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Adoption / Children / Motherhood

Star Trek parenting: raising my next generation

For most of my life, through school and college and dating, through TTC (trying to conceive) and infertility, I was mostly guided by my head. I learned early on the surest way out of any problem was to study it, analyze it, work it, contemplate it.

I was pretty successful with this method. I earned several degrees, didn’t marry several Mr Wrongs, and navigated several medical interventions — all with the power of my intellect (not as colossal as I make it sound, and there weren’t THAT many Mr Wrongs down on one knee).

But parenting — and specifically adoptive parenting — required me to take my Data model (sensible, information-based) and add the Deanna Troi model (sensitive, compassion-based). These two Star Trek characters personify for me the head and the heart I now use in parenting my two children.

Adoption and, more specifically, OPEN adoption, is something I couldn’t think my way through. I couldn’t study my way through or weigh my options through or test my way through with a #2 pencil.

I had to FEEL my way through.

Open adoption has engendered a huge shift in how I move through life. From Day 1 with Tessa’s first mom, Crystal, I have had opportunities to choose between what feels right and what makes sense, in cases where they are at odds.

parenting with heartPulling another organ into service for decision-making and leadership has had an added benefit: parenting itself requires the involvement of one’s heart as well as one’s head. I can’t think my way through Reed’s fight with his BFF. I can’t think my way through one of Tessa’s tantrums (no thinking occurs for either of us during one of those). Book learning only goes so far.

It’s not that I turn OFF my intellect, but that I also tune into my heart for answers.

Living from my heart requires me to just. be. present. Abiding in a situation and with the people in it. Being open to insight, inspiration and intuition.

Which I can add to intellect.

Open adoption has brought me more deeply into thinking/feeling. I used both my head and heart to navigate Tessa’s reunion with her first dad, Joe, and am using both methods currently to help Reed with some questions he’s been asking about his placement.

I’m not saying that all problems are easily solved because I’ve got such massive brainpower and a huge, unerring heart. I make lots and lots of mistakes every single day, and some are whoppers.

I’m saying that open adoption requires that I see things from the perspectives of the others involved, that I understand the effects of my actions on them, and that I use both my head and heart as I move through life.

It’s been a worthwhile change.

Lori is a mom via open adoption to Tessa, 10, and Reed, 8, and her family lives in the metro-Denver area. She writes regularly at about living mindfully. She gives herself a B+ thus far and is aiming for an A on the final. Her first book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption, will be published by Rowman & Littlefield and available in mid-2013.

Images: smokedsalmon /


Lori Holden
Author: Lori Holden

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  1. Wonderfully thought-provoking post. Sometimes it’s amazing the path we take in life. I’m sure you never would have imagined yours, nor how much you’ve grown by doing it!

  2. Beautifully written!! Yet another reason why I stalk … err, follow.. you. 🙂

  3. A parenting ode for the uber-geeks inside us all… I love it!

    On a more serious (and less Trekkie) note, you do underscore the fact that we need a full complement of parenting tools in our toolboxes, a variety of lenses through which to view our families, and an array of weapons in our arsenals (so to speak) as we raise our children.

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