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Link Roundup

Hi friends,

As we head into the weekend, here are a handful of reads that made an impact on us this week. We hope you take in a fresh perspective, are moved, or learn something new.

My son was shot in the head by a stray bullet. This is why gun sensible gun laws matter.” “My then-13-year-old son, DeAndre, had been shot in the head while attending a birthday party.  A stray bullet ripped through the bay window as the boys played and pierced my son’s skull, penetrating his brain. My heart stopped when I received that call. How could this happen? Dre was in the right place at the right time – playing with friends as a child should. How could such a normal Saturday occurrence become an act of gun violence?”

What I learned about openness after placing my baby for adoption.

5 affirmations parents can give their adopted children. “Affirming our children is incredibly important, especially when there are misconstrued and negative stereotypes surrounding adoption. Whether you are tucking your child in to bed, driving to gymnastics practice, or enjoying a visit to the park, there’s always an opportunity to affirm your child.”

How to create an adoption hospital plan for your baby.

This very interesting and controversial piece about adoption in the Huffington Post argues that adoption is a feminist issue…but not for the reasons we think. And that in fact, it often increases inequality.

Excellent ways to get involved in this year’s National Infertility Awareness Week (not just this week, year-round, too!)

National Infertility Awareness Week

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week, which honors and brings awareness to the 1 in 8 couples who are struggling to create a family. That’s a total of 15% of couples in America.

The adoption world is no stranger to infertility, as so many couples turn to adoption after a painful experience with infertility—a process that can take over some family’s lives for years. We’ve spoken with countless individuals about their struggles, and it is a deeply motivating factor behind what we do and why we do it. Not all couples come to adoption because of infertility, of course, but it is our mission to help provide all individuals the family they dream of.

The theme for this year’s National Infertility Awareness Week is “Listen Up,” and it’s an important one. So many struggling with infertility are also struggling with the silence around this issue. It’s a tough topic to discuss, and one that often induces shame, fear, insecurity, self consciousness. Those on the other side often just don’t know what to say.

What this issue desperately needs is advocacy. Advocacy for the families struggling, so they can be aware of their options and where to turn to for support. And advocacy for people who want to help those in their lives affected by infertility, but simply don’t know how.

That’s why listening is such a beautiful place to start. Listening without judgment, without thinking about what to say next or what kinds of questions you “should” ask. Listening honestly, openly, and without the need for anything in return. Being comfortable with silence. Fully admitting you have no idea how it must feel. Not offering platitudes about waiting, or the good that’s to come. When you’re in the midst of the struggle, none of those things matter. What matters is that there is someone there to hear you, to help absorb your pain, and to validate the tumultuous emotions driving through every cell in your body. Companionship. Quiet. Space. Trust. Support.

When you think about what it means to support someone struggling with infertility, you don’t have to be out there on the front lines, marching with signs. (Although no one will begrudge you that.) Sitting at a table with a hot mug of tea and an open ear can truly change a life.

Link Roundup

It’s Friday!

Time to read something wonderful. Here’s a roundup of our favorites from across the web this week.

10 emotions you’ll feel as you make an adoption plan for your baby. “Some mornings you’ll wake up in a state of total despair, wondering how you ever got yourself into this mess. While other days you’ll be seized with feelings of joy, hope and optimism, knowing that you’ll be giving your child the future you want her to have, even if it isn’t with you.These emotions are just the tip of the iceberg. When it comes to creating an adoption plan, every expectant mother experiences it—and deals with it—in her own way.”

Film still from Boss Baby, via the New York Times

Why films like “Boss Baby” can be painful for adoptees and foster kids. “It may be true that the best way to watch a kids’ movie is by sitting next to a kid. It’s equally true how easily and often one can be shocked at how insensitive the movies can be about childhood impermanence, while sitting next to a kid in foster care. (I know one pretty well.) The 2014 remake ‘Annie’ is often cited as being among the weakest recent portrayals of foster care or adoption, with its nightmare foster parents, incompetent social-services system and an adoptive parent who comes and goes.”

The realities of raising a kid of a different race. This amazing piece dispels four common myths, shares five lessons learned the hard way, and provides valuable resources for parents raising a child of a different race, including books and films.

“We planned to adopt a toddler, but ended up with a 17 year-old.”

Why loving your child through their trauma isn’t enough. “Depending on our love, alone, puts an unfair burden on our shoulders. You and I were never meant to fight through this alone. Love must be the blanket that you wrap around your child’s entire journey. Within the blanket of love, there’s you, your spouse or partner, the resources you have available to you, and this precious child.”

What does it feel like to adopt a child after finding out you’re infertile?

 

Expressing Love and Affection To Your Child

Children need a great deal of love, especially from their parents. Depending on your child’s background and what they’ve been through, they may receive and express emotions in different ways. Having love is easy — it’s showing it, and expressing it in a way that best resonates with the receiver that takes some work. Here are a few tips for making sure your affection resonates with your child. 

1. Take a step back and try to view things through their eyes. We all receive love in different ways, and what we’re sensitive to differs greatly from person to person. Your child has a different worldview than you because the breadth of their experience and knowledge is different. That doesn’t make their perception or reaction to certain situations any less important, it simply makes them unique. The next time you find communication with your child difficult, try to see the situation through their eyes. What is their perception about what’s going on, and as their parent, how can you respond to that?

2. Give your child an option. This doesn’t have to apply to everything (we can’t be cooking 6 different dinners each night!), but what’s a complaint that children often have? That no one listens to them, or that they’re constantly being made to do things they don’t want to do. You’re still the parent and the primary decision-maker, but take a look at your week and choose a few situations where your child gets to make a choice for the whole family. Maybe it’s what’s for dinner one night, or which movie to watch the next. It doesn’t have to be huge, but it does show that you value their opinion, and that as a family unit everyone’s thoughts count.

3. Don’t compare. There are few things worse than comparing your child to one thing or another, especially their other siblings. Your children are independent beings. The only thing they should be measured against is their own potential.

4. A little spoiling never killed anyone. Few things are better than knowing someone loves you and made a specific effort to go out of their way to show it. And our children are no exception. An afternoon treat, making an exception to a rule, a love note tucked into a lunch box or backpack, a small gift just because. Spoiling doesn’t have to mean grand presents and excessive spending. What it really means is extending yourself outside the norm to show someone how much you care. A little extra love and attention is the best.

5. Show them it’s okay to be different. Being different may be the worst when you’re a kid, but kids who grow up comfortable with embracing their differences make dramatically cooler adults. If your child has differences or interests that are off the beaten path, embrace them, support them, guide them, nurture them. Not only are you teaching them how to be confident, but you’re expanding their worldview and their horizons, as well as their ability to relate to others.

Link Roundup

It’s Saturday!

We hope you’ve had a wonderful week, and are getting a chance to recharge this weekend.

Here are a few of our favorite reads from around the internet…cozy up with something comforting and enjoy.

My Family and Autism Awareness Month. “What does it matter what we call my daughter’s disorder? Lizzy’s issues have dumbfounded countless specialists. Despite having five MRIs that show significant brain damage, she has never gotten a real diagnosis. I never had that odd closure when somebody sits me down in an office and tells me that my kid has a specific condition. I’ve never had an easy answer when people ask me what is wrong with my daughter. There are no ribbons or awareness months for families whose kids have life-altering issues but no concrete diagnosis.”

A horrible childhood. A daring escape from Ukraine. And now a forever family. 

10 things no one tells you about adoption home studies. “The good news is that going through an adoption home study isn’t difficult. It’s time consuming and can be mentally exhausting, but I found some of the other paperwork tasks, like getting our city’s fire inspector to come to our home, much more difficult. For a home study, you’ll likely clean your house pretty well and then sit around answering a whole lot of questions for several hours.”

How to host a welcome party for adopted babies. (Pass this one along to family and friends, so they get the hint! 😉

6 easy ways for adoptive parents to create attachment with their children.

Secondary trauma: how your child’s special needs may be affecting you.

Children who need foster homes are hiding in plain sight. “Do you pay attention to the news? Not the big national stuff, but the local news? You know, the store that opened downtown, the food drive happening at the elementary school, the local arrests for drugs or domestic violence? That news? Well, that is where the need for foster parents is hiding. It’s not broadcast or announced, it can’t be, but if you ask yourself one simple question you’ll start to see it. What if there were kids involved?”

Alleviating the Anxiety of Adoption

The adoption process is not without its emotional ups and downs. Where it’s making the decision to adopt, preparing for a home study, getting matched with a birth mother, waiting for the baby to be born, or signing the final papers…there are so many unknowns up in the air. And no matter how beautiful and perfect the final product is, it doesn’t mean there won’t be some anxiety along the way. It’s okay. It’s entirely normal. And you’re not alone.

What we want to do is provide a few strategies to help alleviate the anxiety, and to remind you that you are still a person with needs that deserve to be met. Self-care is going to be a huge part of your adoption process—one you should prioritize.

So how do you find relief during adoption’s more stressful moments?

Take comfort in community. Community is everything, and it is vital to happiness, security, peace, and purpose. There may be times where you feel lonely or need a distraction, and that’s when your support system is key. When you’re feeling that constricting, closed-in feeling stress induces, reach out to your loved ones and immerse yourself in people with whom you connect. No one expects you to do this alone.

Do something everyday that feeds YOU. During the adoption process you will be thinking about a million other people. Your birth mother, your new child, the adoption agency, all the people who want to know how your process is going and how you’re doing. Where are you in that equation? When we’re stressed and busy, the person whose needs we most neglect are our own. That’s no way to live. Get some exercise, eat something delicious, indulge in a favorite activity. Everyday choose something that serves you, relaxes and resets your mind and body, and nourishes and takes care of your individual needs.

Engage in stress-relieving activities. Get a massage. Put yourself in situations where you laugh. Eat whole foods. Take a walk in the sunshine. Breathe deeply. Move your body. Meditate. Make a weekly date with a friend. Spice up date night with your spouse. Acknowledge your stress, and then nurture it by purposely engaging in things that promote rest and relaxation.

Taking care of yourself is an essential key to successful parenthood, and that starts today. You deserve it.

Link Roundup

Hi friends — happy Friday!

We’re on the cusp of spring, which is always an invigorating time. Get outside this weekend, move your legs, breathe in some fresh air, and look forward for what’s to come.

And when you have a minute to relax, here are our favorite reads of the week.

Enjoy, and we’ll see you Monday!

This amazing couple just can’t stop adding kids to their family.

Three reasons not to villify a child’s birth mother. “More often than not, the conclusions people draw about our children’s birth parents are far from funny. They are not flattering and they are often teetering on the line of curious and rude. Unlike momma jokes, the exaggerated insults are assumed to be true. Maybe you are wondering if your comment about a child’s birth mother is inappropriate. A good rule of thumb is to return to the middle school way of thinking: You can tease someone about their clothes, you can raz someone about their grades, but do NOT make fun of someone’s Momma!”

What PTSD teaches us about human frailty and resilience. “I don’t define resilience as the absence of PTSD; I just don’t. I think that people can have PTSD and be extraordinarily resilient. I also think that just because you don’t have PTSD doesn’t mean you’re unscathed or unaffected. I think our experiences change us. Little experiences also change us, maybe a little, and big experiences change us a lot. The question is, can we get to a place where we take our traumatic experiences that have changed us and somehow recalibrate or readapt to our new life with our transformed self.”

Photo via New York Times.

Grandparents represent a bigger chunk of our population than ever before.

Two sisters present their stepmom with adoption papers for her birthday…get ready for tears!

These Colorado parents adopted four siblings who matched in age with their four biological children!

Hundreds of couples were devastated after this adoption agency’s sudden collapse. The piece also shares some interesting reporting on the current state of adoption.

Very touched by Joanna Goddard’s honest post about motherhood on her blog. She opened up about the way social media often misleads us into thinking everyone else’s lives are perfect, when ours feel like never enough—acknowledging that her own social media accounts project that very reality.”Social media doesn’t show everything,” she admits. She shared that she and her husband have been enduring a difficult situation as parents, but that right now, it’s “not my story to tell.”

What Does Autism Look Like?

April is National Autism Awareness Month, and although diagnoses for this disease have skyrocketed in the last 20 years (1500%, in fact), there are still so many stigmas surrounding this disease, what it looks like, and what it means for the children and families who’ve been handed this diagnosis. Today, we’ve compiled a handful of stories that show the diverse sides of autism. Awareness is key to compassion, and the more knowledge we can spread about what autism is and what it means, the more we open our world to acceptance and kindness for others whose worldview is perhaps a little bit different than ours.

To start, 9 things you should never say to the parents of an autistic child. “But they look so normal!” being at the very top of that list. “Not saying anything is the worst of them all. Parenting a child with special needs can be very isolating. Don’t ignore their children or pretend they don’t have any when you talk to parents. They’d rather you say any of the well-meaning (but off-putting) statements above than just avoid us altogether.”

What is it like to learn, as an adult woman, that you have autism?

Julia, Sesame Street’s newest Muppet, has autism.

Sesame Street has welcomed their newest Muppet, Julia, who is autistic and has so much to share.

Did autism help drive human evolution?

10 things every child with autism wishes you knew.  “I find some noises, smells, tastes or lights stressful, frightening or even physically painful. Touch can overwhelm me and I might not like hugs. But I can experience details that you might miss – that I can enjoy and find funny or exciting – so come and share these things with me.”

Parents of autistic children face major challenges when they go outside as a family. This illuminating piece shares the perspective of a mother of autistic twins, what it’s like to take them out and about, and the ways others out in public can help most.

We’ll be sharing more articles about autism on our Facebook page — follow us for more news about National Autism Awareness Month, as well as adoption-related features, articles, and blog posts!

Link Roundup

Happy Sunday!

How was your week? How has your weekend been? Good, we hope.

We’re dropping by to share some of our favorite reads of the week. Enjoy!

How paid parental leave changed in 2016.

10 great ways adoptive parents can bond with their child.

Child bullying statistics are alarming. Young children have more access to the internet, and mobile technology, than ever, and there’s no question that it has only expanded opportunities for bullying. This vital piece lays out crucial statistics about bullying, including what to look for, and where and how bullying occurs.

The New York Times gave six families 360-degree video cameras so they could capture family trips through the eyes of a child. The children ranged from ages 3-15. It’s a brilliant exercise in showing how young minds relate to certain experiences, as well as how to craft a vacation that best resonates with their perspective and sensibilities.

501 children have gone missing in D.C. since the beginning of the year. That is a staggering number, and it’s leading some to question whether or not a child trafficking ring has anything to do with it. These statistics from Ark of Hope for Children help to illuminate the world of child trafficking, what these children are exposed to, and just how many this terror affects.

Study says: open adoptions are now the norm...

…but that doesn’t mean that they all have to look alike. This article brings dimension to the open adoption spectrum.

Being an older mom delivers some pretty excellent advantages.

This Georgia adoption bill was killed after Senators proposed an anti-LGBT amendment be added.

A photographer highlights his own adoption in a moving new exhibit.

Photo credits: Richard Ansett

Why You Shouldn’t Make Assumptions About Someone’s Adoption Journey

There’s a reason so many articles exist about what NOT to say to adoptive parents waiting to adopt a child. And that’s because so many people, many of whom have never even been in the position of considering adoption, bring judgment into their conversations with adoptive parents. Or at the very least, pre-conceived notions of why they’re adopting and how the whole thing should go.

We don’t always know why someone is led to adoption. It could be a choice influenced by no trauma at all. Or, an individual or couple could make this decision due to a series of particularly challenging experiences. Presumptions that every aspect of the topic is up for discussion can be hurtful, and ultimately feel not very supportive.

So you have a friend or family member who has announced they’re going to begin the adoption process. You have a lot of questions. You love them, you’re invested in their lives, and you don’t want to alienate them. How do you proceed?

Well, first of all, you let them lead. How willing do they seem to be to talk about their adoption process? Are they leading with openness and lots of information, or are they a bit more introverted and contained? If they seem open, ask them, “Do you mind if I ask a few questions?” If you’re getting the sense that they’re not as comfortable divulging all the details right now, offer your support and don’t push the issue.

It’s okay to ask questions, but it’s not okay to ask them in ways that are judgmental or assume a right or wrong answer. Open with your own ignorance. Let them know you don’t know much about the topic, but you’re excited to learn more about what adoption is and how the process works. It’s not that adoptive parents don’t want to answer questions, it’s that they don’t want to answer questions that judge them for the decisions they’re making within the process. Asking them why they decided to go with domestic versus international adoption is much better than asking, “So why didn’t you adopt from this country?” Focus in on how they’re feeling, what’s exciting to them, what is scary about the process, where they could use support. There’s a difference between digging for information and being genuinely curious, compassionate, and open. We suggest the latter.

If you’re really curious about adoption and how it works, do some research! There are so many wonderful resources out there, and it shows the adoptive parents in your life how open you are to their experience, as well as your willingness to learn more about how the process works.

Be open. Ask questions compassionately. Reserve judgment. Enter into conversations without any assumptions. Your relationship with the adoptive parents in your life (and their new little one!) will be better for it.