[E184] Becoming Adoption Wise and Overcoming Blocked Care with Lisa C. Qualls and Melissa Corkum

Episode 184 March 19, 2024 00:36:17
[E184] Becoming Adoption Wise and Overcoming Blocked Care with Lisa C. Qualls and Melissa Corkum
Empowered to Connect Podcast
[E184] Becoming Adoption Wise and Overcoming Blocked Care with Lisa C. Qualls and Melissa Corkum

Mar 19 2024 | 00:36:17

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Show Notes

Today on the show, friends of the program and prolific authors, Melissa Corkum and Lisa C. Qualls join us to talk about some exciting news! They cover their decision to re-brand their organization (formerly The Adoption Connection) to "Adoption Wise" and their newest resource "Foundations for Overcoming and Preventing Blocked Care" - a course you can take in community to begin working through the healing process and learning how to reclaim compassion in your parenting journey. 

As always, Lisa and Melissa meet us right where we are with compassion and empathy and SO much practical wisdom to help you walk out of those tough seasons of parenting when you feel stuck. It's a fantastic episode that is sure to encourage and bring life to everyone who listens.

Make SURE to follow them on Instagram here - you'll know why that's so important after listening to the episode!

You can learn more about Empowered to Connect on our website, by following us on social media or checking out the hundreds of video resources on our YouTube page!

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

[00:00:04] Speaker A: Welcome to the Empowered to connect podcast, where we come together to discuss a healing centered approach for ourselves, our families, and our communities. I'm JD Wilson, and I am your host. And today on the show, Lisa Quals and Melissa Corkin rejoin us to talk about their newest project. They've been working on, a big rebrand they did in his organization and a lot more, talking about blocked care and then their newest offering, which they will share with us as soon as they jump on. Melissa and Lisa, longtime friends of the program, they've been doing incredible work through adoption wise, formerly adoption connection, and so they'll share more about that change as well as all the stuff they've been working on since they last joined us to talk about their book, reclaiming compassion. And so without any further ado, let's jump into it now. Let's have the conversation with myself and Lisa and Melissa on reclaiming compassion and all of the adoption wise stuff they've been working on. Well, as we said in the introduction, I've got Lisa Qualis and Melissa Corkham with us again. And they are, we were talking about this beforehand, I think our most recurring guest that we've had so far. But we've had you guys on a lot and we're super pumped to have you on today. You guys have, well, not just one thing to talk about. There's several things. So I guess for people who don't know you or haven't heard you on before, why don't we start with just you guys telling who you are, what you do, and then why don't you give us an update from the last time you've been on until now, what's been going on with your organization? [00:01:39] Speaker B: So my name is Melissa and I live just north of Baltimore with my husband, Patrick. We have six kids, both by birth and adoption, two grandkids. And my work mostly is supporting adoptees and adoptive families. And I kind of fell into it kind of crazy. Every day wake up and think, this is like what I get to do is eat, live and breathe adoption. Some days I want to become an interior designer, but it's all good. And I co founded Adoption Wise, which we'll talk about in a minute with Lisa. [00:02:17] Speaker A: Okay. [00:02:19] Speaker C: And I'm Lisa. Lisa C. Qualls. I have to have my middle initial in there because there's another Lisa Quals who owns everything, all the domains. So Lisa C. Quals and I live in north Idaho with my husband, Russ. We have eleven kids together. I'm also a first or birth mom, so I have an older son, and then we fostered a teen girl for two and a half years. So we've sort of done a lot of the experience of adopting and fostering of our kids. The eleven four of them were adopted from Ethiopia. So, yes, Melissa and I came together and began working together. We originally started just a podcast, and it turned into so much more. And Melissa can tell you a little bit more about it. But we recently rebranded. We were originally the adoption connection, and we, as of 2023, are now adoption wise. [00:03:16] Speaker B: Yeah, and this is my public plea to you all, because I got our Instagram account erased last fall. So if you thought you were following the adoption connection or adoption wise, you may not be anymore. So if you're on the insta and you like information around the nervous system, blocked care, then come on over and follow us at adoption wise, and we'll. [00:03:43] Speaker A: Link that in the show notes below. And listen, you just need to go do that. So you need to go follow them. They need to repopulate their Instagram. It is not right. Someone hacked and stole all of their followers. We need to get them back. [00:03:58] Speaker C: All of our followers and all of our content, too. Everything. [00:04:02] Speaker A: My gosh, I didn't even think. [00:04:03] Speaker C: Yeah, it was quite the deal. So, yes, please, we appeal to your hearts. Please come to adoption wise and follow us on Instagram. [00:04:13] Speaker A: You guys have also been busy creating stuff, and last time you were on, we were talking about your book, reclaimed compassion. And so this time, you've got something else to talk to us about. And so if you don't mind kind of prefacing with what reclaimed compassion is and then what the new thing is that you want to talk to us? [00:04:36] Speaker C: Well, reclaim compassion is really kind of two things. They are all the same. But we have a book titled Reclaim Compassion. But then we also have a whole group, a whole program for helping people overcome blocked care that is also called reclaim compassion. So it's sort of all of our work right now is circling around the topic of blocked care and nervous system care for parents and their children. So it's the focus of all of our work right now. [00:05:12] Speaker B: Yeah. And would it be helpful to review blocked care, JD? [00:05:17] Speaker A: Yeah, definitely. [00:05:22] Speaker B: So reclaim compassion, the book, the subtitle is the Adoptive Parents guide for overcoming blocked care with neuroscience and faith. And blocked care is something that happens in a parent's nervous system. It doesn't have to be an adoptive parent's nervous system. So we'll talk a little bit more about that when there's excessive stress, and that could be big behaviors that could be divorce, COVID, chronic illness. I mean, so many things, right? I don't think all of us kind of can picture what excessive stress feels like, I think. And our nervous systems get protective of us. We're built to be in service of our own survival. And sometimes when that happens, it becomes hard for us to maintain kind of empathetic, really compassionate, caregiving to children we're in charge of. And again, sometimes these kids have really big behaviors, and sometimes they're just kids being kids, but our nervous system is just kind of maxed out that we are maybe doing the things like we're still feeding them or driving them to school, but the joy, the empathy, the reasons why we came, parents kind of slip away. [00:06:42] Speaker A: Yeah. So the book and the workbook, would you call it a workbook? Is that the right phrase for it? Companion? [00:06:51] Speaker B: I think I would say it's a group curriculum. So the book is adoption specific and faith based. Faith is kind of woven through it. And we realize that that didn't serve all audiences because block care isn't specific to adoptive families and because there are agencies, like, there's just obviously a ton of people in the world who don't share a faith. And so we just wanted to make a resource that, one, allowed groups of people to be able to get together really easily and do this, and two, that was as inclusive as possible. [00:07:33] Speaker A: Awesome. So what has the response been so far? I imagine you guys have had, after you worked so long and so diligently on something, to be able to put it out in the world, it's a little bit vulnerable. Right. And so what has the response been since unleashing this into the world? [00:07:51] Speaker C: Well, the book, reclaim compassion, we've had a huge response. We're just so, so thrilled. Foundations. So the program is called Foundations for overcoming and preventing blocked care. And it's an eight session program for helping parents reclaim compassion. And we have just sort of been gradually releasing it. We didn't do like a big release, but we're trying to connect with organizations, support groups, agencies, even groups of friends who are adoptive parents who want to work through this process, or not even adoptive parents, actually, because it's not adoption specific, but who want to work through this process of learning and caring for their nervous systems and regaining compassion for themselves and their kids. And we wanted to make it so easy that anybody could pick up this book, this workbook, and go through it with a group and feel comfortable and confident that they're leading everybody in a good direction. [00:08:50] Speaker A: Yeah, that's awesome. When you guys are, we've talked about this some in the last episode we had with you talking about the book. But for people who are out there who are thinking, like, I might be experiencing blocked care, would you just summarize again what they should be looking for internally to know? Here's how I can kind of know that I might be dealing with blocked care right now. [00:09:17] Speaker C: Would you like me to go through the signs, the ten signs of blocked care? Now, I'll preface this by saying that anybody who's interested can go to our website and take a free assessment. And, Melissa, do you want to give that? Is it adoptionwise.org slash assessment? Assessment? [00:09:36] Speaker B: Okay. [00:09:37] Speaker C: Well, there you go. It was in my brain, right. But I just wanted to be sure. So anybody can go and take that, but I'll just read through these signs so that people who are listening, who are thinking, I don't even know what you're talking about, what does that feel like? These are the signs that Melissa and I have come up with. So number one is you're too caught up in coping with your child's behavior to be curious about the meaning behind it. Number two, you feel defensive and guard yourself from rejection. Three, you feel burned out, chronically overwhelmed, and fatigued. Four, you feel resentment toward one or more of your children or your situation as a whole. For adoptive, foster, or kinship parents, you may even regret opening your heart and your home. Five, you feel irritable with other family and friends. Six, you isolate yourself. Seven, you become cynical about helpful ideas. Eight, you feel you've lost compassion, which leads to shame. Nine, you experience a crisis of faith or a challenge of a personal belief system. And ten, you don't feel real pleasure in parenting. And I think what we see, a lot of parents, first of all, a lot of parents are very relieved to find out they're not alone, that they are not the only person feeling the way they feel. Because I think a lot of times when we experience block care, we are ashamed of what we're feeling and we're a little scared. I mean, I think a lot of parents feel like I am not the parent I thought I was. I thought I was going to be this great mom or this great dad. And instead, I do not even want to get out of bed in the morning to take care of these children. And I can get up, I can feed them, but I don't want to be around them. I sometimes feel like I don't even like them. And there are certain factors, I think, for some parents that make it even harder. Like if they have young children younger or just more vulnerable children in their home. And there's a child in their home with big behaviors, and they're feeling like they're having to protect other kids. I think that raises it up, too. And you start experiencing this feeling of always being sort of. We talk about kids being hyper vigilant, but we become hyper vigilant as parents. Like, I need to know what's happening. What is that sound? Where is that child now? I need to know where that child is. And anyhow, I think it just brings up all these feelings of, like, wow, this is not what I ever imagined it was going to be like to be a parent. And I don't like how it feels. [00:12:19] Speaker A: Yeah, well, we talked the other day in one of our episodes. We had two of our facilitators on. Great conversation. It's not aired yet, and so I don't want to spill it, but one of the things that we talked about kind of off air with them was just that one of the most powerful human experiences is to share a vulnerable place that you're in or some difficult thing that you're going through. And for somebody across the room to say, me, too. Absolutely. And I think it can be so challenging, so overwhelming to even look internally, to admit that to ourselves. Right. To walk through and you're reading out the questions like they're the ten signs. And to start sinking your chair further and further, be like, oh, my God, that's me. And then facing the shame of what our expectations were for ourselves as parents starting out versus where we're at now. And it's so easy to internalize that shame unless we've got people to work with this through who can call out things in there. So why don't we transition to talking about why this group curriculum? Why this instead of another book? Why this instead of a counseling, one on one kind of workforce? Why is it more powerful to do this in a group setting than it is one on one? [00:13:30] Speaker B: JD, people come to us a lot, and they're so ashamed about the way that they feel, and they do, even though it has a name, they feel like they're all alone or that their block care is, for some reason, worse than someone else's block care. And they may ask, can we work with someone privately? I don't know if I can explore this. And we really encourage people to get into a group because not only is group work less expensive, more accessible in some ways, but we really believe in exactly what you were just talking about, the power of community. I mean, imagine if you are working through block care with a coach, and they're saying, you're not the only one. Do you really internalize that? Do you really believe that? Versus being in, sitting in a circle with eight to ten other parents, or being on a Zoom call with a screen full of parents, and people start sharing their stories and you start realizing, oh my gosh, I had no idea, or that I can't believe how similar that person's story is to mine. And also the synergy. Know, Lisa mentioned a couple times, nervous system care, which is ultimately the really short quote unquote answer to overcoming block care, right. Is to really, as parents, take care of our nervous systems really well. And again, our brains are tired and that means our creativity is gone. And so the thought of even adding some of these nervous system care practices in, and we've tried to make them as tiny and small and approachable as possible, can still feel overwhelming. So to have a group kind of borrow from the group motivation, get ideas from each other, there's a synergy that gets going as people start to brainstorm what that can look like being in proximity to other nervous systems, we change and shape each other. So the more people you can put yourself in proximity to who are doing this work, the more momentum you're putting behind. Kind of like this change by osmosis almost. So I just think it's so important for, even if it's just one other person, but for there to be some kind of co regulation and community around this. [00:16:01] Speaker A: Good. You know, Lisa, you talked about having a wide variety of parenting situations in your background. Do you feel like that has made this curriculum richer and deeper because of the wealth of experiences that you've had? And then how has that translated in your care for other parents as you guys have walked this stuff out? [00:16:33] Speaker C: Well, I definitely feel like everything we've written and everything we do is very rooted in our personal experiences of being both adoptive parents, foster parents. Melissa's an adoptee. I'm a first or birth mom. So all of our work, I think, is very well rounded because we have a unique perspective. And I think for me, I never, ever imagined that I would experience something like block care, like being a mom. I loved it. I loved being a mom, and I thought I was really good at it, and I felt really confident. Before we adopted, I knew how to do this. I mean, I had 20 years of parenting experience, and I loved being a mom, and I had a background in mental health. And it's like, yeah, I mean, it's going to be hard of course it's going to be hard, and we're going to do awesome. And for me, it was a very humbling, painful experience to realize I absolutely did not have everything I needed and I needed to learn a lot more. Like, nobody was talking about caring for your nervous system. Nobody was talking about blocked care. I thought that it was sort of like a deep flaw in me, like a character flaw, that I wasn't able to love my daughter in particular the way I felt like I should. Instead, when she came near, I just felt so protective of myself. And this is what we learn in learning about block care, is that basically our nervous systems have two states of being. Either connection, where we're in this relaxed, connected mode, or protection, where our nervous system is taking information and saying, not safe, not good. We need to protect ourselves. And so to feel that mode, I didn't even have words for it when my child was around. It felt really terrible and really shameful. So just learning about the nervous system, but then talking and meeting with other people who are saying, wow, I have felt that I know exactly what you're talking about, but what do we do about it? So not only are we helping people identify it and helping them release that shame, but helping them literally step by step, go through a healing process so that they can really, truly overcome block hair and know how to prevent it going forward. [00:19:10] Speaker A: Melissa, for you, as an adoptee, having that experience in both a professional setting, your lived experience through a parenting lens as well, how has this impacted your work and has it opened up new avenues for you in the way that you're caring for other people? [00:19:29] Speaker B: I think, first of all, when I was experiencing block care at its worst, without the answer, I think there was shame for me because there was also this part, like the adoptee part of me was like, you know what it's like to have big feelings that you don't have words for? You only have behaviors for you can imagine what the implication of giving up on a kid would feel like. There was all this stuff. Like, the adoptee part of me was like, pull together. These are adoptees, too. But I think the other piece is wearing the adoptee hat. And an adoptive parent hat in the adoption world can get a little tricky. You know, adoptive parents don't always have the best reputation in the adoptee world, and sometimes it's conflicting to have a foot in both worlds. And I think I was in a group of adoptee writers a while back, and I was the only one writing to adoptive parents, right. There was a lot of adoptee memoirs. And it was kind of like a weird place to be. And I just keep coming back. And I wrote this at the beginning of the book, that part of the reason why we do what we do is one from a parent perspective, because like Lisa said, it feels crappy to be a parent in blocked care. There's a cognitive knowledge of, like, I could be a better parent than this. And as an adoptee, I really believe that all kids deserve to be raised in homes free of blocked care. And so the work that I do with adoptive parents ultimately is for adoptees. [00:21:30] Speaker A: So good. I wonder if you guys have other. Since these groups have launched out and you started to get kind of early feedback back, I wonder if there are things that you're hearing that I wish I would have known before I started this group. So for people who are thinking they're on the fence, maybe I should jump into one of these groups. Maybe we should start one of these with our group of friends or whatever our community. Are there any early feedback you're starting to get now that you would want to share with people who are considering it but not sure if it's the right time or the right place for them? [00:22:10] Speaker C: I think one thing we know is that we've set this up, like I think I said earlier, to make it so easy. It's not difficult at all to lead a group, and I think there's so much power, and I'm sort of just repeating, but there's so much power in community, and so when we can come together and when the leader doesn't have to worry about, what do I say? What are we going to talk about? I mean, it's all there. Everything's there. We even give a timeline. We make it really easy. And I think it's so beautiful to see people gather and begin to heal together, that I think there's just a lot of reward for people who are willing to step in and serve this way and facilitate a group. And we've touched on the fact that this is not an adoption centric curriculum. Now, definitely a lot of our stories because of a lot of our experience and our work is a lot with adoptive parents, but there are parents who have children with different kinds of needs, neurodiversity, severe medical needs. There are all kinds of reasons, like we mentioned at the beginning, that a parent may experience block care, and it may be because of something that they're going through. I mean, we've seen block care happen in the case of divorce or a big cross country move in the midst of a really stressful time. And to see that those parents also have a place to go, that this curriculum speaks to them as well, not just the adoption community, I think makes Melissa and I really, really happy because we know even though our work is so focused, often we just see the need being so much wider than just our community. [00:23:56] Speaker A: So good. Well, anything to add to. [00:24:00] Speaker B: Was just. I pulled up some Amazon reviews of the book and the curriculum has a lot of the same framework as the. You know, this reader just said, it has completely transformed my parenting relationship and I feel an inner peace and acceptance I did not have before. And we hear things like that over and over again. We hear, I couldn't get out of the introduction without crying. I finally feel heard or where were you 20 years? This explains so much of what I've been going through for the last decade. And Lisa mentioned our coaching group at the beginning as a membership community. It's always sad when parents leave, but we've had a couple of families leave recently for the right reasons, which is basically like, I came because I felt like we were failing. I didn't know what to do. And your work, like what you've been teaching us about nervous system care, this group, the support, we're not in crisis anymore and we're kind of in a good place. And we found ourselves not really needing the support as much anymore. We're basically graduating people, but we're like graduating people, working ourselves out of a job. As sad as I am to lose contact with these families, it makes my heart so warm inside for all the hard times and situations and things that we carry, as we hear really hard stories from families, it's those things I'm like, this is why we do what we do. This is why we have as many ways as possible for people to engage in this material, because it really does change nervous systems and change families. [00:25:55] Speaker C: When I think about our work with block care, I feel like it's really some of the most important work that I've ever done. Because, not to over exaggerate, but it saves marriages, it saves adoptions from being dissolved and disrupted. When a foster parent can really heal from blocked care, they might be able to stick it out with a really hard placement. I just think it is. Overcoming block care and preventing it to begin with is just hugely, hugely important for the well being of parents, children, families, people. I mean, when we understand block care, when we understand the nervous system, we can have compassion for everybody we meet, to be honest. [00:26:47] Speaker A: Totally. Well, I think you said it. The idea that a lot of us get to this place. In parenting, when you're experiencing blood care and it feels like nothing else can happen, and all that's on the line, all the different things that could be lost if this relationship isn't salvaged or if this situation within myself is not resolved. It's a high stack, right? Like, there's a lot of things in those situations. And so the idea that in that situation, hopelessness does not reign. Like, you're not able to. You don't have to get to a place where you think, I've got to get out of here. This can't work, or this has, you know, to have hope in this situation is one of the most powerful things that you could ever have. And so saving marriages and relationships and parenting, relationships and communities and friendships, all of that, as well as the ability for when people get to walk alongside you as you go through something like that, it equips them as well to be able to help somebody else they're going through it, or if they experience it themselves, to know kind of a roadmap for how to. So I think it's so important, I would say. I think my wife and I both experienced this in different seasons. And the wild privilege of being in a place where we had the support we needed to be honest about those things and to then have some outlets and some next steps and some folks to surround us and some answers is a game changer. And so if you are in that situation and you have that feeling, you are drowning, you're not sure what to do next. This book, this group, 100% for you. And just know that you're not alone and know that there is hope, there are resources there for you and that you don't have to live in that. Stuck forever. [00:28:43] Speaker B: Yeah. I think another thing that's important to mention here is that while it is 100% possible to overcome blocked care, is that especially if you're still living in whatever stress is contributing to your blocked care, it can be like a cycle in seasons. So it isn't like a one and done. Like, I've overcome block care and I'm out. And so if you're a person listening who's like, I heard these ladies last year on the podcast or whatever, and I thought I had done it, and now I must be a terrible person because I'm back at it again, right? I have had seasons of block care. I've had seasons where I've been really good, and I've had seasons where I'm back in block care again. It's one of those things that stress is just so inevitable in the world that we live in. So just know that this is like a journey and a spectrum sometimes of how deeply I feel entrenched in blocked care and how well am I taking care of my nerve? Once you know what nervous system care is, you can be really intentional about it and you can fall off the bandwagon really quickly. And so when I start seeing signs of blocked care in myself, that's like the rumble strip in the road to be like, oh, when was the last time you did something that was regulating? How have you fall? Because it's easy to get to a point where you think, oh, I'm good. And then you stop taking your daily walk or these things start falling off. And then all of a sudden you wake up one morning and you're like, I hate my life and my kids. Wait, I'm back here again. So I would say just, we hear that a lot from people is, I thought I was finished. What's wrong with me? And so just to say, continuing that thought of getting out of that shame spiral, that this is not like, necessarily a one and done thing. [00:30:51] Speaker C: I'm sorry. I would add, too, that if you're parenting with a partner, understanding block care is so valuable because you can see it in them when they are starting to move into that protection mode and they walk in the room and you can tell, like, day after day, things are getting a little unraveled. We can encourage our parenting partner to use the tools to work on healing and calming their nervous system to reregulate so we can support each other in prevention of blocked care when we see it creeping back in. I mean, just this last summer, my husband started biking. Cycling. If I say biking, people might think I mean motorcycle. I mean, like mountain biking and is so good for his nervous system and it's a sacrifice for me when he goes up for 4 hours on Saturday. I'm not loving it, but what I am loving is a more regulated, calmer husband and dad. So I think we can use these tools to help each other. And even for single parent, if you're in a support group or you have a friend, you can do this together as well. [00:32:07] Speaker A: So good. As we wrap up, any last words, any things that you want to leave as kind of parting advice or last words for our listeners today? [00:32:17] Speaker B: I would say just what's the next one step you can do to reach out and connect with one other person who you think might be in a similar journey, might understand and just commit to whatever that looks like whether it be getting a curriculum guide and just going through it together or just checking in with each other, if you're in block care, it's going to feel overwhelming to put together a group or whatever. And I would say if you're listening and you're a professional or someone who leads a support group in your community, check this out. And if you're in a space where you can do that work to coordinate a group, think about what would it mean to a group of parents in my community if I could raise the flag and be like, we can gather in my backyard this spring. [00:33:26] Speaker A: Great. [00:33:28] Speaker C: I think my final word would be more to parents. And that is just that. There truly is hope. I mean, we can go through terribly hard seasons as parents. We can experience really significant blocked care where we just want to give up, where we're just like, we have parents who tell us, I'm just going to try to stick it out until this kid graduates from high school and I can get them out of my house and they're talking about a six year old. So it can feel really terrible. But there's so much hope. And there are really, truly small, incremental things that you can do to overcome blocked care and find hope again in parenting. And it doesn't have to feel this bad. It can be better. [00:34:16] Speaker A: Okay, guys, thank you so much. If you are listening and want to right now, go get the book, which you should, you can head to the link in our show notes below. You can look at it on Amazon, you can search it, Google it, whatever. Or you can head to the new. [00:34:31] Speaker B: Website, which is adoptionwise.org. [00:34:36] Speaker A: Adoptionwise.org. And then non negotiably, whether you order the book today or go to the website, you must go to Instagram and follow. [00:34:44] Speaker B: Adoption wise, we will be forever. [00:34:47] Speaker A: Yes. But guys, thank you all so much for coming on. Thank you for the work that you're doing. And just from one parent who's experienced this to others, we just appreciate y'all so much. [00:34:59] Speaker C: Thank you for having us. [00:35:05] Speaker A: Well, just great stuff from Lisa and Melissa and just a huge thank you to them for coming on today to talk about block care again and just the power of walking through that content that season together in community. And so my hope is, if that's where you are, that today was one helpful first step. We'll talk about what is the next right step you could take. And if that is the next right step is buying the book or jumping into one of those groups with a community, we hope that you find that and are able to take that step. We've got a lot of great stuff coming up the rest of this spring. We're so excited to share with you, but we can't yet, so we're going to wait for those things. And so for everybody here at empowered to connect, for Kyle Wright, who edits, engineers, all of our audio. For Tad, you. At the creator of the music behind the empowered to connect podcast, I'm JD Wilson, and we'll see you next week on the Empowered to connect podcast.

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