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Protecting Your Child’s Safety on Social Media

Summer is officially here, and that means your children have more time than ever to spend on their computers, iPhones, iPads and the million other devices kids have access to today. No other generation has had as much private access to strangers and outside information as today’s youth, and the reality of those risks are something that we as parents need to be attentive to. Here are some tips for keeping your children safe on social media.

1. Know their passwords. Kids are on-the-go and able to use a variety of social media programs in an instant, and you should be able to check in and see what they’re looking at and who they’re talking to. Studies have shown that nearly half of kids under 17 who have cell phones have sent or posted a sexually suggestive image, and that’s not a statistic to be taken lightly. They’re sure to see this as a scoff-worthy invasion of privacy, but this should be a non-negotiable—especially if you’re paying for their bill.

2. Set an age limit. Just like with movies and explicit music, social media should come with an age limit. And it should be the same for every child in the house. It gives them something to look forward to and they can’t claim unfairness against their other siblings.

3. Talk about it. It’s safe to say that most kids have no idea what sorts of predators are lurking on the internet, or what it means to give out personal information to people they don’t know. Or even how searchable they now are to future employers. It’s so important that you sit down and have a talk with your children about the dangers of social media before they begin using it. They need to fully understand the risks involved, and what it means to have so much information so public–including the long-term consequences of posting certain content.

4. Understand the programs. You can’t talk about risks with your children unless you understand the programs they’re using. That doesn’t mean you need to establish an epic Twitter feed, but you should be familiar with the programs you’re children are using so that you can be aware of, and educate them about, the risks involved.

5. Keep their profiles private. This makes them less searchable, providing a stronger boundary against predators, and also helps to ensure that their virtual friends are also their real-life friends. The more people your children are friends with that they don’t know, the more dangerous their social media involvement becomes.

Do you have any special rules about social media in your home? We’d love to hear what works for you! Share with our community on our Facebook page, or tweet us @onetruegift.

Adoption and Parenting Reads of the Week

Hello friends!

It’s almost the 4th, summer is in full-swing, and it feels good to bask in the sunshine. Here are some of our favorite adoption and parenting reads for you to enjoy this weekend. They’ve kept us engaged all week!

Adoption, a binary issue. “I’ve been a member of an Adoption Panel and read life histories of parents whose children were removed for adoption. As a student Social Worker I worked in statutory and non-statutory settings with families whose children were in the care system. What I saw was very rarely clear cut and often was hallmarked by repeated history, often vulnerable parents in very difficult circumstances frequently characterised by substance misuse, mental ill health, learning disability and abuse. I realised that the family court system is at its heart combative and social care seeks to remove any doubt about the capacity of birth parents to parent. In doing so it paints a picture that may not be fair.”

Can we stop questioning whether or not adoptive parents are real?

Could your child be the school bully?

Love this super comprehensive and detailed adoption glossary!

A recent Today’s Parent investigation shows that many people are irked by parents who over-share on social media…what do you think, do you want to see someone else’s kid’s poop on your Facebook feed?

Why you shouldn’t feel guilty for taking care of yourself as a parent.

18 excellent things to say to someone who is adopting.

How to create your adoption hospital plan.

 

Take care, and we’ll see you Monday!

 

Gift Ideas For Expecting Adoptive Parents

If you have an expecting adoptive parent in your life, it’s likely that you want to do something special for them. (Conversely, if you’re an expecting adoptive parent, feel free to pass this list along to your loved ones!) Here are some of our favorite gifts, for showing new adoptive parents that you’re thinking of them and want to support their new life in any way you can.

Free childcare! Or pet-sitting! Or home-watching! Whether they’ve received the call and have to jet off to another state, or are new parents desperately in need of a date night, a “gift certificate” for free childcare, pet-sitting, or home-watching in those final stages of preparing for their adoption will mean the world. Adoptive parents have to give so much of their process up to chance, especially when they’re waiting for their baby to arrive. To have someone in place to care of things at home is a huge lifesaver.

A photo session as a new family. If you’re a photographer or know a photographer, this is a such a thoughtful gift, but you can also easily purchase a photo session at a local photography studio. Photos are a wonderful way to give the new parent(s) something that will last a lifetime, immortalizing those special moments with their new little one.

Offer to capture their first moments home as a new family. This doesn’t need to be anything professional, this is more about being on-hand to snap candids of that special moment when they bring their new baby home. Not only does it give them an opportunity to have a photo as a family, capturing that giddy, of-the-moment, just-arrived home energy, but it’s also special to have someone there to greet them with their new little one!

A week’s worth of meals. Whether frozen and ready to defrost and heat up, or delivered fresh, the first week they’re home, they’re going to be exhausted and steeped in the chaos of being a new parent. Trust us, they will be eternally grateful to note have to think about how they’re going to feed themselves. As a bonus, consider food that’s nourishing and energizing: vegetables, whole grains, and of course, something sweet for dessert. It’s a wonderful way to take care of the new family while also giving them something they truly need.

A gift certificate to an online card design shop, like Minted. This is a great gift because it allows them to pick out and design a card or announcement for their new little one, complete with photos of themselves and a customized message. So easy!

Personal touches make all the difference, and your thoughtfulness will mean the world.

Adoption and Parenting Reads Of The Week

Hi there,

Welcome to summer! With the heat wave that swept the country this week, it feels like it’s finally here. A perfect time to cozy up with our favorite adoption and parenting reads of the week.

To those of you celebrating, we hope you have a wonderful Father’s Day weekend. Especially to you first-time fathers being honored in your new role! Much love, and we’ll see you next week.

We’re enchanted by the magic of Germany’s outdoor preschools.

How one parent learned a lesson in kindness from their children’s youth sport activities.

15 things Kristen Berry would change from her first year of foster care.

Child holds a drawn house with family

5 lessons for every parent, from an autism dad. We love, “you can’t give up on your child.”

Only 3% of foster care youth graduates from college. Here is one of her stories.

This 41 year-old adopted Korean is being deported after living in the US for 37 years. “Nobody knows how many international adoptees grow up undocumented due to negligence or clerical errors, but given the difficulties adopted children often have, many of them end up in trouble with the law, which can in turn lead to deportation to homelands they do not remember and cultures that are completely foreign to them.”

Your five year-old is already racially biased.

A new adoption work group in Kentucky plans to bring aggressive reforms to the state’s adoption process.

The Arizona Supreme Court has just issued a new ruling that limits the ability of Native American tribes to intercede in adoption cases.

 

Teaching Resiliency and Persistence To Our Kids

Today, resiliency is necessary on so many levels. The world is a tough place, and as parents, it’s our job to build kids who have the tools they need to survive it. Technology has certainly changed a lot, in that it puts everything at our fingertips. There’s not as much work involved in learning, researching, education, or even being a consumer, as there once was. Pair that with a world that feels increasingly volatile, and there’s a lot to be said for learning how to stand up for what you believe to be true, and as well as how to accomplish things on your own.

This is especially important for adopted children, particularly those who come from trauma-filled backgrounds, and need even more support in landing strongly on their feet. Helping our kids to be confident in their identities is a huge part of what makes them resilient, and it goes a long way towards building the confidence they need and deserve to be happy and successful as they grow older.

How can we help our children to become more resilient?

Teach them how to problem-solve. It can be easy to jump at your child’s every whim. Answering their questions, doing their homework, finishing a science project. We don’t mean that you should let them flail in a sea of uncertainty, but rather help guide them toward the right answer or solution, rather than solving the problem for them. Problem-solving is a big part of life, and the problems they’re going to have to solve are only going to grow in scale as they get older. Teaching them when they’re young that they have the power to navigate their problems is a valuable lesson that will only make them more resourceful, and adaptable to change, as they grow.

Hold them accountable for their actions and responsibilities. Kids know when they can take advantage of a system. We all do! And if they know there aren’t going to be consequences for their actions, they’re going to be more inclined to push boundaries. Hold true to the boundaries you set for them, by holding them accountable for the things they are responsible for. Whether it’s homework, chores, or telling the truth, keep them honest and ensure that if they do choose to shirk a responsibility, they will experience the consequences of that.

Embrace failure. No life is a 100% straight success story. And it is in our failures that we learn our greatest lessons. Don’t keep your child from failure. Conversely, teach them how to move through it when failure does arise. Help them see the lesson in the situation, and show them the valuable teaching moments our failures are. If they are led to believe that everything will always go their way, they’ll never understand what it means to be resilient in the face of uncertainty.

Curb your overprotective side. You can’t protect your child from everything, and nor should you expect to. Kids have to explore new situations on their own, feel them out, learn in real-time what’s right vs. what’s wrong, an experience freedom. If you’re there every minute, trying to save them, how will they learn how to navigate certain situations on their own? This can be very difficult for parents, but the benefits to the child are enormous.

Link Roundup

Happy Friday!

Hopefully the sun is shining wherever you are. We’ve recently been vacillating between rain and sun, and are happy to see it staying bright.

When you’re not relaxing outside this weekend, here are some of our favorite reads of the week. Enjoy!

Some great advice on how to create a successful adoption plan for your baby.

What is it like to grow up with foster siblings?

“The other talk parents avoid: pornography.” “But pretty much every expert thinks that it’s an essential conversation parents should have with their children. Whatever filters you install on phones, laptops and other technology, whatever limits you may set on how and when and where children use their devices, children still need open and ongoing conversations with their parents about the sexually explicit images and information they may encounter online.”

The Huffington Post has started a new podcast about infertility, and the first episode features a funny and honest couple in conversation with a fertility expert. We love this outlet for sharing poignant, real-life stories.

A beautiful story about two dads who became a family of six after adopting four little ones through the foster care system, all of whom came from abusive homes. Ellen’s surprise for them isn’t bad, either.

A new understanding of the childhood brain.

How do you get through to a child who doesn’t think logically?

Is anyone ever financially prepared to bring a child into this world?

Tips for Talking With Your Children About Racism

Whether or not you’ve adopted a child from another culture, racism is a challenging and necessary topic to address with children. If it’s not present in school, it’s in the news, in literature, on the television, walking the streets. And it’s sensitive to discuss. We advocate for giving children the tools and confidence to stand up for who they are—as well as to stand up for others who may need their support—and to understand that if they do encounter racist remarks, it’s because of ignorance, not truth.

Here are a few thoughts about how to get the conversation started.

Talk to your children about differences. Differences are wonderful! How boring would the world be if we all looked the same? If your child has questions about why people are different—why someone has white vs. brown skin, curly vs. straight hair—use that as a moment to teach rather than shush. We are a world composed of unique and varied cultures. The more we talk with our children about why people are so different, the more they understand what diversity is and how to discuss it with others.

Show your support. Let your child know that you’re there to talk if they encounter any sort of racism at school or out in the world. It’s a confusing, frustrating, intense, emotional experience to be bullied because of race, and while, unfortunately, you can’t stop your child from experiencing it, you can build a culture of communication at home so your child is comfortable expressing and sharing their feelings.

Educate. Becoming a transracial family may expose outside family members to race in a whole new way, and people get very awkward dancing around topics they don’t feel they have the right language for. Part of your role as a parent, is to stand up for your child and to educate the people in their life about what’s appropriate to say and what’s not. This doesn’t mean you have to lead with defensiveness, but if you hear someone in your family using racial stereotypes—positive or negative—cut it at the quick. Let them know that you don’t say things like that to your child, and why comments like that are damaging. Making assumptions about a child’s skills, talents or personality simply because of the color of their skin or cultural heritage is limiting and damaging.  Unless the comments are meant to be hurtful, you don’t have to lead with anger. Education is about spreading awareness, and calm discussion fuels a stronger, more compassionate dialogue.

Read them books that discuss race. The majority of children’s books are written and illustrated from a white perspective. But diversity in children’s literature is a topic gaining speed and awareness, and there are more books than ever representing different cultures, as well as teaching children how to understand and express the differences in those around them. Reading is a beautiful way to not only spend time with children, but to open them up to new worlds, experiences, and adventures.

Adoption News Roundup

Hello friends!

We hope this is the end of a wonderful week for you. It was a shorter one for many, and for those for whom Memorial Day brings painful memories, we kept you in our thoughts and hearts this week.

Here is a list of interesting reads we collected…to a wonderful weekend!

Are you a pregnant mother with an adoption plan? These negative thoughts may be running through your mind. Here’s why you should be lifting yourself up instead.

Adoption trauma therapists you need to know.

What one birth mother learned about openness after placing her baby for adoption.

Three simple words for waiting adoptive parents when they feel like quitting.

What do children these days call adults?

What happened if, after a divorce, the children got custody of the home…and the parents had to move in and out?

Myths about IVF, surrogacy, and adoption.

4 ways to partner with your child’s school over summer break.

 

Adoption Myths That Aren’t True

There are many myths about adoption that simply aren’t true. Spreading lies about adoption skews impressions of what adoption is and how it functions, as well as potentially damaging the expectations of adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoptees. We’re sharing a few with you today to help dispel the falsehoods and illuminate what’s really true.

Myth #1: Birth parents can show up at any time to take the child back.

Truth: While there is a period of time in each state, before the birth mother has signed off her rights, that she may rightfully and legally decide not to go through with the adoption, once those rights have been signed off and the adoption is finalized, no birth parent can come back to claim their child. The only exception to this is if the child was adopted illegally or under false pretenses — even then there is no true system or right to reclamation, but that would fall under a different legal jurisdiction.

Myth #2: Adoptions take forever to complete

Truth: While the general time span is 1-2 years, adoptions can happen in as quickly as one day or a couple months—it just depends on your situation.

Myth #3: Adopted children can’t be loved the same as biological children.

Truth: You ask any adoptive parent and see what they say about this.* Incredibly, deeply, profoundly false.

*Note: what is also not a myth is that it’s actually quite rude to ask this to an adoptive parent. If you are a prospective adoptive parent and this is something you fear, it’s one thing to express that fear to someone who has adopted so you can get their feedback. But straight-up asking an adoptive parent if the love they have for their child is the same as a biological parent’s is never okay.

Myth #4: Adopted children thrive best with heterosexual parents.

Truth: There is no study, no proof, and no evidence to suggest that adopted children do not thrive beautifully among a diverse array of family situations. In fact, a recent study suggests just the opposite: there is no emotional or physical difference between children of same-sex and heterosexual parents. Just as biological children grow up in myriad different types of homes, and turn out in all sorts of different and wonderful ways, adopted children thrive and exist in the same manner.

Myth #5: You can only adopt a child who is the same ethnicity as you.

Truth: This couldn’t be further from the truth! If you are willing to bring a child into your home and love them, and take care of them and make them your child for life, then there is no limit on who that child can be, where they come from, or how different — physically, ethnically or otherwise — they seemingly are from you. That is the beauty of adoption…every one has the opportunity to become part of the family they deserve. And there is no discrimination in that.

Link Roundup

Happy Friday everyone!

To the end of the week, and an even lovelier weekend.

Here are some recent reads that caught our eye and incited discussion around the office. Enjoy!

This piece, written by a biological mother whose daughter was adopted, shares what some many consider controversial views on the nature of positive adoption language, where it comes from, and whether or not it’s actually positive. A very important read. “Once we were natural mothers, defining our role as conceived by nature; the term, to us, indicated exactly who we were and how we fit into the scheme of our children’s lives. It also signaled we were not raising the child, because mothers are mothers, no modifiers necessary. But as adoption became big business in the Sixties and Seventies, the clients—those who pay the fees, and thus the keep agencies in business— conveyed their discomfort at what the word, to them, implied: that they were the unnatural parents. So articles about “preferred adoption language” were written, charts of good and bad language drawn up and circulated, and the new, less harsh lingo was soon common currency among social workers, adoptive parents, and the media. But what was cleansed out of the equation was that every adoption begins with someone else’s catastrophe.”

A list of excellent books for those interested in foster care or international adoption.

8 struggles familiar to those waiting to adopt.

Should we be saying “no” more to our children?

How one Sandy Hook mother found peace after unconscionable loss.

Why we need a new rating system for mothers.

5 ways to teach kids about consent. Love this one: “DON’T POUT. The feminist writer Jessica Valenti, author of Sex Object, recently told me this eye-opening tip: “It’s important to normalize a healthy reaction to the rejection of affection. So, if I ask my daughter for a kiss on the cheek and she says not right now, I smile and say, ‘Okay!’ I want her to know that the appropriate reaction to saying ‘no’ to physical affection is saying fine and moving on. Not a guilt trip, not anger, not sulking.” It was a lightbulb moment. Before, when Anton didn’t want to cuddle, I’d playfully pout and beg for kisses — now I respect his decision and move on.”

Have a lovely weekend!