First Day Jitters

M started pre-k today! This is her first year going all day.

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She was excited for school to start.  But she did ask questions like, “What if I can’t find the cafeteria?” and “What if I don’t know the other kids’ names?”  I’m glad we could talk through her fears.  And I’m sure she will catch on quickly.

It’s going to be a great year!  (She has grown a lot since last year.)

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Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio.

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Twenty Sixteen – part one

The first half of this year has been full We have had a lot of challenges in our family.  But we are resting in the One who is orchestrating our life.  Recently, I was reminded that God is a God of order.  It brought comfort as I can feel circumstances are confusing and uncertain and, sometimes, a total mess.  But, by His grace, I know God has ordained each day for our family.  We take one day at a time, in the order God has chosen.

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I’m behind on sharing photos. Here’s a few of our growing girly!

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– – – –

Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio.

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Easter 2015

Happy Resurrection Day!

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I took some photos of “M” while the babies were resting today.

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– – – –

Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio.

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3-year-old Portraits

We try to get family portraits taken each fall, after Moriah’s birthday. I always hope we get at least one shot that is Christmas-card worthy! Haha!

I kept her hair loose and it was a bit unpredictable during the session. But most of the shots worked out (I did edit out some wild strands in the one of me and her). Her “free” hair matched her free spirit this day! (She usually cries during studio sessions.) The photographer did a great job with a squirmy, excited toddler and two adults wearing glasses (glare).

We are thankful for our 3 year old!

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Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio. Learn more about Joey and Elaine.

 

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1st Day of Fall

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This little lady is enjoying the (slightly) cooler weather so she can play outside longer! I didn’t intend to photograph her pants so I let her wear sweats… oh well. 😉

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I made a digital scrapbook page for her album:

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Credits:
Repartee Full Kit and Repartee Wood Flairs and All Laid Out – Vol 7 template from Dawn by Design
Fonts are Pea Elaine, Pea Eleanor, WaterBrushROB, Traveling Typewriter

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Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio. Learn more about Joey and Elaine.

 

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almost three

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This is little girl will be 3 years old next month! She is growing and changing every day — we are thankful to know her and raise her.

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This week we had VBS at church. On the first night, Moriah talked all the way home about how great it was. I heard every detail — she even had to mention that she spilled her juice at snack time (and pushed her friend at some point)! Her favorite part was singing, dancing, and watching the puppets.

She decided Daddy is probably “too old” to like puppets. I asked her, “How old is Daddy?” She replied matter-of-factly, “3 ounces.”

Haha! That sure is a big number 🙂

 

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– – – –

Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio. Learn more about Joey and Elaine.

 

 

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pray not for lighter tasks but greater strength

Many nights before bedtime, Moriah will climb up onto her stool so Mommy can prep her hair for bed.

I spritz her head with water, apply a fresh layer of coconut oil, detangle with my fingers, and flat-twist sections that end in bantu knots. This process takes about 40-60 minutes. While I work, she watches a movie. (We have worked up to this point! It’s not easy convincing a two-year-old to sit still for anything, let alone to have her hair tugged.) In the morning, the twists are taken down and I can style her soft curls.

Often we skip this nighttime process because it seems time-consuming since I will re-do her hair in the morning. But if I skip it several nights in a row, her hair gets dry and more difficult to manage.

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Last week, as I prepared her hair for bed, I thought about other aspects of life that require deliberate labor only to be undone for another purpose. The temporary “end” isn’t the end at all. The labor was not in vain; moreover, it becomes a step in the process.

Foster care is actually a lot like that.

Last week — within a few days of one another — both of the babies we were caring for returned to family. Since then we have been thinking about them and praying for their families as they transition. This morning I received a text message from a baby’s family member (and new caregiver). She said, “This is the best no sleep ever!”

Yep, that about sums up the last 3 years of my life.

I regularly think my mind and body cannot withstand more sleepless nights with another newborn. After a few weeks of 6 hours of frequently interrupted sleep, I think neither clearly nor quickly. I no longer have energy to [insert any daily task]. AND YET, I somehow love my kids and play and cook and soothe and train and get to appointments on time anyway. That kind of strength does not come from me.

I was moved when I read a quote from W.R. McChesney:

“We pray not for lighter tasks but greater strength.”

I pray for greater strength to live in and navigate this broken world, especially when encountering hurting children who may not know a home with a safe bed nor a table with regular and nutritious meals.

I pray for greater strength as I strive to be a godly parent and caregiver. Parenthood–no matter the path to this position–is often filled with joy and also sorrow.

I pray for greater strength to affirm dignity in difficult people, who may be living with consequences of poor choices.

I pray for greater strength.

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written,

     “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
         his righteousness endures forever.”

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! –The Bible, 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 (ESV)

Thanks be to God!

He supplies the strength for the tasks He has called us to.

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– – – –

Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio. Learn more about Joey and Elaine.

 

 

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Are personal questions acceptable?

As foster parents we know many other families who have adopted children of various ages. In our area, though, most of the adoptees share the same race as their new parents so their non-biological relationship is not usually apparent just by looking at the family.

For us, however, as a Caucasian couple with a daughter of color, she/we get quizzical looks. We live in an area where talking to strangers is polite and the norm. Most people are very sweet and merely comment on Moriah’s beauty or her pretty, curly locks. I smile, thank them, and move along.

Some people, though, will say things like, “I need to get one of those.” Huh? I think they are trying to connect with us or affirm our decision to adopt.

But it just doesn’t sit right. On so many levels.

I am conflicted about comments like these: I want to correct them, but the grocery store isn’t quite the right place to instruct. And, ultimately, do I really want to subject my daughter to that conversation when we will likely never see this person again? Moreover, I want to protect Moriah so that she remains confident and self-assured.

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As a multiracial family, we will draw attention that single-race families do not; and, thus, positioning adoption as a defining aspect of our home. I do not want to limit Moriah by labels. Rather, I want her to understand and embrace her heritage as best as possible (both biological and adopted). And, therefore, helping her to value her identity, her self.

Justin Taylor of The Gospel Coalition says, “We don’t regard our transracial adoption as something especially noble or sacrificial, or anything like a social statement. This is simply the way that God in his providence has designed our family to expand, and we sense his great grace in the way he has knit our family together.”

It’s just our family. It should be that simple. However rude or ignorant comments reveal that it is not simple at all.

I recently shared a video by adoptive parents, Jesse and Marisa Butterworth. They came up with a rule of thumb: “If you wouldn’t say it about a boob job, don’t say it about an adoptive family.” Jesse offered suggestions (corrections) to help people avoid vocabulary faux pas when talking to adoptive families. Among the list of no-no questions were, “Is that your real daughter?” and “Where’d you get her?” He rephrased the questions with more acceptable ones like “Is she your biological daughter?” and “Where is she from?”

I shared the video — at the risk of offending people — because I felt it was a humorous way to educate. Like the Butterworth’s, I want to protect my daughter from inappropriate comments (particularly, intrusive comments made by strangers).

It felt a bit “PC” to me at the time, but I still saw value in the overall message.

A few days later I read a round table discussion between 10 adult adoptees. The Lost Daughters unanimously did not like that video. From their vantage point, the video makes an attempt to challenge social blunders but, instead, merely relabeled the disrespectful thinking instead of correcting it. Although this roundtable does not represent the opinion of all adoptees, it was interesting and insightful.

The group of ladies saw this video as a microagression. A microagression is when someone acts on a bias while being unconscious that he or she even has biased attitudes or feelings. In particular, a microagression is a demeaning message sent to a group of people by well-intentioned people who are unaware of the hidden messages being sent (source).

Amanda Woolston said,

Being a parent makes you an advocate for your child which means being willing to be uncomfortable for the child’s sake. This means not shutting adoption discourse down when you have a chance to engage with people about real change that can make a more positive atmosphere for adopted people. And not treating us like invisible, unaware bystanders who aren’t affected by these comments people make (or moreso).

Moreover, adoptive parents themselves may unintentionally spread messages that present the adoptee as a perpetual child. This renders the adoptee “voiceless.”

But the fact remains that right now my daughter IS a child — a toddler. She is an impressionable two-year-old who hears and processes (and sometimes repeats) what people say around here.

It seems the point The Lost Daughters are trying to make, though, goes beyond the parent’s responsibility to protect and train a minor child.

Karen Pickell adds:

… This video and other efforts like it consider only one point of view, that of the adoptive parent. They perpetuate the idea that the adoptive parent is the most important person to consider when thinking about adoption, when the reality is that it is the adopted person who should be forefront in the mind of anyone having a dialogue about adoption. Don’t misunderstand–I’m not saying that adoptive and original parents are unimportant or that their experiences should be discounted. I’m saying that adopted people are the ones most affected by adoption and, therefore, must always be considered in every conversation about adoption.

This is what I may have missed before: our need to train Moriah to take the lead in these conversations. I instinctively want to hold back, and maybe I should. Yet I can show her how to speak up with respect about her birth-family and adoptive family. To teach her that certain questions should only be asked by close friends or family. To affirm that she gets to decide whether or not to answer. And to offer appropriate ways to respond to impolite inquiries and insults — because they will come.

Again, Amanda offers:

I think the world forgets that adoptees offer keen insight on these remarks and they neglect to ask us our insight. As an adoptee, I have had almost 29 years of experience with these remarks. I can tell my parents how I’d like them to respond to questions asked about me. … “Is she your real daughter?” Yes, she is real. She also has two sets of real parents. “Where did you get her?” I’m sorry, can you rephrase that? “Do you wish you had one of your own?” She has two families and both are her own.

So much patience and empathy is needed as we navigate this journey together. I am thankful that I can learn from adult adoptees and, hopefully, our inquisitive neighbors will welcome instruction, too, with grace and kindness.

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– – – –

Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio. Learn more about Joey and Elaine.

 

 

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