Adoption Support: What Is Helpful from Family and Friends?

So… you are parents and you’re in your home loving on your baby.  Friends and family are excited and want to celebrate with you, however, they may not quite know how to support you during this time.  They may wonder if it’s okay to stop by, deliver a meal or offer to babysit.  They may have additional questions as to what you need.  While I’m an advocate of telling people what you need, not all people hear when there’s a baby involved!  Let’s look at a few ways family and friends can support you while you bond and spend time snuggling with your little one.

In asking several adoptive parents how they either received support or would have liked to receive support, I compiled a list of things to consider as your family and friends champion you and your child:

  • DO pray!
  • DO accept our decision to adopt without question and how we choose to share about our personal life and decisions.
  • DO accept our choice of a child regardless of their race, heritage or age.
  • DO offer practical help if you don’t mind giving us your time.
  • DO respect that we need bonding time with our child.
  • DO respect our parenting style.
  • DO speak of the birth family with favorable words – We want to honor them with our words and our actions. Speaking negatively of our child(ren)’s biology can transfer to them.
  • DO be willing to learn and educate yourself about adoption.
  • DO show our child unconditional love.
  • DON’T feel sorry for our adopted child.
  • DON’T tell us that now that we’ve adopted we’ll get pregnant with a child of “our own”.
  • DON’T make demands for our time and attention during our adjustment to this new phase.

One adoptive mother’s story:  When we brought our child home (directly from the hospital) we had very few items.  We struggled for years with infertility and it was too painful to have baby items in our home.  Our child was born a month early (we had no idea of gender prior to birth) so we stopped at Babies R Us (while traveling home) to get what we needed.  Upon arriving home, I borrowed from friends (bottles and necessary items) to get through until a baby shower was planned.  I think everyone thought we must have everything that we needed (despite being registered at Babies R Us!) because at the baby shower we received only clothes and small items.  In addition, not one person brought us a meal or offered to help out in any other way.  I also didn’t get paid maternity leave!  We were not angry, we never expected anything from anyone, but I was hurt.  For years I had been supportive, excited, and giving (of time and resources) when my friends welcomed their children into the world.  In fact, when I confided in one friend about how sleep deprived I was she stated “well, isn’t this what you wanted?”.  This was what I wanted, but I was tired!  Everyone thought I should spring right in to motherhood, but I didn’t.  I was struggling terribly (with what later was pointed out to me, by an adoption worker, as post adoption blues).  I didn’t feel worthy of being my baby’s mom.  I would stay awake at night wondering if his birth mother was hurting, missing him.  I wondered if he missed her.  If I would ever be good enough.  I was sad, confused, and felt guilty during what should have been one of the happiest times of my life.  So… support me, on my terms.

Let’s work together to help those in the adoption community as they begin this wonderful stage of the journey! Be aware, and be sensitive/understanding and look for ways you can help, so that these new parents feel empowered and prepared to welcome home their new little one.

Navigating the Summer for Children Needing Structure

 

Summer is a time of freedom, relaxation, and rejuvenation. For some of our children, the shift from a well-structured school day to the unstructured nature of a relaxed lazy summer day at home can bring on anxiety and stress. As you prepare for summer, here are some tips and ideas to add some structure to your long relaxing days.

 

Create A Family Calendar

Creating a family calendar will not only keep you organized, but will allow your family to know what to expect each day. Think of first adding in the daily monotonous tasks like chores and naps, and then add the fun activities. Display the calendar in a place where everyone can see it. Giving your child the freedom to choose activities in their week will allow them to feel as though they have some control over the days to come. This will help to lessen their anxiety and give them a sense of understanding what the expectations of the day are. Having a family calendar with input from everyone will also allow you to minimize the battles you may face when it comes to choosing an activity.

 

Taking the calendar idea a little further, you can create a chart for daily tasks that you would like your child to complete. For instance, use pictures of items to signify each task that the child usually completes. Use a picture of a toothbrush to symbolize brushing their teeth, a shirt to symbolize getting dressed, and a bed to symbolize making their bed. Even if the child typically completes these tasks each day during the school year, they may benefit from having a visual of structured activities when they first wake up in the morning and what they are expected to accomplish.

 

 

Create A Meal Plan

Creating a meal plan will allow your child to visualize what they will be eating for their meals each day. Get the children involved! Let your child help you look through cookbooks, make a shopping list, and help you prepare the meals. If this seems overwhelming to give your child that much freedom, you can come up with a pre-made meal plan and allow your child to choose the days for each meal. You can post the meal plan in the kitchen where it will be easily seen by all members of the family. We all know that when there is a less structured environment, meal schedules and healthy eating are the first things to go. Having a structured meal plan with snack options listed will give your child options of pre-approved snacks. This way you are not having to spend so much time in the kitchen trying to come up with quick snacks to feed a disregulated child.

 

 

Join a Summer Camp

If you do not have the opportunity to stay home with your children during the summer, joining a summer camp is a great way to add structure to your child’s summer schedule. Most summer camps offer a relatively routine and structured schedule. There are loads of community opportunities and church activities that offer low cost summer camps. Joining a summer camp will allow your child to have some structure to their day without the pressure of receiving a grade. Most camps are based on completing a special project or playing games and are not based on merit or grades.  Keep an eye out for next week’s blog that will describe summer camp ideas in more detail!

 

Create An Activity Jar

Not a fan of the calendar idea and desire a little less structure? Create an activity jar for whenever your child may tell you that they are bored or if they begin to act out from a lack of routine or structure. In an age where it is so easy to hand a screen to your child in that moment, it is important to create opportunities for a child to build their own structure in play. To make an activity jar, take an empty jar and fill it with slips of paper with approved activities on each slip. For example, you can mix easy chores, short exercises, or fun activities on each slip of paper. Make sure you have all the items needed to complete each task. Allow your child to choose a few slips of paper and pick their favorite one. This will allow space for your children to learn to express creativity, problem solve, and use their imaginations to complete the tasks.

Honoring Memorial Day With Your Family

 

I’m an “Army Brat.” If that term is unfamiliar to you, it’s a common description of a child who has a parent in the U.S. Army. “Army Brats” are often born in another country, or a small town in the middle of nowhere, U.S.A.  We move around a lot, make fast friends, say goodbye to those friends and make new ones in the next town. We understand each other and feel a sense of pride in our unusual lifestyle. We also learn a great deal about honor, respect, loyalty and commitment. Most importantly, we learn to remember those who lost their lives serving our country.

Having lived for a time near our nation’s capital, my family visited national monuments, attended military band concerts, watched Memorial Day TV specials and proudly hung our flag on the front porch. I still spend that day grateful that my father, an Army officer, survived two wars. However, many are not so lucky. My mother lost an uncle during wartime. Therefore, we always kept in mind the sacrifice that so many men and women have made for our country. I fear that although, logically, most people know the meaning of Memorial Day, some look at it as a long weekend and the start of summer.

Therefore, just as I am a member of the “Army Brat” club, I am also a member of “God’s Army.” In fact, we all are members of “God’s Army.” We were adopted, by Him, to fight the good fight of our Lord Jesus. His sacrifice has made it possible for us to have eternal freedom, much like the sacrifice of those who died for our country. So, here are some ways your “Army” can honor Memorial Day this year!

  1. Pray for those who have given their lives for our freedom. Pray also for their families.
  2. Create a special PowerPoint or other media presentation to share with family, on social media or in your church.
  3. Light a special candle in your home to honor the fallen. Re-light that candle each year.
  4. Hang a flag both inside and outside your home. Have your family create a short ceremony for hanging the flags.
  5. Lay a wreath. Find a place in your community to pay tribute to fallen veterans, whether it is at a cemetery, a veteran’s memorial, or a city building.
  6. Remember active duty troops. Make a habit of praying for them daily.
  7. Do a project for active duty troops. Make military care packages. Purchase small items to mail to troops serving overseas.
  8. Take part in a community service day. Dedicate your community service to those who have died for our freedom and for those who are bravely serving our country.
  9. Learn about issues affecting veterans. Help create awareness about the physical and mental health concerns veterans have after serving during wartime.

Your family can begin a new tradition by observing Memorial Day in a special way. Not only will you enjoy valuable family time, you can help remind others that just as God sacrificed His son, many have sacrificed their lives, so we can be free.  Freedom comes at a price. May we never take that for granted.

Honoring Your Child’s Birth Mom on Mother’s Day

 

 

 

Mother’s Day can be an emotional time for women.  Some women have lost their mothers while some have lost children, others are struggling with infertility, and some women have blessed others by way of adoption.  I was a woman who, for many years, struggled on Mother’s Day due to the pain and loss experienced during my own infertility journey.  Once I became a mother through adoption it was not lost on me that I had not come to motherhood on my own.  I would forever share that day, willingly, with my children’s birthmothers.  My husband and I set a tone in our household early on of honoring our children’s birthparents.  They were not simply a means to an end for us.  Our children’s birthmothers had won a place in our hearts that is precious and absolutely unexplainable.

 

Children adopted through international adoption may never have the experience of knowing their birthmothers.  Children adopted through domestic adoption may or may not have regular contact with their birthmothers.  In either scenario, however, it is important for families to be able to honor their birthmothers, especially on Mother’s Day.

 

One way to honor your child’s birthmother can be through the telling (and re-telling) of their adoption story.  This narrative should be shared with our children more than once.  I like to take time before we go to church on Mother’s Day to sit on the couch with my son and daughter and remind them of the moment their birthmothers shared them with me.  I remind my daughter of the special moment that her birthmother was holding her in her arms, stroking her cheek, crying.  How, in that instant, she kissed her gently and placed her in my arms and how I loved her birthmother so much that my heart ached.  My son knows that, during our adoption hearing in court, his birthmother reached out for my hand and held it as my husband was on the stand.  We were united as mothers in that moment, for him. Our children were loved and considered important, above all else.

 

Some other ideas for honoring your child’s birthmother on Mother’s Day are:

  • Purchasing a flower or plant in honor of her and planting it together
  • Sending her a homemade card with artwork by the child, along with photos and a letter
  • Creating a photo book of the past year for her
  • Sending her the child’s handprint or artwork made from the handprint
  • Releasing a balloon that contains a special note to a birthmother in another part of the world with whom you do not have direct contact

 

Make your own tradition.  Follow your child’s lead.  Some children may not want to talk about their placement or birthmother from one year to the next.  That’s okay; however, revisit it the next year because as our children grow and develop, they do become more curious and open to discussion.

 

It is so important that we allow our children the opportunity to love their birthmothers openly.  I once told my kiddos “Just like I can love both of you at one time, you can love me and your birthmother at one time.”  Make it okay.  Make it intentional.

Best of Nightlight: International Adoption: Is the adoption of healthy infants selfish?

A common complaint of international adoption critics is that most of the world’s orphans are older children, whereas most families pursuing international adoption desire — and ultimately adopt — an infant or young toddler.

Therefore, the reasoning goes, . . .

1. International adoption fails to address the real orphan crisis, because the most needy children are left behind.

2. International adoption is basically a selfish enterprise of wish-fulfillment for rich Westerners who want babies.

So is it true?

Well, the original observation is accurate: most international adoptions — but my no means all — are of infants or very young toddlers. But this is by no means an argument against international adoption. Consider the following:

1. Infants who are adopted through international adoption would, apart from being adopted, grow into older children with less hope of adoption (internationally or domestically). As an older child growing up in an orphanage or in foster care, that child will have more and more developmental and other challenges with each passing year, challenges that could be largely avoided by an early adoption. So the adoption of older children to the exclusion of babies would simply delay the adoption of children until they have more problems; but it would not increase the total number of children helped by adoption. On the other hand, the adoption of infants, while not helping today’s older orphans, will reduce the number of tomorrow’s older orphans. Continue reading

Embryo Adoption Helps Family with Difficult Decision

The following was written by a mother who made the choice to donate her embryos to to the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program. 

Embryos - potential childrenI could use many words to describe life. “Fair” isn’t one of them. I have always dreamed of becoming a mother. Every job I’ve had centered around children and education. I married my prince charming and saved up for the down payment on a four door car. Next, we started researching suburban schools. There would be no crowded urban school with high drop out rate for our kids, no sir. After finding the right blend of excellent schools and business opportunities, we chose the suburb we’d move to. We chose to build a home there and I purposefully picked an open floor plan so I could watch our children play while I made wholesome dinners. Everything that we could control and plan for was done to the best of our ability…. except conception.

We stared the round of usual doctor’s appointments and tests. Five years and two surgeries later, we were still childless. We were patients of the best fertility specialist in the state (see, only the best for our kids) and had tried Inter-Uterine Insemination many times. Still, no pregnancy. Though I did watch painfully as one of my thirteen-year-old students became pregnant.

Logically we knew that the next step was In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Besides a dwindling bank account, there was another issue holding me back. I firmly believe that life begins at conception. Any fertilized embryo that this procedure creates would be one of our children. What if we decided we were “done” with our family and there were more embryos? Would they be destroyed or discarded? That was something that I just couldn’t live with. We would be creating children (embryos) and our goal was to give them a chance to live. I wouldn’t go through with the procedure if all of the embryos we created wouldn’t have a chance at life. Continue reading

Our journey to embryo adoption

The following was written by Heather Hanna, a Nightlight adoptive mother.

We are a full time ministry family blessed with six children (three teens born to us and three younger children born in our hearts from South Korea). The beautiful picture in Scripture of God adopting us into His family has been made more precious since our adoption journeys began in 2005. God moved in our hearts to consider South Korea and then moved us out of comfort zone into special needs adoption from that country; suddenly, we found ourselves going from a family with three kids to six in just 2 ½ years. We made very little money at the time, but God in His amazing heart for orphans always answered and took care of our every need through three different back-to-back adoptions. It’s been almost four years since our youngest came home from Korea and all of this time we prayed that God would open more doors for us to adopt again. Our family size as well as restrictions in our new state seemed to make adoption closed to us and our hearts ached as we waited for God to move.

We’ve known about Nightlight for many years and have known many families who have used them for their agency. What we were about to find out was that Nightlight was more than an agency, it was a family of believers who would pray for you, cheer for you and rejoice when God answered your prayers. In March of this year, we received an email about special case embryos from Nightlight. I have to admit I don’t always open these emails for fear my heart will be torn when God wasn’t yet opening doors, but that day I read. When I began reading it surprised me to hear of genetic families who were open to older moms (I am currently 40) and many children being in a family already. The idea of special case embryos (at risk for a possible genetic issue) thrilled my heart in a way that can only be explained as God moving. What happened next was amazing too. I sent my husband a message through Instant Messenger, and we chatted back and forth. We agreed that we are pro-life and being pro-life means defending life from it’s very beginning, so surprisingly he agreed to have me call and ask questions (one way we know God is moving in our hearts is when we both agree on a direction He is taking us!). I first talked to someone from Nightlight and instantly felt at peace with their friendliness as well as their resourcefulness. The next days were a whirlwind of activity as God supernaturally opened up a homestudy agency in our state that would help us with regulations against large families and we found a clinic a few hours from our home that we felt was the right place. Still, we thought is this crazy? What will our church say? What will our families say? How can we know this is God moving? We prayed and a few days later we received an email from Nightlight telling us that a genetic family had come forward and their embryos were special case embryos and they were Korean-American. We couldn’t believe that a loving God would so care for us and our heart that He would give us a potential match that would fit beautifully with the family He had given us. Continue reading

Nightlight’s First Annual eBay-a-thon

Yesterday, Nightlight launched it’s first ever, 1-week eBay-a-thon.  All proceeds will go to support our summer tour, featuring 9 children visiting from Kyrgyzstan and currently preforming in Colorado.

To participate, simply visit our eBay page and list something for sale. All proceeds are automatically given to Nightlight, if you click the box “donate my profit to charity” and then select Nightlight as the charity.

Don’t know how to sell something on eBay? No problem, just email daniel@nightlight.org a picture and description of your item, and we will sell it for you. Or…mail the item to our office and we will take it from there.

Also, check back and see what other people are selling for Nightlight’s benefit. You don’t have to sell; you can buy something to support us too!

A Dream Come True through Embryo Adoption

The following testimony is written by a Snowflakes family.

Why wasn’t one child enough for me?

Our son Thomas was healthy, smart and full of fun. The process to adopt him and bring him to our home in North Carolina had been grueling. Now Vietnam was closed for adoptions.

Why wasn’t one child enough? And why, after Thomas joined our family did I still dream at night of being pregnant?

The reason, I know now, is that God had a plan for us.

For many months I had prayed to God to help me let go of the desire to add another child to family. But international adoption didn’t seem like it would work for us again. And before we adopted Thomas we learned that the only way I would become pregnant was through IVF because we are both carriers for Cystic Fibrosis. With a 1 in 4 chance that any children we might have would have CF, that wasn’t a good option for us. Sperm and egg donors didn’t interest us either.

Then one day, I picked up a parenting magazine passed along to us by a neighbor. As I flipped through it, I found an article about embryo adoption. I had never heard of embryo adoption.

My skin felt like it was charged with electricity. Was this a way to add to our family?

I told myself that embryo adoption was only an option if I could find a Vietnamese embryo donor. What were the chances of that in the U.S.? Continue reading

Natalie’s Celebration

On June 9th, Natalie Gomez celebrated her 8th birthday … and she had a party.  But instead of gifts, Natalie asked her friends to make a donation to the orphans in the world through Orphan Galaxy.  Six years ago, Dan and Denise Gomez brought Natalie home from St. Petersburg, Russia – in fact they picked her up at her baby house on Father’s Day; a gift that Dan will never forget.  Now Natalie has a little sister, Mia, also adopted from Russia.

Unlike most children, Natalie is very much aware of the fate of the millions of children in the world without a family.  She has learned that having a family is a very special blessing, and one we shouldn’t take for granted.  So, on her birthday she decided that she would try to help those children who are still waiting for their dream to come through.  Six of her girlfriends (and her 2nd grade teacher) celebrated with Natalie and donated $97.35 (including her own chore savings) to Orphan Galaxy.  Natalie is a STAR in more ways than one.   When asked what she thought would be good to buy for the children, she said that underwear would be nice.

There are certain phrases that you just know are from the Bible.  “And a child shall lead the way” is one of them.  I remembered it as a great example of how we had to have faith like a child – free of all of the “wisdom” we think we have, and able to just believe.  Isaiah 11:6 reads “And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child will lead them.”  In a world where these natural adversaries can get along, we thank Natalie for being a great example for us.

Make a donation to Natalie’s Constellation or start your own Constellation today.