Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"Raising Adopted Children": Part 2

I learned a lot from this book about "Talking About Adoption." There's really a lot to think about, and many preparations to make even now. Here are just a few of the things I've learned (am learning!):

1 "Parents should start at the beginning - the child's beginning. That means talking about the child's birth and places that she lived before being adopted. The child's life did not start with her adoption, although she may have no conscious memory of her life before her adoption, and her parents may have little information." We can teach our child about his/her life before their adoption even with little personal info - we can create a "life book" containing our own journey to adopt, pictures of his/her orphanage & transition home, photos of Ethiopia and the village where he/she was born, facts about her culture, mementos from our trips, etc. I love to be creative and "crafty," so this excites me. We can get the book started and as our child grows older, our child can help us add to the book and learn to tell his/her story. Love this. We'll want to get this book out often throughout the year and leave it in a prominent place in our home. We want it to be natural, and not a once a year occasion to talk about the adoption.

2 "It is important to tell the adopted child that her birth parents probably loved her and that it was probably difficult for them to place her for adoption, but that they thought that was what would be best for her...A child should be reassured that her birth parents placed her for adoption because they weren't able to act as parents of any baby, not because there was anything wrong with her." We need to be sure our child can openly communicate with us about his/her birth parents, and that we do not disrespect or tarnish them in our child's eyes - no matter the circumstances surrounding the child being given up for adoption. The act of placing a child up for adoption is an act of love and care for the child.

3 "Some children talk more than others about adoption because they are more verbal. Parents who are unsure whether their children are fully expressing their interest in their origins may want to look at how their children gather information or express themselves on other topics. Is this a child who talks through a problematic situation, or is she more likely to work through issues alone or express herself through art, music, or movement? A child who tends to be more intense about expressing her feelings may express more intensity about adoption than a child who is more easygoing." It's definitely going to be a challenge to pick up on these cues and help direct them. We want to encourage ways of expressing feelings and thoughts in a way that is safe for our child. We always want it to be natural, and we want to take advantage of the opportunities we're afforded to talk about these things as our child continues to grow and develop. Adoption will not be a one-time explanation or conversation. It is part of who they are, and as they develop it will mean different things to them and they'll explore different aspects of it. It will be a continuousjourney for them and for us.

There was much more in this chapter, but these were a few of the highlights for me. Still digesting a lot of this. We've already begun saving things for our child's "lifebook"...our first acceptance letter, notes and cards from friends and family, receipts from fundraising opportunities, our Home Study, will be fun to continue building a "lifebook" and to add to it next year!

Ben and I both got fingerprinted this week (we'll let you know if we're wanted criminals...still waiting to find out), and we had a bunch of labwork done. Two more big things crossed off the list of remaining pieces for our dossier! Just a few more things to go before we are finished. I'm not sure we'll be able to send it off before the end of the year, but we're hoping for shortly after the New Year. But, you know, it will happen all in God's perfect timing. We're plugging away, and we know that nothing we are anyone else involved can do will change the fact that we'll be receiving the child He's designed for us all along. So, that's always comforting! Can't wait to meet our little one.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

"Raising Adopted Children": Part 1

I just finished reading Book 1 of 2 of the required reading for our dossier. It is entitled "Raising Adopted Children" by Lois Ruskai Melina. I was surprised at how much I loved it and how helpful it was. A lot of my concerns and questions were addressed, and I just really felt that the author "gets it." She has adopted children of her own, so she's speaking from experience as a prospective and post-adoptive parent. I want to get some of my thoughts out on "paper," so I'm basically just going to list things I found insightful and helpful in this blog entry. It may seem somewhat choppy, incoherent, or possibly even boring to many readers. But, the purpose is just to put it out there. So, here goes:

1 "Having expected finally to be recognized as a mother or father, adoptive parents may be taken aback when someone predicts that a pregnancy will soon follow the adoption - with the implication that the adoptive parents will then have what they really want." - How many times have we heard this in the past year? We know it's spoken from a place of genuine love and care, but this has really opened up my eyes to my own perspective on adoption. We have learned that God builds families, that adoption is not about the next step to having our own biological child, but the next step in God building our family.

Later on the author states, "Five percent of people with untreated infertility problems conceive after adopting - the same percentage of infertile couples who conceive but do not adopt. Yet the myth persists that one sure way to get pregnant is to adopt." - We are learning to see this way of thinking as just that - a myth. We never want our child to think that we only adopted him or her so that we could become pregnant with our "real" child. Our adopted child is just as much our "real" child as any we may physically bring into the world. Just as each of us who have come to Christ are just as much God's "real" children as His own Son, Jesus. (Galatians 6:4 is a great picture of this)

2 "If visits with the infant before placement are not possible, adoptive parents can make the transition easier by learning and following the routine and method of care and interaction used by the previous caretaker. It is important to maintain the infant's schedule as much as possible and to replicate the way the infant is used to being fed, dressed, bathed, and even diapered..." Pray for us in this - that we would be given as much information as possible so that we can aid our child's transition and make it as smooth as we can. We will get to meet our child when we make our 1st trip to Ethiopia for our court date (still months away), so we're hoping we'll get to learn some of these things while we're there that first time.

3 Attachment is a major issue and concern with adoptive families. There's so much in this book and other training materials we've read that address attachment - too much to share here. But we also ask that you pray for us now and once we bring our child home. Pray that the Lord will give us patience as we develop a relationship with our child and as we allow that child to attach to us. We may have to take the first month or so somewhat "alone" - allowing our child to understand who we are (their new caretakers) and helping to form that bond and attachment. This means we will need to limit the amount of time our child is held by, played with, or has his needs provided by other people. This is a new concept for us - it's different from what you'd expect with a biological child. Biological children have already attached to the mother, and have other ways of continuing that attachment to the parents after birth. It's just a different situation. Of course, we will at times need help, and of course, we will want our immediate family members to be able to spend time with our child. This is probably going to be one of those trial and error processes. We are going to have to make an intentional effort to help the child bond to us first. It can be confusing to the child when he/she is being held by or cared for multiple people when he first arrives. It will take longer for him to bond to us as his parents, so it's going to definitely be a time of learning. Not only will this help us bond to our child and him to us, but we know it will grow Ben and I closer to each other as we depend on the Lord and each other during that first period of adjustment at home. Pray with us for this process, and we'll appreciate your continued prayers and patience with us as we figure this out after we bring our child home.

Next time, I'll blog more about "Talking About Adoption." I learned a lot in this much to think about, plan for, pray about! But, this excites me as well. It's definitely a journey, and we're so glad that we're not on it alone! Thank you for your continued prayer and support!

Until next time! :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Long time, no blog.

My intention when we started this blog was to be really good and consistent about keeping it updated. However, I just have not had the extra time or mental energy to spend on it the last couple of months. My Premier business has been super busy - this is our busiest season, and I've been trying to work on our dossier as well. We've made some progress, and hope to make some more this week and next. Our goal is to get all of the "work" done before Christmas. So, we don't really have any BIG updates for you right now on our process. But, hopefully we will soon.

I've been wanting to blog about what we're learning, things we're reading, etc. I just haven't had time to sit down and put "pen to paper." (Or fingers to keyboard) So, hopefully that will come along soon as well. We are learning a lot and being challenged. The things I've been reading have really caused me to think hard about some things, and have prompted a lot of good discussions.

Please continue to pray for us as we attempt to complete our dossier by Christmas. Please also pray for our child, and for our agency who will be matching us with the child God has for us. Also, please pray for our finances. God has been so good to us. He's been meeting and exceeding our every need. We're getting ready to start paying out some BIG chunks of cash, so we pray that He will continue to provide, and that we will continue to be able to set aside some extra each month to our adoption fund.
Thank you for your faithfulness to us during this process. We'll try to update you again soon and share some things we're learning. Merry Christmas!