whole years. Like I’ve got all these degrees that I need. Yeah. Rarely do people tell me that, but I get it. Um, I would, I would totally tell you Trudy, you

would me that, well, we can do some families are forever together. Uh, I think one of the things that was most surprising to me early on in when I started spending time with families who are adopting or that, um, the pre-adoptive education was so, um, Oh man, I don’t know what you were too. So not thorough that, um, when a family would come to me many times, uh, one of the parents had done the pre-adoptive education training and the other parent had not. And so the non-educated parent was often baffled by the behavior they were seeing in their child, how they were seeing their spouse meet the need and how their spouse was pretty depleted and didn’t have anything leftover for connection in their marriage and in the rest of the family. So that was one of the goals of families are forever, was that couples would walk through this training together and they would be on the same page as close as they could be when they finished the training. So that both of these hearts would be prepared and that they would have plenty of time for a conversation about expectation and motivation between the two of them before a child with high need came into their home. That’s such an important point. I think that both parents are on the same page and like are equally prepared to, to walk the journey. Have you felt like resistance to that? Like from one

parent who feel is totally on board and the other, one’s kind of like, I got this, I don’t need to go through this process. Oh, sometimes most of the time, by the time they get to me, they have been through, uh, some hoops already with AGCI or with another agency they’ve jumped through some hoops. And, um, even if they have done another pre-adoptive education program, um, it’s pretty clear that we have a high expectation that parents do this together and that, um, they are, um, talking together the way families are forever works is the parents, um, you know, walk through the material in a particular class reading, they might watch a video, listen to a podcast or, um, take an evaluation online. Even we have the classes are full of all sorts of materials. So they do what’s ever required in the class. They always have to write some responses to me. And then they have to make a video for me together where they answer a couple of questions. And, um, that is where I just learn so much about them and get to watch them in action. And of course, many times, um, they’re so eager and they’re finishing each other’s sentences and no I’m para one. That’s my question to answer. Well, you answer pair two questions, you know, and so, um, TPRI is all about connection and that’s what I feel happens in families are forever is parents really get to

connect. And then I have the joy of connecting with them too, in those little videos. That’s great. I’m sure that’s really, I mean, kind of a amazing process to be a part of and to witness like families kind of go through that transformation and start at the beginning and not know. And then, you know, as they learn more and get more invested in the process, that excitement kind of the light bulb moment, that’s gotta be rewarding. You’re so right, Melissa. And, um, I will count the number of times that everybody on the little videos needs a Kleenex, me included because families, you know, couples have suddenly, he’ll say, I didn’t know that about her family. I didn’t know that about his family of origin. I didn’t know that. And we just discovered that as we had that conversation prompted by a question in the families are forever class. And, um, they’ll both be a little teary and I’ll be a little teary listening to them. And again, it’s a great privilege to get to walk alongside parents as that, um, those light bulbs pop and things happen in their relationship and in the building of their process of becoming families. Oh, that’s so beautiful. Uh I’m I might need a Kleenex Trudy. Um, so kind of thinking about relationships, the next thing we want to talk about is attachment. And I just think this is, it’s a big one it’s for adoptive parents and just

people in general. Um, so can you just tell us a little bit about why attachment is so important? Sure. Um, I think I started studying attachment long ago as an educator. And then, um, uh, maybe the topic got a little came to forefront just really a few years ago. And there are lots of books about attachment out there, but, um, Dr. Cross has this thing, he says about attachment and Dr. Purvis as well, but Dr. Cross talks about that attachment is a dance. And that made sense to me as, uh, as I thought about the families, the parents and children that I’ve talked to, and then about my own attachment with my own children and, and family, and, um, the attachment dance makes sense. So, um, providing a secure attachment base for children with felt safety, which means they can explore their physical world and their social world and means they can grow into secure adults who can do this dance with others. It’s just becoming resilient, sensitive to their needs and to the needs of others. Um, so not long ago, a family who had adopted siblings from an Eastern European country where the children’s physical needs were mostly met, but they didn’t have much emotional connection with any caregivers. And they came to talk to me about their kids and, and they, they knew that they were missing the connection and the bonding with this child. So it was so awesome for me

not to have to talk them through it, but to say, Hey, I’ve got some classes and families are forever. So in fact, I’ve got four classes on, on attachment. That’ll give you a firm foundation. And, um, then, um, you’ll learn about attachment, why it matters and why your children, uh, haven’t yet been able to connect, um, to you. And then let’s talk some more. And recently I heard from that family again, actually they sent me a meme and it had, uh, it was, uh, a meme of, uh, I guess it was a family dancing on the beach with little smiley faces. And so I knew that they were getting the attachment dance, you know, and that’s what we long for, for our families. So, um, attachment theory is really, um, I liked it, explain it like as an infant, there are four attachment categories and those are really behavioral strategies that, um, that infants have, you know, the, um, you’ve heard, I’m sure just it’s well-documented that when babies cry and his, or her needs, aren’t met that they stopped crying and stop communicating. And that doesn’t develop into a secure baby. And yet many babies who are many children who are from places, um, where they become adoptable means that they haven’t always had their needs met. Not because they have caregivers who are lacking, but because maybe there aren’t enough caregivers, you know, or there are reasons why children come into care anyway,

and often it’s because their needs haven’t been met and that doesn’t develop into a secure baby. And so baby’s behavioral strategies can be secure avoidance or ambivalent or disorganized. And, and those categories of, of infant attachment, um, actually transition into the relational strategies of adults. So a secure baby becomes a secure adult, um, who knows how to give and receive care and, and avoid it. Baby becomes a dismissing, an adult and an ambivalent baby. Uh, their relational strategies turn into an entangled adult in a disorganized infant, becomes an unresolved adult. And so those, um, behavioral strategies become the relational strategies that adults have. And so, uh, we can all look at our lives and go, Ooh, I see a little bit of dismissing there when I answered that question or didn’t so something like that. And so, um, I think it’s been really important for our families to learn a little bit about attachment and that’s one of the most exciting and rewarding topics I think in families are forever. Are the classes about attack yeah. That visual of the meme and the family dancing on the beach. I think that’s just such a beautiful lighthearted way kind of, of, of communicating that. One of the things that, um, I have learned and you learn when you talk about attachment is that it’s not a static thing that even if you come from a hard place or even if, um, your early life wasn’t perfection,

um, our brains can with care and attention and patience and, uh, intentional parenting, intentional love can grow and develop. Everybody can be what’s called earned secure. And that’s such a good thing for adoptive parents to understand that they have the opportunity and the privilege to bring a secure attachment to a child from a heart. Well, it seems like it’s like the most vital thing for them to be aware of. And also the, to have the hope that their child can be able to have secure attachments, even if they have been through, you know, the trauma that they have been through. It has gotta be hopeful, especially for some of those parents that are maybe in the midst of a struggle, um, to know that there is some hope that they can, they can build that, right. There’s always hope, hope for every child. Uh, just, I want to make sure that we’re able to get to our last thing that we were going to talk about. We were going to talk about empowerment as well. Um, I guess maybe my first question is like, how, how do you define empowerment in this context? And then as a follow-up, what does it mean to empower a child from a hard place? Oh, another good question, Dane. I really do love to talk about empowering, um, because it, um, families always know, want to know what can I do next? But, um, actually there are three principles

of TPRI, the trust-based relational intervention, and the first one is, um, connection and connecting. And so, um, connecting is about effectively engaging a child with your full attention with closeness and your facial expression and your voice and your body language and connection is about being mindful. And how does this child perceive me? And what’s going on in our environment that is, um, influencing whatever situation is happening. And so that that’s the first principle and then comes empowering. And, um, the strategies are empowering are kind of have I met this child’s physical needs. Um, we learn that empowering a child means they need, um, a protein snack every couple of hours and they need hydration and they need a sensory activity. And, um, don’t, you guys need to snack every couple of hours and a bottle of exactly. And so, um, parents learn too, I think about empowering your child at their children. And that means, um, is this environment conducive to learning and is it to over under stimulating? And, um, what is it that this child needs to, um, connect with me so that he and he, or she can learn and follow instructions and talk, and just communicate with me. So connecting and empowering are the first two strategies are and so important in the foundation of TPRI. Um, it’s really fun to talk to parents because, um, they often just need to be reminded that, Hey, it’s okay to have a snack,

even if it’s not snack time, you know, it wasn’t, it’s not snack time for your other kiddo, other kiddos, or, um, you know, just a cup of water can make a whole lot of difference in brain function for a child. And, uh, plus next are fun, you know, and we just should have snacks and, uh, you can make them healthy and full of protein and attractive to a child, but empowering the child so that they can, um, meet you in connection is really important. Um, you know, connection is important first that they know this is a safe place and that you are a safe person and then layer on the empowering of snacks and water and snuggles, and, um, my availability as a person. And then the last principle, which is correcting is a whole lot easier to do when you’re building on those first two. And so correcting is, um, Oh, I always think of the words of, um, Darren Jones. I think you guys have had him on a podcast before and Darren is one of the TPRI trainers who was so helpful to me, but his, the line that I remember so often that says, and it plays over in my mind when I’m dealing with a person and, and he says, what does this baby need? What does this baby need? What does this baby need? And no matter what age that baby is, who you’re in relationship with, what does

this baby need, um, makes a whole lot of difference before, um, you can teach during a common teachable moment and when, um, correction can happen and when a child can focus on what’s happening and how fast you can get them back on track and connecting with you. Um, one of Dr purpose’s lines that, uh, she said that I often also think about is she said, B Havier is the language of unmet need. And so often we’ll see behavior in a child. And, um, not realize it’s not just to drive me crazy that this child is having a meltdown in the grocery store, but it’s because it’s too overstimulating in here. And she hasn’t had a snack in the last four hours, you know, and it’s hot and we didn’t get any water, you know? And, and so what we’re seeing and behavior is, is really your child is trying to tell you something and communicate with you. So, um, connecting, empowering and correcting are the foundations of the TPRI principles and our classes that families are forever full of a really fun video clips of Dr. Purvis and Dr. Cross and their students in our interaction with kiddos and parents are always really grateful to see, Oh, okay. I see how she did that. I loved it when he said that. And they learn from the video clips in the class, a lot of things that’s good. I’ve seen, yeah. I’ve seen some of those

clips and it’s, it’s kind of like, Oh yeah. Why didn’t I think of like, like with my own kids, I’m kind of like, you know, especially what you’re talking about, where you’re talking about, um, uh, behavior is a language of unmet needs. That’s, I mean, I can see that every single day with my own, with my own children, it’s, it’s, it’s kind of plain as the nose on your face, but you just need someone to speak it out loud and then you’re like, Oh, yep. That’s exactly right. Darren’s line all the time. Dane, what does this baby need? Yeah. And it, it translates into, I mean, it’s, it’s not just children. I feel like it’s kind of just throughout life. Right? Like you see sometimes adults doing things that you don’t quite understand and, and that’s what it all stems from. Right. I mean, I think that’s just important, um, as human beings to have compassion and understanding and, and, and realize, you know, kind of the why behind some of that. Right. So during these days of COVID, it’s especially good to remember that. Yeah. We could all use a little compassion for others and ourselves too. We might need a snack. I mean, I know I need, I frequently when I’m like, why am I in a bad mood? Why am I it’s? Cause I need a snack, get you a cheese stick right now. Mosa. Thank you, Trudy. That’s so kind. Um,

so, uh, we did want to do something a little different today. Um, so we went to our Instagram and we asked, um, kind of our audience, you know, what do you want to hear about on our podcast? And people said stuff in which we were so excited to see. So I kind of just wanted to share, um, a few of those with you and hopefully get some of your, your wisdom on these. Um, so Tanya asked us to discuss, um, connecting with an adopted child. So kind of to expand on that. What are like, just some quick, maybe I know it’s not a quick fix, but tangible ways, tangible ways for parents to, you know, begin connecting with their adopted child. Yeah. Wow. That is a good one. It is. I think it’s really important to have in your mind, the picture where they came from, um, did they come from an institution that they comfortable foster home? Where have they been the last, you know, few years of their lives? Um, what their age is, what their language is often when kids come home and international adoption that they don’t know any English or very little in parents don’t know their language. And so finding some strategies, picture cards and, and sign language, whatever it takes to, um, to have, uh, some kind of foundation for conversation. But, but, uh, um, we often talk about cocooning with a child who’s just home, uh, in

their new home. And that really cocooning is about being really present, not just physically present, but emotionally present with your child and often for busy, um, American families. That means, um, simplifying their lives. It’s been a lot easier during COVID, but it often means, um, uh, maybe having friends or family pick up other children for their sports activities and you staying home with your adoptive child and just being physically and emotionally present and meeting their needs and taking their cues and, uh, stepping forward always, uh, little steps, whatever at one at a time that you can take for connections and snuggles and, and, uh, remembering that they have often lost everything that’s familiar to them and how it put yourself in their shoes for a little bit. What would that be like to have nothing familiar, not even language and being able to communicate. And sometimes that takes the, the pressure down for families to go, Oh, okay. I get it. That there needs to be a whole lot more patients and a whole lot more understanding. It’s important to remember kind of the science behind things that often this child’s brain has been on high alert because of being, or feeling unsafe for a long time. And that doesn’t, um, it doesn’t mean just because you brought them home to a beautiful home that you prepared a beautiful room for and toys and all the things that you have as a loving, longing parent

have prepared. It doesn’t mean that your child is going to feel safe. And that’s what takes your time effort, patients love and commitment to get to a place for this child where they do feel safe and the science that’s going on in their brain has the opportunity to calm down and, um, connect with you. So I think that’s what I most often talk to families about is it’s most often not a quick fix, but something that requires all of you. Yeah. I mean, I, I think it’s helpful to kind of break it down and to think of it, like you said, I mean about the science and what’s going on in their brains, because I think it’s easy to be like, why isn’t this going this way? And then when you think about it and kind of take a step back and are like, they have an unmet, what does this baby need? Like you said, um, and that’s the only way they know how to get it right. And so how can you have patients have compassion, build that connection and that the pieces will fall, you know, hopefully fall in line. Um, but it’s a process obviously, and not a quick fix. Um, but thanks for sharing, like tangible things for people just to kind of get started. Um, so another question, and I apologize, this person, your name was not, I could not see your actual name, so it’s your Instagram handle?

A little one running, um, asks us to discuss, I like it too. Um, family integration after arriving home. So kind of what are ways that adoptive families can, can start to feel like a family? Um, well there’s a families are forever class for that. It’s called new kids in the house and it has a ton of great resources for families. Um, that is little one running. Um, one of the questions that we get a lot in this work and that is, um, what’s going to happen, what’s this going to be like for my biological children? And that’s a very valid question. And there are some recent resources out there that are from the, uh, adoptive kids, families, biological children, and those voices are so important, just as important I think to listen to as the voices of adoptive children, is those voices. And what does it feel like for a biological child to welcome this child home? And most often families have done a beautiful job of prepping their children. And they’ve been a part of the journey and they’ve seen the pictures and maybe even had zoom calls or something with the child. Who’s going to come home one day when COVID is over, um, to their family. And, um, those are, it’s really important to prepare to know your biological children, to be able to meet their needs and, um, to listen to the voices who have gone before you, um, I’m not

an adoptive sibling. And so I don’t, I don’t know, often I can find the resources and there are some great ones in our class, but I would always encourage people to, um, hear the voices of those adoptive siblings and then adopted children as well. Um, there are, um, like I said, some great resources in that class that we have put together for you. I encourage you to not skimp on the prep of your biological children because, um, bio kids, uh, have heard so many great testimonies of, well, really, we let our kids take Spanish classes. And so they were ready when their child came home speaking Spanish, or, um, um, many times because an adoptive child is often used to being in a setting where there are other children, your children, and how they model behavior and what happens in this family and, and how we relate to mom and dad and how we relate to one another is super important. And so bringing your biological children into that part of the story. So they’re on your team when a child comes home, it’s not just you and the kids, it’s us as a family welcoming this next person into our home. So I’m, I’m a fan of bio kids. That’s such great advice. Um, yeah, I think listening to people who’ve been there before you, I mean, it’s a really important thing to do that you don’t have to do this alone, right. I

mean, there are, there are communities out there, there are so many people who have so much wisdom and different perspectives and we should listen more to them. Okay. Trudy, I have one more question that we didn’t discuss. It’s a surprise question. And no, we we’ve actually been thinking of, like, what’s a, what’s a question that we can ask all of our guests kind of moving forward. Um, so here it is. What is the first thing you think of when I say this word together? Well, I think of the podcast from HTCI. Oh, that’s, that’s not what I was hoping for. I mean, thank you. I have had the privilege again, of being in crushes and children’s homes and orphanages all over the world. And I have seen some powerful, um, caregiving in those homes. And I’m so happy about that because every child doesn’t get adopted, you know? And so we want to, we want every child to feel like they have a firm foundation. And that often means, um, training workers and finding, uh, ways that our child does feel that togetherness of being supported by others. And, um, that’s our goal that children, vulnerable children have that foundation and that the cycle that has maybe brought them into care doesn’t perpetuate. And so together means that it takes a lot of us. It takes people like us who are preparing families that takes, um, the, the workers in, uh, other places who are

giving their lives to care for vulnerable children. And it takes families who are willing to take that enormous, um, heart that they have and, and to welcome a child or children into their home and change their lives as a family forever to do that. So it takes us together to do all of that. That was beautiful. Thanks, Trudy. Thanks for indulging. One more question, before we let you go, where can people find families are forever? Cause we talked about it for, for a while and I want people to be able to check it out. Oh, okay. Well, families are and you’ll be able to find one of the many classes or programs that will fit your need. And let me just say, we are thrilled to get to share. Families are forever. We don’t look at it as something that Oh, glory to us, or are we great to have done this? We’re privileged to get to work with, um, the Karen purpose Institute and with many other, uh, people who have great information they’ve shared with us and that we can share with you and families are forever well beyond the information. There is so much heart that has really like that’s the foundation of it. Like in the beginning, when you talked about love being the truest motivation for adopting a child, that’s, that’s kind of the, the sense that I get is that there is a lot of love that has

gone into taking the principles of TPRI and the experiences of adoptive families and, and, you know, mixing them all with love. And it becomes this thing that just has so much potential to transform families. And we’re, we’re pretty excited about it. Maybe not as excited as you, because I think you’re the biggest cheerleader of families are forever. I do think I have the best job in the world. Well, I, there you go. Well, you know, I just get to walk with families and I get to see their transformation and see the opening of their minds and hearts as we go through each class and those little videos, family send me, and then I video them back is, um, just a delight. That’s great. Thank you so much for giving us so much of your time. And we hope that you get an overwhelming influx of people who are interested in not overwhelming. We hope the exact right amount of people come and get connected with families are forever. Um, and on a personal note, we, I mean, I’ll speak for myself, but Melissa and I know I’ll speak for both of us. We just like talking with you. So even if it wasn’t families are forever, we would love just hanging out with you anyway. So thanks for, thanks for sharing your time with us guys.

That was Trudy Landis from Families Are Forever. Again, if you’re interested in learning more about Families Are Forever, head on over to You can check out the course offerings, and there is even a page with a list of books for people wanting to learn more about attachment, raising children from hard places, trauma, and overall brain development.

Thanks for listening to Together by AGCI. As always if you liked what you heard, please rate or review us wherever you listen to podcasts. If you’d like to read or watch even more stories, check out our website ALSO If there’s a topic that you’d like to hear more about, you can find us on Instagram at allgodschildreninternational or email us at

As Trudy said, together means it takes a lot of us. We can’t do this without you. We look forward to sharing another story of hope the next time we’re together.
We’ll talk to you soon.