Dr. Heidi Horsley talks with Laurie Goble-VanDiest, the mother of three adopted children. Dr. Horsley adopted one of her children as well. Goble-VanDiest explains that she decided to adopt after she couldn’t conceive. She went the route of foster to adoption and was initially just looking for one child. A three-year-old girl was in her home for six months when it was discovered that the girl’s brothers were also becoming adoptable. The girl had already bonded with the family, and it was important that the siblings stayed together.

The instant family happened quickly. Adopted children are born from our hearts. Goble-VanDiest works in the grief and loss field and sees some similarities between adoption and loss. The loss of the adopted child’s parents is profound. Even when a biological parent has issues that prevent them from parenting, there’s real love between parent and child. An adopted child experiences a loss that’s just as strong as any other.

Loss of a Known Life

In this instance, the siblings were all separated at first. Put into separate foster homes, it exacerbated the loss. The three-year-old grieved hard and horribly when separated from her whole family. There’s a process of healing and adjusting that happens with any loss. Getting used to a different life takes patience. A huge transition is tough for anyone, especially children. Loving them isn’t enough, the adopted parent needs to allow the child time to grieve.

It’s advised that adopted parents be patient with the process and not take things personally. Also, be patient with yourself. You’re also going through big changes, and you may have losses of your own in this scenario. Losing what you think your life will be is a trauma, but it’s one you can work through with your new family.



Heidi Horsley

Dr. Heidi Horsley is an international grief expert, licensed psychologist, and social worker. She is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Open to Hope Foundation, one of the largest internet grief resources, with over 2 million yearly visitors. She hosts the award-winning Open to Hope cable television show and podcast. Dr. Heidi is an adjunct professor at Columbia University. She serves on the ​National Board of Directors for The Compassionate Friends, the largest peer to peer support organization in the world. She also serves on the National Advisory Board for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). TAPS has served over 50,000 military families who have suffered a loss. In addition, she serves on the National Advisory Board for the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation, and the Children's Brain Tumor Foundation. Dr. Heidi is on the VIP section of Marquis Who's Who in America, Madison Who's Who, and Who's Who of American Women. Dr. Heidi has co-authored eight books, including; Spouse Loss; Fresh Grief; Inspirational Stories for Handling the Holidays After Loss; Inspirational Stories of Healing After Loss; Real Men Do Cry; A Quarterbacks Inspiring Story of Tackling Depression & Surviving Suicide; Teen Grief Relief: Parenting with Understanding Support and Guidance; and Signs and Hope From Heaven. She has appeared on the ABC television show 20/20, has been interviewed by numerous media outlets, and has been a guest on hundreds of radio shows as well as quoted in dozens of media publications, including the Metro World News, Washington Post, Time Magazine, Newsday, Money Magazine, and New York Daily News. Dr. Heidi is also the author of numerous articles and academic book chapters. Dr. Heidi gives keynotes, presentations, and workshops throughout the country, and teaches continuing education workshops for health care professionals on support following trauma and tragedy. For 10 yrs., Dr. Heidi worked as a co-investigator for the FDNY-Columbia University Family Guidance Program; a study which looked at traumatic loss in families of firefighters killed in the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. Through this 9/11 study, Dr. Heidi provided ongoing intervention and follow-up to firefighter widows and their children, and facilitated groups for bereaved siblings. In addition, Dr. Heidi supervised the school social work staff at Harlem Democracy Charter Schools in NYC for four years. Dr. Heidi's early career included work in a variety of clinical settings, including; Manhattan Psychiatric Center, California Pacific Medical Center Psychiatry Dept., University of San Francisco Mental Health Clinic, St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital Psychiatry Dept., and Hope Haven Residential Treatment Center in New Orleans. Her doctoral dissertation was on the sudden death of a sibling. Her academic credentials include a doctorate in Psychology (PsyD) from the University of San Francisco; a Masters degree in social work (LMSW) from Columbia University, and a Masters degree in mental health counseling (MS) from Loyola University, in New Orleans. Dr. Heidi splits her time between NYC and Tucson AZ.

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