family

Review of the Multimedia Guide “Surviving the Holidays Without a Child”

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The scent of cinnamon spiced eggnog and sugar cookies. The sight of Christmas lights twinkling brightly on a tree. The sound of relatives or friends asking invasive personal questions about family planning. “When are you two going to have children?” You guessed it. Christmas.

To be honest, this isn’t a problem my husband and I faced. We have always done things a bit differently, so it’s quite possible that friends and family just learned to roll with the punches. We decided to get married within 2 months of dating. We got married on a Tuesday, a year to the day after our first date.  I wore a black dress to our wedding and there were only 6 people in attendance, including the Justice of the Peace. The list goes on from there.

We had always planned on adopting from foster care, so it was a shock to no one when we started down that path. We were often asked why we didn’t “decide to have our own” children first. I was never quite sure what to say about it. Sometimes I said, “Why did you decide to give birth?” For the most part, our family didn’t ask too many questions and let us do our thing, our own way. This isn’t always so for couples who are experiencing infertility and/or awaiting the long process of adoption. In order to help with this, Dawn Davenport, and Creating a Family.org, have created a guide to help manage the holidays. The complete guide is entitled, “Surviving the Holidays Without a Child.” It is completely free and you can download your copy at this link:

https://creatingafamily.org/guide-to-surviving-the-holidays-without-a-child/

Overall the guide was informative and interesting. I plan on using some of the suggestions to explain the absence of our teen-aged boys. This may be my hardest Christmas yet, so I am glad I have my guide. These are my favorite things about the survival guide:

It is Universal- No matter what your situation is with starting a family, the holidays are always a tough time. Everyone generally expects you to be merry and happy with family all around you. It simply isn’t the case for everyone. This guide gives practical advice, that can be applied to any situation during the holidays that causes you distress. For example, my personal guide would be entitled, “Surviving the Holidays Without My Two Disrupted Sons” or “Surviving the Holidays After Adoption Disruption.”

It Offers Practical Advice- The guide gives tips and tricks for handling emotional distress around this time. This includes exercise and rest as well as physical signs of stress. It tells you what to do in order to avoid triggers and stay sane. It also includes multimedia sources such as audio, blog posts, and articles.

It Acknowledges The Truth of Our Feelings- I am so happy that instead of telling women to hide their feelings, or act differently, it acknowledges the truth of our feelings. We all have triggers, we all get sad, we all feel the way we feel. Period. Thankfully this guide embraces that fact.

It Gives You a Practical Script of What to Say- Ever been in a situation where you don’t know how to respond to a very personal question? This guide offers phrases to use when answering sensitive questions.

It Gives You a Snarky Script of What to Say- This guide also adds some humor and levity to a heavy subject. Let’s face it, we don’t always want to be nice about this stuff! I may even use some of the one-liners myself when answering an inappropriate adoption question!

Whatever your family situation, I would highly recommend grabbing your own copy. After all, it’s free!

*Image courtesy of CreatingaFamily.org

If you’ve ever considered foster care and/or adoption, I encourage you to get started on your adventure today!

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adoption, family, fostercare, infertility

Why THESE kids?: Adventures in Finding Our Children

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“What drew you to THESE kids? Did you originally plan to adopt so many?” A friend of mine asked me recently. I had to stop and think. We certainly didn’t plan on having this many. Does anyone aside from maybe the Duggers plan to have a family this huge? Perhaps, but I haven’t met them yet.

But why? Why THESE particular children? I honestly couldn’t answer that question. Who knows? They were just our kids.

I think everyone starts a family in pretty much the same way. They want to be parents. They want to share in little league games and pre-school macaroni necklaces. People want to give goodnight kisses and pass on family traditions to a new generation.

What I want you to know from this adventure is that life never works according to a plan. Luke and I took a lot of the steps that we thought would lead us to parenthood. We got steady jobs with pensions. We bought a little house in the country with room to grow. Our neighbors has horses and goats and there was forest all around us. There was a big yard with great trees for climbing. Luke already had two children from a previous marriage. We thought we would have two more. Our plan was to conceive one child and adopt one from foster care. As a teacher I saw so many children in the system that I wished I could take home. They needed so much and there were so many amazing kids.

The plan was that I would acquire some great mom skills and then we would adopt when I was a seasoned and proficient parent. After all, if we adopted from foster care, then that child would need someone with experience and exceptional parenting skills. Right? Wrong!

Luke and I got pregnant right away. It was an ectopic pregnancy that came close to claiming my life. The damage from it made it difficult to conceive again. Even the thought of another pregnancy was terrifying to me.  We decided to take the foster parent classes and start there. Maybe we would foster a few sibling groups. Maybe eventually we would foster a child that would need us forever.

What I want you to know is that everything changed the day we me them. Our family. Our kids. We went to an “adoption party” at the encouragement of some friends who had adopted two siblings this way. I think we went more out of curiosity than actually planning to adopt right away.

It was a huge building with a million different activities. Basketball, Arts and Crafts, games and pizza. Luke and I went into the woodworking area and I looked around nervously. There was a 12-year-old boy in a huge sweatshirt building a bird house. His name was Sean. He had 3 finished products next to him already. He had curly black hair, huge brown eyes and thick eye lashes, just like my husband. He began talking to me a mile a minute. He showed me everything he had built. He was talkative and animated and he laughed so easily. He told me he loved science. He loved the Percy Jackson book series, and reading was his favorite pastime. As an avid reader I quickly became immersed in a conversation about books.  Within minutes I was smitten. I looked over his head at Luke. I nodded and he nodded back. Silently, we knew. This boy was our son. I made a wooden ring toss with him and we played a few rounds. That ring toss now sits on display in our dining room. Sean takes it down whenever he wants to see me cry a few happy tears.

12-year-old Sean introduced us to his little brother, Carl. Luke sat down with Carl and built a little wooden car. As I watched them bent over the project I had a small flutter of excitement. We had always wanted to keep siblings together. We could adopt these 2 boys and our family would be complete. I had a feeling of relief. No more pregnancies, no more trying. We would be a family without fertility treatments, worry, and fear.

After we finished building our woodworking projects it was time for the boys to eat lunch. Sean led the way and invited us to come. He said, “Do you guys wanna meet our sister?” Sister??? There were 3 kids?! Were there more? Oh my. We went anyway.

She was tiny. Mary was 6 years old at the time. A small Hispanic girl with blonde curly hair. She could have been our biological child. Not that we were looking for “matching” children, but it just seemed like some sort of sign. Sean quickly spoke for her and told us she was “quiet.” He doled out food for them and told them what they must eat and what they didn’t have to eat. He was a tiny little grown-up and they depended on him. They didn’t even all live together in the same foster home. Carl was in a separate home and it haunted me that they should all be together. Their love for each other was obvious. Another woman was at the table briefly to inquire about just Mary. the youngest only. I felt immediately protective over this little group. Who would want to break this bond? The woman was obviously impaired if she didn’t enjoy charismatic Sean and his tales from the Percy Jackson books!

Mary looked down at the table and avoided eye-contact. The woman eventually walked away. As soon as Sean scooted next to his sister, Mary leaned into him and chewed absently on his sweatshirt strings. I introduced myself and made some comments about her art project. She answered me and said a few words. It wasn’t until later I found out that she was selectively mute. I was the first adult she had spoken to outside of her family, in a very long time.

We were sold. For months afterward we pursued these kids. Luke and I spent hours debating if we would be the “right” family for these siblings. Could we do it? Financially? Emotionally? Logistically? We debated, we planned, we searched within ourselves. In the end, we couldn’t stop thinking about them. We later learned that they had an older brother. He didn’t want to be adopted at the time so we just asked if he could visit his siblings with us. Maybe we could build a relationship with him. We didn’t want our kids to lose more than they had already lost. We didn’t know it at the time, but we would eventually meet Marcus and fall in love with him, too. We brought him home a year after we were placed with the other 3. Love is a complicated and unpredictable thing.

What I want you to know is that there are things you can’t plan for. We didn’t plan to fall in love with a large sibling group. In the end we didn’t have any more money, house space, free time, or extra-super parenting skills. All we had was love and commitment. What I want you to know id that there are no perfect parents and there is no perfect family. We adjusted, we accommodated, we fell into place. We went from 2-sometimes-4 into 5-sometimes-8 in the blink of an eye.

What I want you to know is that taking a risk is the best thing we ever did. I wouldn’t trade this journey for any other.

If you’ve ever considered foster care or adoption, I encourage you to start your own adventure today!

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<a href=”http://www.nobohnsaboutit.com&#8221; target=”_self”><img src=”http://www.nobohnsaboutit.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/AdoptionTalkButton2016-e1452013232524.jpg&#8221; alt=”NoBohnsAboutIt” width=”225″ height=”225″ /></a>

** Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.

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