Episode 182 – Yes, Adoption is Positive. Positive Things Require Effort.

Join Sandra Flach, of Orphans No More Podcast, and me as we spend this month talking through the tiny handbook Five Things. You can grab your copy here.

1.1 Adoption is hard work.

Yes, adoption is positive. Positive things take effort. Thinking positively takes endurance and the strength to persevere. It takes time forming new grooves in the brain to think differently -it is positive work. It is still hard. Grueling. Taxing. Adoption is like that. We adoptive parents must form new grooves in our brain to account for going about process of family-building a different way than our peers. We fill out paperwork. Pour out our life stories for the home study. We are studied. Our homes are studied. Our lives are on display. Our habits and monetary value, our standards, morals and values are all scrutinized.  We take classes to teach us how to be a parent and how to parent hurt children. Friend Jeanette and her family are “jumping through the hoops” in the stages of fostering to adopt. She’s weary and hopeful at the same time, last week in an email, she changed “hoops” to “jumping through fiery hoops.” Another family on the shores of their second adoption, had several adoptions fall through before they got call number three. Jerry and I met them for dinner and we talked about things adoptive parents need to. The husband set his mind and said, “Adoption is a sure thing. if this one doesn’t work out, God will send another one.”

So, next time you ask that future adoptive parent, ‘When are you going to get your kids?” or “Are you sure this isn’t a hoax to get your money?” (both questions I was asked more than once). Instead, ask, “How can I help?” “How can I pray for you?” Or send the waiting family a card, invite them over for dinner. Encourage them.

When Jerry and I came home from our first trip to Poland (without our adopted children) and settled in to wait for the return trip, wonderful friends and family had set up our Christmas tree and decorated it. Cleaned our home. Baked us Christmas goodies and family poured in for the Christmas holiday making it much more joyful while we waited.

And adoptive parents- don’t be afraid to ask for help.  I know. That’s the last thing I want to do. I like to handle everything myself. Those five weeks I was in Poland, it was hard for me knowing someone was coming into my home and digging through that mess of Christmas decorations and seeing my dusty,messy boxes. It’s that way with our souls too. We don’t want to ask for help because people will see our weaknesses. They will see that we don’t have it altogether. Guess what, none of us do. And during this stressful precious time, ASK. ASK. ASK. If someone rebuffs you with the comments or questions I mentioned above, move on and ask someone else. Don’t shut down. You are not responsible for other people’s reactions. Their reactions don’t define you. Jesus does.

Holley Gerth says the belief that we need to change is “if we need help, we’re a burden. Because the opposite is true. In the kingdom of God, it’s more of a blessing to give than receive. So when we’re in need and we let someone help us, we’re blessing them.” (You’re Loved No Matter What)

This is a hard pill to swallow. Read that again and let it sink in.  If is hard for you to believe that, write it down somewhere and look at it often. James 1:27 is for everyone in the body of Christ. However, not everyone is called to adopt. So, in essence if you adopt/foster and you are asking non adoptive/foster families for help, you are helping them fulfill the mission.

Ask yourself, “what do I really need?”, Holley suggests, and then answer that. If you need a coffee date with a friend, then ask for it. If you need help with paperwork, or someone to come shopping with you to buy things for the child you are waiting on, ask.

And the flip side of this, if you know someone who is jumping through the fiery hoops of adoption/foster care, ask them what you can do to help. Most of the time it has nothing to do with money, just time, encouraging words and maybe putting up a Christmas tree.

*This is an excerpt from the book

FIVE THINGS: A TINY HANDBOOK FOR ADOPTIVE/FOSTER FAMILIES

Grab your copy by clicking below-

Advent Prep Day 5

Are you ready?

Advent starts on Sunday, November 29th!

We’ve been prepping for it all week- thinking about how we are going to approach this year.

  • Prepping physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.
  • Forming some new traditions.
  • Sowing seeds of celebration when your kids are in survival mode.
  • Taking some time to grieve and celebrate at the same time.

It’s time to dive in!

What’s in the book?

  • Each week day, you’ll receive a tip to help you and your kiddos thrive this season. I’ve included a few of them this week in our Advent Prep!
  • Plus read a short Biblical application to feed and nourish you soul.
  • On the weekends, read a longer lesson – Joseph, Mary, Wisemen, Jesus (in that order).
  • Bonus – I’ve included a tip for December 26th.

A Professional opinion

Adoptive families have unique challenges, which often become magnified during the holidays. Kathleen’s experience as an adoptive mother has enabled her to provide an insightful perspective that many other adoptive families can relate too. She does this in a way that also incorporates specific scripture that connects very well to the concept of adoption. This spiritual connection can help families reflect on the adoption story of Christ, as a way to help their family bond and form traditions through their own adoption stories. Parents will be able to read along on a day to day basis and reflect on their own experiences, while reading encouraging words from a fellow adoptive parent. The tips that Kathleen suggests offers comfort for adoptive families as they learn how to best navigate through the holiday season in ways that fit the specific needs of their child and their family as a whole. 

Molly McCartney, Adoption Therapist and Adoptive Parent

For All Families

Although I wrote 25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas for adoptive/foster/kids with capital letter syndromes, considering the events of 2020, all families would benefit. All kids have been traumatized by the losses this year – not seeing friends, family, events canceled, (fill in the blank).

Grab the book here!

Advent Prep Day 3

When your kids are in Survival mode

Maybe you have been following along with the Advent Prep and you’re thinking, lady, you don’t understand, my kids are in survival mode. Actually, I get it. The reason I wrote 25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas is because my kiddos were in survival mode. It started as a blog series and I got so much great feedback from adoptive/foster parents I decided to flesh it out and turn it into a book.

When Jerry and I adopted a sibling group of four from Poland, the holidays took on a new bent. Kids from hard places often do not know the meaning of celebration. We have to teach them and be patient while they sit on the sidelines or hide under the table. We parents must gently coax the child from darkness into the light without overwhelming them at the same time. It’s like walking a tightrope with no pole in the middle of a crowded mall during Christmas season. The slightest noise or smell can set these kids off and then everything is out of kilter.

My friend Molly McCartney, Adoption Therapist and Adoptive Parent said this of the book:

25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas, is a unique tool to help adoptive families throughout the busy and often hectic holiday season, especially as it focuses on specific needs that children impacted by trauma can experience.

I’m not telling you this to sell you a book, although I think it would be super helpful to you if you are raising kids who have experienced trauma. Even if your kiddos didn’t come home through foster care or adoption, the circumstances this year have been traumatic for all kiddos. That’s why I think this Advent Devotional is more important this year for all families than it ever has been.

How can you celebrate when a kid is having a meltdown?

This is a question I hear from parents often. Maybe last year you tried singing a Christmas carol every night and one kiddo sat in a corner and sulked. Or you said, “Let’s make cookies!” and some kids complained so you didn’t do it. Or you offered fun suggestions and the kids groaned so you went to your room and got under the covers and said, “Forget it!” I get it. Been there myself.

Ghost of Christmas Future

May I be your ghost of Christmas Future for a moment? If you don’t choose to do the fill in the blank (with a game, cookie making, Christmas carol, or other), guess what will happen in your future? Years from now ghosts of Christmas past will haunt your family with the vacuous vacuum of silence.

What about doing the things mentioned above anyway? What will happen then? I can tell you from my own experience. The kiddos who “didn’twantto” who “satinthecorner” or “didn’tsingthecarols” remember the past fondly. They remember the events as if they were enjoyable! Some of them joke about their stubbornness or tell stories about how great such and such was.

An example of this – a few years ago, Hubby and I took our youngest shopping about an hour and half away from our home at a large shopping complex. We went to multiple stores and ended the day with dinner out before the drive home. This was the kiddo who didn’t like going out period, holiday or no. He didn’t like Christmas shopping at all. On the way home, he said,”This was a great day. It reminds me of the Christmas shopping trips you took us on to buy gifts for each other. It was really fun.” Both hubby and I looked back at our nineteen year old son and thought -WHAT?! So, just a gentle reminder from the Ghost of Christmas Future – whatever it is, do it anyway. Adjust it to fit the special needs of your kiddos, but do it. Don’t wait for perfect conditions or everyone to be on board!

He who watches the wind [waiting for all conditions to be perfect] will not sow [seed], and he who looks at the clouds will not reap [a harvest].

Ecclesiastes 11:4

Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle with your hands in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening planting will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both alike will be good.

Ecclesiastes 11:6

Grab your copy of 25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas by clicking on the photo1

Episode 176 – Normalizing Foster Care With Rachel Eubank

Are you thinking of becoming a foster parent?
Is fear stopping you?
Do you think foster care is too hard to step into?
Then this is for you (even if you are already fostering).
Kathleen interviews Rachel Eubank, a foster parent who blogs at Normalizing Foster Care. Rachel shares her family’s connection to foster care, her story, and some great tips. Grab a cup of coffee and join these lovely ladies!

The sunny logo above is Rachel’s from her website – Normalizing Foster Care. Read some more about her here.

Yours, Mine, Ours, and Theirs

By Rachel Eubank

You can find more articles by Rachel at Normalizing Foster Care.

I have 11 permanent siblings and have had over 150 foster siblings through the years. With a family like that, we always got a lot of questions:

Are they all yours? Do you run a daycare? Whose kids are these anyway?

Before my parents met, they had previous marriages and children. When their families blended, they already had five children between them but even then, they knew that they wanted more. With my father having been in foster care his whole life and my mother being interested in fostering because of the influence of a favorite Aunt, becoming foster parents was almost pre-determined for them. They began fostering in 1975, shortly after they were married and three years before I was born.

I am the only biological child between my parents. I have 5 older half siblings from their previous marriage and 6 more siblings who were adopted throughout my parent’s foster care journey. As I was growing up, I always felt like my position in the family was a special one; I was an only child in a very large and diverse family.

There was not a time in my life that has not been touched by foster care. My parents fostered as they raised their biological families and continued to foster children in the Detroit area for a total of 35 years. A revolving door of siblings and social workers was completely normal and expected in our home. My Dad worked outside the home and for most of those years, my Mom worked in the home taking care of all of us.

The family ride, a huge passenger van! Lots of seats for lots of kids.

Our house was always full, always loud, and always busy. You never knew who was going to be at the dinner table when you got there. One night I had a friend over for dinner with the family. When my Dad got to the table after working for the day he walked by, patted my friend on the head with welcoming smile, and sat down to eat with us. After dinner he asked her if she had any pajamas with her and she said she didn’t.

“Go get her some of yours, Rachel,” my Dad said to me.

“Dad, are you sure?” I answered.

“Rachel, you know that we share everything we have, no matter what, please go get her a pair of pajamas and get ready for bed.”

I did what my Dad asked me to do and my friend got all settled in for the night. When my Dad stopped in to tuck us in and say goodnight, I hopped up and gave him a huge hug and said, “Thank you so much for letting my friend sleep over on a school night!!” From that night on, he always checked to see which kids were supposed to stay and which were supposed to go home after dinner!

Meals at our home were filled with laughter and not a small amount of chaos. My parents were playful so they often found a way to make meal time fun. We piled muffins wrappers on my Dads plate at the end of the meal and teased him for eating to much or played telephone with our empty milk cups. My parents often tell the story of when my sister wanted to play telephone but forgot to drink her milk first! Spilled milk and messes were normal for this many kids and it quickly became a favorite story to tell for years.

Mom always decorated and gave us a special meal for Valentines Day.

Just like every other family we have had ups and downs. Some of the kids that lived with us stole our hearts and broke them into pieces when they left. Some of them brought relief when it was time for them to move on. Foster care and caring for others has been woven into the fabric of our family since its very beginning and I wouldn’t have wanted to be raised any other way. Our lives may have been more chaotic than others, but our lives were normal and have been well lived.

Without foster care I would not have 6 of my precious siblings. I would not have the diversity in cultures and lifestyles and opinions in my family that I have now. Without foster care my life might have been more like what others would consider normal, but without foster care, it would have been less.

Rachel Eubank is a guest on this week’s Positive Adoption Podcast. Watch for it tomorrow!

Check out her website here.