We are immersed in the day in and day out task of parenting our children. Often this leaves us emotionally spent. It’s easy to let our emotions fly out of control when our children are dis-regulated. But is this causing more damage than we realize?
My son spent the entire car ride antagonizing his younger brothers and asking me the same questions over and over. Three long hours on the way to grandma and grandpa’s house for Thanksgiving. Three hours of giving the same answers to the same questions I’d given countless times before. Three hours of listening to obsessive talk over and over. Three hours of wishing he’d just go to sleep. Three…long…hours.
It’s a question we face every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas: How can we navigate the sensory overload of this season with our children? We’ve discovered a few keys…
The malls are decorated with garland, bows, and lighted wreaths suspended in mid-air between stores and shops. Display windows have followed suit with decorative frosting in the corners and mannequins dressed in cold-weather attire. Starbucks debuted their red holiday cups, and radio stations are beginning to play Christmas music on loop. There’s no doubt about it — the holidays are here.
One of our greatest struggles as a foster and adoptive family has been the fear that the revolving door of foster care will leave our permanent children feeling unsure of who they are and their importance to us.
As adoptive parents we want our children to know that we are constant, secure, forever loving and unchanging. As Foster parents, we want our foster children to know that we will fill in the gap for as long as it’s needed. We are willing to hang on if necessary and willing to let go when the time comes. We are trying to parent two different ways and we often wonder if our involvement in fostering will confuse or damage our children.
The Holidays. The season of perpetual joy. The thrill of hope! But often, this time of season can bring stress and anxiety upon us that is all-consuming. How can you ever find the hope, love and joy that Christmas is supposed to be about?
Oh Christmas, my favorite holiday. Well, it was my favorite holiday until this year. I have a fondness for the lights, the music, and the parties. This season brings wonderful feelings of love, joy and hope. It also brings an impossible amount of pressure. The panic hits me every year mid-December. But this year has been the worst.
The adoption process can bring about a roller coaster ride of emotions. Over the past 13 years we’ve experienced more than we can count. From the excitement of beginning the journey, to the trails you face later. It’s real and can be all consuming. How do you ride this wild ride and keep your sanity?
In the winter of 2002 we sat in the empty choir room of a large church on the north side of Indianapolis, listening to a woman talk about adoption. The idea both excited and terrified us. At a friend’s advice we showed up for the meeting. After some time to process all we had heard, we began filling out the lengthy paperwork. That was also the beginning of the roller coaster of emotions we would ride for the next several years.
Fourteen years ago we became adoptive parents and our lives changed forever. But our story didn’t start off as perfect and beautiful as some may believe. We had some big questions, with very few answers.
The argument we were having was completely my fault.
It was a cold November night in 1998 as we sat in my car, fighting on our college campus. It wasn’t a bad fight. More like a heated disagreement. Kristin wore a diamond ring on her left ring finger so things were about to get real in just a few months. These types of disagreements were healthy, so we were told.