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on Mother's DayIn our culture, we celebrate motherhood and moms. If you are a mother, On Mother's Day, your family may honor you with gifts. Whether these gifts are large or small, inexpensive or costly, handmade by little ones or purchased, you will treasure the love and appreciation that these gifts represent. As adoptive moms, we might be especially grateful to be mothers. We can glow with pleasure and pride. Our hearts may overflow with emotion.

Sadly, for some women Mother's Day is bittersweet, even heartbreaking. Women who have struggled to become pregnant wrestle with profound sadness. Mothers who have lost a child ache with shattering grief and longing. Some mothers may struggle on this day because they find themselves unacknowledged by or estranged from their childrenAnother group of mothers is often forgotten on this day: First Mothers.

On Mother's Day, we as adoptive parents will of course think of our children's first mothers. Some of us may honor them in some way, by lighting candles or—if there is a relationship—by sending a card or gift.

One of the best ways we can maintain a healthy relationship with our adoptive children's birth mothers is to acknowledge—even if only privately, the complex emotions first mothers most likely experience on Mother's Day. Whether children were removed or relinquished, research has shown that almost all birth moms struggle with life-long grief, shame, and depression. Contrary to persistent cultural belief, birth mothers do not forget or get over the loss of their child. If and when they have other children, it intensifies their grief and reawakens their feelings of guilt and worry. Even in open adoptions, these emotions occur.

We invite you to hold your children's birth mothers with kindness. From one mother to another give them GRACE. Think of this grace as both literal and also as an acronym in which the letters mean.

GRACE. Think of this grace as both literal and also as an acronym in which the letters mean

Let's start with GenerosityWhile we delight in the attention and affection of our children, let's recognize that most birth mothers wish their circumstances had been different and that they had been able to parent their children.  Every Mother's Day, they are reminded of their loss.  Whenever we have the opportunity to be generous in thought, heart, and words, let us take it.

Rapport Let's think about our own fears for a moment. Fear of rejection by our children. Fear that they won't bond and attach to us. Fear that we aren't good enough. Fear that when they grow up, they will choose their birth parents over us. Those are just a few of the fears commonly held by adoptive parents. These powerful emotions can get in the way of creating rapport with our children and their birth parents.  Most birth mothers wrestle with similar worries. As we also know, our kids struggle with similar fears regarding rejection, permanence, and acceptance.

When our children's birth mothers are not seen as adversaries or competitors, we can connect with them through what we have in common: personal fears and insecurities, concerns about the permanency of our relationships and attachments with our children, and most importantly love for our children.

Acceptance Viewing our children's birth moms with acceptance means that we understand they are a permanent part of our children even if their only presence is their shared DNA. If we have an open adoption relationship, we know our children's birth mothers as individual people. We also accept that our children value both of their moms. We refrain from suggesting either subtly or overtly that they must prefer us over their birth mother. Instead, we love our children enough to honor their connection to and need for their birth mothers.

Compassion As adoptive parents, we stand outside of our children's birth parents' experience. Some of us may know more than others about the circumstances that led to adoption. Some of us may have been present at their birth. However much or little we know, we can trust that first mothers have gone through pain, some of which may not be known to us. At the core level, this is the reality that birth moms live. Their child will live a life apart from them. Whether they are in an open or closed adoption, regardless of how engaged or disengaged they are, their child will be loved and parented by someone else. So, when our kids wish to talk about their moms and our self-doubt and fears might be triggered, let us respond to their birth moms with deep compassion. Let us remind ourselves that just as we can love more than one child, our children also are capable of loving us and their birth mothers.

Empathy Remember the electrifying excitement that filled us when we got "The" phone call about our children? Sleep became impossible. Those who knew and loved us shared and amplified our joy and anticipation. Yet for the birthmothers of our children, there most likely was no celebration, and no gathering of friends and family to welcome the new baby. If we adopted older children instead of an infant, their birth mothers faced a similar absence of festivities and excitement. In that case, the mood was heartbreak and sadness.

The reality of adoption is that it is the ultimate both/and experience. Before our adopted family is formed a birth family is shattered. Our children now belong to two families. While we feel joy, their birth mothers feel loss, grief, and sadness. Certainly, in the midst of our great blessings and happiness as mothers, we can muster deep empathy for our children's birth mothers and the difficult journey that is life as a birth mother. When we treat their birth mothers with respect, kindness, and GRACE —not only on Mother's Day but also every day—we are loving that part of our children which originated in their birth mothers and will continue to be part of them forever.

Happy Mother's Day!

Learn how the coaches at GIFT Family Services can help you and your family navigate your adoption journey. We've faced our share of family challenges and crises, ridden the metaphorical rollercoaster, and our families have not only survived; they have thrived. We offer experience, neutrality, and understanding. GIFT coaches are available to present workshops online.  Contact us: 1-800-653-9445. Visit our Facebook page to join the conversation.

         Listen to our podcast and ...     

Read these books written by our coaches.

Feeling short of time or finding it difficult to concentrate? You can listen to this post. Listen time 7:40

strengthen-families-prevent-child-abuseApril is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and is intended to prevent child abuse as well as raise awareness of it. Both are worthy goals. Growing Intentional Families Together supports them.

So, what can we do to prevent child abuse?

An obvious first step is to "say something" if you see "something." In most of the more notorious cases of child abuse, many people were suspicious that abuse might be happening. Some actually knew this to be the case but did not want to get involved. What got in the way of speaking up? Usually, it was a reluctance to get entangled in an investigation, fear of retaliation, or worry that it would cause strife between extended family or friends. Some do not call authorities because they do not want the family to be separated and have the children enter foster care.

For folks who hesitate to speak up because they fear the children enter foster care, they may fear that it will not be temporary. They anticipate that it will lead to the permanent separation of the child from his family. They recognize that this separation will always be traumatic for the child.  And, in their estimation, foster care will not offer a better situation. (Unfortunately, this is sometimes true.)

Of course, we want children to be safe and well cared for which may lead to the need for foster care in certain circumstances. We also want to be sure that the decision to place a child in foster care is not more damaging than the current crisis situation. Sometimes, what a family actually needs is support in the form of food assistance, housing vouchers, transportation, or childcare. For example, single parents can't leave their little ones home alone while she goes to work to earn the money to provide food and shelter.

Hunger, substandard housing, and homelessness do not mean that the family lacks solid attachment. Whether rich or poor, with access to resources or lacking access, parents love their kids.  Statistics show that too often we equate the realities of poverty as equivalent to abuse. Based on this assumption, children are removed with little weight given to the very significant toll that the fracture of their family and loss of their parents inflicts on vulnerable children.

Breaking family bonds is no light matter. It has a life-long impact. For further insight, read the book "Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City"  by Andrea Elliott. It is a truly heartbreaking story; one you will never forget.

Obviously, children deserve to be safe. Sometimes this means kids must be removed from their families temporarily. Ideally, as soon as the immediate issues are resolved, it is in the best interest of the child/ren to return to their parents. Of course, when abuse is habitual or egregious, appropriate measures must be taken for the safety and protection of the child/ren.

Most adoptive parents have the comfort of financial stability. We can consistently provide for the needs of our children. We do not have to choose between food and rent, between staying home to supervise our kids or leaving them alone while we go to work to earn the money to keep them fed and housed. Most often, our incomes are steady and our hourly wage is far above the minimum. We may face stress but for the most part, it is manageable.

So. it can be easy for us to feel confident that we would never hurt or abuse our children. We believe with absolute confidence that we would never abuse them. Not us. We feel confident that Social Services will not be knocking on our doors.

The truth is no one is a perfect parent. We all make mistakes. We unintentionally may hurt our children.  Ideally, we also make consistent and genuine efforts to repair any harm we inflict out of ignorance, impatience, misunderstanding, and anger. Of course, we would not intentionally hurt our children or cause them pain, however, we may unintentionally harm them. Unless we become educated on the unique needs of adopted children, we can easily hurt our kids out of ignorance. How might this happen?

As adoptive parents, we have a high standard to meet regarding ensuring that our kids are safe from harm. In addition to providing food, shelter, health care, education, love, and connection we must also learn about and meet their adoption-related needs. Most of us eventually realize that the widely held assumption that sees adoption as a fairytale is not accurate. Our parenting needs to shift with our new understanding so that we do not ignore essential mental and physical health needs that are unique to adoptees.

This is why adoptive parents want to embrace Adoption Attunement principles, familiarize themselves with the Seven Core Issues of Adoption, and validate the complexity of adoption. Parent with an acknowledgment of the losses caused by adoption as well as the gains. We discipline to teach and connect not to punish, isolate, or intimidate.

How can adoptive parents support and/or benefit from National Child Abuse Prevention Month?

So, for the month of April, let's all focus on being our kindest, bravest selves. Help others out instead of criticizing them. If we know of a family in need, we can help them out before their situation results in harm to their kids.

We can make a concerted effort to ensure that we are loving as well as thoroughly competent adoptive parents.

To learn more about National Child Abuse and Prevention Month visit this Child Welfare Information Gateway site.

Download the 2021/2022 Prevention Resource Guide. It provides resources and also identifies protective factors that can help keep families together.

Watch this video  titled "Relationships Matter." It shows how one program moved from a child protection system to a Family wellness system.

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Learn how the coaches at GIFT Family Services can help you and your family navigate your adoption journey. We've faced our share of family challenges and crises, ridden the metaphorical rollercoaster, and our families have not only survived; they have thrived. We offer experience, neutrality, and understanding. GIFT coaches are available to present workshops online.  Contact us: 1-800-653-9445. Visit our Facebook page to join the conversation.

         Listen to our podcast and ...     

Read these books written by our coaches.

Bananas, Cacti, and Kids--What do they have in common? Stay with me and I will explain.  The old maxim that "April showers bring May flowers" helps us appreciate that certain ingredients must be present so a plant can flourish: water, air, sunlight, etc., AND that these needs vary by species. A cactus cannot survive in the same environment as a banana. No matter how much the gardener might want to put it into a selected spot, if that location does not suit the cactus, not only will it be unable to thrive, it may not even survive. The cactus can never become a banana. It cannot adapt itself adequately to a mismatched site. The location must be modified or the plant will wilt. It might even die.

Similarly, our children have essential needs that must be met. Beyond food, clothing, and shelter from the elements, they also have physical, emotional, and psychiatric needs as well as aptitudes, talents, preferences, and patterns. These last things may not necessarily match up with the adoptive family's patterns, preferences, and traditions. Just as the cactus cannot will itself to live "as if" it were a banana, our kids cannot transform who they are biologically programmed to be. It is impossible. They may differ from their parents' "fantasy child as much as the cactus and banana differ from each other. Regardless of how much we dreamed of a child who would fulfill our fantasies, to be happy and healthy, our children can only be their awesome, beautiful, genuine selves.

Parents must surrender the dream-child and embrace and love the child before them as themselves--without expecting them to contort to fit our fantasies. Relinquish the hope that we can somehow massage their "square peg-ness" to fit into our pre-prepared round hole.

In the past, parents were told that when they adopted a child they arrived as a blank slate ready for the adoptive parents to design them into being. The naivete of this assumption wrought havoc on adoptees. When they suppressed their own inclinations, talents, and interests to fulfill their parents' fantasies and expectations, adoptees lived in a straitjacket of sorts. As the illustration shows, they could be "bananas" only on the outside. On the inside, they struggled to survive.

Nowadays most adoptive parents know better. We accept that it is in the best interests of our children to recognize that they have their own DNA-defined blueprints that govern what they need to mature into the best version of themselves. We understand it is unkind, unfair, and unhealthy to lock our children into being facsimiles of our fantasies. We love the differences they bring to the family. We stretch ourselves to adapt our expectations and create a "garden" that suits them, where they feel "at home" and can flourish under the umbrella of our love and attention. We make space for and encourage their need to talk and know about their roots, their birth families, and their complete histories. We acknowledge that all of us—parents and children—have "ghosts" that live within us. We do not deny, discourage or disparage this reality; we work with it. (Read more about the Ghost Kingdom in this blog from our archives.)

When parents remain inflexible and force kids to be someone whom they are not, they are deny reality and damage their children. Some believe it is actually abusive. Intentional, Adoption Attuned parents know this and choose their children over their fantasies.

To recap our kids' needs,

  1. Food, clothing, and shelter
  2. Unconditional love and attention
  3. Recognition of who their DNA has prepared them to be
  4. Encouragement and "permission" to become their genuine selves

Cover of Resource Guide

Speaking of the welfare of children, April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. To learn more about what you can do, check out this guide from ChildWelfare.gov. Be an advocate for children.  Vulnerable children cannot extricate themselves from difficult and dangerous situations. They cannot access the assistance and support that a struggling family may need so they can safely stay together. All some families need is a bit of timely and pertinent help. Others may need significant interventions. In extreme cases, sadly, some children may need to be temporarily or permanently removed. Follow the mantra, "If you see something, say something."

As parents, we care about our children. Let's expand our focus so that we also notice and care about vulnerable children outside of our own families.

Please post your thoughts on our website or on our Facebook page and let's share a conversation.

Learn how the coaches at GIFT Family Services can help you and your family navigate your adoption journey. We've faced our share of family challenges and crises, ridden the metaphorical rollercoaster, and our families have not only survived; they have thrived. We offer experience, neutrality, and understanding. GIFT coaches are available to present workshops online.  Contact us: 1-800-653-9445. Visit our Facebook page to join the conversation.

 

Listen to our podcast.

Read these books written by our coaches.

Listen to this post. 8:45

5 Essential Qualities Adoptive Parents Need"Parenting is the toughest job that you will ever love," my grandma who was the mother of 14 children, warned me.  I agree with her; Parenting has proved to be the hardest and the most joyful part of my life. Parenting is not for the faint-hearted, the cavalier, or the cock-eyed optimist. Parenting well requires a degree of altruism, commitment, pragmatism, and determination that is impossible to envision before one is on the job. Parenting perfectly is impossible. However, parenting well is achievable—with Intention, preparation, and education.

To adoptive parent well demands even more of us. A lot more. This is because adoptive parenting is like regular parenting on steroids. In addition to the typical challenges, every member of an adoptive family is shouldering complex grief and searing, ambiguous, life-long losses.

Whether folks tackle those losses head-on or try the ostrich approach, these losses shape the thoughts, emotions, and beliefs of all. Some of this influence is conscious Much of it is unconscious. All of it is significant.

Rather than cataloging all the obvious characteristics of a parent, let's focus on the unique, additional, and essential characteristics that adoptive parents need. Five of the most essential qualities adoptive parents need are:

Flexibility: You might think this is an odd choice with which to begin. On the contrary, flexibility is absolutely critical. Every aspect of adoptive family life is touched by the influence of adoption. For example, in addition to the people with whom biological families share relationships, adoptive families also sustain relationships with all of the people from their children's biological families. It may also include relationships with former foster parents and other significant people from their pre-adoptive lives. (Their presence is felt even if it exists only emotionally and psychically and not physically.) More relationships bring more complexity, more influences, more commitments to be honored, more potholes to be avoided, more compromises needing to be forged, and more apologies to be offered, considered, and accepted. So, it is quite understandable why flexibility is essential!

Empathy: Adoptive parents need to strengthen their ability to authentically see, feel, and validate the experiences of other family members. We can't assume we know what is true. We must share the "Brave Conversations" that reveal exactly what each family member is feeling, thinking, believing. Our listening must be steeped in a willingness to hear, understand, and respect the other's point of view—even if we do not agree with it.  We can still respect it. We must consistently telegraph to our kids that we want to hear their stories. That we are strong enough to know them, hold them, share them, and honor them. Our empathy and validation convey to them that we love them enough to know and acknowledge the Hard Realities of adoption. We want them to be secure in the belief that we do not want or need them to sanitize or edit their thoughts and feelings out of fear that we will reject them or love them less. Our love from them is not conditional and does not depend on their pretending to be a shadow of themselves. It must not require that!

Self-awareness: This is quite different from a self-centric perspective. Quite the opposite, self-awareness allows us to pause and examine what and how we are contributing to a conversation, decision, or relationship. It appraises our own role honestly. Self-awareness requires a hard look at situations, at our own abilities, skills, frailties, and needs. It demands that we surrender the role of The One Who Knows. Believing we are the Expert can magnify our voice at the expense of truly understanding what is going on.

Self-awareness demands vulnerability, a willingness to admit that perhaps we don't know precisely what is the best choice, or that we don't know all of the facts, don't understand all of the ramifications, or sense of all of the feelings that are at stake. Even as we admit this, we become open to learning what is not yet known. This stance invites conversation and connection.

Self-awareness acknowledges that we have our own baggage, wounds, and disappointments. It recognizes the importance of admitting and addressing these factors so that we can mitigate any unconscious fallout and be more intentional of any hidden pressures or motives that might be shaping our actions and beliefs.

Curiosity: It is said that Curiosity killed the cat,  however in parenting, curiosity is the engine that powers connection and understanding. Instead of assuming we know everything we need to know about a situation, decision, action, or event, curiosity looks to learn more. It seeks dialogue. It invites sharing and—when expressed effectively telegraphs our care and interest in knowing, seeing, and hearing our kids' truth. (For more about the art of listening, read last month's blog or listen to last month's podcast.)

Patience:

Patience reflects a commitment to the relationship over the result and eases the need for control which is often a trigger point for most adoptees. Many adopted persons have a strong need for control and this can lead to a lot of head-butting. In real life, unfortunately, parents often run short of patience. We frequently find ourselves wishing we'd mustered more of it. During many sleepless nights, we ruminate and regret that we hadn't hung on for just a bit longer. Why do we lose patience so often even when we know its importance? Expectations significantly influence our sense of what should happen; when we get too dug into our expectations, this can short-circuit our supply of patience. Nurturing and increasing our ability to sustain patience comes from practice and intentionality. Working on patience pays dividends in our relationships and is worth the effort.

Impatience often arises from a discontent with how things are, from a yearning for things to fit our expectations. We become frustrated when things do not flow according to our plan. Sometimes impatience is reasonable and understandable yet it is still often counterproductive. It distracts us from the real issue: what is causing the confrontation and the resistance? When we approach it from this perspective resolution is more easily achieved. Being human, a gap often opens between our good—our best intentions. Still, we must try. Patience takes practice and practice we must.

Nobody—child or parent—likes it when others are impatient or dismissive. We all crave understanding, tolerance, and acceptance. Patience is a great way of expressing that.

Which of these five essential qualities would you choose to strengthen in yourself? What practices can you put in place to help remind you of these skills in the moment?

Please post your thoughts on our website or on our Facebook page and let's share a conversation.

Learn how the coaches at GIFT Family Services can help you and your family navigate your adoption journey. We've faced our share of family challenges and crises, ridden the metaphorical rollercoaster, and our families have not only survived; they have thrived. We offer experience, neutrality, and understanding. GIFT coaches are available to present workshops online.  Contact us: 1-800-653-9445. Visit our Facebook page to join the conversation.

 

Listen to our podcast.      

Read these books written by our coaches.

You can listen to this post.  (3:41)

Ukrainian childGrowing Intentional Families Together knows that Ukraine is the birth country of many adoptive children. Russia is also the homeland of many adoptees. The recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia may be felt very personally by these children. We see this with our clients. They feel deeply emotional about this. They worry about their birth country, their birth parents, and other relatives. These troubling events will likely trigger powerful emotions, activate feelings of loss and grief, guilt and shame,  and may dysregulate them in unpredictable ways.

Adoptions from Ukraine still occur1 although they are paused as the crisis continues. These waiting children will be affected in ways we will only begin to know as they grow up. It will also touch the waiting parents who worry about the safety of the children with whom they have been matched as well as the folks who are caring for the children.

Each child and each family will have unique responses and challenges to face. So what can you do?

 

Ten things you can do to support your children are:

  1. Plant the seed of a conversation:

                 I wonder if you worry about your birth family?

                What are your concerns?

                Do you have any questions?

                What are your ideas about how our family can help?

  1. Validate your child's thoughts, feelings, and concerns.
  2. Avoid minimizing or dismissing them.
  3. Tune into your own thoughts and feelings as well as to your child's.
  4. Address the fears and grief that these events might trigger.
  5. Anticipate and watch for trauma triggers and trauma-driven behaviors.
  6. Muster additional empathy and patience for your child during these troubling events.
  7. Spend extra time on self-care activities--your own and for your children as well.
  8. Adjust priorities to accommodate the time and space for your child to grieve and cope.
  9. Amplify the expressions of love and connection with your child, especially in your child's love language.

The circumstances in Ukraine highlight an important fact: that as adoptive families, we know that our children have faced losses not common to children raised by their original families. While we realize instinctively that parenting our children calls for a unique approach, we may not consciously know what kind of approach is called for.  In the next two blogs, we will be sharing five effective ways to parent your children so that they will feel and know that you love them.

1 Ukraine  249  adoptions finalized in Ukraine, 49 getting finalized in the US for a total of  298 Ukrainian adoptions.  FY 2019 Annual Report .pdf (state.gov

Learn how the coaches at GIFT Family Services can help you and your family navigate your adoption journey. We've faced our share of family challenges and crises, ridden the metaphorical rollercoaster, and our families have not only survived; they have thrived. We offer experience, neutrality, and understanding. GIFT coaches are available to present workshops online.  Contact us: 1-800-653-9445. Visit our Facebook page to join the conversation.

 

Listen to our podcast.

Read these books written by our coaches.

Feeling short of time or finding it difficult to concentrate? You can listen to this post. Listening Time: 6:02
At the heart of every conversation is a desire to connect with another person. It involves a speaker and a listener. Each is an essential component. Communication is an interactive loop of listening and speaking.
Unlike an inhaled breath that enters our body intact, the meaning of one's words is infinitely varied. Tone, volume, body language, and emphasis all influence how our words are received and perceived. Consider the simple two-word sentence, "I can."  Imagine speaking it in several ways: with surprise, with defiance, with anger, with pride, with hope… The same two words can communicate totally distinct messages.
Is it any wonder that our communications so often go awry? Too often our words impact our listener in a way we did not intend. Instead of feeling understood, we feel invalidated and unheard. Instead of finding comfort, we find rejection or indifference. This is also true in conversations between parent and child where conversations mismatches are not uncommon. While love and connection were the intentions at the heart of the conversation, the reality proves quite the opposite.
Recall for a moment a conversation which you began with high hopes only to find your effort crashing on the rocks like a faltering ship. A mom described her heartfelt effort to share a connecting conversation "it drifted away like a helium balloon without a string." The sense of her good intentions ending in disappointment is palpable. I suspect we have all experienced similar hope and disappointment.
Communication would appear to be a simple affair. One person speaks, the other listens, and then they switch positions. The listener becomes the speaker and the speaker becomes the listener. From direct experience, we all know that this idealized, serene interaction is the stuff of fairytales.
Too often our family conversations don't create warm fuzzies. If we are honest with ourselves the motive at the heart of those conversations is grounded in a different intention and has a different agenda. Those conversations are usually thinly veiled efforts to lecture, nag, micromanage, and criticize. Unsurprisingly,  those kinds of conversations do not come across as very loving, engaging, or satisfying.
Adoption adds additional layers to this communication dynamic and so the possibility of a miscue increases. Research has revealed that adoptees often listen through "filters" that reflect any/some/all of the Seven Core Issues of Adoption*. It is important for us as informed, Adoption Attuned parents to keep them in mind.  Remember too, that we also have our tender spots that can be easily and unintentionally triggered by an awkward turn of phrase or tone-deaf, clueless yet well-intentioned conversation.
It is also useful to keep in mind the idea of speaking in the preferred Love Language of each family member. When parents strive to communicate in a way that "speaks" to a child in their own preferred style, it will help build their sense of being seen for themselves--a profound need for our adopted children. This will help ensure that we are speaking in a way that they will want to listen. To learn more about Love Languages, read these blogs from our archives, "Love Languages," Adoption, and the Anger Connection,  and "The Power of Saying 'I love You'"  and "The Language of Love Has Many Dialects."
As we aim to keep love and connection at the heart of our conversations, we do well to pause, reflect and be intentional when we speak. When it is our turn to listen, how can we keep connection at the heart of the conversation then? Listen to this month's podcast for tips on how to be an effective listener.
We would love to hear your thoughts, Email us at GIFTfamilyservices.com or leave a comment on our Facebook page. Check out our Instagram and  Twitter accounts.
*The Seven Core Issues of Adoption are:

If you are interested in reading more about these core issues,  read

"The Seven Core Issues of Adoption and Permanency"

 


 

Learn how the coaches at GIFT Family Services can help you and your family navigate your adoption journey. We've faced our share of family challenges and crises, ridden the metaphorical rollercoaster, and our families have not only survived; they have thrived. We offer experience, neutrality, and understanding. GIFT coaches are available to present workshops online.  Contact us : 1-800-653-9445

 

Listen to our podcast.

Read these books written by our coaches.

 

 
Feeling short of time or finding it difficult to concentrate? You can listen to this post. Listening time: 4:01
If your 20222 parenting dream comes true, are you ready?It's January. Perhaps you are considering a word or theme to use as inspiration for the year. But, instead of focusing on a catchy phrase, compelling image, or a list of resolutions, consider this question:
If Your Parenting Dream for 2022 Comes True, Are You Ready?
Let me repeat, if your dream of becoming a parent became true tomorrow, are you ready? Being a parent is one of the most important tasks you can undertake. Have you done the work to prepare yourself? Have you any idea what you need to know? Dreams remain mere fantasies unless we work to bring them to life. Have you prepared mentally, financially, physically, and spiritually?
Your parenting journey will be very different from that of your own parents. Your family will face a different world, with different challenges. You will need new skills and strategies. Careful planning, persistent effort, and intention must blend into an undefeatable force to make your parenting dream a reality. (Although truth requires me to acknowledge that sometimes luck and circumstance are also essential ingredients.)

What is your 2022 parenting dream? Do you want to discern if parenting via adoption is a good choice for you? Are you in the process of adopting and want to use the waiting time to help prepare yourself to be the parent your child needs you to be? Are you an adoptive parent who is experiencing the joys and challenges of parenting and is searching for skills, strategies, and additional knowledge?

Regardless of where you sit in this range of situations, you can approach your dream goal with intentionality. Consider working with a coach who can help you identify your competencies and your learning opportunities. They can expose your blind spots and help you nurture your openness and distinguish between fact and assumption. You may be surprised how rewarding it can be to work toward your goal with a supportive person, a coach by your side. New ideas, new ways of looking at your life and your goal can bring you closer to your dream

We all know that being an adoptive parent is a sacred responsibility. There is a  hard truth about adoption that might make us uncomfortable. Just as surely as it builds a family, adoption begins with the fracture of one. The separation from their birth mother and biological family is a profound loss for adopted children. Their grief and the ramifications of their separation are not simple, trivial, or events and feelings that stay firmly in the past.  Children will rely on their adopted parents to understand this hard reality and to be fully prepared to help them navigate this loss for a lifetime.

How are you preparing and educating yourself for your dream to come true? Like the climbers who ascend Everest or the athletes who compete in the Olympics, working with a coach can smooth the path. A coach helps you navigate these unfamiliar routes with confidence, determination, and a foundation of sound education and preparation. Imagine partnering with a coach who will serve you as a sounding board, cheerleader, and mentor. She will hold your focus on your dream and help you discern what it will take to fulfill it.

If you are interested in a handy coaching tool to get you started on making your parenting dream a reality, review and download the WELL FORMED OUTCOME worksheet.

 

The coaches of Growing Intentional Families Together wish you all the best in the new year!

 


 

Learn how the coaches at GIFT Family Services can help you and your family navigate your adoption journey. We've faced our share of family challenges and crises, ridden the metaphorical rollercoaster, and our families have not only survived; they have thrived. We offer experience, neutrality, and understanding. GIFT coaches are available to present workshops online.  Contact us : 1-800-653-9445

 

Listen to our podcast.

Read these books written by our coaches.

Feeling short of time or finding it difficult to concentrate? You can listen to this post. Listen time 4:55

Listen also to this blog about building enduring connections as a family.

Every November our country observes National Adoption Awareness Month (NAAM) to raise awareness of the children in foster care who are awaiting adoption because they “are unable to continue living safely with their families” (Adoptuskids.org.) Sadly, many will never obtain a second chance at becoming a part of a family.

Each year, approximately 20,000 youth will age out of the foster care system. Many will instantly become homeless as well as “family-less.” Without a family to guide and support them, they have no buffer of loving support and emergency resources to draw upon when facing the difficult moments of life. These youth  are tiny boats floating solo on the sea of life coping with all it has to throw at them with no life raft, no emergency kit, and no support team to whom they can yell “911! I need your help!”

For those of us who have always benefitted from the security of loving, safe, well-resourced families, it is difficult to imagine how terrifying it must be for a young person to be totally on their own without the most basic of resources. Life doesn’t slow down for them just because they no longer have a family. It is sink or swim.

Life is a full-throttle experience with thrilling highs, devastating lows, and every emotional nuance in between those two extremes. Recall in your own life how many times you have relied on your family. How much more difficult would it have been if you had not had the love and support of family? From personal experience we know that the good times feel even brighter when we have a family to witness and celebrate with us. The challenging and frightening times feel more endurable when family and friends help to see us through them.

So, this month please focus on the need to find adoptive families for foster children in need of them—especially for those youth who will age out of care very shortly. Consider adopting one of these youth. Although you may have missed out on their earliest years, you have an opportunity to truly change their lives.

April Dinwoodie, former head of the Donaldson Institute,  has collaborated with Adoptuskids.org to host a 6-part podcast series on this topic. Please listen and learn how you can help.

I offer a final caveat: please remember that National Adoption Month NAAM is not the time to crow about all things wonderful about adoption. Keep the focus on the effort to find families for children for whom reunification is not possible.

Ask yourself these questions:

Have I deeply listened to adult adoptee voices to learn about adoption from their lived perspectives?

How much of what I "know" about adoption is accurate and based on the latest research about adoption?

What steps have I taken to ensure that I do not unintentionally accept or  spread beliefs and information that are based on myths and/or outdated presuppositions?

How can my understanding of adoption complexity help me be a better parent for my children?

How can  Adoption Attunement validate and support my children in ways that they can actually feel, trust,  and believe in that support?

How does my recognition that all adoption is rooted in trauma help me to meet my children's needs better?

#HonorAdopteeVoices #ValidateAdoptionComplexity #FindFamiliesForFosterkids #AdoptionGriefLoss #AdoptionAttunement

Learn how the coaches at GIFT Family Services can help you and your family navigate your adoption journey. We've faced our share of family challenges and crises, ridden the metaphorical rollercoaster, and our families have not only survived; they have thrived. We offer experience, neutrality, and understanding. GIFT coaches are available to present workshops online.  Contact us : 1-800-653-9445

Listen to our podcast.

Read these books written by our coaches.

 

 

Feeling short of time or finding it difficult to concentrate? You can listen to this post. Listen time 5:42

I’m in the midst of a 30-day session wearing a heart monitor. It is minimally uncomfortable yet singularly dedicated to its purpose. Always operating. Never off duty. Never distracted. It periodically zings an alert or vibrates to catch my attention.

Imagine that our families have a collective pulse. Like the human heart, a family is subject to changes in rhythm—some benign, some dangerous, and worrisome, possibly fatal. Imagine if we had a similar device dedicated to monitoring our family’s emotional health. This backup system would ensure that we notice how relationships in the family are working—or not—as individuals, between siblings, and between parent and child as well as a family unit as a whole. The monitor would provide valuable failsafe attention. Uninterrupted information.  Insistent. Persistent. Always on duty. Never distracted

Because, it is easy—too easy—to get distracted by life and take our relationships for granted. When we are not paying attention, things happen. Things get overlooked, stuffed, ignored, delayed, and even denied. Relationships wither.

Pause now to remember how passionate, zealous, perhaps even obsessed you were when you pursued adoption in the first place. You allowed NOTHING to get in the way of your effort to build a family.

Of course, life is not that straightforward. Things are always happening. Events, experiences, relationships, the unexpected assail us on a daily basis. The responses, emotions, actions, and experiences that touch our families are complex and not necessarily easily accessed, measured, or processed. Sometimes it is easier to engage in denial or distraction because we are afraid to admit that something isn’t quite right. We know that once something is seen, named, and acknowledged, it becomes real. True.  The idealized picture is fractured and reality seeps through the cracks. It needs attention. And attention requires energy. Anything we cherish requires attention and effort. Family relationships are no exception.

When we have the courage to notice and cope with problems and challenges, we are dealing with Truth. This is the space where authentic love and acceptance flourish. By admitting our frailties and limitations we reconfirm our commitment to make things work. Truly work. We disavow the shallow charade of staying on the surface. We refuse to gloss things over as if everything were “fine”.

Instead, we address our missteps, oversights, shortcomings. We apologize for errors, omissions, and skewed priorities, ask for forgiveness, and work to reconcile and heal. These moments of honest seeing, of openness and vulnerability, actually weave a robust tapestry of family connection and history. We are not role-playing. We are rolling up our sleeves and doing the hard work of truly being family, loving and being loved as OURSELVES, not a hollowed-out guestimate of what we think others wish we would be.

Child and parent voices are heard. Our individual experiences are validated. Our individual needs are met. Our individual truth is valued. This is what all human beings desire. As healthy, whole human beings we come together to create healthy, loving, attuned families.

Questions to consider:

If you did a gut check right now and really listened to it, what would it alert you to?

Where are you being less than fully truthful with your spouse/partner?

How long has it been since you shared a meaningful conversation with each of your children?

What is getting in your way?

What is getting in their way?

If you took a pulse check of each of the relationships within your family, what do you notice?

Who is faring the best?

Who needs more attention, interaction, validation, or assistance?

After answering these questions, what would be your best first step?

By when will you take that step?

 

.

Learn how the coaches at GIFT Family Services can help you and your family navigate your adoption journey. We've faced our share of family challenges and crises, ridden the metaphorical rollercoaster, and our families have not only survived; they have thrived. We offer experience, neutrality, and understanding. GIFT coaches are available to present workshops online.  Contact us : 1-800-653-9445

Listen to our podcast.

Read these books written by our coaches.


GIFT, Growing Intentional Families Together, adoption

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