As the war in Ukraine intensifies, Paths for Families is holding the Ukrainian people in our hearts and prayers. We are also thinking of those who live here in the United States and consider Ukraine or Russia as their homeland. As we witness the violence and devastation unfold in the news and in our social media feeds, we are acutely aware of the potential impact that these horrific events may be having on families who have adopted children from this region. The images and stories are deeply traumatic, and the suffering is palpable.
We know that children and adults who were adopted from Ukraine and Russia have a deep connection to their culture of origin. Many may be worrying about birth family who remain in their home countries, and others may be struggling with how to manage the growing anti-Russian sentiment that is being expressed in our country and throughout the world. Even for those of us who don’t have a personal connection to the region, the images of war and suffering can significantly impact our own mental health and the mental health of our loved ones.
For those supporting the ones who are hurting, we know that we can’t change the devastating consequences of the war in Ukraine. What we can do is remain attuned, aware, and available to our children, friends, and spouses as they experience the complexity of emotions being triggered by daily images of violence and terror in their homeland. We can lean into and initiate difficult conversations, answer questions and address concerns in a developmentally appropriate, direct way, validate and explore feelings and fears without judgment and minimization, and utilize our own networks of support so that we can be there for others.
Below are some resources that may be of interest, especially if you are supporting children and teens:
Talking with Children About War
Talking with Children about Ukraine
Paths for Families hosted a free Community Town Hall on Wednesday, March 16, 2023 that focused on providing families, parents, and caregivers with support and guidance as they navigate the complexities of helping their children process and understand the war in Ukraine. Our team spent time answering a few questions we received that were not able to be answered in the Town Hall. Click each question below to hear our response.
Please note that all questions below were submitted by participants in our Town Hall.