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Transparency in the Adoption Conversation

It’s widely accepted that it’s better to be transparent with your children about their adoption then to hide it and spring it on them later in life. Sometimes it means answering hard questions or negotiating fears, but studies have shown across the board that it’s better for the children and the family as a whole. Your child deserves to understand and communicate about their adoption process, why you chose adoption, and what their adoption means to them. Here are some tips for keeping things as positive and uplifting as possible. 

Be age-appropriate. As your child develops, you’ll want to evolve your approach to your adoption discussions. The depth and detail may change over the years. Honesty is essential, no matter how uncomfortable the topic or the conversation. Withholding vital details or information could have an effect later on, and create feelings of distrust. Your child’s adoption story is an important part of their identity, and it will grow and change as they do. 

Remind your child that adoption is a forever conversation. If you’re wondering what the timeline is for talking to your child about adoption and their own personal journey, the answer is forever. It will always be a part of their lives—as your child develops and grows, so will their mind and sense of curiosity. The adoption journey is a lifetime journey. 

Communicate with your adoption specialist. It’s always a great idea to check in with your adoption specialist prior to having a conversation with your child. Having someone to talk through the conversation with may help you feel more comfortable. You can’t anticipate what kinds of questions your child may have regarding adoption—some will surprise you!— but you can prepare yourself as much as possible so you’re not completely caught off guard.

Your child will not be the only individual in your life with whom you want to talk about adoption. These tips can be deployed when having a conversation with anyone about your adoption journey. It is up to you on how much detail you would like to share, but the more you lean into these types of conversations, the more natural and connected they’ll feel. You care, and that’s what matters. That will speak volumes. 

 

Image via adoption.org

Have A Cozy Weekend

 

Hello! Happy Weekend 🙂

What are you up to this weekend? We’re huddled inside, away from the chill, looking forward to reconnecting with dear friends and family. And, we’re reading!

Take care of yourself this weekend, and enjoy some of our favorite pieces from around the web this week.

This week on the blog: parenting a child with trauma is difficult, but there are ways to make it easier.  

Do you find yourself in a power struggle when you parent in front of your in-laws? 

Any parent of an autistic child knows that the experience contains much happiness and joy

Attention, Generation Z parents! 

West Virginia families are stepping up to alleviate the foster care crisis. 

Does your “best parenting” suck? This mom talks about why we need to stop judging other parents. 

Companies are starting to recognize the financial realities of adoption and foster care, and how that affects families. Some are even changing their policies because of it. 

The Governor of Georgia is ready to overhaul the foster care system. 

Are you struggling with boundaries as a work-from-home parent? 

A stunning and heartrending piece from Cup of Jo: “A Day in the Life: My Child Has Cancer.”

 

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Taking a Therapeutic Approach to Parenting

When you adopt an older child, or a child who has traveled through the foster care system, there may be certain behaviors and tendencies you will have to navigate together. It is common for children who have been in these situations to have conditioned responses to stress or trauma; defense mechanisms born from years of experience. Parents in these situations may find themselves overwhelmed, resentful, or totally lost. Take a step back and take some time to learn about and absorb the environment(s) your child came from. In learning about your child’s past you can better understand their present and future. 

If you have adopted a child coming from foster care, it’s important to educate yourself on the types of trauma they may have experienced, as this will be a catalyst for certain behaviors. Your child may have been removed from a situation where there was abuse, addiction, neglect, or mental health issues; they may show similar behaviors to what they have witnessed in the past. If your child was neglected, they may appear angry or distrustful of other adults. Taking a compassionate approach will help you go much further in connecting with your child, and showing them that you are a safe space.

Here are some other ways of practicing therapeutic parenting:

  • Use of positive and gratifying rewards for positive behaviors
  • Maintaining a calm and even facial expression and voice tone in times of conflict or disagreement
  • Implementing structure and boundaries, and adhering to them
  • Follow through and consistency—the more consistent you are, the better

Build structure into your day. Children that come from chaos often crave a structured environment. This does not mean you have to set rigid schedules; it just means you should focus on being consistent in your parenting.  Maintain a daily schedule, and be extremely communicative if that is going to change. Sometimes a sudden change in schedule or routine can throw a child into a tailspin. By maintaining a routine, you are harboring a therapeutic and safe environment where there are no surprises for a child. Building trust takes a while, so do not be discouraged if all issues are not resolved immediately. Let them adjust to the daily routine and take it day by day from there.

It’s impossible to unravel a lifetime of trauma in a short time span. Patience is key. Set the example and demonstrate the same behaviors you would expect from your child. In addition to a positive parenting approach and a structured environment, find professionals in your area to help your child work through their trauma and be a support system. The stronger your community the better, for you and your child.  

For more information on parenting a child with a traumatic past, visit the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s behavior portal. 

Have A Lovely Weekend

Happy weekend! If it’s snowy where you are, hopefully, you’re snuggled up and cozy. Enjoy your days off, and some of our favorite reads of the week. 


Ready to build your adoption profile? This week we offered some tips on our blog. 

Are two-parent homes really the key to success

Do you dread the morning fight to get your child dressed? You’re not alone. 

Tori Brasher’s childhood led her to adopt three special needs siblings under the age of 5. 

Feeding a family isn’t easy. Keeping it healthy adds an extra layer of challenge.  

WGN talks about how to effectively parent a child with ADHD. 

Don’t overlook the middle child! 

The Wisconsin Assembly has approved legislation to speed the adoption process, leaving fewer children in limbo. 

Can the foster care system be fixed? 

The Mills adopted a young girl with spina bifida. Three years later, they did it again. 

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Have You Thought About Your Adoption Profile?

Starting your adoption experience is the beginning of a big, emotional journey. It’s no small effort, but it yields incredible rewards. The first step to beginning your adoption story is creating your adoption profile. Your adoption profile is your introduction to a prospective birth family—it’s your first impression on someone who wants to share their life with you. There are thousands of people looking to adopt, so you want to put careful thought into your adoption profile so you ensure you’re truly saying what you want to say. Don’t know where to start? That’s what we’re here for! 

Be authentic. This is your life. Showcase your true self! Use this opportunity to share your beliefs, hobbies, and lifestyle. Invite your immediate family to join in as a way to highlight your support system. An adoption profile is an excellent opportunity to let a birth family or mother get to know you. They are making a life-changing decision about who they want their child to spend their life with, and they want to ensure that the family they choose shares their hopes, dreams, and vision for their child. 

Curate your adoption profile photos. Pictures of you, your family, and/or your spouse are incredibly important. These photos highlight your daily life and give birth families a visual perspective on who they are trusting with their child’s life. Expectant mothers and families want to be able to envision their child with a family—if you have biological or previously adopted children, include them! Select photos that show vacations, hobbies, activities, and holidays so a prospective birth family has a special “inside” look to your traditions and daily life. Some families include photos dating back generations, or engagement and wedding photos to show the big moments in their life.  

Keep it simple, but professional. There is a lot of information that you’ll want to share with a potential birth family, but don’t go overboard. An adoption profile will not be made overnight and it’s important to curate it with the most important and special moments that highlight you as a family. There are lots of companies and software programs that can help you build an adoption profile or book. Companies like Shutterfly and Presto Photo and more can help you create a book or photo story that perfectly encapsulates you as a family. 

Don’t stress! An adoption profile is a beautiful way of describing yourself in an authentic and honest way. Do your research and find a way to present yourself that perfectly represents you

 

Have A Happy Weekend

 

Happy Weekend, friends! We hope you’re enjoying the quiet calm of January after the storm that is December. Relax and enjoy some of our favorite adoption and parenting reads of the week. 

This week on the blog, we talk about how time-outs are totally out of style

This couple took matters into their own hands in order to provide foster care resources to their community.  

This mom found that foster care drove her to create purpose in people’s lives.

When Parenting Kids Of Color, You’re Always Worried That You’re Not Doing Enough” — intimate and powerful thoughts from a parent of children of color.

News from the royal family has swept the nation and brought up a lot of discussion about what it means to forge one’s own path. 

When you’re parenting for a giant family, keep it simple.

Do detention centers help foster children? Most people say no.

Youth Villages are setting up all over the country.  

40 hilarious tweets about the lies parents tell their kids!

How snowplow parenting can harm your children.

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Is Putting Our Kids in Time-Out Really Effective?

Most parents have been there: locked in a power struggle with their child. Whether the disagreement is over homework or screen time, it’s likely to escalate to some type of punishment. Some experts have been reconsidering whether or not “time-out” is the right solution, or if parents are missing out on other tactics that could help dissolve certain disagreements before they get explosive. 

As reported in a fascinating article from Parents.com, Dr. Burt Banks, a professor of medicine at East Tennessee State University, was finding himself nagging his children more just occasionally. The nagging would turn into screaming fights, which led to time-out. Emotions were running high, and Dr. Banks determined his discipline methods weren’t working. It begged him to ask the question, “what exactly is time-out?”

Time-out is, literally, a pause in the caregiver’s attention. Why? Acting out is an attention-seeking behavior. The more adults or peers give in, or, give their attention, the more the child is perhaps encouraged to continue. Dr. Banks discovered that once he took his own time-out from interacting, his child was able to calm himself down. He discovered that his presence and interaction was only aggravating the situation, not alleviating it. Practicing time-out means also practicing “time-in,” or, positive reinforcement. Encourage and acknowledge good, kind, and respectful behavior in your children, and observe how that reinforcement shifts your child’s behavior.

Giving a child a break means that you are giving them a break from a situation that has become overwhelming for them, and may result in inappropriate behavior. Using techniques such as designating a special chair, or setting a loud timer, are tactics designed to humiliate, not improve. If a child is feeling your attention and focus, which they will if put in a special chair only designated for punishment, there is less of an incentive to change their behavior. In Dr. Banks’s alternate form of time-out, nothing has to change about the physical environment; it just means interactions between a caregiver and child are put on pause for a brief period. The power of ignoring a behavior can have a profound impact. It says that you simply will not acknowledge this behavior and until it stops, so will interaction. 

To help reinforce this new approach to time-out, stay consistent. Repetitive behavior is an excellent way to instill positive values in your child. Will bad behaviors completely cease? No, that’s not realistic. But by practicing positive avoidance (when necessary) you can actively work to avoid more dramatic, painful blowouts. 

 

Have A Lovely Weekend

Happy Weekend! We hope you’re getting back on track after the hustle and bustle of the holidays. It takes a second to get the trains back in motion, but here’s to ringing in a fabulous new year. Celebrate with some of our favorite reads of the week.

This week on the blog, we talk about teaching our children to be resilient

Is a system designed to keep children safe actually doing them harm? 

Even parenting experts can struggle with parenting. 

Now, more than ever, we need to be addressing substance abuse with our youth. 

Adoptions in Texas have soared past 6000 youth! 

The Brothertons adopted seven children—they knew traditional parenting wasn’t going to work. 

With gun violence and drug abuse leading the news, this San Francisco organization is aiming to save lives

Each child welfare system faces their own complex challenges—New Mexico is no different. 

We will always talk about the importance of building your adoption support system. We love this state-by-state guide. 

People are unpredictable. We appreciate these thoughts on navigating uncomfortable or awkward special needs or adoption questions. 

2020 Parenting Resolution: Teaching Resiliency

It’s a new year, and that means new goals. When the beginning of the year rolls around, we spend time considering, “how do we want our children to grow this year?” For 2020, we’re thinking a lot about resiliency. 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 be confident in their identity 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 responsibility, they will experience the consequences of that.

Embrace failure. No life is a 100% success story. It’s in our failures that we learn our greatest lessons. Don’t keep your child from failure. 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, 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, and 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.

Reads For A Holiday Weekend

It’s that point in the holiday season where time has no meaning, and Saturdays feel like Mondays, and Mondays feel like Fridays. So wherever you’re at in your holiday schedule, here are some reads to sit back with and enjoy.

We hope you had a blessed Christmas, and are looking forward to a glorious and abundant 2020!

This week on the blog, we shared some shopping tips for welcoming a new family member home on short notice.  

These adoptees from South Korea return to their home country to trace their roots

DePaul Community Resources in Virginia hit an adoption milestone with 31 adoptions this month. 

A DNA test led Diane Standish to an entire new family

Joe O’Connell, a one-time foster child, has dedicated his life to helping other children in the system. 

These parents weren’t looking to adopt, but the foster system called their name

Cup of Jo shares their readers’ favorite children’s books

How do you prepare your furry family members for a new addition? 

Do you have a teen who seems aimless? Here are some tips to motivate them. 

Tips for soothing an anxious child

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