First of all, I loved every minute of speaking at Refresh. I shared my heart and thoughts with foster and adoptive parents. It’s amazing to be with people who understand our unique parenting experience.
Best of all, three of my kids spoke with me in a breakout about the sibling experience in foster and adoptive families. They were fantastic. Having them with me gave me so much joy.
This week’s podcast episode is about equine therapy for kids with adverse experiences. It is very interesting!
While I don’t have experience with horses, I will say, our sweet dog has been an instrument of healing for my kids and even for me. Animals can reach kids in ways we can’t.
I’m getting ready to start a book group for the month of April. If you subscribe to my weekly email, you already know about it. If you don’t, you can subscribe here and I’ll fill you in. I’ll share more in my next post!
It’s been far too long! Between snow days and Spring Break, my days have been a little disorganized.
I’ve also been preparing to speak at The Refresh Conference. I’m teaching two breakouts, When Your Heart Feels Trampled (and you’re finding it hard to even like your child) and The Impact of Adoption/Fostering on Siblings.
The title of the first one is tough, but I’m all about honesty and I get this question a lot when I coach parents, so I’m diving in. I’m teaching about:
Why this happens (there is a reason).
What Blocked Care looks and feels like.
Numerous ways of overcoming it, physical and mental solutions, and faith.
The Sibling breakout is extra special because I’m interviewing three of my kids: Isaiah, Annarose, and Claire about their experiences of having four children join the family through adoption, and one more through foster care.
I also have three recent podcast episodes to share!
We have a great free download for you that contains suggestions for regulating and proprioceptive activities. Additionally, there is a list of behaviors that may indicate your child’s level of arousal, which is very helpful.
If you’ve never listened to the podcast, check out this nice review:
These two ladies are fabulous. Easy on the ears. I find they speak with knowledge of being in the “mud.” They have the experience of being with children and advocates for children while supporting those of us in the trenches now.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about what it must feel like for a child entering our homes. It’s an unfamiliar environment they’ve never seen before. Nothing would feel right.
The past two weeks have been a bit much for me and I’m in my own home. Life has been disrupted far more than I imagined when we decided to refinish our floors.
I feel unsettled.
I know, I know, this sounds whiny, “first world problem” and all that, but stick with me.
I continually remind myself this is a privilege, not a problem – and that’s 100% true. But it doesn’t change the reality that for more than a week I couldn’t cook, my refrigerator was in the living room, and the rest of the room was piled high with everything from the main floor.
The following week, everything in the living room was crammed into the dining room and overflowing into the family room.
With a crew of men in my house, even great guys, it’s hard to relax – nothing feels normal.
I can’t seem to settle in and think clearly enough to write. A low whir of anxiety is like a cloud around me.
How does this relate to kids who come to us through foster care or adoption?
When they join our families, their environments are completely disrupted. They are simply uncomfortable in our world.
Nothing feels familiar, smells right, or even sounds normal. We are strangers to them, whether they are adopted from the other side of the globe or joining us as foster children from the other side of town.
For a child raised with the constant hum of the television, the peaceful quiet of our homes may feel profoundly wrong. Our food may smell strange. And while the sheets may be clean, they just don’t feel right.
I’m an adult who chose this home project – even if the reality of the disruption far exceeds what I imagined. I tell myself it won’t last much longer and it will all be worth it. I know life will get back to normal.
I also know this is a small problem, a very small problem, even if it’s uncomfortable.
In contrast, our children have no control, no choice, and they are afraid. Their fear may look like anger, defiance, crying, or other behaviors. They may alternate between hitting us and clinging to us. The early weeks (months, years) can be especially hard.
How can we help them in these early transitional days?
1. Find familiar smells
If your child is joining you from another country, add familiar spices to your menu. Our Ethiopian kids love berbere, a chili and spice blend, and sprinkled it on nearly all of their food in the early years.
If you’re adding a new child through foster care, wash his clothes, but not his familiar blanket or stuffed animal. That being said, sometimes things like lice make it absolutely necessary,
2. Find familiar sounds
If your new child has a favorite show, let him watch it, provided it’s not harmful. The theme song and characters may be a comfort to him. Even if it’s SpongeBob or Caillou, you can handle it for a while.
If your child is from another culture, find music in his language and play it in your home.
3. Find familiar routines
If your child is used to falling asleep while watching tv, maybe you’ll need to do that for a few days as he adjusts. If she’s always slept with a light on, do that for a time. If she’s not accustomed to taking baths, don’t press for them each night. It takes time.
This isn’t profound, but it’s come to my mind often these weeks. Right now I’m working on my laptop at the kitchen island trying to write while stacks of books are on the floor, the sofa is sitting on its side, and electronics are piled in a big box in the corner. The top of the dining room table is removed and leaning against the living room wall. Stacks of games sit on the side of the bookcase as it lays on the floor.
Nothing feels quite right.
I’m unsettled, and I’m pretty sure my kids have felt that way too.
Most Wednesdays I send a short and sweet email to my inner circle of readers. I would love to include you! When you sign, up you’ll receive a free download, Hope for your Parenting Journey: a guide for adoptive and foster moms, as my thanks. Click HERE to subscribe.
If you’ve always wanted to hear the candid thoughts of an adult adoptee or a birth/first mom, I’ve got two great episodes of The Adoption Connection podcast for you. Melissa and I interviewed each other about our experiences of holding two roles in the adoption triad.
“I couldn’t do foster care because I’d never be able to give them back.”
How many times have you heard this, said this, felt this? There’s no doubt, it’s so hard to love and care for a child and then return him to his family. And yet…
I sat down with Jamie Finn to talk about the bitter and the sweet of loving children and then letting them go. Jamie shares her journey from viewing herself as the rescuer of children to being a loving support to them and their birth families.
This was a beautiful conversation – I hope you enjoy it.