How To Survive The First Few Years Of The Adoption Journey, by Mike Berry

adoption

You got into this because you were passionate about loving children. But you soon found out, the journey is more difficult than you anticipated. How do you survive the first year or 2 of the adoption journey?

It’s the early hours of a Monday morning when I open my laptop to check email. The glowing light of my screen is the only light in my quiet house. The sun hasn’t even begun its ascent over the treeline in our backyard.

After a long weekend, and mostly ignoring email or social media for a few days, I’ve got tons of new mail. I give my inbox a quick scan, selecting a multitude of Spam messages to feed my hungry Trash folder. There at the bottom of New Messages I spot it. A personal email with a Subject that says it all- “I need help!”

Her storyline is one I’ve heard a million times over the past 15 years of personally traveling the adoption journey:

…We decided to adopt.
…And got really, really excited.
…Filled out all of the paperwork.
…Chose foster-to-adopt to save money.
…Jumped in with a full heart.
…Brought home a beautiful baby girl…a sibling group.
…Realized pretty quickly how hard this journey is.
…At the end of my rope. Questioning my choice. Need help!

I get it. I really do. We were just 2 years into our journey when everything started to fall apart on us. We were head over heels in love with our children, but there were many things we weren’t prepared for, didn’t know, or didn’t do when we first began. Our hearts were full, but we quickly became tired. We too needed help.

The journey can be long, uphill, and filled with ups and downs that feel like a punch in the gut. I would love to tell you that all you need to do is focus on loving your child and everything will work out. But, that’s just not reality…for the adoption journey….or the parenting journey in general. You will never be fully prepared, but there are some key steps we’ve learned to help make the first few years of the adoption journey less stressful and more meaningful…

  1. Seek Community. You and I were never meant to travel this road alone. The adoption journey is beautiful, amazing, and adventurous. But it can also become extremely difficult. Most of the world won’t understand the unique trials and tribulations we go through. We need others around us who understand, are in the same trench as us, will never judge us regardless of the situation, and help us grow. When everything falls apart, your child is out of control, or you’re dealing with a foster care system that yanks you around like a bullwhip, a strong support community can get you through it.
  2. Grow in your knowledge of trauma and attachment. Your child has come from trauma, even if they were adopted privately and their birth mother took care of herself. There’s still deep loss. The person who carried them in her womb for 9 months is now gone. But imagine how deeper this loss is when your child has come from the foster care system or an orphanage in another country. This trauma can play out in their behavior, poor choices, refusal to attach themselves to you in a healthy manner, or more. If we could go back, 15 years in the past, and learn one thing, it would be how to parent children from traumatic places. Trauma-informed care and knowledge of attachment issues can be a game-changer in relating to your child, and helping them form healthy bonds with your family.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://confessionsofanadoptiveparent.com/how-to-survive-the-first-few-years-of-the-adoption-journey/?mc_cid=6edbdcd537&mc_eid=169008643f

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Wireless Motherhood: When Social Media is the New Village, by Isa Down

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Hey, mamas, anyone else awake? I’m having a really tough time tonight with anxiety, and have no one to talk to.

I wrote that when my son was five-weeks-old. It was 3 a.m. He was sleeping soundly on my chest, and I remember wondering why I couldn’t just enjoy this moment with him. It was so quiet, even the crickets had stopped their incessant chirping. My son’s breaths whispered across my skin with each exhale: it was a completely pristine moment.

Yet there I sat, anxious and alone. There were so many unknowns, and in the middle of the night, as a new single mom, I had no one to talk to. Within moments, women from around the world were commenting that they were thinking of me, sending positive thoughts, hoping everything was okay, there to talk if I needed. They were awake too, facing their own struggles.

In those early weeks and months, I remember feeling more than once that social media was my lifeline. The harsh glare off my phone was a beacon of hope, there in the dark with my son cradled against me.

Anxiety is just one of several perinatal mood disorders (PMD) commonly experienced by women during and after pregnancy. Postpartum depression is the most renowned, but PMDs also include psychosis, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive tendencies, to name a few. An estimated 1 in 7 women experience postpartum depression alone.

Despite their prevalence, women who experience these disorders can feel incredibly isolated. Depression, insomnia, and panic attacks do not fit the socially constructed mold of blissed-out new motherhood. This sets the stage for mothers to be riddled with guilt and shame for not being able to connect, or sleep, or leave the house. There were so many moments when I sat with friends, smiling and nodding, all the while wanting desperately to say: “I am so overwhelmed. I need help.” It’s hard to show the rawness of motherhood, because it still feels so taboo.

Perinatal mood disorders have been the dirty little secret of motherhood for far too long. It’s becoming easier to talk about, as celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Drew Barrymore, and Kristen Bell come forward and share their experiences. Actress Hayden Panettiere’spersonal struggle was even mirrored in her character’s storyline on the TV show “Nashville” last year.

And that does help. Yet hearing that these seemingly perfect women have also struggled doesn’t necessarily make a mama feel less alienated as she watches the hours tick by in the night, alone and anxious. This is true largely because our society is highly autonomous. We prize individual triumph and the ability to succeed on your own above a group mentality. This mindset has its benefits, but also tends to alienate new mothers. In fact, this has become such a big issue that psychologists have wondered if postpartum depression is a misnomer, and should instead be called postpartum neglect.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

parent.co/wireless-motherhood-when-social-media-is-the-new-village/

7 Things That “Good Mothers” Do That I’m Not Going to Do Anymore – by Leigh Anderson

A refreshing article encouraging us to do our best as parents… but also be realistic 🙂

Kindness Blog

child in bath wallpaper1. Bathe the kids every day.

Children, unless they’ve been rolling in the mud,do not need a bath every day. In the summer I rinse off sand, sweat and sunscreen pretty much daily, but in the winter it just makes their skin dry and rashy. Twice-a-week baths are fine and save me the soggy wrestling match that is washing a screaming toddler and preschooler.

2. Do an elaborate bedtime routine.

Literally everyone told us we needed to do a bedtime routine. Bath, infant massage, dim lights while nursing—this was bad enough and clocked in at about an hour. Now, with our 4-year-old, more rituals have crept in, like:

  1. sing a song;
  2. read three books;
  3. listen to Freight Train Boogie;
  4. dance;
  5. play a game he and daddy made up, called “crashies,” in which I always get injured;
  6. a good-night “wrestle” with his brother;
  7. tooth-brushing;
  8. a game called “burrito” in…

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Avoiding the Bumps in the Road: Essential Tools and Tips for Parenting Children with Health Issues, by Lisa C. Greene

bumps-ahead FY

Reblogged from: http://blog.pcwhi.com/avoiding-bumps-road-essential-tools-tips-parenting-children-health-issues/

Parenting isn’t for the faint-hearted! Raising kids throughout their developmental stages is tricky enough; parents of kids with health issues have to face additional challenges along the way. When we know where the bumps and potholes are, it becomes a lot easier to avoid them! So let’s take a look at some of the challenges parents face when raising kids with medical issues. As you navigate family life with a child with health issues, keep these tips in mind. They are in no particular order.

images (2)Treat your child with medical issues the same as your other children.Medical advances are progressing rapidly. People with a wide variety of health issues are living longer, happy, rewarding, productive lives. Don’t let discouraging statistics today cause you to lower your expectations for your child’s tomorrow. Set high (but reasonable) expectations for schoolwork, chores, sports, extracurricular activities and good behavior.

Model good problem solving, conflict resolution and coping skills. Children learn to cope with hard times by watching and learning from their parents. Parents who cope well, manage their frustration, communicate in healthy ways and express optimism are far more likely to raise kids who are confident, responsible, resilient, and hopeful.

Take good care of yourself. Not only is this important to avoid burnout but again, it sets the model for the children. This means that parents must take the time for date nights and self-care. This also means that parents do not tolerate disrespect from the children (or from each other). They set healthy boundaries around the many demands that come with raising a child with special healthcare needs. Learning to say “No” to requests for our time and energy is an important skill to use and model.

Learn effective parenting skills. It is crucial that parents and caregivers have good, effective parenting skills to rely on. There is no substitute for knowing how to defuse an argument, setting limits without causing power struggles, sharing control in appropriate ways, engaging in mutual problem solving and properly communicating about difficult issues. Nagging, yelling, bribing, threatening, lecturing, and punishing are not effective, especially where medical care issues are concerned.

Do your best not to show frustration. Of course you will feel frustrated over and over again on your “parenting journey.” And that’s just fine! We’re all human. The trouble starts when we show it with anger, threats, warnings, and nagging. Charles Fay, author of Love and Logic says, “Anger and frustration fuel misbehavior.” So learn how to respond appropriately in frustrating moments. Everyone will be happier and more relaxed, especially you!

downloadMake sure your child has accurate, age-appropriate information about his or her medical condition. Give honest answers laced with hope when asked difficult questions. Your child will pick up on your emotions–both positive and negative–so be sure to get your own feelings of worry and fear under control before you discuss difficult issues with your child. If your child doesn’t ask questions about his or her condition, take the initiative to teach about it including the possible consequences of poor self-care, delivered gently and age-appropriately. At some point, your children will stumble across difficult information and it is best if they’ve heard it from you first: presented matter-of-factly, lovingly and optimistically.

Don’t make your child with special medical needs the focal point of the family. Your child is a partof the family, not the family. Don’t revolve completely around any one child. Make sure all family members are appreciated for their unique talents, gifts, needs, and contributions to the family.

Don’t overcompensate for feelings of guilt. Keep your home a “guilt free” zone. Some parents try to “make it all better” with overindulgence. This includes “too much”: too much attention, too much nurturing, too much freedom and too much stuff. This creates more problems in the long run when children who have gotten “too much” just can’t seem to ever get enough.

Do not overprotect your child. Don’t limit the activities of a well-functioning child with special medical needs out of fear or worry. Telling children or teens that they “can’t” do something because of their medical condition is likely to invite rebellion or depression down the road, especially if the forbidden activity is a popular one with their peers.  Allow your child to learn to set his or her own limits based on their unique abilities. Guide and empower your child; don’t stop them from living a full rich life to the best of their ability.

imagesTransition begins when your child is old enough to spit peas from the highchair! Transition is the process of preparing your child for independence in the real world. Many parents think that the teen years are the time to begin transition. Waiting until then can make transition difficult and stressful. Transition isn’t an event; turning 18 is. That’s when your child will move into the adult medical system and be expected to take full responsibility for his or her own care. However, your child needs to learn good health habits and personal responsibility much earlier. So start early! The earlier you start shifting the responsibility for good self-care in small, age-appropriate doses, the more prepared your child, and you, will be for the big event: the eighteenth birthday party!

Focus on thankfulness and the positive. Nurture a spirit of respect, cooperation and appreciation for each other and the blessings that are present in all of your lives. Make it a habit to count your family’s blessings together each day: jobs, a roof, food, good doctors and medications, advances in medical research, freedom, friends and family, compassion, love, faith, and hope.  Always focus on hope because:  “Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible. – Author unknown

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Lisa C. Greene, M.A., CFLE is a public speaker, parent educator and mother of two children with special medical needs. She is also the co-author with Foster Cline MD of the award-winning Love and Logic book “Parenting Children with Health Issues.” For more information, see www.pcwhi.com.

Teach Your Child not to Interrupt in One Simple Step By Kate in Canberra

Reblogged from the blog “An Everyday Story”.  View original here:
http://www.aneverydaystory.com/2014/07/07/how-to-teach-your-child-not-to-interrupt/

 How-to-Stop-Children-Interrupting-in-one-Simple-Step-An-Everyday-Story

See these two?

How to teach your child not to interrupt - An Everyday StoryBoy do they have a lot going on. Often times they are just BURSTING to tell me something and will come straight up to me and tell me what’s on their mind regardless of whether I am already talking to someone.

Well they used to.

That was before I saw this truly genius little technique used by a friend.

I was chatting with her one day when her (then 3-year-old) son wanted to say something. Instead of interrupting though, he simply placed his hand on her wrist and waited. My friend placed her hand over his to acknowledge him and we continued chatting.

After she had finished what she was saying, she turned to him. I was in awe! So simple. So gentle. So respectful of both the child and the adult. Her son only needed to wait a few seconds for my friend to finish her sentence. Then she gave him her complete attention.

My husband and I started implementing this straight away. We explained to Jack and Sarah that if they want to talk and someone is already speaking, they need to place their hand on our wrist and wait. It took some practice and a few light taps on our own wrists as gentle reminders but I am so happy to report that the interrupting has all but stopped!!

No more, ‘wait‘. No more, ‘Please don’t interrupt‘. Just a simple gesture; a little touch of the wrist. That’s all.

Give it a try. It works!

Editors’ Note:

Can’t wait to try this out with our kids!  🙂

“Just a Stay at Home Mum”: Mummy Duties and Mummy Care

Mother's Day FY

Here at the Forever Years our aims are twofold: 1) to elevate voices of child advocacy here in Aotearoa/ New Zealand and also around the world and 2) to encourage the hearts of parents, caregivers, grandparents and extended family/ whanau, teachers, health care workers, sports coaches, “buddies”, scout group leaders and anyone and everyone who interacts regularly with children through their work or personal life.  These two aims go hand in hand– the well-being of children is integrally connected with the well-being of those who care for them.  The saying “happy adults, happy kids” is, for the most part, true.

Sometimes parenting or any kind of interaction with children can be a grind.  No matter how much we love our kids the fact remains that, in caring for them, we have to do a lot of monotonous practical stuff over and over and over again.  And there’s the noise, which would try the patience of the most saintly of saints, plus the general mess and chaos.

The noise can be a killer!

The noise can be a killer!

Those of us who are “stay at home” parents (whatever that means, I feel more like a yo-yo, as I’m constantly between home and somewhere else for my kids) are also aware that society still doesn’t particularly value the role we have taken on.  I realise that’s quite a general, sweeping statement, and I do believe our role is valued far more now than ever before, but it’s still often perceived as “not working” and that you have lots of time on your hands, when quite the reverse is true.  I’ve been asked a number of times whether I’m “working” or “just a stay at home Mum” (I actually do some paid work from home, but I don’t feel I should have to justify not working outside the home by saying “yes, I do earn money”, as if there is no value to what a person does if there’s no financial remuneration).  In many cases the expression “just a stay at home Mum” is a turn of phrase and those who use it do not intend it to devalue the role, but the fact that it is still commonly used says a lot about the view society takes of those who choose to look after their children at home.   (I’ve heard some “stay at home Dads” say they have been judged even more harshly, as “living off their woman” and so on, so it seems to cut both ways).

About two years ago I overheard my second oldest son say, “My Mum doesn’t work.”  It’s interesting how this expression can evoke guilt or a sense of “am I doing the right thing?”.  I even found myself, at one stage, looking at working Mums and thinking, “they manage to work outside of home and bring in some money.  Where have my days been going?”  To cheer myself up and make sense of all this, I decided to write down everything I do (for the kids as well: I put a copy in each of their scrapbooks.  The scrapbooks are focused on them… interesting for them to have my perspective from time to time).  This is not to say that I’m commanding appreciation.  Writing the list gave me a new level of respect for what I am doing and why.  As Sarah Wilson (co-editor of this blog) says, we are “Directors of Domestic Affairs”.  Our role is a 24-7 one and while not easy, the rewards are more than worth it.

50s-wife-list-1 FY

Mum Doesn’t Work…

(Written for my kids, Monday 28th May 2012)

                 Today son number 2 asked me why I “don’t work”. I’m a stay at home Mum and I love it (and I also look after kids for Mums who do go out to work). What I do is hard work though and our family wouldn’t keep going without it. So, for the benefit of all you guys, so that you’re in no doubt that despite the fact that I’m in our home I do work, here is a list of what I do:

Putting rubbish out (daily and weekly) and putting rubbish into piles for recycling and cleaning round the main kitchen bin, which gets stinky and putting compostable stuff in the compost bin); Laundry (at least once, sometimes twice daily—can be up to 5x if on a day when I’m changing everyone’s bed sheets); Folding and putting away washed laundry; Fixing any clothes that need it; Making School and Kindy lunches (every week day); Taking kids to School, Kindy, Choir, Music, Swimming, Rugby, Birthday Parties (Minimum transporting 3x daily); Bathing kids and cleaning up flood-like aftermath in bathroom (Minimum 3x weekly); Cleaning pooey bottoms and general “accidents” and the aftermath, including wees round toilet, as boys seem to have poor aim (several times daily); Loading and unloading dishwasher, rinsing and scraping and putting away dishes (2x daily minimum); Organising presents for your friends’ birthdays; Organising presents for your birthdays and doing invitations and decorations for your birthdays; Organising all “traditions”, Easter, birthdays, Halloween, Christmas…; Feeding pet bunnies (daily); Cleaning out bunny hutch (weekly); Changing all bed sheets and remaking beds (weekly); Cleaning out and organising toy cupboards; Mopping all uncarpeted areas (weekly or more often when there are spills or puke or poos or wees); Cleaning toilets and basins; Luxing the whole house (it seems to be a very dusty house—do this weekly, lounge daily as it gets so messy, especially after we’ve had rice for tea); Topping up food we’ve run out of—means trip to Supermarket every 2-3 days, usually with kids; Reading and responding, if necessary, to all school, church, kindy and other notices; Dealing with raffles and other money raising ventures Kindy, Church and School ask us to participate in; Buying clothes and shoes kids need where necessary; Taking kids to church; Organising school lunch money for lunches bought once a week; Organising kids’ pocket money; Organising hair, doctor and dental appointments for kids when necessary (with 4 kids there is something every week or so); Clipping finger and toe nails; Applying ointment and giving out medicine and vitamins (regularly for son number 3 who has eczema); Organising all family holidays and all babysitters and all school holiday activities; Mediating fights and family meltdowns; Buying swimming togs, rugby boots , ballet pumps and other sports and activity  gear and school uniform; Supervising and helping with homework… there’ll be more,  I’m bound to have forgotten stuff, but that gives you an idea.   LOVE MUM oxox

Dishes FY

So, now that we have ascertained that being a “Director of Domestic Affairs” is indeed a challenging full on role, how do we go about surviving it?  (The length of this contract is, after all, at least 18 years).  Different things work for different people.  Here are some which I have found helpful.

1) Acknowledgement and Acceptance

As I’ve just said above, acknowledge yourself and the job you are doing.  I think some of it is about accepting that part of parenting is doing mundane stuff like the dishes or the laundry or the school lunches day in and day out.  (I always find it interesting how you don’t really see people doing these tasks over and over in TV shows or movies.  Their kids don’t seem to cry or fight much either.  Hmmmm).   Accept that things won’t be ideal all the time.  Find a good middle line between an impossibly pristine house and one where you can’t remember the colour of the carpet.  Do a bit of housework, feel a sense of achievement, then read the kids a story or do something for yourself.  That housework’s got to be done, but you can break it up and ease up on yourself.  Some things will keep until tomorrow.

2)  Respect yourself and your Partner/ Spouse

Encourage your kids to do this too.  I often tell my kids how hard their Dad works.  This can be done in a positive non-whinge kind of a way.  It’s about the kids knowing the reality of what it takes to run a home and preparing for a role they will be in themselves one day.   It’s also about cultivating a culture of respect both for stay at home parents, and for those who work to pay the bills.  Both roles take time, energy and perseverance.  Single parents, you fill me with awe!

vintage-ads-that-would-be-banned-today-1 FY

3)  Find Joy amidst the Mundane

Celebrate the kids’ milestones and pause to look back at how far things have come.  I enjoy creative hobbies and I love scrap-booking, because it kind of makes order out of the chaos that is life in a busy family.  I don’t get a lot of free time to do scrap-booking, but I enjoy it all the more when I do.  I do a book for each child and I like that I can focus on the kids one at a time as I do their books.  Our children, in turn, enjoy looking back on the things they have done.  I do scrap-booking because I find it relaxing, but if it’s not your thing, there may be something else that gives you head space and creative pleasure in this way.  Whatever it is, break it down into small lots so that you also feel a sense of achievement.  It shouldn’t become a pressure or a chore.  I often say to myself things like, “while I’m watching tele tonight I’ll finish sticking the photos from my daughter’s last birthday into her scrap-book and write down the names of all the kids who came to her party.”  Clear, concise goals, rather than, “Help, her scrap-book’s 2 years out of date, I’m doomed!” (You get the picture).  This blog is another creative outlet of mine.  It’s still about kids, but it’s also “me time” and something I care about and, hopefully, a way to support others.

4) Gratitude

Gratitude is something which can never be underestimated.  Even in difficult times, feeling thankful for the children in our care and the positives in our lives is a great morale booster.

housewife & mop FY5) Get Out of It!

Go for a walk, have a cuppa with a mate, a date night with your spouse.  Pockets of time without the kids may be rare, but with planning you can get the most out of them.  I struggle to do these things, I admit, and tend to put kids and housekeeping needs first.  When I realise that there’s been no “out” time for a while, I consciously create some.  It helps, too, to be realistic.  I often think things to myself like, “I won’t have any time to myself today or tomorrow, but then on Thursday Chris and I are going out to dinner”.  These little mantras keep us going.  Self-care and space is essential to sanity!

6) Find the Humour in things

There is usually a funny slant somewhere (sometimes only with hindsight) and, as the old saying goes, “laughter is the best medicine.”  Laugh with others who are in a similar situation to you and who can see the funny side. (Just by the way, I find these vintage 1950s housewife pictures and ads quite amusing and cheering).

7) Network

Community groups are great for “blowing away the cobwebs”.  There are plenty of playgroups and music groups and so on for those with preschoolers.  These get you and the kids out of the house and into interesting and supportive environments.  We are fortunate to be living in the Internet era too.  Again, balance is necessary here.  Make the Internet your friend, say “hi” to others and support them through their day, as they support you with contact.  (Don’t let it take over your life though).  Organisations such as Plunket (here in NZ) are only too willing to help stay at home parents.  Seek out people and resources which empower you!

Caring for the parents (ourselves) reaps benefits for our children.  Respecting ourselves and the roles we have chosen or had to take on in order to do the best we can for our families is the best way in which we can parent without resentment or bitterness.  Everyone needs to “recharge” their batteries and have head space, particularly when we spend much of our time around children.  Kids tend to pick up on how we are feeling and we are better able to give to them when we have invested in ourselves.

See Also: https://latteslacedwithgrace.wordpress.com/?s=Stay+at+Home+Mum