Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What every adoptive/Foster family needs-Post placement

I have been home for 5 months with our new Ghana kids. Just now finding a little bit of normal, oh wait we are moving scratch that! It was a very difficult (and that is a true understatement) summer transition. I have been asked by families and friends what they can do to help, when we just got back. I kept telling everyone, I don't know what I need! I have had some time to process those months and I am now able to share what families need when kids come home or have been placed for foster in your home. Or what you will probably need bringing your child home so when people from your church or friends and families ask you can say this. Or friends and families and church body we can all come together and surround families with support this way as well.

1. Newborns:
No matter what age the child is, think of it as though you brought newborns into your home. This summer I brought home twins! So now imagine what a new mom of two twin babies would need and start there. Meals sign ups, people to watch other kids while they bond, someone to help clean, bring a few bags of groceries, bring a cup of coffee, with much understanding and a big smile and hug is very necessary. They want to feel loved and supported through this transition period, they need space to bond, but they need to know family and friends are there and sometimes they don't know what they need so offering something would be the best solution.

2. Compassion and understating.
The adoption process has JUST begun when the kids come home. Its not an instant bond right away for some of us. There are tons of adjusting these kids are NOT typical and so the last thing any adoptive parents need in a lack of understanding or compassion to a new family. These kids you can bet your cowboy boots are much younger emotionally and developmentally than their age, so compassion with that will help families. Don't look at an 8 year old with 8 year old expectations. Rule of thumb 1 month for every years so for 8 months my 8 year old girl will need around the clock compassion and care, before I can even look to see her as even close to an 8 year old, right now to me she is 6. Also a listening ear, some times families need the chance to vent, without the feeling of ''I told you so, you are way over your head'' looks. Knowledge is power, if you are very close to a family and will be apart of an adoptive family it would be beneficial to get educated on how to help adoptive children and families transition home. Here is a link to a good start. It takes a village!

3. Couples need to connect:
Adoptive parents, even though the mom is not pregnant does have hormonal changes and need to go on dates with her spouse. It WILL change your marriage no matter how strong you though you were before. This is time consuming more than you probably though it would be so time away for you as parents is much needed.

4. Prayer and support:
Families need to know that they are being prayed for around the clock, this time of transition is EXTREMELY fragile! If families felt the support of a loving arms around them and felt like they could turn to a community when they needed to is much help.

5. Not a time to be critical or insensitive:
Save the drama for someone else during this transition of a family being home. Already the mother is having emotions she probably never was prepared for of even knew she was capable of feeling, so do not add to the complexity of the situation by adding any negative comments, to get a point across. This is a time of love and healing, no need to add any other components in there.

6. Learn to use the right terminology for adoption.
People are unaware of the words they choose to use when speaking of or to adoptive families for example. Which one are yours? They are ALL mine! Which one are the real ones? They are all REAL. People really are not being mean or insensitive, they just need to be taught which words are okay to use and which ones can be inappropriate especially around the family. My 10 year old is very sensitive to these words, bless his little heart.

7. You have not been forgotten!
I can imagine(maybe some of my friends or families feel this way) sometimes people may feel forgotten. Perhaps you were very close before the adoption or saw this family more often and now the kids are home you never see each other or hear from them very often. This is a HUGE life change, for a family, You are not forgotten. BUT most families do seek refuge in other adoptive families because there is a commonality there. Just like when you get married you seem to shift away from your single friends, or when you have a child, you slowly become surrounded with young families and all you do is talk about color of baby poop and car seats. Adoption world is no different.

8. Love. Love. Love , love is all you need!
It breaks my heart when I see that adoption tears a family or friends apart. Breaks my heart that there are oppositions to something this amazing. People do have their own opinions great and dandy and all, but when a family brings home a child those feelings do not need to become apart of the relationship. Let it go. I have seen it in some families lives and it really makes me so sad to see. Some friends of mine have had to really let a relationship go because the grandma could not love on the kids because of the color of their skin. IGNORANT. I can't even imagine that! I don't have that issue but that would really make me sad. Perfect Love cast out all fear. All you need is Love!

9. All children are created EQUAL.
Treat the adoptive children the same as biological as best you can. Trust me, it can be a challenge with older children, but the biological kids need to see you treating the adoptive kids just in the same way, and looking at them in the same light.

10. Still human, not saints.
I love how much encouragement I have had with our adoption, it outweighs the negative by ten fold. BUT, I feel like someone is watching for me to fail somewhere. It can be pride, yes. It can also be that we are not saints. This is a HUGE thing and yes amazing but we are human, so, these families are Not saints for what they choose to do. They are simply following something God has mandated to do.
11. Respect this families need to keep the child's story to themselves:
These kids have experienced so much more than your normal typical American child. These stories belong to the families and children. When people pry to get information even just out of curiosity you are putting the family in an awkward position to share something that's not even theirs to share in the first place. Some families will only share with very close familiy memebers or friends. Our kids stories are know by a select few that we choose to confide in. Two reason why kids are orphaned or given up for adoption. 1. death of families 2. extreme poverty.
12. Celebrations! (via@Chris B.)
When babies are born there is a celebration of some kind, shower, a party celebrating the new birth. When older children come home or even a foster child that can be overlooked. Chris B. mentioned taking the mom out to lunch even would be a treat to celebrate the families union. Same thing goes for when a family announces an adoption. For that family its just the same as saying, I have a positive pregnancy test! I have a friend when she told her parents she was adopting the mom shouted it from the roof tops she called all her friends and shared the GOOD NEWS. This is what we want as parents. Trust me, anything other would really break these families hearts.

I have some foster friends and I am in awe of what they are doing. When you foster a child you have no guarantee that the child that has been living with you that you have been calling yours will end up staying. They get to nurture a baby/child, and then many times return them to a situation they don't feel good about. Its heart wrenching, but its Gods love! This is something I have noticed and would like to share on how we can help them.
1. When a child is placed in their home, they become their child, they fit right in. My sweet friend Amie has had 18+ children in her home over the last few years, she has pictures of ALL of them. They are close to her heart. I have seen her bring them in, and they are instant family. Its amazing. So when they have a child in the home the same thing applies.
Meals, calls to check in, bonding, and even a baby shower!!

2. Yes life goes on BUT do not bombard these foster families with anything extra. Even though these kids are from the US they need hands on like you can't even imagine. These families need to be the ones being taken care of not the other way around.

3. They need to feel the support of church and family and friends. Feel that people are praying for them, encouraged in ways through the process. If the church can provide respite care for baby sitting while the couple connect, or someone to come and do laundry, I am serious here, why are you laughing?!

Foster parents (the good ones) are really amazing, get to know them. My friends Amie, Darbi, Dottie and Lorna. Erin M, I watch them love on these children I have cried with my friends as they have seen the children they have nurtured go to someone else, or worse back to an unstable home because of the law. My friend Amie has fought like a Lion for some of these children, she has shed tears, and have bruised knees from praying for them. Some she gets for a very short time, and some longer, and still they leave her home. I guarantee its a huge difference even when she may not feel like it is. She has been a safe place and a refuge for these children when the alternative is unimaginable. Its a love without guarantees, who does that remind you of? If you are in her community, PLEASE care for her she has a heart of gold, if you go to her church surround her with prayer and words or kindness.
Get to know the foster families in your church!


Jason Egly said...

Wow. That is an amazingly insightful post. I wish someone had told us all these things BEFORE we brought our kids home. We have been home 16 months and are just now beginning to get it. We were so ill-prepared.

"M" and "C" said...

Thank you! Once again, you write things that I echo! You are much better at putting them into words! Praying for you in your move! Charmaine

Richard and Gillian Tucker said...

You have captured this experience so well--thank you!! Love, Gillian Tucker

M and L said...

Perfectly said. It is all so true. As a parent you want those things, but it is difficult to say, "Hey, since our kids are coming home will you through us a party and decorate our house?" or, "that information is none of your business". Yes, awkward. Thanks and good luck in your move.

Jessica Smith said...

Thanks Natalie! As an adoptive momma to be- this great heads up information!

I have been following your FB posts and love hearing about the journey the Lord has you guys on!

Chrissy said...

Well said!
I had a few offers to throw a "baby" shower for our new three, but no one ever followed up on that. I can't even tell you how helpful it would have been... not only to have the financial assistance with the stuff we needed right away, but also to have the support of my friends and family visibly represented in a celebration of our new babies!

Amie said...

Love you so much Nat for having a heart for big and little people. You have loved all of my babies; I remember getting teary eyed with Melissa M watching you hold Daniel; the first baby you went near since Hudson had gone to be with Jesus. You were an amazing support when we had to say goodbye to Ellie and we all know how you feel about Claire Bear and her fat legs! I will miss having you near for laughs and tears, the best friends are those not afraid to bawl with you. Thank you for having the wisdom and courage to post what you did. Speaking from tons of experience, when we need help the most, we are the least likely to ask. Love you friend,

Amie said...

Thanks Nat for loving me and being such a go-getter with your heart for kids. You have been an amazing support and have loved my babies. I remeber getting all teary with Melissa M. when you held Daniel; the first baby you held since Hudson had gone home to Jesus. You cried right along with me when we had to say good-bye to Ellie, and I know you love Claire Bear's fat legs! I appreciate your post, not because you mentioned me, but because it needs to be said. I will tell you from experience that when we need help the most we are the least likely to ask for it. Love you!

Teabo Chica said...

Thanks everyone for your comments and feedback, so glad we have this community for one another!

Murphy Momma said...

Very well said. I may have to use this at Lori's shower! She's got 2 more for Eth coming home next month!

Karen said...

So good and so true. Every single point you make. I just filled out a survey for our agency and it asked: "Were you adaquately prepared for the post-placement of your adoption?" and I thought a). you never know what to expect so no, you can't be fully prepared. and b). you never know how its going to go. Our adopted child is a person, with his own emotions that cannot be predicted or controlled. The other siblings ... we don't know how they will respond/feel/bond. The parents ... we don't know how it will go. The very best thing I received post-placement was confidential friends who put their arms around me and let me share openly about my experience and did not judge me or question. HOWEVER, now that we are planning adoption #2, those same friends are 'reminding me' of how rough it was at first (just in case I forgot--HA!). It makes me wish I wouldn't have said anything at all. Nobody did that with my birth children (which was a hard transition too). Why do they discourage me from adopting again, just because it was rough initially? Shouldn't we all be ENCOURAGING each other to obey what we believe Christ is telling us to do, rather than be the negative voices cautioning each other?

Leah said...

Thanks for posting this! I just posted earlier today about how when we bring our 10 year old home from Eastern Europe in 33 days it will be the most difficult thing my husband and I have ever done. EVER. 10 years old with Down syndrome. (my 14 year old daughter has Down syndrome.) How will he process all of this? There is no way to know. We are so very excited, and scared to death all at once. Never in my life have I felt such a jumble of emotions. It's like nesting, only there is no unborn baby leaching the physical energy from me and so there is NO sleeping, only my brain spinning at night as I think of all the things that need to get done, or that I might forget, or that he might be afraid of when he comes. I honestly don't know how parents do this over and over again. And yet, if our plans work as they're supposed to, we'll be doing it again for the child we started this process with in the first place.

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Pray for sweet Abby Riggs!!