Explaining an adopted child's birth culture

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Explaining an adopted child's birth culture

Parents can support their adopted child’s connection to their birth culture in a very integrated way. It’s important not to think of it as a trip to China town here, or a cultural festival there, but what are the ways that you can actually integrate your child’s birth culture and background into your everyday life? For instance, some of the questions you might ask yourself are: “How diverse is the neighborhood I live in?” “How diverse is my child’s classroom?” “What different color faces do they see every day?” “Are there family friends, tutors, teachers that share your child’s birth culture that they see on a regular basis?” “Are there maybe perhaps a martial arts class or perhaps a cultural dance class that is taught by somebody from that culture that your child can be with on a weekly basis?” The important piece is that it is ongoing and that it is not only integrated into your child’s life, but your life as well. And where are the opportunities for your child to have a majority experience – by which I mean that when they look around, most of the people look like them. And you are in the minority. Those experiences are essential so that they are validated and mirrored and know that other people are like them.

Watch Maureen Donley, MA, MFT's video on Explaining an adopted child's birth culture...


Expert Bio

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Maureen Donley, MA, MFT

Adoptive Mom & Therapist

As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Maureen's practice spans all ages and holds a focus in creative professionals, adoption and trauma work.  She earned her MA in Clinical Psychology with a Child Studies specialization from Antioch University in Los Angeles. She has also worked as a Counselor in both K-8 and high school settings and is finishing her third year as a Counselor at the Southern California Counseling Center working with individuals, families and couples. She completed the Family Training Program Certification there, and will hold both TRM and EMDR trauma certifications in July 2013. In addition, she is working with Jeanette Yoffe in a monthly adoption support group on the Westside, as part of her new non-profit, The Celia Foundation, dedicated to all members of the adoption constellation. Maureen also facilitates both parenting and adolescent groups at Dr. Bonnie Goldstein’s Center for Psychological Services on the Westside. 

Before joining the psychology field, Maureen's first love was the arts.  As a producer and studio exec, she was part of the Feature Animation team at Disney during the Renaissance years of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Toy Story. Maureen subsequently had a production deal at Fox under which the animated feature Anastasia was released. Prior to moving to Los Angeles to join the Mermaid team, she was based in New York City.  While there, she was on the faculty at The Juilliard School (Drama Division), and was a visiting professional for the Yale School of Drama. Maureen worked on many theatrical productions as a stage manager including the Broadway production of The Glass Menagerie with Jessica Tandy, the Off-Broadway and Broadway productions of Pump Boys and Dinettes and the 1st and 2nd National Tours of Cats in Boston, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles. She says, "being part of telling timeless tales was great preparation for helping people discover the true stories of their own lives."


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