Tuesday, January 21, 2020

9 Children's Picture Books For Young Kids With Big Feelings

I'm parenting a child with big feelings. BIG happy, BIG mad, BIG disappointed, BIG enthusiastic, BIG empathy, BIG resistance. Every feeling is big. There is both beauty and pain in this. Getting a child with big feelings to cooperate isn't easy.

We've had a lot of trial and error. I admit, I've had some total breakdowns in my minivan--feeling unequipped to deal with a particular situation. I don't want to fail my kid--knowing I need to be the adult they desperately need.

I have several tools I've used that have helped. First, we created our Angry Bowl. It's worked very well!

Second, we have a home sensory gym. It's important for kids with sensory issues to have a balance of calmer activities and gross motor activities. Both of which need to include plenty of sensory-friendly opportunities.

Third, I've worked to educate myself. Reading Sensational Kids, The Whole Brain Child, and The Connected Child has been helpful for me to understand why old school parenting just doesn't make sense for adoptees and children with special needs. (Arguably--it doesn't make sense for any child). 

Reading can be a calming activity for a child with special needs. I encourage you to read quietly, but also make it fun! Use different voices, read in various locations (whatever works for the kiddo), and make sure you have books in a variety of locations throughout your home so they are easily accessible.

Not only is reading important, but what you read is just as essential. Kids with big feelings need affirmation and techniques to help them navigate what's going on in their hearts and brains. Thankfully, there are many great picture book options that have helped my kiddo--and I'm sure will help yours, too!

What I love about these books is that they don't shame the child for having big feelings. Instead, they honestly and openly discuss them, but also encourage the child to take charge and to own their choices--showing them how empowering big feelings can be!

Click on the book cover to read reviews, a full description, get a sneak peek inside, and purchase:

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

20 Things You Need to Know If You're Adopting a Child In 2020

Happy 2020, everyone! What an exciting year to adopt! I'm thankful that there is more information out there more than ever. When we started our adoption journey well over a decade ago, the resources were seriously lacking. We spent a lot of time scrambling and digging, trying to self-educate.

I truly believe that the more you know, the more adoption woke you become, the more ethical the journey will be. Why do adoption ethics matter so much? Well, I explain that in detail here. But in essence? Every choice you make now may very well impact others--including your child and their biological family, and of course, you too--forever. 

Now that we've the importance of adoption ethics established, here are twenty things you need to know about adoption in 2020.

1: Learn about the Adoption Tax Credit.

It's that time of the year when everyone is in full-on tax preparation mode. There is an adoption tax credit. You can get the adoption tax credit guidelines directly from the IRS website. It's usually easier to have a professional prepare your taxes when you're claiming the tax credit to make sure everything is done correctly.

2: Have the (adoption) baby shower.

Yes, it's OK to have a baby or child shower. You are an REM, as explained in The Hopeful Mom's Guide to Adoption = a Real Expecting Mom. 

3: Educate your loved ones on the adoption process.

Don't leave your loved ones in the dark when it comes to adoption education. I highly recommend getting your nearest-and-dearest two books: In On It and Adoption is a Family Affair.

4: Establish an adoption village around your family.

You're in charge--and you need to take charge. Having a support system in place is critical to a family's success! I believe that the best village includes those who racially match your child + fellow adoptees, plus other adoptive families. 

5: Learn about connective, trauma-informed parenting.

Many of us in the adoption community use resources like Empowered to Connect and books by Dan Siegel because we have realized that parenting adoptees--who arguably have all experienced some level of trauma--means learning to parent differently than how we were raised. 

6: Get informed about adoptive breastfeeding.

Attachment parenting practices can be incredibly beneficial to the family who adopts. Adoptive breastfeeding in one option. There's a fantastic book called Breastfeeding Without Birthing to help you get informed. Not your thing? There are other options like skin-to-skin, bottle nursing, and other attachment parenting practices like baby-wearing.

7: Listen and learn from adoptees.

Adoptees are those who were (or some say "are") adopted. More and more adult adoptees are speaking out about their experiences. Check out some of my favorites, including Michelle Madrid-Branch, the guys who host Yes, I'm Adopted. Don't Make It Weird, and Katie Naftzger.

8: Listen and learn from birth parents.

Of course, it's important to listen to another important person in the adoption triad: birth parents. (In case you're new to adoption, the "adoption triad" refers to the adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoptee.) Jill M. Murphy is one of my favorite resources, the author of Finding Motherhood. She's a birth mom and a mom-by-international-transracial adoption.

9: Post-adoption depression is real.

Learn what you can about post-adoption depression. It doesn't mean you'll experience it--but if you do, you'll be able to recognize the signs and know what steps to take next. 

10: Discover more about open adoption.

More and more adoptions are starting out as, or becoming more, open. Because of this, it's important to understand what open adoption is and isn't, how to have a healthy open adoption, and what to do when challenges arise. We talk a lot about open adoption here--because we have four open adoptions

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Question we get often. Do I do my kids’ hair? Yes and no. For the older girls: I shampoo, condition, moisturize, detangle, blow dry (prep). Braider braids. Hubby takes braids out. It takes THREE of us! Our son: he goes to a barber and gets a bald fade. He prefers short hair. Our toddler: I do it all. Sometimes free, sometimes puffs, sometimes box braids with beads. πŸ‘±πŸΌ‍♂️πŸ‘±πŸΌ‍♀️πŸ‘©πŸΎ‍πŸ¦±πŸ‘©πŸΏ‍πŸ¦±πŸ‘¦πŸ½πŸ‘§πŸΏ Have a question for me? Who does hair in your fam? πŸ‘‡πŸΌπŸ‘‡πŸ½πŸ‘‡πŸΎ . . . #bigfamily #multiracialfamily #momlife #transracialadoption #lovemakesafamily #melaninpoppin #adoptionislove #naturalhair #november #nationaladoptionmonth #whitesugarbrownsugar #friday #fridayvibes😎
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11: DNA testing is becoming more popular.

DNA testing is a controversial topic--but especially in the adoption community. Do you dare open up that "can of worms"? When is DNA testing OK and when is it not? I give you an honest review of Ancestry DNA testing here.

12: Select an ethical adoption agency or professional.

Choosing whom you'll work with is among the most important adoption decisions you'll ever make. Don't think that just because an agency is Christian, it is ethical by default. I give you everything you need to know when choosing an adoption agency here

13: Support your transracial adoptee.

Adopting transracially and being a multiracial family is different than raising a child of the same race--majorly different. Be prepared! Learn all you can about how to support your transracial adoptee

14: Learn how to fundraise.

Many who adopt rely on fundraising and grants to do so. This is another controversial topic in the adoption community--one that you need to delve into and decide upon. 

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Garlinghouse adoption fact: we went into adoption not knowing how many kids, what sex, what level of need, or what race our children would be.πŸ’“ In 2008, we were chosen to adopt a newborn Black baby girl. Two years later, another Black baby girl. Two years later, a Black baby boy. Three years later, a Black baby girl. Our family is multiracial, big, and there are some special needs. I wouldn’t have it any other way. πŸ’“ What’s your family like? πŸ‘‡πŸΌπŸ‘‡πŸ½πŸ‘‡πŸΎ . . . #multiracialfamily #adoptivefamily #bigfamily #daughter #son #whitesugarbrownsugar #adoption #adoptivemom #adoptee #adoptionjourney #adoptionstory #lovemakesafamily #adoptionislove #openadoption #domesticadoption #newbornadoption #transracialadoption #transracialfamily #transracialadoptee #sunday #sundayfunday
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15: Never stop learning.

I advise families to never stop learning about adoption. More and more resources are becoming available to us including studies, articles, podcasts, videos, conferences, workshops, and books. One thing you can do is make sure to keep up with the latest blog posts. I'm posting the latest information as it becomes available to us.

16: Know that a "failed adoption" is a possibility.

We've experienced multiple situations where the adoption didn't happen--and yes, it left us brokenhearted, disappointed, angry, frustrated, and uncertain. But the reality is, a mom and dad have every right to parent their own child--and we, as hopeful adoptive parents, don't have the right to someone else's baby. What is the correct response? I outline that here.

17: It's OK to fall in love with a child who isn't yours.

Being so guarded that you fail to open your heart isn't healthy. There is always a risk of an adoption not happening. But that doesn't mean you walk around with walls up. This was a powerful lesson I learned during our fourth adoption.

18: Adoption language matters.

There are certain problematic phrases that are common in the adoption community. One example is "adoption rocks" which many adoptees take issue with. Learn about adoption language and why it matters what you say and share on social media.

19: Your child's adoption story is sacred and privacy matters.

I know you're excited to adopt--but please, don't hand out your child's adoption story to anyone who asks you about it. It's important, from the get-go, that you learn to respect your child's sacred adoption story. 

20: No adoption is easy.

The adoption process and subsequent parenting of an adoptee is a journey--one with ups and downs. You need to be committed, relentless, and ever-mindful of what it means to parent an adoptee. You CAN do this.

Cheers to the new year, to your new adoption adventure, and for all that comes next!