Positive Adoption Language

As a family being formed through adoption and biological birth, we welcome talk about adoption! Most adoptive families love talking about the ups and downs of adoption, but often times, words can have a strong meaning for an adoptive family (especially an adopted child). Therefore, here are some positive adoption language you can use while talking with an adoptive family or a child who has joined a family through adoption.
Question: Are you going to have children of your own?
Instead: Do you plan on having biological children too?

The phrase “your own” implies that a family's adopted child is not “their own” and automatically sets that child apart from the rest of the family. It implies that the genetic relationship is stronger and more true and that an adoptive relationship is cautious and possibly temporary. While we know this to not be true, it can be offensive to an adoptive family and devastating for an adopted child to hear. The words "my" and "own" are very personal, especially to a child. Something that is "their own" has powerful connotation in their world, and if they aren't hearing themselves as their parents "own" it can be confusing and painful. 

Question: Why did their parents give them away?
Instead: Why did their parents make an adoption plan for their child?

In using the phrase “give them away” it sounds as though the birth parent(s) didn’t care about their child and were “giving it away” as if it were an object and unimportant. However, despite many negative portrayals of birth families in the media, this is the farthest from the truth. It is an incredible, courageous act of love to make an adoption plan for a child, even under the most difficult circumstances. It is a plan for the child to have the best possible future they can, and is not “giving them away.”

Question: Where is he/she from?
Instead: Where was he/she born?

In using the phrase “where are they from” it implies it is a foreign, unfamiliar concept that someone would come from another place rather than where you are from. It can make the child feel like an outcast. Using the phrase "where were they born," helps instill a sense of pride in the child about their heritage and birth country.

Phrase: Mia is adopted.
Instead: We adopted Mia.

In using the phrase “is adopted” the child’s identity is stated as the fact that they are adopted. Adoption is a point in a time, a specific point when a child joins their forever family. From that point on, they are every bit as part of the family as if they were born biologically into the family.

Here are some other adoption terms you might hear and the positive way to say them instead. Positive adoption language helps to lessen the amount of adoption misconceptions in our society, and helps adopted children feel every bit a part of their family as their non-adopted siblings.

Negative Word/Phrase – Positive Word/Phrase

·      real parent – biological parent
·      adoptive parent – parent
·      keeping a child – parenting a child
·      foreign child – a child born in another country
·      available child – waiting child
·      reunion – meeting

“Respectful adoption language, however, is important. Just as in advertising we choose our words carefully to portray a positive image of the product we endorse (selling Mustangs rather than Tortoises, New Yorkers rather than Podunkers), and in politics we take great care to use terminology seen positively by the class or group of people it describes. Adoption is a beautiful and healthy way to form a family and a responsible and respectable alternative to other forms of family planning” (Patricia Johnston). Using positive adoption language can be a great encouragement to families touched by adoption.


We Made the Switch!

Sunday afternoon we were hanging out at a friends house waiting for them to get home and Mekonen was supposed to be happily asleep upstairs in a pack n' play. Awhile after he goes down, Jon and I hear really loud footsteps. This house is particularly "echoey" and they sounded like a grown person's footsteps but we knew no grown ups were up there. I thought someone had broken in! Jon ran up the front stairs, I ran up the back, all the while yelling to each other we thought it was Mekonen and were afraid he'd take a trip down their very unforgiving stairs. Within seconds I see a little face, all smiles and giggles up against the glass railing... sure enough, Mekonen succeeded in climbing out of the pack n' play! We put him back to bed, and he went to sleep. A couple hours later, we hear the footsteps again. I was telling my friend, "that's exactly what it sounded like when Mekonen got out. She says, "Are you sure that's not him again?" I said, "No, I think it's Jake" (her son who was playing upstairs with a friend). Julie goes to look and sure enough, there was Mekonen looking through the glass railing upstairs, with a huge smile on his face. OH BOY.
So we get home later that night, put Meko to bed. Not once did I think he could even climb out of his crib. I was happily sleeping in, enjoying the extra sleep Mekonen took this morning. Then I was abruptly woken up with a loud crash. I thought for sure someone broke into our house. Then about 5 seconds later I hear little footsteps running down the hall and that little face appeared next to my bed. I was so relieved it wasn't a burglar and I couldn't believe he didn't break something by how big the thud was. So I put him back in his crib and said, "No, no. You stay right here until Mommy gets you. No climbing out." He cried for about 5 seconds. I was purposely waiting a few minutes to go back and get him. But about 10 seconds later I hear another loud crash and more footsteps. Out again! I put him back in the crib with the same directions. This time he gave in. Cried and read his book until I got him.

Naptime. Did the whole routine thing, put him in the crib, went out the door and stood by to watch (he couldn't see me). Within seconds, he hoisted himself up and over the rail and was dangling over the edge. I was about to run and grab him so he didn't fall, but instead he fell back the other way, back into the crib, doing a full on flip. It was all I could do to not burst into laughter.  I was kicking myself for not thinking of getting the video camera to catch that on film b/c I knew he was going to try and escape. It was probably one of the funniest things I have ever seen him do. I went back in, put him in the crib and said "No, no. You stay here. Go nigh-nights." He cried, but gave in and went to sleep.

So in fear for my son's safety going head first over the side of the crib, tonight we headed to the store and bought a bed railing and converted his crib to a toddler bed. We are using this as a transition to a real twin big boy bed since we will need the crib for the new baby in March. We figured this was a good in-between step. He was very excited jumping around on the this new bed thing of his.
But after our bedtime routine of stories with Mommy and Daddy, songs, and snuggles, we put him in his bed and told he to stay there and go to sleep. We waited outside his door. Within seconds he was out and at the door. We put him back in bed and said, "No, no. It's time for nigh-nights. Go to sleep." He cried and cried, but stayed in his bed. I felt so horrible because he sounded so sad. I thought he sounded scared at this new bed idea, but Jon said it wasn't a scared cry, just him not wanting to stay in his bed. Plus, he was WAAAAY overtired. It was an hour and a half past his bedtime and he only napped for an hour today. Within about 15 minutes he was fast asleep. We'll see how this goes!

Oh yeah, and me? I cried too. For real. I laid in bed, hugged Jon and cried. Why can't he be a baby for just a little bit longer? I only had him as a baby for so long. I missed so much.  Before I know it, he'll be in kindergarten.


Need Some Mom Advice

Baby O arrives somewhere in and around March 28th. Wow that's only 5 months away. Crazy. Anyway, there are two possible major transitions besides a new baby for Mekonen and I'm looking for some mom input! 
  • Potty training
  • From crib to bed
                                      Potty Training
 Mekonen has been showing some signs of what I'm told is being ready to potty train (but I have no clue). When he poops he will sometimes come to me with a diaper and say "poop!" Then last week he ran into my parents bathroom twice, backed his little bum up to the toilet and said, "poop!" Sure enough when I got to him, he had poop in his diaper. 
  • I know boys are usually trained later than girls. Mekonen will be two December 28th. Is it worth a shot because he would still require a lot of "help" like pants on and off and getting on and off the toilet, and not to be gross but wiping him. It's almost more work than changing a diaper, although less expensive of course. 
  • I hear some kids being potty trained for months before a new baby arrives only to "relapse" when new baby comes. Do I want to deal with that while caring for a newborn? 
  • Some people say potty training and then switching to a bed, can cause them to relapse, and they start peeing the bed, when before they didn't.
                                        Crib to Bed 
 Mekonen will be moving rooms for when the new baby comes. I think I prefer the newborn to be in the room closest to us, which means Mekonen moving rooms. The new baby will pretty much have all his nursery furniture, and if it's a boy, the same bedding and such. I don't want him to deal with adjusting to a new baby and not ALL the attention on him and then him feeling like he got "kicked out" of his room and the new baby has all his stuff, etc. So I think I need to do this very far ahead of time.

  • If all that baby transitioning might be too much, should I keep Mekonen in his current room, transition him to a bed in there, and move the nursery? That would technically be annoying and a lot of work to move around the two rooms, but doable. 
  • When do you think would be a good time to move him? (Mekonen turns 2 yrs. old December 28th and baby comes at the end of March).
  • How did you go about the process of switching? (We won't do a toddler bed, just a twin bed we already have with the kid rails on the side). 
  • This decision is big for us---Did you train your toddlers to stay in their bed in the a.m. until you come get them? Or do they just get up out of bed when they wake up? i'm trying to figure out what we want to do so I can do it from the start so as not to confuse him. I don't know that i like the idea of him possibly wondering around and getting into things in the morning if i don't hear him get up. We are not into baby proofing our house so there is no way I'm baby proofing every single thing he could ruin in our entire upstairs.
    So, that's it! The two big toddler hurdles I feel maybe we should accomplish before the end of March? Or is that too ambitious? Would love to hear your thoughts!


My Quotable Kid

I have always loved hearing all the funny things little kids say. Even before Mekonen came home I wanted to make sure as a Mom that I wrote these things down. We so often say, "Oh I'll remember" but I hear chances are slim if you don't write them down. So here I start a section called "My Quotable Kid." It probably won't have much to it now as Mekonen isn't really saying much. I plan on making my own actual "My Quotable Kid" book for him that I write in.

I have been reading the What to Expect When You're Expecting book during this pregnancy. Mekonen came over, pointed at the lady's belly on the cover and kept saying, "ball!" "ball!" I laughed as I kept saying, "No sweetie, that's a baby!" He looked confused. To him, it was perfectly obvious... that's a ball!


More Fall Fun!

Mekonen and I are here at my parents in PA while Jon is in Africa. We are having a great time hanging out with Grandma and Grandpa and cousins!!! This week we collected some really cool fall leaves on a walk in Grandma's neighborhood. Then we preserved them by ironing with wax paper and decorated Grandma's cabinet with them. Meko loved it!

So are we excited for our craft or what? 
 All set up- the leaves between the wax paper. (Excuse the huge amounts of drool on Meko's shirt).
 He was mesmerized by the ironing part. (Yes, I am crazy for letting him do this. Don't worry, he was well supervised!)
 The finished product! Aren't they cool?
 Ta-Da! Mekonen with his finished leaves!


The Newest Family Member Has Arrived!

A new teeny, tiny addition came to our family last Wednesday! My sister Rebekah gave me another little niece! She was born 6 weeks early and is hanging out in the NICU to get nice and strong before coming home. She planned her arrival just in time to see her Auntie who was coming to visit! So here she is!

Miss Kimberly Anne 
4 lbs, 17 inches
Born October 6, 2010
Meeting Kimmy in the NICU for the first time. She loved me instantly of course! ;) 
 She is so itty bitty. They put her in my arms and I couldn't believe how tiny she is. Her little head fit right in the palm of my hand.
Auntie and Kimmy. This little one holds a very special place in my heart.
 Loving her sleep.
Oh so tiny. Drinking a bottle for Daddy.

Just relaxin', enjoying her shades and dreaming of her first beach vacation!
We are very excited for Baby Kimmy's arrival to our family and would love your prayers as she continues to get stronger and stronger to come home to her Mommy and Daddy and big sisters Natalie and Jane. She is breathing on her own, holding her temperature by herself, but still needs some help with a feeding tube. She is learning to nurse and bottle feed and is getting the rest via feeding tube. I got to hold her for one of her feedings. So sweet. She can come home as soon as she can nurse or bottle feed fully. Can't wait for that day! Grow baby grow!!


Where is the Time Going?

Dear Mekonen,
You are growing up so fast. Lately, when I hold you close and kiss your little cheeks, or when you give me that big huge hug, my heart aches. It's going by too fast. I'm sure this is a normal parenting feeling, but at the same time, I feel like I haven't had enough of you. You were only a baby for so long. I missed out on so much. On 8 months! 8 months. Wow. That's a lot. I feel like I'm still trying to make up lost ground. I find myself grasping for every memory of you, never wanting to let those short "baby days" fade. I remember what your room smelled like the day we came home. I remember how we said you sounded like a little baby dinosaur when you cried or were doing your little grunts. I remember experiencing all those fun firsts, all those first family moments. My heart is sad that they are over. They were too quick. This time has flown by. I have even cried over this. Will it all go by so fast? Slow down buddy. Mommy wants more time. Here are some things you like and are doing now that I want to remember...
  • You LOVE cars and airplanes. No matter where we are, no matter what book we are reading, if there are cars, you enthusiastically point them out. Whenever you hear any loud noises outside, you look up to the sky and say, "apple" which is how you say airplane.You often hear the airplanes well before Daddy and me. 
  • You LOVE to read books. You are always bringing books to us to be read to. I hope you always do this, even when you know how to read yourself. The one you love right now is "The Storybook Treasury for Boys" and one called "All About Trucks." 
  • You LOVE to push things around, especially your large, chunky Tonka trucks. Your favorite thing is to chase Macy your dog around, which we usually have to put an end to quite fast. 
  • You LOVE parks and LOVE being outside. Everytime we leave the park, or come in from outside, you get very upset and cry. 
  • You are saying so many words and repeat almost every word we prompt you to say. Some of your new regular words are: cracker, cookie, boppy (grandpa), Magz, apple, apple (airplane), Macy, up, dow (down), moe (more), hep (help), cup, Jesu (Jesus), boot (book), buttet (bucket)
  • Everytime we get in the car you say "boot! boot!" over and over again. You are asking for the "My First Words Book." It has brightly colored labeled pictures such as cars, animals, people, etc. You can stare at one page for several minutes. I wonder what you are thinking. Usually you turn it to the page with all the cars and airplanes. One time you turned to the page of farm animals and started singing, "E-I-E-I-O!"
  • You LOVE to sing. You are such a happy boy and always babbling and singing. Your favorite songs to sing are "Jesus Loves Me," "The B-I-B-L-E," "The Itsy Bitsy Spider," and "Old MacDonald Had A Farm." You can't say most of the words, but you use your own baby language to the tune. It's right on key!
  • When we ask you what your name is you say, "Bobby!" You are calling yourself baby but it sounds like Bobby. 
  • No matter what adult is around, you take their hand and try to get them to take you outside. Even when it's dark outside. 
  • When we say "funny face!" you scrunch up your eyes and smile real funny while making a grunting noise. It's hilarious. 
  • You stopped doing sailfish when you suck your thumb (you used to keep all your fingers straight up in the air when you sucked your thumb). Now you do it the regular way with your fingers in a fist. So sad. Sailfish was your trademark! 
  • You LOVE to help Mommy around the house, especially putting the laundry in the dryer. 
  • You like to count to three with us. You say, "wuh (one), tyou (two)," and then you usually yell real loud for three, but I can't tell what you are saying.
  • When we say, "Mekonen, who is God?" You say with much enthusiasm, "Jesus!"


Training to Politeness

“Unless a man is polite towards others, he is at a disadvantage in the world” (H. Clay Trumbull). It’s probably safe to say that we would all love to have polite children. But politeness is not merely the outward behavior of getting our children to say things like “please and thank you” (i.e. manners), although proper politeness will show itself outwardly. Politeness is the state of our children’s hearts. If we can reach their hearts in this matter, we will have truly taught our children to be polite, not just put on a show for others. The result? A happy well-balanced child who finds satisfaction in his life because he lives his life for the betterment of others, and not for himself. And bonus? They are a delight to be around.

Politeness is not a natural quality. We like to think of ourselves first. Just take a look at my toddler and you’ll see! Politeness is something that needs careful and thoughtful training.

Often times, it seems as though we try and teach our children to not think of themselves, by saying, “Don't be selfish,” or “don’t take for yourself first.”  Real politeness happens when our children lose sight of themselves, or as the Bible describes it, "prefer one another over yourself" or "think on the interests of others."  The best way to help our children understand this is not to tell them to forget themselves, but instead tell them to think of others. “The more a person tries to forget himself, the surer he will be to think of himself. But when a child thinks of others, his thoughts go away from himself, and self-forgetfulness is a result, rather than a cause of his action.” (H. Clay Trumbull).
 So what does this look like in every day life? Train your child to…
·      Give a verbal expression for all acts of kindness or attention given to them, such as please and thank you.
·      Properly greet others with a hello and goodbye and to properly answer questions asked them, such as “how are you?” Don’t allow the excuse of a “shy” child to cause your child to turn his head or melt into mom or dad’s shoulder without an answer. Help the shy child by encouraging them to think of the other person, taking the focus off of them, and onto the other person.
·      Extend a hand in response to someone greeting them in this way.
·      Make it his job to find what his playmate wants to play while at your child’s home. When going to another child’s home, train your child to be a sharer and to enjoy whatever their playmate wants to do. When he comes home, ask him about it and what things he found interesting. Respond with encouragement to continue, or counsel on how to display better politeness.
·      Ask questions about other people. This one is difficult for children and is best taught through role playing with your child. Practice meeting a new friend. You play the friend and have your child ask questions about you. Practice asking what they want to play, or have them practice responding when someone else wants to play something.  This can practiced in terms of adults as well. Parent can say, “Jonny, can you think of two questions you can ask Mrs. Smith when she comes over for lunch?”
Role play will take a significant part of training in politeness in all the above areas. You can work on these several times a week and use language that helps your children think of others.

When your child misses out on an opportunity to be polite or think of others, you can counsel them by talking about how they forgot to think of the other person and missed out on feeling happy about doing something nice. Our children will find great satisfaction in meeting the needs of others as they find themselves responsible for the well-being and happiness of someone else.


Some Fall Fun!

We are loving this fall weather! We go for a walk and play outside everyday. The crisp air feels so good! Here are some things we've done to enjoy the season so far.

Some of the fall books we have been reading from the library. 
Going on a nature walk to collect things for our craft.
Mekonen LOVES to collect things in his bucket. He calls it a "buttet."
Making a collage of all the things we found!
Mekonen is so proud of his creation. 
His collage on display for all to see. 
Coloring his apple craft

 Ta-da! Such cute scribbles!