Really truly this Protective Factor is entitled Consistent Support. Yes. There are times we need “support bailouts,” but those bailouts are not what help lay a foundation.
What supports answer the question, “How’d Ya’ do it?”
First. My Adoptive Parents. Hands down. I know as adoptees we aren’t supposed to say we got lucky. (Or is that other people aren’t supposed to say it?) Either way the word lucky isn’t that popular in the adoption community. But I have to say it about these guys. I got lucky. Another way to word it would be that my Birth Mom chose well. She knew what she wanted for me and I am grateful that what she wanted led to my placement with my parents. I could go on and on about the “stuff” they provided me. The opportunities and the sepia-colored childhood… but that’s not support. What I needed, and got from them, was love. Consistent unconditional love. Even to this day my Dad will shake his head at my antics and my dramatics, but he thoroughly enjoys it. He thoroughly loves me even though my personality is the complete opposite. My Mom is always there. Always. To listen. She no longer runs to my rescue, but she listens. She offers suggestions and advice when I ask, and she encourages me when I am low. Always. From my earliest memory until this very day, their UNCONDITIONAL LOVE has been my greatest protective factor. No matter what idiotic thing I did or have done. And I once bought a 12,000 car on a loan without consulting them.
Siblings. I have a love and annoy relationship with all of my siblings. But I have them. And they have stretched and challenged me in ways I cannot begin to fathom. They also have loved me in their own unique ways. Consistency.
Therapy. I have not always needed it, but I have always needed access to it. I did not start until I was in my early 20s. Therapy was not a thing my family did until my senior year when it became necessary for all of us for varying reasons. If my insurance didn’t pay for it, my parents covered it. Even now as an adult, my parents still offer to help pay for my therapy, my marriage counseling, my kids therapy etc. if we are not able to. Find a therapist and build a relationship NOW. Before the crisis. Consistent relationship with a therapist.
Do you see a theme here? Support means consistency. Each family is going to translate the noun support into many different verbs. However, whatever the supports are, they need to be consistent.
Neuro-typical people need concepts to be repeated about 7-8 times on average before we form a new neural pathway in our brain tissue. For an adoptee there is no number. Some of us need messages and concepts to be repeated multiple times a day every day for the rest of our lives. I will never not (yes I know that’s a double negative) need my husband to tell me he loves me. Because if he is not consistent, I don’t remember. Why? Because my foundation of life is built upon abandonment and rejection.
Support is consistency.
Adoptees: Be consistent in getting help. Be consistent in therapy. Be consistent in self-care. Be consistently patient and gentle with yourself.
Adoptive parents: Be consistent with your unconditional love. in every other support… be consistent. Be willing to invest your time, your money, and stretch your every belief and your comfortability level to the max. When you have reached what you think is the end. Start praying and look to your own supports. Make sure your own supports are consistent.