Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Third Trimester

This must be what it feels like to in the third trimester of a pregnancy.  The end of The Beginning is fast approaching and while it has been filled with a wide range of emotions and in many ways feels like the end of an epic journey, it was just the prologue.  The real story begins now.

We vacillate between giddy, giggly excitement and sheer bloody terror.  Which, our rational sides tell us, is really to be expected and is probably a good sign.  Our rational side, of course, is nowhere to be seen when we're lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling and wondering what we've gotten ourselves into.  But then we think about what it's going to be like going on adventures, or teaching something new, or helping overcome an obstacle and we get giddy and excited again.

We're done.  We just wait to be approved now.

Last Thursday we were fingerprinted with a very cool digital scanner.  We were a little disappointed not to dip our fingers in ink, as we wanted to share that picture on Facebook and on the blog, but technology has apparently rendered ink moot.  We turned in a rather scary-to-complete contingent parent form -- which was as weird as it was scary.

We haven't met this child (or these children) yet.  We have no idea what he/she/they are going to be like and what needs they're going to have.  But we needed to decide what to do with our hypothetical children in the hypothetical situation that is both of us dying.  Then we took our pets have their rabies shots -- which the pets were super psyched about.  

Those last few pieces completely the home study information.  Our adoption coordinator "Darla" advised us, "your fingerprints should be back by Monday or Tuesday and if all goes well your home could be approved by the end of next week (which is now this week) or the first week of July!  P.S. you could get a placement call as soon as the day you are approved!!!"

Those are her exclaimation points, not ours.  But that is about how excited, scared, and nervous we are (!!!).

This is probably the closest we'll feel to what that last month of pregnancy feels like (unless, of course, everyone is right and we get pregnant as soon as we adopt because, apparently that's what "always happens"). You know a little one is coming, but you don’t know when. You kind of know what to expect, but really have NO IDEA how much your life is going to change. Except that instead of a newborn we could get a 4 year old or two children. Or maybe an infant. Our profile says 0-5 years. The more we think about it the bigger that range seems. We have bottles, but not sippy cups. We have a highchair, but no tricycle.  We just keep reminding each other that there is nothing that we can’t live without until morning and Walmart is only 3.7 miles away.

Somehow those material things are the things we worry about. Maybe because those are the things that are easier to approach and control? We know those things matter less than our home and family being welcoming. Those material things matter less than the attachment we want to form with this child. BTW, we are looking for a good book on attachment – let us know if you have found one.

The podcast we are listening to actually addressed a big question we have: What do we tell our friends and family about becoming attached to this child?

There is chance the child may leave our home and return to their birth parents. We have accepted that risk going in. We understand that is a big risk to ask our friends and family to accept as well. After talking and thinking about it, we have confirmed that we want to ask our friends and family to become as attached as possible to this child. Whether he/she is with us for a short time or the rest of our lives we want to him/her to have a foundation of love and fellowship. No parent knows how long they will have their child with them, so it important for us to shower love on this child while he/she is with us. As adults we have the capacity to experience love and loss and live through it. We are strong enough to give part of ourselves to this child. We are never reduced by loving; we only grow.

So. We are excited to be on this journey and glad to invite you along for the adventure. We hope you will join us in welcoming a little one into our home and family. Possibly very soon.

-- S&K

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Book Review: Parenting With Love and Logic

I read this book after hearing about it and the application of the Love and Logic principles on the Foster Parenting Podcast I listen too. Despite Scott working for a book store I paid full price and bought this one from B&N (Which apparently must bother me since I mention it every time I buy a full-price book).

Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Kline and Jim Fay offers the principle of teaching children responsibility by allowing them to practice making choices and living with the consequences. Kline and Fay argue that responsibility is not a talent, but a learned, practiced skill. They suggest that by making choices and then living with the natural consequences of those choices children learn how to think through choices. I am all for natural consequences so that makes sense to me. Kline and Fay say that parents should not fight battles they cannot win. You can’t make a child stop throwing a tantrum but you can make them do it in another room away from you.  You might not be able to force a kid to eat this meal, but by empowering them to choose to not eat this meal they will surely by ready to eat by the time the next meal rolls around.

The book is laid out in two parts – the explanation of the philosophy and the practical application of that philosophy. Kline and Fay offer practical responses to 48 common parenting issues like grades, chores, bad language, getting ready for school, going to church and taking care of belongings. Kline and Fay argue that allowance is a tool to teach children the value of money and should not dependent on a child doing their chores. Chores are not optional; chores are a given. Everyone is expected to pitch in to the maintenance of the family’s home.

At times they get a bit judge-y about topics such as pacifiers, television time and video games. Their bias comes out on these topics and they fail to offer concrete advice on how to teach logic or allow personal choice with resulting consequences.

The pacifier chapter seems to the one most directed towards toddlers while many of the others are more appropriate to school age children or teenager. Kline and Fay argue that pacifiers are not natural and should not be allowed beyond infancy as it can become an addiction. Maybe they didn’t put a lot of time or thought into the pacifier chapter (it was only one page), but again it seems to miss the point. They don’t formulate the argument against pacifiers well except to stress that a child sucking a pacifier is not “cute.” They suggest that parents have a hard time encouraging their children to out-right quit sucking a pacifier, but the parent can control where the sucking occurs. So the parent should ask the toddler to leave the room if he/she must suck on the pacifier. I’m not a huge pacifier promoter but I do appreciate the welcome calm it can bring to my friends kids. Maybe they should have left this chapter out since it is somewhat of a controversial topic and they didn’t have a solid foundation for their objections.

Video Games. Maybe this is sensitive topic in our house because we are both gamers, as two creators of media we are also consumers of media, and, oh, half our income comes from the sale of video games.  Kline and Fay suggest discussing video games with the children to prompt thought on amount of time and content of the video games. That sounds reasonable. They spend several pages discussing video game addiction. Okay maybe this book is not the time or place, but possibly relevant (maybe). They then end the chapter stating “Certainly though, many parents handle the issue the simple way: from the time the children are young they simply do not have video games in the home. We applaud those folks!” This concluding thought misses the point of allowing children to choose and then allowing children to practice appropriate boundaries and self control.

I generally agree with the philosophy that responsibility can be taught by allowing children to practice making good choices then allowing them to suffer the consequences when they are young; however I finished this book with a rather sour taste in my mouth. I feel like the book was not specific enough to any particular age group, but in some aspects it was too limited to the writers’ biases. I’d love for someone else to read it so I can discuss with them, but I don’t enthusiastically want to recommend that anyone spend a lot of time on it.

Instead go back and read Equally Shared Parenting by Marc and Amy Vachon. It was fantastic! I got it for cheap and would be happy to loan it out.