One thing we heard my friend Aaron Klein say has stuck with us through the past year.
Adoption is a story. You are not the author.
Recently my husband heard from a friend of his from high school who is looking into fostering to adopt in part because of how we have very publicly shared our story. That is our goal with being so transparent about a very personal journey. I smiled when I saw Mike pass on those same words to her, "Adoption is a story, and you are not the author."
This weekend Mike and I attended that same conference again, this time as a family much farther down the road of our journey, yet still near the beginning. After checking my kids into childcare I walked into the main room and saw they were playing Aaron Ivey's video for Amos Story, the wonderful song he wrote about the long excruciating wait to bring his kids home from Haiti. Nothing like making me tear up before I've even sat down!
We had wonderful worship led by Robbie Seay and we watched the amazing Dennehy Family video. Watch it now if you haven't already.
First we attended a session about preparing yourself, your marriage and your family for life after the adoption. We sat near a couple we had met several years ago in our Financial Peace class who were just exploring adoption. We also sat next to the son of our friend who taught that same class at our church, along with his wife who were on the cusp of a kinship adoption. They already had three kids under 6 years old and they were the only family members out of forty others asked who would take in a four and six year old who needed a home. God bless them, that's the heart of Jesus in action.
The biggest take away for me from that session was a discussion of tactics for protecting your child's personal story and privacy. A great recommended resource was a book called Wise Up Power Book. It's designed to be read with kids and teaches the four ways of dealing with awkward or uncomfortable questions about their adoption following the acronym W.I.S.E.:
- Walk away
- "It's private"
- Share something (not the whole thing)
We spoke about the need to gracefully share with our immediate and extended families how to use the right adoption language and how much of our child's story is private information. We had a great discussion among the group about funny or even offensive questions people get asked. Mike shared that he has already been asked "How much does she cost?" and with regard to our sons "Are these ones yours?" meaning did they join your family biologically. Both inappropriate questions that require grace filled answers.
Next we attended a session by a licensed counselor on the techniques of "Theraplay" which are often used for kids from hard places. The speaker was fun and made the talk highly interactive which I liked and Mike hated. I had two lightbulb moments here.
First, I'm going to have to start NOW on improving my biggest weakness...meal planning. I can't have a kid from a food insecure background wait while I sit around trying to figure out what's for dinner. Seriously you have NO idea how bad at this I am. We go out to eat way too often, mostly because I am not prepared for meals. This has to change now, before she comes home.
Secondly I suddenly realized how important preschool movement and music classes are in child development. We never did any of those because my kids were in part-time daycare and they seemed like an expensive waste of time to me, designed mainly for stay at home moms with time to kill. Now I know that these will be VITAL to the actual brain development of my adopted daughter, who will not be in daycare. Luckily my friend Kathy runs Kindermusik classes all over our town, so I know now I'll be signing up.
After two sessions that talked a lot about the challenges of adoption, Mike was feeling a little discouraged. So I called an audible on the last session we had registered for and we went to hear my friend Aaron speak about How to Build a Global Orphan Initiative. I kind of knew his story about funding a school project in Ethiopia, but Aaron is a terrific speaker so I knew it would be a much more uplifting talk. And it was.
Aaron laid out ten clear steps for launching and sustaining a project to help orphans in another country. He answered a nagging question I have recently had about the use of "vision trips" as part of such an effort. Everything he said applied directly to a new effort our friends have become involved with to minister to some orphans in Zimbabwe. I'm excited to share my notes with those friends soon.
The day wrapped up with more worship, a keynote speaker, and showing the trailer for the documentary Stuck, which is touring the country and will stop in Houston March 13th. I happen to be the City Host for the Stuck film tour, so I was thrilled that they showed the trailer. Watch it now if you want.
You can buy tickets to see the movie in Houston or your city at Both Ends Burning.
Overall it was a terrific conference again this year, attended by more than four hundred people. We have a lot of support for the adoption and foster community in our city, and for that I could not be more grateful. We're going to need it as we continue on what will be a lifelong journey of parenting an adopted child.