Paramount Pictures has finally released the brand new film Instant Family, into theaters nationwide, and I had the chance to pre-screen it just before it debuted. In this post, I provide my full perspective on the film.
I’ve never really been a big fan of adoption or foster care-related movies. Mostly because they often miss the mark in portraying the honest and raw emotions that come from this journey (and you know how much we love honesty..:-) ). There have been a few exceptions to this. Who can forget the moment that Leigh Anne made Sean stop the car in The Blind Side when they saw Big Mike walking alone in the cold and then invited him home with them? Tears every time I watch that scene! And the moment when Annie’s supposed birth parents show up to Mr. Stack’s apartment to pick her up is heart-wrenching in the 2014 Annie remake.
We’ve heard from hundreds of thousands of parents over the years who are completely exhausted because their child keeps them up all night long. We’ve been there. It IS exhausting. But there are some specific reasons this is happening, and some key ways to help your child.
“What’s wrong with this child?” I remember thinking this thought repeatedly in 2004 when we first began fostering. “Why won’t he sleep?” “Why does he need to be in our room, with us?” “Why does he keep coming in and waking us up?” “Why won’t a nightlight, or soft music playing, or a bunch of stuffed animals help him?” I had a lot to learn back in that day.
A common issue that children who have come from past trauma struggle with, are food insecurities. It can be frustrating, and sometimes, exhausting for parents who are ill-equipped. The big question is, how do you successfully parent a child who struggles with this?
It’s an unseasonably cold and windy late May morning in the sleepy little Southern Wisconsin town of Lake Geneva. Like something out of a storybook, the streets are lined with vintage lamps, cobblestone sidewalks, and Victorian homes. It’s almost too good to be true. The night before we piled all of our children into a rental car and made the 3 and half hour drive north from Indianapolis for Kristin to speak at a foster and adoptive moms retreat all weekend. Our stay at a comfortable hotel on the outskirts of town is made perfect by a hot (and free) breakfast before we start the day.
We are living in a world that, for the most part, drastically misunderstands the ‘why’ behind adoption. This can often bring on unwanted praise and adoration from outsiders. How do you handle this when the point of adoption is not to receive accolades?
On a sunny spring morning in April, 2002 we walked into church for the first time after bringing our firstborn daughter home from the hospital. Through sleep depravation and absolutely no clue what we were doing, we held our baby girl close as we opened the door and stepped into the foyer. You would have thought the Pope had come to town. They almost had to start the church service late because everyone had gathered around us to get a glimpse of this precious gift we held in our arms. I stood behind Kristin and she cradled our sweet girl close to her chest.
As parents, one of our jobs is to allow our children to make their own decisions, when they’re old enough. But what do you do when you realize you need to step in and make decisions for them? How do you know when it’s time to protect them from themselves?
I remember hearing an old preacher, a long time ago, talk about granting our kids responsibility when they grew older. “We must arrive to the place in our parenting, and when our children are old enough, where we allow them to stand on their own two feet,” he said, through a crackly voice.
We’re parenting children who have come from past trauma. Some have major special needs that require us to be hands on all the time. This begs the question: will he or she ever live on their own, apart from us?
I pick my child up from the residential facility he lives in on a warm Sunday morning. He’s in high spirits as we slowly walk through the reinforced doors and down the sidewalk toward my car. Our conversation bounces from movies, to who the Colts are playing later that day, to whether or not I think Thanos can be defeated in the next Avengers film. It feels good to be with him. I love him deeply.
Often over the last several years, we’ve been asked if adoption and foster care is really worth it. Granted, this question usually comes from people outside of the journey, who are peering into our lives wondering. But our answer is pretty solid. YES! Here’s why…
It was one of those long days, yesterday, where you’re doing a million things but not really getting anything done. Ever had a day like that? No margin, no time to take a breath, just running, and running, and running. By the time I finally made it home last night with my teenagers, around 6pm, I was completely exhausted. So exhausted, in fact, that I had been thinking about my bed, and the the 3-inch memory foam on it, since I had crawled out of it at 5am early that morning! Yeah, that exhausted.
This was supposed to be a post from Kristin about taking better care of yourself while caring for children from hard places. But then I read the story of the recent suicide of California Pastor Andrew Stoecklein, after battling with depression. So I decided to talk openly and honestly about the struggle of being a pastor.
I’ve been there.
This thought bounced around in my mind in the early morning hours, like words echoing off of canyon walls, as I read the heart-crushing story of how Pastor Andrew Stoecklein’s life ended this past weekend. In the darkness of my bedroom, I wiped tears from my eyes as I thought about his wife and young sons now trying to figure out how to live life without their husband and daddy. I read how he struggled with depression, and anxiety and I identified perfectly.