Adoption from a Sibling’s Perspective

 

My brother came home on my 5th birthday! He was the best birthday present! Admittedly, I was a bit disappointed he was too little to play school, play dolls or go to the park. He had a beautiful smile and I didn’t mind even when he cried or needed a diaper change. He was ‘my’ baby brother! My sister was born almost 2 years later. Although she and I look very much alike and share the same genetic make up, my brother is just as much my sibling! I loved having younger siblings most of the time. However when doing something embarrassing, like playing with their food at a restaurant or acting annoying, I would ask my parent ‘what they were thinking, having more children?’ It never really occurred to me that there was any difference in my siblings. Either they were annoying or cute, sometimes together and sometimes separately. But, I never questioned our relationship. As adults, we don’t always agree on issues, but we love one another and stand up for one another.

Our children are not all biologically related, yet they are siblings. They all share us as parents. At times like me, they have ups and downs with their siblings. Alliances and arguments occur between siblings just as they do between political entities. When our girls were little, I once heard them arguing and was heading towards their room to intervene, when I heard one of them say, ‘We need to fix this fast or Mama will come in and make us talk!’ I turned around to let them resolve their differences. There can be rivalry between siblings if they are close in age, are jealous of a family relationship or just because they are siblings. Just as I had to get used to having 2 siblings, so my children have adjusted to our successive adoptions and new siblings added to our family.

It is important to plan and recognize that adoption affects all members of the family. Home grown children will have to adjust to the new adoptee just as the new adoptee will have to get used to and develop a relationship with all family members. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle, where you have to figure out where each person fits in your family, just as you determine where each piece of the puzzle fits. Adjustment and acceptance takes time, effort and a commitment to love and family. It does not happen right away, but with time, shared experiences and a lot of patience and encouragement.

 

Below are some some articles about siblings and adoption. I hope you find them helpful!

 

Articles:

The Influence of Adoption on Sibling Relationships – British Journal of Social Work Vol 47, issue 6.

https://academic.oup.com/bjsw/article/47/6/1781/4554334

Rivalry with an Adopted Sibling – Regina Kupecky, Adoptive Families journal

https://www.adoptivefamilies.com/adoption-bonding-home/rivalry-with-newly-adopted-sibling-older-child/

The Sibling Connection – Lois Molina, Adoptive Families journal

https://www.adoptivefamilies.com/parenting/sibling-relationships-biological-or-not/

Welcoming a New Brother or Sister Through Adoption  by Aleta James 

 

Some good children’s books on adoption and sibling relationships:

‘A New Barker in the House’ by Tomie dePaula

Bringing Asha Home by Uma Krishnaswami

 

Discussing Adoption Through Story Books

 

Finding just the right adoption book for your child can be daunting. When my daughters –who are now 28 and 31 years old– were young, there were very few books from which to choose, and quite frankly, I found the content very narrow. For example, one book told how a mommy bunny placed her baby bunny for adoption due her not being able to care for her little baby bunny. Some parents felt the book presented mommy bunny needing to make an adoption decision based solely on her lack of financial resources. A woman’s lack of funds then begs the question, as pronounced by one little adoptee, “Mommy, why didn’t you just send my birth mother money?” While it is true that finances often play a factor in a women’s decision to make an adoption plan, there are many reasons why an expectant women and her partner may choose not to parent. Addressing why an adoption plan is made is often avoided in adoption books. Some books just tell the joy of the adoptive parents and the child. Some topics, such as abuse and neglect, may be too delicate to overtly state in a book directed at the very young; while stories of Chinese adoptions must either tackle or avoid the issue of abandonment.

With so many books from which to choose, how do you, as a parent, decide which ones are appropriate for your child and her particular situation and her age? Predicting how your child may react to a book can be complicated.

First, you want to consider your child’s adoptive relationship with you. For example, your child may not be legally adopted by you. If your child is in a guardian or relative placement, then a book that discusses various family compositions, without mentioning adoption, may be appropriate, such as The Family Book by Todd Parr.

If your child is or has been in foster care, you may want to read Murphy’s Three Homes: A Story for Children in Foster Care by Jan Levinson Gilman. To learn more about other books that address issues of loss, grief, shame, confusion, fear and attachment for children in foster care, visit this YouTube Review of Books for Children in Foster Care.

For those who have adopted an infant, Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born, by Jamie Lee Curtis, is a favorite. This book tells the story of the parents’ excitement of getting a call to receive their newborn infant. The focus is on the parents and the baby. It really could be a book about any baby entering a family—If only the mom had been in labor instead. It does not address adoption issues, and could be a first book for small children in which you with your child can begin the adoption discussion.

When wanting to share what makes your child unique, you can reach for One Wonderful You by Francie Portnoy. The author states, “You are unique because you are a wonderful blend of two families…”

Shaoey and Dot, by Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman, is narrated by a ladybug who accompanies a baby abandoned in China who is then be placed in an orphanage, adopted, and then flown home with her parents. The ladybug shares its feelings and could be a springboard for discussing other strong and sensitive emotions with your child.

 

There is a plethora of books available. So before you present a book to your child, read it first. Also, see what comments/reviews are written regarding the book. As noted, there are YouTube and other platforms to learn more about each book.

 

Although many of the children’s books do not address serious topics, this does not mean your child is not thinking about his birth parents or why he was placed for adoption, abandoned, or removed from his birth parents. These are tough subjects, so make story time very special by creating a cozy and secure setting—free of distractions. Leave plenty of time to talk out questions and feelings your child may have. If you quickly read such a book—especially just before bed—your child may still have some unresolved feelings that can make sleep difficult.

 

As you read books—not necessarily just adoption books—start with the simple. If a book has lots of words and fewer pictures, and may be more than your child can absorb, you can just pare it down. Even non-adoption books can be used to bring up feelings related to having parents, losing parents, as well as proper parental care, and being neglected. Asking questions in a calm and tender way, can help elicit thoughts and feelings from your child that he may not otherwise share.

 

Here are ways to introduce adoption topics to your child at each stage:

 

Pre-school. You can start with the Three Little Bears—a non-adoption book. There is a mommy and daddy, and baby bear. Discuss with your child what the mommy may be thinking. Ask such questions as, “Why would mommy and daddy bear want baby bear’s porridge to be ‘just right’”? Such questions can lead the child, who may have come from a difficult past, to discuss what it may be like to have little food or not to have a mommy who carefully fed her child. You could ask your child, “How do you think the mommy bear fed her little cub?” Then you, as the parent, can show your child how you may have fed her if she were your little bear. You may also discuss with your child how you are sad you could not be there to have fed her porridge when she was just a tiny little bear.

 

Even if the author of an adoption books tends to avoid difficult topics, you can later bring more negative aspects of a child’s life into the story. For example, after reading in the story of Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born, for the zillionth time, you may ask, “Why do you think the baby is going to a new mommy and daddy?” From there you can discuss reasons why a child may be placed for adoption. You can ask, “How do you think the baby’s birth mother and father may have been feeling that night?”

 

School-Age: At this stage some of the picture story books may be too “babyish” for your child, but you can use them as a way to snuggle and have the child read to you. Ask your child questions about the various characters and what they may be feeling. “What are some reasons why the baby was carefully placed in a basket and left where people could find her?” “What do you think it was like for a baby or child to be in an airplane going to his new home?”

 

Middle-School: This is a time when you address more serious and negative issues about adoption. In fact, by this time most children should know their full adoption history—regardless of how difficult their past. You may want to read one page while your child reads another page so the reading is a shared experience and feelings can be discussed.

One such book is Pictures of Hollis Wood, a Newbery Honor, written by Patricia Reilly Giff. The fictional story notes:

Hollis Woods

is the place where a baby was abandoned
is the baby’s name
is an artist

is now a twelve-year-old girl
who’s been in so many foster homes she can hardly remember them all.

 

High School into Young Adulthood:

 

By this time, teenagers are selecting their own books. However, issues may arise and you may feel the need to have a book that helps you with the complex conversations. One such book is Telling the Truth to Your Adopted or Foster Child, by Betsy Keefer and Jayne E. Schooler.

 

Regardless of what books you read or even if you make up your own stories and revisit your child’s lifebook, what matters is that you consider your child’s feelings, you discuss serious topics, you are empathic and sensitive to your child’s past, and you help your child know that while the past may not have been “normal,” your child is viewed by you as a precious person who can have fulfilling and blessed future.

The Reason I Became a Social Worker

When I was 11 years old, I was watching a television program about a child who had been abused.  That child was talking with an adult, likely a social worker, though I was not familiar with the term at the time.  I knew right then that I wanted to do what that woman was doing.  I wanted to help children, but I had no idea what that would look like.  When I went to college, I started as a psychology major.  Psychology was the only field I was aware of that would get me to my goal.  At my university the psychology degree was very research based.  As I began studying in that field, it just didn’t fit.  I went to see my college advisor and she said, “Describe to me what you want to do.”  After I told her, she said, “It sounds to me like you want to do social work.”  To which I answered, “What’s that?”

She sent me to the social work department at the university to meet with the dean.  After talking with the dean, I knew that this was the right fit.  As I continued in my studies, often when I would tell others what I was studying, they would make a face or comment on how little money I would make in that field.  Those things didn’t matter to me.  I just knew that God had called me to help people and social work was the best way for me to do that.

Over the years, I have worked for child protective services, community development, therapeutic foster care, adoption, and I even did a short stint in hospice.  I have gained a lot of experience and dealt with some extremely difficult situations, but I have never regretted my decision to pursue social work. Social work is not easy.  It is often a thankless job with low pay, high caseloads, and high stress.  If you know a social worker, take the time to thank her or honor her this month (Social Work Month).  Let her know that she is appreciated.

In my very first social work job after college, I attended a training where the person instructed all of the attendees to begin a “warm fuzzy file”.  She said that we would have discouraging days and we would need to keep reminders of all of our good days.  I took her advice, and I have traveled from job to job with that file.  I now have a Masters in Social Work and have been working in the field for 21 years.  My “warm fuzzy file” is stuffed to overflowing, and I am so grateful for that trainer’s advice.  Whenever I am feeling discouraged, I pull it out and read notes and look at photos.  It helps me to continue and not give up.

 

 

 

 

 

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Frozen, but Not Forgotten – A Story about Embryo Adoption

 

Nate Birt and his wife Julie adopted frozen embryos through Nightlight’s Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program in 2017. In 2018, Julie gave birth to their adoptive daughter, Phoebe, from those little frozen embryos. Birt’s new book, Frozen, But Not Forgotten, provides potential adopting families with everything they need to know about the embryo adoption process. This is their testimony of their adoption experience.

I never expected to adopt. The concept wasn’t completely foreign—my wife, Julie, and I had discussed the possibility of adopting or fostering before we were married. But three years into building our family, we welcomed our first biological son, then a second, then a third.

Our interest in embryo adoption began with Julie’s work as a researcher in an obstetrics lab. As part of her studies, she witnessed firsthand the amazingly complex design of each embryo. We also knew of families within our circle of friends who had successfully adopted embryos. To be honest, the concept struck me as odd the first time I heard about it. When I suggested to my wife that we try for a fourth child, she replied, “Yes, but only through embryo adoption.”

Her comment took me off guard, and more than that, the conviction with which she said it. I’m not sure why. It shouldn’t have been a surprise given our history and our support of an adoption-funding organization that has helped many friends. I’m ashamed I didn’t appreciate the gift and honor of adoption back then.

I do now. More than ever.

Many families face infertility and remain steadfast in their faith throughout what I can only imagine must be a heart-wrenching journey. So why had God given us three of our own—yet planted the seed of adoption in our hearts? The answer was simple. We loved our biological children dearly, yet having come from large families, we had even more love to give.

By adopting embryos (we were blessed with three), we could give these children a chance at life. We made it clear to our prospective placing family in our letter of introduction that we had overflowing hope for these precious souls.

“Who knows what they might grow up to become—and how they might change the world for good,” we wrote.

Two years after beginning our adoption journey, we welcomed little Phoebe into our lives. (She was the one of which survived the thaw.) We committed to our incredible placing family that we would maintain an open adoption with regular correspondence and the possibility of an in-person visit in the future. Little did we know they lived less than two hours from our home, creating a perfect environment for nurturing a close relationship as our daughter grows up.

In short order, we began exchanging emails, following each other on social media, and generally sharing encouragement. Within two months of Phoebe’s arrival, our placing family had invited us over for a barbecue. It was a celebration I will never forget—of a family who loved its embryo babies so much that it kept them safe until the right time to place them; of our growing family finding its way with adoption; and of a strawberry-blond baby girl who fulfilled my wildest dream of being a daddy to a daughter.

Embryo adoption, as I imagine is true with any adoption, comes with risk and can be emotionally taxing. But if you seek children and the chance to demonstrate and receive love like never before, I urge you: Pursue it.

That clump of cells is a person. And that person will forever change your world for the better.

To learn more about the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program, visit Snowflakes.org or call our Colorado office at 970-663-6799.

Ways to Love a Birth Mom

All the chocolate has been consumed. All the flowers purchased and delivered. All the cards and kind messages relayed to loved ones. As February is drawing to an end, what better time to reflect on what it looks like to love others well in the coming year. As adoptive parents, you often have special people to love that would not have otherwise crossed your paths if it weren’t for adoption. Whether you are still waiting to meet your child’s birth mother or whether you’re walking through life with her already, here are some practical ways you can actively and genuinely love the women in your lives that made the sacrificial choice of adoption and, thus, have become a special part of your family.

  1. Pray. Pray daily for your child’s birth mother. Pray that she would grow in wisdom. Pray that she would know God’s presence and be comforted by His great love for her. Pray that she would be strengthened by His spirit and that any shame or guilt would be laid to rest through Christ’s love and fondness for her. Set aside a special time each day—maybe the hour your child was born or the hour you first met your child’s birth mother—to specifically and earnestly pray for her.
  2. Give. Give your time, especially. Give a listening ear. Give a photo when you promised to send one. Give a special gift on certain days throughout the year. Give validation where it is needed. Birth mothers experience a variety of different thoughts and emotions that are often hard for them to process and express. Validate her fears when they are expressed to you. Validate her sadness and grief. Validate her efforts to remain connected with your child. Validate her value and worth as an individual. Validate her gifts and talents as they become evident to you.
  3. Pay attention. Whether you already know your child’s birth mother or are just beginning to get to know her, take time to understand what makes her feel loved, valued, respected, and cherished. Does she respond well to words of affirmation or prefer receiving gifts? Does she enjoy spending quality time or appreciate acts of service? Be attentive to her needs as an individual and seek to meet them in notable ways. Write a note to her detailing what you love or value about her. Send a bouquet of flowers to her unexpectedly one day. Speak to her as a friend. Really pay attention to what she says and value the opportunity to learn from her.
  4. Do what you say you’re going to do. Birth mothers have often had people in their lives make promises that are left unfulfilled. You can imagine how wounding that can be over time. Overcommitting can often lead to even more heartbreak, grief, and rejection for birth mothers. That is why it is absolutely crucial to avoid overcommitting and only say what you’re actually willing to do. Let your yes be your yes, and your no be your no. If you say you’ll send pictures, send them as you promised. If you agreed to meet up before the birth, make time to meet her! If you told her you would write a letter a few times a year, make sure the letters make it to her.
  5. Empathize. Social researcher, Dr. Brené Brown, made an important distinction when saying that empathy fuels connection, whereas sympathy drives disconnection. Connection is always the goal—for adoptive parents, birth parents, and children. So, when listening to the stories, thoughts, or feelings of these courageous women, try focusing on empathizing—feeling with them rather feeling sorry for them. For more on the distinction Dr. Brown makes and why empathy holds so much more power when connecting with not just birth mothers, but also others with whom we interact each day, I would encourage you to watch this short video.

God’s Call to Single Parenting

 

I have always known that I wanted to adopt. Like many women, I assumed that it would be after I was married. However, God had a different plan for me, and I continue to be blessed beyond anything I could have imagined. I am a single mama of two precious boys, both adopted from China. We are now in the process of adding a little princess to our family. Trusting God to build my family has been one of the most faith-building and awe-inspiring things in my life.

I work in a neonatal intensive care unit. When I was still in training, I came across a picture of my first son. God made it quite clear that he was my son. I am so thankful that God was faithful to speak loudly and clearly enough that even my feeble faith at the time could follow Him. It seemed illogical. I was in training. I was single. I was very stretched financially. And the child he showed me was a 5 year old boy. Weren’t single women supposed to adopt little girls? To top it off, this child was deaf, a special need that I wasn’t prepared for. No one in my family knew sign language and I knew that he NEEDED extended family if I was to adopt him as a single mama. Time after time, God moved mountains. Family members were learning sign language, finances came through at the last minute, and my precious son Samuel has now been home for 4.5 years. Beyond all explanation, this child who had no language for almost 6 years is now a fluent English language speaker.

Within the first year of coming home, Samuel began to pray for a brother. I should have known then what was coming! I wasn’t ready AT ALL. We had just moved to a new state where I knew no one so that Samuel could attend a school for the deaf. But God was moving. One year later, I began the process to adopt again, I thought this time for a little girl. Once again, I had no idea how God was going to do this, financially or otherwise. Three days later, a friend texted me the picture of a little boy, asking if I had seen him on the advocacy websites. On that same day, my agency called with a referral for a little girl, exactly the age and a manageable special need that was on my heart. A few minutes later, I stood at my computer and I saw the most beautiful, perfect little face pop up on my screen. She was a vision and I knew instantly that she wasn’t mine. I sobbed and sobbed. What was wrong with me? My heart kept pulling to the little boy in my text message. Seriously God? TWO BOYS? As a single mama? I thought for sure I was not hearing correctly. I called my agency back and asked for time to pray. Three days later, I called to decline the little girl’s file and accept the little boy’s but my faith-walk wasn’t over yet. This time God didn’t “write on the wall”. This time, it was a still small voice that I really wanted to drowned out. But HE gave me courage to walk forward. That most precious little boy was in my arms in FIVE AND A HALF MONTHS! Start to finish, this was the fastest journey I had ever heard about. God provided social supports and the necessary finances in the way only God can do. Once again, He provided where I saw no way. And my Averey? He is the cuddliest, most affectionate child I have ever met. He is the perfect, funny, light-hearted balance to my serious, determined first son. They are the family only God could build.

Then in September of 2017, Averey started praying for a little sister. It took awhile for his brother to come around, but then they ganged up on me. And here we are, at another cross-roads. I have no more idea what God has in store this time than I did the other times. Samuel has graduated from the school for the deaf and both boys are attending a public school for the first time this year. We were able to move to a smaller community closer to friends and family and things have settled into a nice even pace again.

Like with Samuel and Averey, God led to my daughter. Our precious little girl (“little sister” as we refer to her at home) is waiting for us in China and we are well on our way to bringing her home. God has shown Himself already in a million ways like only He can. It gets harder each time to figure out the finances of adoption. I have expired my retirement, I just bought my first house ever with zero down and am still paying on my college loans. It seems risky at worst, unwise at best, but I have seen HIM through this process more clearly than I ever have before. He has changed me, shaped me, and molded me through the stretching of my faith. He has built a village around us and continues to do so. I continue to pray for His guidance and His provision. It is a scary thing, walking into adoption as a single parent. I watch my boys sleeping at night and am in awe that I get to co-parent them. They love to tell people who ask, “My daddy is God.” I guess that pretty well sums it up.

 

— Amber (Adoptive Mom)

Black History Month is for Everyone

 

As a 46-year-old white woman you may not think I pay much attention to Black History Month. Thankfully adoption has made it an integral part of my life and I’m honored to share what it means to my family. My Afro-Colombian daughter will tell you her race is black but her heritage is Hispanic. This puzzles many African Americans, particularly when she starts speaking Spanish to them. My husband, a white man, is South African and grew up under apartheid rule and was living in Africa when Nelson Mandela, who he calls a hero, became president. We consider our biological children African American even though their race is white. We also have a Hispanic daughter from Mexico. We talk about race in our home. A lot.

The truth is, adoptive parents’ love is not colorblind. When our family walks into a new environment we realize everyone sees a story of family building through adoption. So Black History Month in our family means embracing our daughter’s heritage and her race as she adds her story to the millions of black people in our country. Her story is both dark and brilliant with a future full of hope. And that is what we wish for all black Americans living in this country – hope.

Black History Month is so much more than learning about the history of African diaspora. It is about survival, hardship, victory, stereotypes, truths, music, language, food, fashion, cinema, minority, majority, hair, skincare, shades of brown to black, and all the differences in each and every one of those words across the different black cultures in our country. For instance, when my daughter talks about food from her afro-Colombian community it is quite different than the food I so love from growing up in the deep south. The race is the same but the culture is remarkably distinct.

As a family with four children, our favorite quote is from Martin Luther King Jr, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” We add to that sentence “equally” since our children are of different races. God created all of our skin tones which gives us enough reason to celebrate our uniqueness every day.

Spectacular Foster Families Needed in Colorado for New Emergency Foster Care Program

We all need a light to find our way in the darkness. When children enter foster care for the first time, it can be a frightening experience. They’re often moved in the middle of the night, taken away from their parents, and all that is familiar to them. They spend hours at a department building while a social worker makes cold calls, desperately seeking a family that will take the child or children in, even if just for the night. When a home is finally found, it may be located hours away and they may be split from their siblings if they cannot find a family able to care for all four of them. This is where Homes for Hope comes in. It is a beacon of hope and light for children, a temporary safe haven to stay in the midst of chaos. It gives the county the time they need to find a more long-term option for the children and allows the child to remain in their school, in their community, and with their siblings.

We are seeking experienced individuals and families interested in being a Home for Hope. The first point of contact for children as they enter foster care, it would be your job to provide a safe, loving, and temporary home for up to five children in need. Two of these families will receive reduced rent in a fully furnished home located on the East side of Adams County.

Responsibilities will include:

*   Live on-site in a Homes for Hope house and provide direct care to up to five at-risk children or youth ages infant to eighteen. Prioritization will be given to children ages 0-10 and keeping sibling groups together when possible, in emergency foster care situations, with an average stay of 30-90 days. This will also be a home for teen mothers in Adams County custody, to be placed with their infants, while alternative longer-term placement options are identified
*   Be an advocate for child’s best interests and next placement move
*   Participate in monthly face-to-face meetings with the Adams County Human Services Department’s placement team, relevant staff, and Nightlight
*   Provide transportation to parenting time/visitation at the Adams County Human Services Department building or an agreed upon community location with parents and/or siblings
*   Must work closely with Adams County and Nightlight to keep each school-aged youth in his or her home school
*   Must be willing to meet and work with bio/adoptive parents and/or kin to assist with reunification with family
*   Provide emotional support to children to build child’s self-confidence and trust
*   Communicate with program manager, therapist, county caseworker, and other members of the team about child’s needs, behaviors, progress, etc. and provide written documentation of these items
*   Document child’s medical needs and appointments
*   Ensure child is taken to Well Child Medical Check within 72 hours of placement with a county-approved, Medicaid provider
*   Available 24/7 for emergency admissions when needed
*   Must be open to training regarding the specific medical/developmental needs of children
*   Must be available for weekly contact with Nightlight
*   Document any critical incidents, accidents or behaviors while child is in the home
*   Participate in any meetings regarding child with program manager and child’s team
*   Manage daily operating schedule of the home; assist with youth transportation needs, and overall household upkeep
*   Plan, participate, and provide opportunities for individual and family activities that are educational and fun
*   Must be culturally responsive to the needs of the children/sibling groups placed in the home (includes language, religious/spiritual, cultural and ethnic traditions)
*   Abide by all Volume 7 licensing regulations

Qualifications:

*   Must be at least 21 years of age
*   Must have a valid driver’s license with good driving record
*   Knowledge of child development at minimum, preference is prior experience working with foster children in therapeutic or school setting, or foster parent capacity
*   Ability to pass a background check and reference verification
*   Flexibility and willingness to work days, evenings, weekends, and holidays
*   High school diploma or equivalent required
*   In order to account for children’s potential allergies, there will be no pets allowed on the properties at any time
*   No more than two biological or adopted children can be residing in the home

Compensation
The foster family will receive approximately $33/per child/per day in placement. With a projected 80% capacity, this equates to $48180. This stipend is tax-free, equating to a salary of $55,682.

If you’re interested in becoming a Homes for Hope family, please contact Program Director, Meaghan Nally, at mnally@nightlight.org or (518)369-2888.

The Empty Picture Frame: A Foster Family Testimony

 

 

Recently, my dad reminded me that when I was an audacious teenager, I claimed I would never get married or have kids because they would hold me back from living a fun life.  Of course, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby…or three, in a baby carriage.

 

Early in our marriage God had whispered the word “adoption” to both my husband and myself.  Never completely ignoring the nudge, our family grew to five. In 2015, we had a fun year of traveling.  We took trips to Disney World, Huntington Beach, Tennessee, and even a week at the lake in Michigan.  After ten years of marriage and three beautiful healthy daughters, we found ourselves at a crossroads.  That whisper was becoming louder and in spite of there never being a comfortable time to interrupt your life, we couldn’t ignore the call.

 

On our hallway wall we have written, “Our Timeline.”  Under those meaningful words are four frames, each filled with a picture of a milestone in our family.  Do you know what’s uncomfortable?  The fifth frame.  The fifth frame is empty.  That empty picture frame.  On some days I see it and feel sorrow, on other days I feel frustration, but on many days I look at that empty frame and something physical happens.  I get a chill or maybe a flutter in my stomach, because on many days I see that empty frame and I feel hope.

 

The reason the frame is empty is because the Lord has led us to adopt through foster care.  Why foster care?  Foster care because in the U.S. 400,000 kids need a family to love them and care for them.  Foster care because 100,000 of those children are currently waiting for a family to forever love them and care for them.

 

Foster care is a unique outpouring of love.  Children in foster care are orphans of the living. Many people have a passion stirred for orphans.  Its fewer who have hearts stirred to minister to the parents, grandparents, social workers, therapists and anyone else in the game to help kids have a family and heal.

 

Children placed into foster care have had experiences with trauma and neglect.  The truth is they have been hurt in relationships and the subsequent truth is that healing can only take place in relationships.  What we have learned as foster parents is that these children need healing through relationship with us and we pray one day through a relationship with Jesus Christ.  We have also seen how much healing their parents need, their grandparents and extended family.

 

We do not know if or when we will get to fill in the frame.  On the days when a glimpse of that empty picture frame gives me a tinge of excitement, it’s because I know God is at work.  He is at work in my life and my husband’s, in my daughters’ lives, in the lives of our foster babies and their family’s…and even though it’s had moments of discomfort, I get to have front row seats for some unbelievable occasions and I can’t help but wonder if my teenage self could ever know what she might have missed out on.

 

For us as a couple, adoption was uncharted territory. We had a destination without any notion of how to get there. By a miracle we will always be grateful for, in came, Nightlight Christian Adoptions. You can’t imagine the varied questions that troubled me at the beginning. From fire extinguishers to legalities, I thought of it all. Nightlight had to get us on course and really supported us in those initial days.

 

There’s no mistaking it, being a foster family is hard work. While we pour out to minister to those around us, Nightlight has come to our side and ministered to us. At every turn, our caseworker has been there with sweet encouragement, invaluable knowledge, practical resources, and honestly, unexpected friendship.

 

 

Equipping Minds of All Ages and Abilities to Reach Their Full Potential

 

 

Autism Spectrum, Anxiety, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, Gifted, Learning Challenges, ADD/ADHD, Traumatic Brain Injury, Memory,Comprehension, Down Syndrome, Processing Disorders, Dementia, Executive Functioning, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Communication Disorders, Trauma, Post Concussion Syndrome, Parkinsons, PANDAS, and Neurodevelopment Disorders

Equipping Minds to Reach Their Full Potential 

Join Dr. Carol Brown

FACEBOOK LIVE

NO CHARGE

February 6,13,20,27 – March 6,13,20,27

Wednesday’s 6:30-7:30 PM  EDT

Or Join In Person at Buck Run Baptist Church

1950 Leestown Road, Frankfort, KY

Sessions will be recorded and available to watch later on the Equipping Minds Youtube channel and Facebook page.

 

Host a group at your home, church, or school.We will be playing games to build cognitive, social, emotional, sensory, and motor skills.  These games are used to find the specific areas in which the brain struggles such as working memory, processing speed, perceptual reasoning, and comprehension. Parents, teachers, and therapists are implementing at home, in the classroom, and in their centers improving reading, math, writing, language, social skills, and behavior.

 

We will have 8 sessions to equip you to work with your own children.

 

What separates Equipping Minds from other programs is its holistic approach. The Equipping Minds program uses nutritional therapy, primitive reflex exercises, sound therapy, vestibular therapy, and vision exercises in addition to Equipping Minds cognitive exercises.

 

Scientists are excited about your brain’s abilities to keep growing, learning, changing,and healing, ALL THROUGH LIFE! Equipping Minds will give you the practical exercises and games to do just that. You will be equipped to build memory, processing, comprehension, language, social, and reasoning skills in learners of all ages and abilities. It is based on a biblical view of human development that believes the brain can change.

 

Equipping Minds also differs from other programs, in that, these brain strengthening exercises use what the student already knows. Equipping Minds ingeniously sets aside academic skills allowing us to get to the foundational roots and cognitive functions, quickly and accurately. Working memory and processing speed are two of the most common weaknesses we see in students with learning challenges. They often get labeled with ADHD, dyslexia, and other learning disorders when what they really need is a holistic approach to address the neurodevelopmental and cognitive foundations.

 

I am excited to see how God will use this course. Please share with those you feel would benefit.

 

Blessings,

Carol 

Dr. Carol Brown has over 35 years of experience as a principal, teacher, cognitive developmental therapist, social worker, reading and learning specialist, speaker, HSLDA special needs consultant, and mother.  Carol has completed her Doctor of Education (Ed.D) from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. She received her M.A. in Social Services from Southwestern Seminary and B.A. in Rehabilitation Counseling from Marshall University. She is a contributing author in the book, Neuroscience and Christian Formation, Human Development: Equipping Minds with Cognitive Development , and the Equipping Minds Cognitive Development Curriculum. 

She has served as a learning specialist, teacher, principal, and head of school  in classical Christian schools in North Carolina, Georgia, Northern Virginia, and Lyon, France. Carol trains public, private, and homeschool educators in the Equipping Minds Cognitive Development Curriculum which she created. She has conducted professional development workshops for Kentucky Association of School Councils (KASC), Toyota, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Kentucky Parks and Recreation, Kentucky Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, Centre College,Society of Professors in Christian Education (SPCE), National Alliance on Mental Illness ( NAMI),  homeschool conferences, and civic organizations.