weekly summary, vol. 42

PAIL Special Announcements/Reminders:

  • On our blogroll? Help your readers find us! Post the PAIL icon! Need help figuring out how to post the button, click here for details! If you are having issues, you can always contact us.

PAIL Posts This Week:

  • Emma  from Emma in Mommyland started our week off by being our featured blogger for our Monday Snapshot. Emma shared about her son’s 1st birthday and her sweet idea of having guests bring gifts to donate to the NICU, where her son spent some time. Check out Emma and all the other snapshots posted in the comments! And click HERE to sign up to be featured in a future Monday Snapshot.
  • Traathy guest blogged for us, sharing about her Open Adoption and the family that is often forgotten, or left behind after a ‘typical’ adoption. Traathy shares what it really means to be in an Open Adoption, what it really means to embrace the idea of “family”. We hope you’ll read Traathy’s post and leave your thoughts.
  • Josey shared a news article reviewing research that showed a child’s emotional health and happiness is directly related to whether or not they have a strong family narrative. Check out this fascinating research and let us know, do you have a family narrative?

PAIL Featured Post:

  • Chandra  shared our feature post, Re-boiled, by Justine, of, A Half Baked Life. Justine writes about seeing your child inherit certain traits of yours, and worrying if they are possibly negative traits. Justine also writes about that moment when you realize you have done something just like your own parents did when you were a child, and not liking that realization. Check out the post, and also check out the tasty recipe included with it!
  • Jules shared a “mini-feature”  from Julia of 3 bed, 2 bath, 1 baby, with a great message about getting CPR/first-aid Certified. Please read this post to learn about Julia’s frightening ordeal and thankfully happy ending.

Stay Connected:

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PAIL mini-feature: Get CPR & First Aid Certified!

PAIL Public Service Announcement!

PAILblogger Julia of 3 Bed, 2 Bath, 1 Baby recently posted about her toddler’s terrifying choking incident. He’s fine now because his quick-thinking mom had been CPR certified and knew how to react.

Working with children, I’ve done this a couple of times, but not on my own child.  After a mom in my mom’s group had a scary seizure incident with her son (leading to them having to do CPR) I printed off a CPR and Choking infographic which is posted on each floor.  Though I didn’t need it for this incident (muscle memory just kicked in) I was thankful to have it. My previous CPR/1st Aid classes (which I’ve taken probably a dozen times) were in my mind.

I am thankful that I’ve learned over the years to recognize the signs of actual choking, and practiced those skills… as well as the fact that I never leave the area when Ethan is eating.

I personally got CPR certified a few years ago as part of my training for work as a toddler teacher in a childcare center, but even then I never felt completely comfortable. I checked online every few months to refresh myself on the steps involved in checking airways, doing chest compressions, and giving breaths. It’s now been about six months since my certification expired and I know my husband and I both need to get certified.

Choking is one of my parenting fears, and even then, I’ll admit to popping into the kitchen around the corner from my girls from time to time while they’re eating. I never leave for long… but it doesn’t take long for a child to choke, either.

Julia’s post contains some important links to information on CPR certification. We’ll supplement here with a few of our own: The American Red Cross has a search tool for finding CPR certification courses in your area (US only). Here’s the same search tool for the Canadian Red Cross. International friends beyond the US and Canada, a quick Google search should turn up courses if available in your area, and there are also a number of online certification courses, although I can’t speak to their efficacy or accreditation.

Please go read Julia’s short  but powerful post. It will really help drive home how easily a choking incident can occur, even when you’re normally cautious with cutting up your child’s food carefully.

feature post: “re-boiled,” by Justine of “A Half Baked Life”

Sometimes I am very systematic about things. Like the other day, I decided I was going to go through the PAIL blogroll, blog by blog, and catch up with all our bloggers’ recent posts. That’s how I came across today’s feature post.

Sometimes I am very scatter-brained, flitting from one thought to the next and then forgetting what I had originally set out to do. That’s how I got from today’s feature post, which features a recipe, to standing in my kitchen looking at a recipe for falafel and remembering the kind old Palestinian who had taught me his recipe when we lived in the same building of seminary students. (What may blow your mind even more is that he was studying at a Jewish seminary to help work towards peace.)

My writing is very scattered, see: above paragraph. And what has bothered me, since before I had a child, are the memories I had in school and life of never feeling like I could ‘get it together.’ I find myself watching Stella and seeing her pick up one toy, fling it aside, grab another, fling that one, then move on to another. Will she be like me? Will she struggle everyday to just remember what it was she was doing, or when that assignment is due, or what time a meeting is at?

Or will she inherit the other side of me? The side that decides on a project and that instant she is making list, organizing supplies, and getting it done?

Justine, of, A Half Baked Life, reflects on this in her recent post, “Re-boiled.” Justine writes how she can see so much of herself in her child:

“My son is sort of a perfectionist.  He’s been that way as long as I can remember, lining up his vehicles in lines that had to go just so, having a complete meltdown when he doesn’t do something exactly right the first time…But of course, this is my nature, too.  Having things just so.”

Justine also writes how in seeing her son develop tendencies that she herself has, she finds herself reacting like her own father reacted to her as a child. That she struggles to not react in ways she found negative to her as a child:

“And as much as I try to be reassuring, I confess that sometimes I also respond to the things that make me frustrated by expecting him to be perfect.  Why didn’t you get those math problems right? You know the answers.  Why can’t you bathe yourself faster… And so on.  Just, of course, like my father.”

We all, I suspect, struggle with this as parents. Recognizing traits in ourselves that we don’t like, we worry when we think we see our child expressing them. Or finding yourself reacting, sometimes even using the exact same words, as your own parents did. And cringing, remembering how it made you feel as a child.  Of course, we may have very positive memories of our parents and childhood, but usually there is always something that we decide we are going to ‘do differently.’ And, for me, it goes deeper. We waited so long to have this child, I can’t let myself ‘screw this parenting thing up.’

Justine writes that what is important is that we recognize this, we talk about this:

“The difference, though, is that I see it, and talk about it, and let him know that I’m not happy with the way I sometimes deal with anger, or disappointment, or frustration.  And we try to talk about how both of us can problem-solve better.”

Parenting is not just about your child, it’s about who you were as a child, who you are now, how your parents raised you, etc. Justine leaves us with the analogy of a soup, that is originally made with one set of ingredients, but then you stop the cooking, add some more ingredients, and then cook it again, you re-boil it, and it’s something totally different. Not only is it a great analogy, she gives us the recipe and I am eager to try it.

Please read Justine’s post, “Re-boiled” and share your thoughts with her about her post and your own reflections on parenting. Comments here are closed so you can join in the conversation on Justine’s blog.

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Justine, in her own words: “Professional, mother, wife, baker, infertility and pregnancy loss survivor, yogini, local food guru, and seeker of balance, wondering ‘What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’ -Mary Oliver”

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news item: The Stories That Bind Us

After Traathy’s great post yesterday regarding Open Adoption (OA), we thought we’d continue with the theme of family ties today with a look at an article that we found on the New York Times website entitled, “The Stories That Bind Us.” Please go read it now and then hop back over here!

The article is about the author’s journey delving into the research that has been done in the past few years about how to help groups (including families) work more effectively. After looking at all of the evidence, according to the author:

The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative.

The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families functioned. The “Do You Know?” scale turned out to be the best single predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness.

Sounds simple, right? The basis of the idea is that it is beneficial to children when their families talk about both the family’s good times and the bad times.

“The most healthful narrative [is] the oscillating family narrative: ‘Dear, let me tell you, we’ve had ups and downs in our family. We built a family business. Your grandfather was a pillar of the community. Your mother was on the board of the hospital. But we also had setbacks. You had an uncle who was once arrested. We had a house burn down. Your father lost a job. But no matter what happened, we always stuck together as a family.’ ”

Dr. Duke said that children who have the most self-confidence have what he and Dr. Fivush call a strong “intergenerational self.” They know they belong to something bigger than themselves.

There is much more to this article than I quote in the snippets here, so please go take a minute to read through the entire thing and the come back and let us know what you think.

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Did you have an ascending, descending, or oscillating family narrative in your household growing up?

Are you close to your parents and siblings or did/do you have a more contentious relationship with them?

 Have you done anything in particular in your current household to encourage a close familial bond like a family mission statement?

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pail_josJosey is a semi-crunchy mom of a toddler who spent her college years studying business and French and traveling whenever possible. She now works at the local medical center and is continually in search of the optimum work/life/party balance as she cruises through her 30s with her family and friends in Colorado. She is more than a little Type-A and researches the hell out of random things that pique her interest. Josey blogs about her family’s travel and outdoor life adventures at My Cheap Version of Therapy.

family is everything

I was hanging out with a friend the other day when I mentioned that we’d be hanging out this coming Friday at Ky’s great grandma’s house for a fun Easter day of an egg hunt and then dinner with our family.

She replied that it was really generous of us to make the effort we do with Ky’s family.

I had to take a few breaths before I responded. More on my reply in a minute….

Generous is not a word I use when I describe the relationship that we have with her birth family. That implies that I’m doing something that is “showing a readiness to give more of something, as money or time, than is strictly necessary or expected” as per Google dictionary.

It is necessary and it is expected. You bet it is when you are living in the world of open adoption (OA).

I struggle sometimes in talking with other adoptive parents in various degrees of an “open adoption” because let’s face it, I’m judgemental about it. I’ve got a strong opinion about OA now and I’m not afraid to talk about it. Actually, I’ve never been afraid of it.

My main issue stems from people who say they are in an open adoption and they really are in a semi-open one and using the word “open” as a pretence to imply that they ARE being generous in keeping their birth family involved in their lives.

That drives me up the wall.

While everyone goes into adoption with an idea of what they want in mind, its so important for prospective adoptive parents to *really* research what openness is (if that is what you are considering) by way of talking to families who have adopted, adoptees, and birth families. You truly have to comfortable with expanding your family beyond just the child before agreeing to anything with prospective birth families. If you aren’t, clarity and transparency is a MUST or you are without a doubt setting everyone up for hurt down the road.

There are so many things that need to change in the education of parents who want to adopt domestically and the definition of what open really is needs to become a priority. Yes, when you take that baby home – legally he/she is yours. The degree of openness cannot be enforced it is entirely up to the adoptive parents as to how they navigate the relationship with the birth family. Adoptive parents do get to set the rules once those papers are signed (in most provinces/states) and unfortunately birth families (outside of the birth mother and father) never really get a chance to voice how they feel.

Monika over at Monika’s Musings wrote an amazing post recently about what openness means to her. I LOVE her thoughts and think that Ohana is about the most accurate and thoughtful definition of what openness really should be in adoption.

In my experiences in talking with other adoptive parents and hopeful adoptive parents, I’ve realized more and more that most people only really *think* about what the relationship might look like with the birth mother and father after having a child placed with them when they are considering an OA. There is very little talk about what it can mean to the entire birth family who *also* relinquishes that child.

I can’t imagine not having Ky’s entire birth family in our lives, but it just wouldn’t have occurred to me to consider them if we hadn’t met Ky’s birth grandmother the night she was born. I will never forget looking at her minutes after Ky was born and realizing that she didn’t want to touch Ky because she was so unbelievably sad about what was about to happen to her granddaughter that day. Her granddaughter wasn’t going home with her daughter, she was going home with strangers. It was she who put Ky in my arms before they all left the hospital the day she was born and it was she who made me see just how much loss is involved in adoption.

It was that moment that I knew that couldn’t let them lose her. I couldn’t just leave and take their baby away. Let’s face it, our baby girl isn’t just ours.

She is everyone’s.

And you know what. That’s exactly how it should be.

I find it sooooooo necessary to point this fact out clearly to everyone who asks about our relationship with them.

My reply to my girlfriend was this…

I’m not being generous. I’m being a mom. That means making sure I take care of all my family, and her birth family is my family now.

Adopting a baby domestically goes way beyond maintaining ties to a birth mother and father only. Family can be huge and the loss of a baby can go generations deep. It’s that point that I emphasis when I talk about adoption now. In domestic open adoption, you aren’t just adopting a baby, you are gaining another family.

Cherish your families and remember that the baby that may be on its way to you though adoption comes from a family that is grieving their loss.

Family is everything and your baby can reap the benefits of knowing and loving them all.

Intend on loving them all.

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tpicTracy is a mother to a gorgeous girl whom her and her husband adopted at birth in January of 2012. She holds a Master’s degree in Guidance Counselling and is a high school counsellor by day, self-admitted know it all by night, and gate-keeper of three enormous families on the weekend. She formed her new family by way of an exceptional open adoption and now spends her weekends making sure her family, her husband’s family and her daughter’s birth family all get to shower her with as much love as she can get. She can be contacted at theyalllived@gmail.com

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