Being an adoptive or foster parent is one of life’s greatest joys. I also believe that we need to practice self-care in ways that are slightly different from parents of biological and neurotypical children. To be honest, it has taken several years of unhealthy comparisons and guilty feelings to be able to arrive at that conclusion! I am still learning how to maintain a healthy balance between work, play and rest, and these are the lessons that seem to surface most often.
My biological family consists of my older brother and my single mother. My biological father has now been in prison for over 21 years, as long as I have been alive. For a while, the three of us were all we had. My mother’s parents were murdered and my dad’s parents are addicted to drugs. I didn’t have a lot of extended family growing up until God sent us to the West Metro Church of Christ in the Detroit area. My mom was getting assistance from a crisis pregnancy center and a woman who volunteered there, named Janet, reached out and shared her faith with my mom. Because Janet was willing to share her faith, I was given the opportunity to have a chance to be where I am today.
There are many things I have learned from Lianne since we adopted her six years ago, at age 13. If you were to ask my family, they would say one of the most important things is kindness. For instance, living with three other women (my teen daughters) meant that we all had our "cycles" about the same time every month. You can probably imagine what that was like, and it wasn't the sweet bonding time that the book, The Red Tent, talks about, either.
My name is Kiana and I’m 34 years old. I was met and baptized in the teen ministry in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1998. I’m currently in the singles ministry in the Asheville Church in North Carolina. In my current position I research youth with special healthcare needs and the transition to adulthood and adult healthcare.
I have a clematis vine that climbs the outside of our screened-in porch. Unfortunately, from the inside we can’t see the beautiful flowers, only bare vines and a few green leaves. It's not very pretty, but it does a nice job of blocking the view of a busy road. A while back I noticed a couple of cardinals spending more than their fair share of time on the vine. Then a nest snuggled in its branches. And most recently, two sparsely feathered babies, instinctively craning their necks toward the sky. So tiny and magical. The kids set up a little viewing stool on the porch and starting referring to them as “the babies.” And suddenly from our side of the screen we were no longer staring at bare twigs, we had a birds-eye view of miraculous.
In August 2003, five families from around the U.S. traveled to China together to adopt our children through HOPE for Children. We arrived in Changsha, the capital city of the Hunan Province, early Sunday afternoon.
It's perfectly normal for adoptive parents to look at their new child and wonder if they will ever fit into the family, or if you'll ever truly love that child or even if they will return that love. Often parents find out that their expectations of what the bonding process would be like is inaccurate and they find themselves in a state of disappointment or frustration. The journey may go smoothly or may be bumpy, but here are some strategies for bonding with your adopted child.
The month of May brings wonderful thoughts of spring flowers, and Mother's Day! As an adoptive mom, my mind floods with joys of parenting and my dreams for my children. I am also reminded of the challenges and how scary it is as a mom to watch them navigate the waters of adulthood. It's thrilling to know fine young men and women who are adopted and thriving. Rebekah Brandenburg is one of them.
One of the most valuable bits of advice I ever received in an adoption class was, "Adoption is not about adopting the perfect child to fit into your perfect family." If you do enter into adoption with that mindset, buckle your seatbelt…because your world is about to be rocked!
When our children were very small, we found that reading adoption related books together was a way to touch on sensitive topics or reassure them of our love in a way that was non-threatening, indirect and just plain fun. This “back door” approach is still at times our only approach when our kids are not emotionally in a place to ask questions or to talk about their fears. A good book doesn’t have to be specifically about adoption and a few of these are not. You may be surprised to find some ordinary titles taking on a completely new meaning when viewed through the lens of adoption! Here are a few of our family favorites for the preschool through early elementary age range.