Last weekend, my son was home from college for a few days. He and his brother were reminiscing about funny moments from when they were little.
Fond memories that made them laugh. Out loud laughing, which was great for this Mama's heart.
"Remember that time with the rain boots?"
Yes, the time my kiddos were outside exploring and adventuring (their favorite thing to do) in their brightly colored rain jackets and their new rain boots.
All were having a good, until....
My middle son was in a great spot of mud. Wet, gooey, sticky mud. A favorite kind of little boys.
But this time, he was STUCK. He tried moving, but no luck. Literally, stuck in the mud.
Do YOU ever feel like that on this journey of Adoptive & Foster Parenting? I sure did.
There were times I felt like we weren't making any progress. Nothing I tried was working. I was tired. Exhausted. Worn out. And I just didn't know what else to do, what else to try.
So many Adoptive and Foster Parents have felt this way. It can become a vicious cycle.
You do have choices...even if it doesn't feel like you do.
When you're stuck, you can stay put, feeling helpless and hopeless. OR you can
Ready to move forward and get UNSTUCK? Here are 7 action steps you can take to help move you and your family to Happy & Healthy! https://www.tohavehope.com/action
School. It can be a struggle for lots of Adopted and Foster kiddos.
Sometimes your child will have fall out at school. Other times they'll hold it together...until they get home.
Your adopted or foster child's best bet at school is a strong parent/teacher partnership, with both sides understanding YOUR child, how those impacts of trauma look on him, and how to best meet your child right where he's at.
I've heard from parent after parent and teacher after teacher asking how best to help adopted and foster kiddos at school. There's so much new info about being trauma-informed, but what teachers want and need is the practical tools to help students who've been impacted by trauma.
I'm so excited to announce a brand new membership we have to help teachers create trauma-sensitive classrooms and partner with parents to best meet the needs of those students impacted by trauma - IMPACT - A Community of Trauma-Sensitive Teachers.
Here's the link to learn more about it and to get signed up.
Share it with the teachers in your life. Also...it would make a GREAT holiday for your child's teacher!
Imagine if every single classroom was trauma-sensitive and striving to help kids not only learn, but to feel safe and HEAL! Let's spread the word!
When we adopted 18 years ago, we had great support from family and friends. They were excited. They were happy for us. And they really supported us.
Not too long after our girls came home, things got a little chaotic. We suddenly had 6 kids aged 6 and under. My girls came with a lot of grief and struggles.
I was exhausted and lots of days was doing my best to just get us all to bedtime. Sound familiar?
We pulled in. Hunkered close to home. We kept our world small to help my girls adjust, and more importantly, connect and attach. It’s exactly what they needed. Things calmed down. A LOT.
But that’s when there seemed to be a shift. Family and friends didn’t understand the changes we made. They didn’t understand because they didn’t see the struggles. They didn’t live it.
I felt judged. Questioned. Doubted.
I felt ALONE.
I tried to explain. I tried to not take it personally. But it was hard. It was hurtful.
That’s when I sought out those on the journey. Those who truly understood.
When I was surrounded by that kind of support, I was able to let go of the hurt.
My family and friends loved me. They wanted the best for my family...and for me. They just couldn’t necessarily understand it. So I chose to give grace.
It wasn’t always easy, and I didn’t always do it well. And along the way we did lose some friends.
I needed to do what was best for my kiddos. 18 years later, I am confident I did that. The well-being of my kiddos far outweighs what others think about me or my parenting.
Know that you are doing what’s best for your family! Surround yourself with the support of those who understand and give grace to those who don’t.
You got this...and you’re not alone!
The other day I was driving home from lunch with a friend and a billboard caught my eye. The top of it said "Fear is contagious."
How true is that?
As Adoptive & Foster Parents, our minds can race with questions. You know, those questions of doubt and fear.
What if my child doesn't securely attach?
What if my child grows up and wants to be with her birth family and not us?
What if I'm messing things up for my child?
When we are in that spot, those questions can spiral. They keep coming. And the doubt and fear increase more and more.
And that is not good...not good for us as parents, not good for our kiddos, not good for our families.
Here's the 2nd part of that billboard that said Fear is contagious....but so is HOPE!
Hope is what can squelch those doubts and fears. And once we start having hope, it is easier to be hopeful, easier to see the hope. And easier to share the hope...with other adoptive and foster parents, with our significant others, and with our children.
So both fear and hope are contagious. Which do you want more of? Decide and then focus there.
If you're in need of some hope, I will share mine with you. Hope for you and hope for your family.
You've got this!!
Trauma. It's something that you hear a lot about these days.
For our adopted and foster kiddos, it's not just a trend. Not just a buzz word. It's real. VERY real.
Most people can understand that kiddos who experienced neglect or abuse have been impacted by trauma. And they have.
But not everyone can wrap their heads around the idea that ALL adopted and foster kiddos have experienced trauma.
Our adopted and foster kiddos were born to another mother. Attachment with her began in utero. They are wired for her. And when they came to us, there was a breach in that attachment. And that is trauma.
Whether they came to us at day 1, year 1, or year 10, they have come to us impacted by trauma.
When we can understand that, truly understand it, it will make a big difference.
The other day I was listening to an interview with an athlete talking about ENDURANCE.
Now, I'm not an athlete at all, but I certainly could relate to the conversation as an adoptive and foster parent.
This journey of parenting an adopted or foster child is a MARATHON, not a sprint. And the finish line feels pretty far off lots of times.
Ever get the comment, "I don't know how you do it!"
Guess what? There were plenty of days I thought, I can't do this anymore. But, I did it anyway.
It's a long journey, and that's gong to take ENDURANCE, my friend. So you need to get the fuel and energy to sustain you.
Here's how I start and end each day to help my endurance. (Okay, there are some days I don't do them, but every day is my goal).
1. Start your day with GRATITUDE.
I have a journal that I keep by my bed. Before I begin the crazy busyness of the day, I jot down 3 things that I'm grateful for. Some are big, some are little. It might be a good night's sleep, it might be my comfy sweatshirt. Some days it's the sunshine.
Research shows gratitude can have a great impact on our mindset. And that is a powerful, positive way to begin each day.
2. End your day with FINDING THE GOOD.
At the end of the day, before you fall asleep, look back on your day and find the good in the day.
There are days, the good comes easily and quickly. And there are days when it can be challenging to find the good. It might be the littlest thing, but there is good.
Maybe it was your morning coffee. Maybe it was you made it til bedtime.
Focus on that good. Let that be your thought as you drift on to sleep. It can help you sleep better, and can help you start tomorrow in a better spot.
They say it takes 21 days to create a new habit. So I challenge you to begin the next 21 days with gratitude and end each of them with finding the good.
Here's to the next 21 days!!
Today marks the 17th anniversary of the horrific tragedy that happened on Sept. 11th. The photos fill my Facebook feed, the newscasts reflect.
For many, it brings them right back. The date. The pictures. The stories. Flashbacks.
But so often the triggers aren't as obvious. Aren't predicted. It could be a smell. A memory. Something we can't even put our finger on.
That happens with our adopted and foster kiddos too.
Lots of time what looks like behavior, or sounds like crabbiness, actually is a response. They've been triggered. And lots of times we aren't even aware of the trigger.
When we dig in and identify what triggers our kiddos, we can better help them steer clear of those triggers...or respond better to them.
Yesterday, I spoke with an adoptive parent whose child is now a young adult. August was a time of some pretty big anniversaries for her child. It was the month she was adopted...and moved to a new country, with a new family, a new language.
After a pattern of August being a time a challenging behaviors, Mom realized that it was a trigger for her daughter. And parenting with that information changed things a lot. It didn't take away all the behaviors, and it didn't erase all the triggers, but things were a lot calmer.
That's a win!
This year, her daughter is living on her own. Again, August brought up a lot of emotions for her. But...this year the daughter was aware of the triggers. She was knew that a lot of it was connected to those anniversaries. And she was able to remind herself of that and had a place to hang those feelings.
That's a win!
So I challenge you to know your child's anniversaries. Watch for the triggers. Keep a journal handy and jot them down when they come up. And teach your child about them along the way.
The other day I was looking at a magazine while waiting for an appointment. The headline read "How Do You Recharge?"
Recharge. It's so important as adoptive and foster parents, but there are times we let it go.
I remember when it felt impossible. At the end of the day, I crashed. I was exhausted. And to find the energy to recharge just seemed impossible.
But...I now know that was a mistake.
Recharging is important. This journey of adoptive and foster parenting is a marathon. We need to refuel and recharge along the way...or we'll never make it.
A week long vacation on a beach or in a hotel room by yourself probably isn't feasible. You need to find ways to recharge your batteries. Even little things can do the trick.
Find some ways to recharge. Make a list of them...so when you're totally worn out, you don't have to try to think of ways to recharge.
Watch a movie, curl up with a good book, connect with a friend, enjoy a cup of coffee on your porch.
Do it regularly. Do it often. It's important.
It's that time of year again. Summer. Celebrations. Fun.
But as we know, it isn't always fun. It doesn't always work.
The other day, this was a topic in one of my coaching sessions. The mom just wanted her child to have a really great summer and especially a wonderful 4th of July, just how she had as a girl. Cooking hot dogs around the campfire, chasing glow bugs after dark, and sitting on a blanket oohing and awing at the fire works.
However, her family's celebration looked nothing like her childhood celebration.
She shared how her child just would not behave. Her and her husband felt like their daughter was trying to wreck it - like she didn't care about the rest of the family at all.
They had given up on celebrating. While she was really sad about that, she was tried of trying when it didn't really work.
Can you relate, << Test First Name >>?
Lots of times we have to do it differently, but that if we meet our kiddos right where they were at, it would be so much more doable.
We went on to look at how the 4th of July probably felt to her child. Her daughter struggled with trigger after trigger, impact of trauma after impact of trauma, misguiding her emotional and mental experience and so much more.
Basic things like a new routine, new sounds, new food, new people around can create questions of survival (emotional and physical) for a survivor. Even many years later.
Then add in impacts of trauma like dis-regulation, sensory issues, and no cause and effect thinking and physical chaos ensues.
Finally, add in the basics like a younger emotional age than physical age, anniversaries, personal experience and her child was standing on very "shaky ground" when it came to sorting it all out and succeeding.
So...here are a few things to put in place to make it doable for your ENTIRE family.
It's part of being a member of the group. It's part of feeling loved and included. It is really important that we find a way that our children can have that kind of experience.
That's where healing happens.
I hope you find a way to celebrate, even if it's just for a moment.
Our adopted and foster kiddos come to us with a story that has already begun. No matter what age they come to their family. And…it’s our job as adoptive and foster parents to honor their story. Their WHOLE story.
Many kiddos come to a family of a culture or race different from their own. And just as important it is to honor their story, we also need to honor their culture and their race.
My girls came from Russia. Honoring their culture has been important to me as their mom. Having Russian storybooks. Russian food. Russian artwork. Russian music. I want my girls to know I honor their whole story.
While there have been times they didn’t want to be from a different culture and just wanted to be part of our family, I have shown them that their WHOLE story matters. It is part of who they are.
The other night in the Intentional Parent Coaching Group, we wer talking all about honoring cultural and racial differences within an adoptive or foster family.
Our guest speaker, Rachel Garlinghouse, is a mom of four children, all of whom were adopted domestically and transracially at birth. Her decade's worth of experience has been shared on CNN, NPR, MSNBC, and CBS, and she's reached millions of readers with her articles on race, adoption, and health. She is the author of six books, including The Hopeful Mom's Guide to Adoption: The Wit and Wisdom You Need for the Journey. Rachel is a woman of faith, type 1 diabetic, and breast cancer survivor who loves French fries, kitchen dance parties, and rocking a top knot. Rachel and her husband of fifteen years live with their children just outside St. Louis. Keep up with their family's adventures on their blog, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
As you go forward, find ways to honor your child’s culture. Your child’s race. Your child’s past. Your child’s story. His WHOLE story!
P.S. If you'd like to join us in the group, grab your spot on the wait list so you'll be first to get your invite. http://www.tohavehope.com/waitlist.html