It all started when...
A bird-watcher told me a story once. (I realize this isn’t the most amazing hook ever. Hang in with me!)
She talked about the unexpected heart-in-your-throat moment that occurred for her after watching a hummingbird feed following the first leg of its migration north. Not being much into birds, I wasn’t all that interested.
But as she continued to share her experience, I learned a few things. It’s about a 4000-mile journey across the Gulf of Mexico from Central America. These tiny jewels in flight make this non-stop trek in around twenty hours (through the darkness of night!), depending on the winds and weather. It’s an exhausting and arduous journey. Many birds don’t survive it. Most shocking? Hummingbirds don’t travel in flocks, but alone. ALONE… their tenacious wings carry their itty-bitty bodies for 4000 miles… over the ocean… at night.
The bird-watcher described being moved by the exhaustion she witnessed in these tiny, feathered creatures, with their recent arrival on the Texas coastline. She felt a part of their sweet victory, and choked up watching those little survivors pull long on the newly available nectar, beginning to recover from the overnight flight.
Around this time, for reasons entirely unrelated to the bird-watcher’s story, I developed a deep affection for hummingbirds. My friend, Laurel, who loved her daughters, columbines, and hummingbirds, died in an accident. Because she loved hummingbirds, and because she was gone, I started to feel like I wanted to be connected to what she loved to remain connected to her.
I started poking around some of the things she loved, and decided I'd try to call hummers to my yard during their southern migration. I remembered the bird-watcher’s story, and when I considered how very far they travel during annual migrations, I was astounded to learn that each year, hummingbirds return to territories that have been good to them in their migration pattern. Birds who’ve been the subjects of band studies have even been found to return not only to the same area year after year, but even to the same feeder! Now, when I see “my birds” at the feeders hanging from shepherd’s hooks in my garden, I have my own heart-in-my-throat moments. I think about that bird, flying alone over black waters through the night, making its way to my feeder in Littleton, Colorado, simply because it was there as a reliable source of nourishment the year before. And I feel like I’m seeing a miracle.
What’s this got to do with Inward Bound and its history? Well, for one thing, there’s a metaphor there. “My kids” and their parents often feel very lonely in their travels. They have daunting emotional journeys to make, and are often afraid their hearts won’t survive.
And second: Inward Bound was named years ago on a porch swing. While I watched my Godson and his sister play tag on a summer night with the neighbors, grass between their toes, the trees' shadows growing long in the yard, I explained to their mother that I needed a name for the practice that would represent the sacred work happening between adoptees and their parents.
“Outward bound,” is a nautical term to describe the transition for leaving the safety of harbor. For this work, I wanted an inversion of “outward bound” and leaving safe harbor behind. With our specialization in attachment work, one of our first priorities is to create a safe haven for our children, and for their parents. So, it was Inward Bound: turning inward for the purpose of understanding oneself; giving in to the adventure that is intimate relationship; and nestling in to belonging to someone.
Inward Bound has always offered specialized services to adoptees and their parents to address adoption issues, challenged attachments, and the effects of early trauma on a child’s development. Over time, services have expanded outside the Denver metro area, and we began offering phone consultation and coaching services to families from California to New York and Minnesota to Texas. Our little community of Inward Bounders spread far and wide!
While the intricate, intimate, and sacred work continues with the families Inward Bound serves, over the years, there has been a larger reach. The practitioners at Inward Bound have provided keynote addresses, authored articles in adoption magazines and chapters for EMK Press’ “Toolbox” series, offered training for parents and professionals in West Virginia, Indiana, Nevada, California, and Colorado, and developed of several audio training workshops and webinars. And we are not done yet!
If you are in need of a safe haven, it is our sincere hope that you will find one with us. Welcome. Blessings on your journey Inward!