All of us encounter loss, grief, and uncertainty throughout our lives. And as a result, we seek to relieve the emotional pain involved with these difficult realizations and transitions. For some, the path to living a life less burdened by grief may take months whereas it might take years for others. As counselors that specialize in adoption, BPAR understands the impact of grief and loss that occurs for the entire adoption constellation as a result of the adoption process.
Specifically, for many adoptive parents, realizing your adopted child may be experiencing confusion and sadness related to loss can be extremely difficult to tolerate. Even more painful than knowing your child is suffering from sadness and grief is feeling like you as a parent might not exactly know how to ameliorate such difficult feelings. Thankfully, Cori Doerrfeld’s new children’s book titled The Rabbit Listened poignantly teaches us that the most powerful resource you can offer to your beloved as they experience sadness, grief, or confusion is to simply LISTEN.
Through the use of beautiful illustrations and simple text, Doerrfeld tells the story of Taylor, a child who dreams big but experiences a setback and thus, begins to feel sad. Throughout the story, many animal friends come to visit Taylor in hopes that they make things better by offering up suggestions and remedies, but nothing helps. To their surprise, Taylor doesn’t want to partake in any of their suggestions and continues to feel sad. The animals leave and Taylor is alone. Then one day, the rabbit see’s Taylor struggling and decides to help by simply being a warm, safe, and quiet presence. Rabbit can see that Taylor really just needs someone to listen. Over time, Taylor begins to trust rabbit and ultimately expresses everything that has been bottled up! Through it all, Rabbit always listens and never leaves. Eventually, Taylor builds up the courage and strength to try again and tells Rabbit of this new decision!
Ultimately, Rabbit sticks by Taylor during the bad, good, and confusing times. Serving as a nurturing and safe outlet, Rabbit provides Taylor with the comfort and safety that’s needed to express difficult feelings and emotions. Whereas the other animals tried to fix Taylor’s problem or offer their suggestions on how to become better, Rabbit just listened to how Taylor was feeling—allowing Taylor the time and space to decide what was the next best step forward.
If there’s one thing Doerrfeld’s book reminds us, it’s that taking the time to listen is the most POWERFUL RESOURCE you possess as a parent. Consistently being a warm and loving presence with non-judgmental ears has the potential to create a safe and trusting space where your child can express difficult emotions and feelings. Continuing to listen and be there for your child during the darkest and lightest of times is potentially the best remedy out there!
Remember … you possess the most powerful and meaningful tools for your child during difficult times—time and listening ears!