Everyone needs a role model. They teach us about ourselves. In children, they help to define what they feel is important and meaningful. Sometimes children compare themselves, and when they believe that they share characteristics, it can help them to believe in themselves. If they find similarities in the person they admire—in any way—it is easier to believe that they are ok themselves and provide an important kinship.
Role models can help teach:
- Character – helping define what we admire and value, and maybe over time, what we feel is less important.
- Possibilities – we may not have thought we could obtain and which inspire us to keep trying and keep hoping.
- Strategies – in handling life’s challenges. This helps us think we, too, can overcome obstacles.
- Goals – we may not have even dare set for ourselves if we didn’t have a role model to inspire us!
Role models who are also adoptees are especially important for children. Adoption is a different experience that is not shared with everyone. It can affect a child’s self-esteem and we know that during certain times of their lives, children may feel adoption somehow makes them less valuable. Role models help them to realize that there are millions of adoptees – and the majority grow up to be happy and successful. Sometimes adoption provides an opportunity to make children more resilient, or help them develop skills/interests they may not have otherwise.
It is important to provide them with opportunities to make connections with adoptees, regardless of whether their adoption stories are similar or not. Consider the fact that Washington D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams can inspire every child, though few will share a common adoption story. Children can be empowered by learning how he incorporated his identity as an adoptee with the successful person he is today.
Did you know that these successful people are all adoptees?
- Sarah McLachlan – a musician, songwriter, performer and winner of two Grammy Awards. She and her two older brothers were adopted.
- Edward Albee -Playwright
- John J. Audubon – Naturalist
- Surya Bonaly – Olympic Figure Skater
- Peter and Kitty Carruthers – Olympic Skaters
- Christina Crawford – Author
- Daunte Culpepper – football players, Minnesota Vikings
- Faith Daniels – TV News Personality
- Eric Dickerson – Pro Football Player
- Melissa Gilbert – Actor
- Scott Hamilton – Olympic Skater
- Faith Hill – Singer
- Steve Jobs – Founder, Apple Computer
- Art Linkletter – TV Personality
- Charlotte Anne Lopez – Miss Teen USA
- Greg Louganis – Olympic Diver
- James Michener – Author
- Tom Monaghan – Founder, Domino’s Pizza
- Dan O’Brien – Olympic Gold Medalist
- Jim Palmer – Pro Baseball Player
- Dave Thomas – Founder, Wendy’s
Because of the way adoption is portrayed in literature, the media, and Hollywood; children are likely to be unaware of how common it is for adoptees to grow up as successful, “normal” adults. Strive to surround them with that message. We can educate the world about the overwhelming success of adoptees. We can let EVERYONE know that there are many adoptees—some famous, others who are not—who can be role models for all!