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How to Talk With Your Children About Adoption: LOVE Makes a Real Family

EXHIBITION

It’s National Adoption Awareness month! I thought it was a perfect time for this post. How many of you that have biological children have sat down and talked to your children about adoption? If your not having the conversation with them, they are having conversations on the playground, or just leaving the details up to their imaginations. Here are a few comments and questions my kids have had to deal with:

  • Why didn’t your REAL mom want you?
  • My mom told me your parents were bad, and that’s why you had to get new parents.
  • How much did it cost?
  • Why are you brown and your mom is white?
  • Is THAT your brother/sister?
  • Do you know your REAL mom?

You can imagine how painful and uncomfortable these questions can be. I encourage you to please take the time to have this conversation with your children. There are many great children’s books on the subject of adoption (I caution you, every adoption story is as unique as the child, so the books are not a one size fits all).  Here are some basic points to help start the conversation:

All families are different, but the one thing they have in common is that the parents LOVE their children very much! Some families look alike, and some look very different from each other, but inside their hearts are the same.

Sometimes families with adopted children look different, because the children grew in another person’s belly, and may look more like that person.

Many children grow in their mommies bellies, but adopted children grow in someone else’s belly, while they grow in their Mommy and Daddy’s hearts.

The other person who’s Belly they grew in is called a Birth Mother.

Their REAL Mom and Dad are the ones that they call Mom and Dad (their adoptive parents), that they live with now and who love them.Their brothers and sisters are the ones they love, and call brother and sister.  This makes a REAL forever family.

There are lots of reasons birth moms aren’t able to care for their children and decide to give them up for adoption. This is a very difficult decision for birth moms because they love their children. Ultimately, they decide adoption is the best, most loving choice for their children.

Adopted children have another set of parents called birth parents, but this is private information, and adopted children don’t always know their birth parents or want to talk about them. Please know it is rude and potentially hurtful to adopted children to ask them about their birth parents.

Families being different is what makes us special! Let’s celebrate our differences! Can you think of other ways families are different? (This could lead to a discussion of single-parent families, grandparents as parents, same-sex parents, step-parents, etc.)

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If you would like me to talk to your family, church group or classroom, and you live in the Raleigh-Durham area,  I would be more than happy to!

Please share this with your friends, school, and moms groups!. Please do your part to educate others Thank you!

**Special thanks to my fellow adoptive Mom, Kathryn for letting me borrow some of this text!

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A Meditation on FosterCare

Bug....

Bug….

When we were in our Map (foster care) classes, they lead us through an exercise that now, seems so relevant. Follow along and try to imagine…

..Imagine you are five, you are in your home, and it’s 3 days before Christmas.There is a knock at the door. It’s the women that has been visiting your family for the last year, Miss J. This time she tells you that you and your sister will be coming with her. You gather up a few items of clothing and you are able to pick one special toy…you choose the nightlight animal (even though it doesn’t have batteries). You say goodbye to your Mom, you say goodbye to your baby sister and you get in the car with your younger sister and Miss J. You are crying, and through the tears wondering…where are we going? When will we see our Mom again? When will we see our baby sister? What is going to happen to them? How long will will be gone?

You fall asleep, during the ride, and wake up in the driveway of a home (not an apartment) in a neighborhood that is not familiar. You enter the house, and  you are greeted and overwhelmed by two big dogs (you have never been around dogs), two kids that seem to be about the same age, and a man, a big man.

The house smells different than your house, there is no carpet under your feet, just wood floors and throw rugs. You walk down a hall to a bedroom that you are told you will be sharing with the young boy. There is a bed…this will be your bed.

Days pass, weeks pass you try to adapt…the food is different. At each meal you are presented with food that you have never experienced and asked to just try a bite.  The music you listen to is different than the music that your Mom often played at home. Even though these people are nice, they look different, sound different and even smell different. Your senses are overwhelmed and your heart aches.

There are different rules in this house, and words and actions that no one seemed to notice at home, bring unwanted attention in this home. You keep wondering “When will we go home?”

One day you go to a large office building and at the top of the stairs you see Mommy and your baby sister…FINALLY! Today is the day, I am going home, you spend time with your family in a room, playing and laughing, then you are told it’s time to go. You put your jacket on, take the elevator down and then your Mom kisses you goodbye. Wait? What? She’s leaving through a different door, what is going on? You scream, cry! You get back in the car with your younger sister and the lady you have been staying with. You have started calling her Mom, because she is sweet, and gives you hugs and kisses your forhead when you are scared, she listens to your words and you know that she genuinely cares about you…but…she is not your Mom.

You look out the window of the car, and tears stream down your face and you wonder “What is next?” You enter the house where the man (that you now call Papi) and the two kids are laughing and playing. They don’t know that you just saw your Mom, and now she’s gone, they don’t know that you cried all the way home. You try to jump in and laugh with them, so that they don’t see the hurt you are feeling.

You wake up the next day, eat breakfast, and drive the new route to the new school you have been attending, where you sit, with new classmates, and learn from a new teacher in a new style of learning (Montessori).

You can stop imagining now, and return to the safety and warmth of everything you know. As for T and over a million other children in fostercare, they can’t this is their reality.

I try to remember this lesson, daily with Bug and T. I try to mend their hearts and let them grieve. I try to be their new safe place.

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I Have a Dream!

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Every year we celebrate Martin Luther King day with a baking project. We go out to the chicken coop and get a few white eggs and a few brown eggs. We talk about diversity and how on the inside the eggs are exactly the same, and the birthday cake we bake with these eggs is still just as sweet!

Last year we made cookies and decorated those instead of making a birthday cake. We ate a few, then we visited the fire station and police station to give plates of cookies to those that work to help protect us everyday.

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This year, our chickens have slowed down with producing eggs and I decided to come up with a different lesson. I used a mixture of red and green apples for applesauce  in the same way I used different colored eggs for the birthday cake. The kids enjoyed it, and we took our time coloring pictures, and watching videos of MLK Jr.

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This year was even sweeter, because 50 years ago, Dr. King stood on those Washington DC steps and said “I have a dream….”, today we watched President Obama stand on those same steps and accept the responsibility of his 2nd term as our US President. Happy Birthday Martin Luther King Jr.!

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“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”- Martin Luther King Jr.

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Vanilla Care, Chocolate Hair

Vanilla Care, Chocolate Hair. I can’t take credit for these words, it’s actually a really great blog that teaches white Mama’s how to care for black hair.

When T & Bug came to us, Bug’s hair was a braided mess, and T’s hair was starting to ‘lock up’. Georges took T and had his hair cut real short. That was easy.

I posted on facebook asking for advice on how to take out the braids. One of my great friends posted a website that takes you through how to take out the braids. I read several blogs and one thing that I learned is just how important the care of black hair is. What I mean by that is how other ‘Mama’s’ will judge the care of your little girl, by the care of her hair (correct me if I am wrong).  So this new information just added to the pressure of learning how to do Bug’s hair.

I took a trip to Target and was completely overwhelmed by all the products, I got some great advice from another mama that saw the bewildered look on this white mama’s face.

I washed and conditioned Bug’s hair, then I brushed it into a ‘poof’ on top of her head and finished it with a bow. Since then I have switched between two poofs and one poof.

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I have had several Moms tell me how much work it is if it’s not braided and I ought to just braid it.  To be honest, I enjoy the time we spend every morning brushing out her hair, as she brushes her baby-dolls hair.

On the first visitation with Bugs bio-mom, she seemed concerned that Bug’s hair was not in braids. On the second visit she actually brought beads and bands to braid her hair during the visit.  I don’t know if I am doing something that is viewed ‘wrong’, but as I said the time  I spend brushing out Bug’s beautiful ‘cotton candy’ hair is time that I love, how can that be wrong?

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Visiting the Land of my Children’s Ancestors

We always planned to go back to Guatemala with L&D. Unfortunately, the crime has gotten to the point that we don’t feel comfortable taking them there right now. It was Diego’s foster Mom, who lives in Guatemala that finally convinced us that it is just not safe to visit.  It is very important to for L&D to know where they came from, and be proud of their ancestry and culture.

So when the idea to have our annual  family reunion and celebrate my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary in Cancun this year, I was thrilled! After all, at one point this area was all one region with Guatemala, and the great Maya ruled over this entire area.  It was almost 30 years ago Georges sister, moved to this little beach town on the Yucatan Peninsila called Cancun. Now, we know it as a huge tourist destination.

I have always told L&D that they are descended from Kings and Queens, and should be proud of their Maya heritage. It was great to show them the temples, and monuments left behind by these great people, and see the spark in their eye, knowing that they “get it”.

I loved watching L&D throw themselves into the carefree lifestyle the kids in Mexico are able to enjoy! Enjoying the beach, the food, the history and sharpening their Spanish language skills. Hopefully they are able to take away more from the trip then just sand between their toes.

 

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L & D In Vegas!

A few weeks back we took a trip to see G’s parents.  I love visiting, for several reasons! G’s dad being French, means that we will eat well, and with his mom being Puerto Rican, means we will celebrate and party like we are in the Caribbean (although, the Puerto Rican food we eat is pretty Nom too!)! It’s also great being in their town, Vegas! The kids love to travel, and I love that they have the opportunity to speak Spanish with their Tio, Abuelo, Abuela & Papi (yea, I am still learning).  Our family is made up of many cultures, I am from California, L & D were born in Guatemala, and Georges was born in France, spent all his summers growing up there, and  raised in Puerto Rico. G lived in NYC for over 5 years, before moving to the South. When people look at our family and ask “Where are you from?” our short answer is…. Guate-Cali-French-a-Rican…and if any of the children we foster join our family as a forever member then we will add SOUTHERN to that list as well.