She's Adopted

They just didn't tell her

Disposable People?

I am thinking of you today, Loujean. I hope you’re ok 🙂 ♡

Disposable People

I was adopted at 3 weeks in Texas in 1958. My birth mother “Mona” was promised that I would be given a “forever family”, one that would provide a wonderful loving home where I would be treated as if I had been “born into it”.

What a crock!  In 1972 after my adoptive parents divorced the extended family and later my adoptive mother seemed to distance themselves from me. While I was still invited at times to family functions, they became far and few between until they stopped altogether. For over 20 yrs I was in all sense abandoned. This blog is an attempt by me to find other adoptees’ who have had similar experiences.

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Confortably Numb on November 26

So they say I was born on today’s date. November 26.
Truth is, we all know that Birthdays are different for most of us adoptees. I really don’t think it’s possible for my friends and family to fully understand my feelings towards Birthdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. All of it got lost since the day I found out I was adopted.
Usually a birthday is a celebration of life and a time to remember the joyous day a child was brought into this world, welcomed by family with nothing but love.
It hurts to not know anything about your actual birthday and the thought that me being born brought nothing but pain to some and no joy at all to others can be overwhelming, specially at this time of the year for me.
Life is precious though. And I can still see how lucky I am to have met some fantastic people during this journey. We are all here for a reason and we all have people we love in our lives. That helps take the sting out of birthdays….

 

What’s Up With Adoptees and Birthdays?

By Deanna Doss Shrodes

Why are birthdays such a triggering event for a many adoptees? There are a plethora of reasons. To share just a few that come to my mind that some non-adoptees may be unaware of…

A lot of mystery surrounds many adoptees’ birthdays. Most adoptees do not currently have access to their original birth certificate (OBC) and have  what is known as an amended birth certificate (ABC).

Much of what is on an ABC are lies. Some ABC’s even state the wrong date as the day the adoptee was born. When the adoption is finalized, some states give the option of changing the birth date and the place of birth!

Obviously, this falsifying of the OBC covers up the adoptee’s true origin.  Of course, the names of the parents on an amended birth certificate are also falsified. Keep in mind, it is a birth certificate, not an adoption certificate. Should the details of BIRTH not be accurate on a BIRTH certificate? Can you imagine not knowing if your birthday is your actual birthday? Or not knowing where you were really born? Or who actually birthed you?

For many adoptees, birthdays only remind them of all they still don’t know about themselves. It can serve as a painful reminder of losing your first family, experiencing what is known as “secondary rejection,” or a host of other issues.

Almost without exception the adoptees I talk to share with me that on their birthday they think a lot of their first mother and wonder if she’s thinking about them too.

What I’ve just shared is not the entire reason adoptee birthdays are sometimes challenging – it’s just a small part of it.

When it comes to discovering truth about adoption, I’m a huge fan of asking adoptees questions. So I did! The only way you can truly understand adoption is to ask the people who are the ones who are actually adopted.   Many responded in public on the Adoptee Restoration Facebook page as well as in private. Due to the response I am going to break them into two posts. (If adoptees responded privately and requested to reply anonymously, their name was changed.)

Photo Credit: exfordy, Flickr

Ashley M

I turned 45 yesterday…we think.. Aging really doesn’t bother me — but there are things associated with the date they picked out for me that do bother me. You might think that by 45 I would have a good grip on this, but I don’t. I think because there are parts of it that are still new to me. I was in denial about how it was impacting me for about 33 years of my life, and then it took a few more years past that before I started really being honest with myself about what was going on.

There has been a lot of processing and a lot of healing, but I’m still not in great shape when it rolls around. The week before is an interesting mix of emotions that I am struggling to figure out what to do with. I don’t blame those around me –it has nothing to do with them, but the feelings are still there despite what I try to do to manage it. Distracting myself doesn’t help a whole lot either. I know there will be a lot of tears, for one reason or another.

I try to journal everything out and I read out of a book that I’ve been reading for about the past six years (I’m only about 2/3 of the way through.) The book contains letters from Korean birthmothers to the children they gave up for adoption. I’m hoping to gain insight into what Korean birthmothers think about, so that so that maybe I might have an idea of what went through her head with me.

Either way, both the journaling and the book have been really helpful in helping me grieve over what I have lost, which is necessary for me to do. The day after my birthday, I feel bruised all over. I now have a better idea as to why I am a wreck at this time of the year.

I am looking for her and it is doubtful I will ever know her, despite recent changes in Korean policy.

Trying to make it something different, or trying to skip it altogether has failed miserably. Honestly, I am at a loss as to what more I can possibly do with this time.

Renee Lynne

My adopters could never seem to remember my birthday. I always had to remind my adoptive mother, even when I was a child.

Although (or maybe because?) there was never really any fuss made, I always secretly liked my birthday. It was the only connection I had to my mother.

When I began searching in earnest and realized the info on my birth certificate had been changed, I was so shocked and frightened to think that my birthday might be off. It would have been a pretty profound injustice for me; taking away the one thing I had left after losing it all.

The birthday card my aunt (mom’s sister) sent me on my birthday (age 51) after we finally met read, “Happy 1st Birthday!!”

Sigh. If only.

Rob D. McClintock

I never really had a problem about my birthday. My adoptive family has always celebrated my birthday with decent fanfare. However, last year months after my birthday, I was given some paperwork and it listed a date of 08/08 instead of 08/16 as my birthday. This was paperwork when I had a minor medical procedure done at four months old and my identifying info had that date.

As these dates approach I am now confused and wonder what else about my life may be false. I am still processing coming out of the fog and still not sure what to do next. Fear of the unknown is strong and that other me — the pre-adoption me — still wants to stay hidden and safe. Whose birthday have I really been celebrating all these years? Some will say it’s just a date but adoptees know it is much more than that. Thank you Deanna, for allowing us to share.

Karen Brown Belanger 

It’s only something adoptees can get, really. And it’s such a different day for so many of us. Another reason to ponder your belly button.

Rebecca Hawkes

It may be a symptom of lingering fog, but I didn’t strongly associate my birthday with my b-fam until recently. This coming birthday, however, I will be spending the day at a blues festival with my b-dad, b-mom, b-brother, and some other folks I love. And that feels RIGHT. 🙂

Yvonne Bernath

Birthday = pain, abandonment, resentment, brokenness, sadness, an unfilled longing. I still struggle with my birthday and would gladly erase it from the calendar. Years ago I referred to it as ‘Abandonment Day’ which made people so uncomfortable with no response.

Lorene Wages Fairchild 

When I became a teenager I dreaded my birthdays. I usually had to put on a big smile and pretend everything was wonderful so as not to disappoint the people around me. I was secretly wondering if my real parents were thinking about me on that day and that hurt so much. The truth is I felt so rejected by them and birthdays just magnified those feelings.

Carolyn Sandifer Espina 

Consciously, I never thought my adoption affected my feelings regarding my birthday. However, I wound up getting married on my birthday. I realize now that I chose to do that subconsciously to ‘cover up’ my birthday and turn it into another celebration. On that day every year I make it all about my relationship with my husband – and not at all about myself or my birthday. I even feel ‘bad’ when people offer birthday wishes – I usually ‘correct’ them and say “it’s also my wedding anniversary” instead of just accepting their well wishes.

Karen Brown Belanger 

This is the poem I wrote about my feelings as an adoptee on my birthday.

Unhappy Birthday

There were no birth announcements.

No cigars were handed out.

No newborn baby pictures.

No parent’s joyous shouts.

No counting toes and fingers.

No comparing eyes and chins.

No nursery decorated.

No proud grandparent grins.

Instead the day that I was born,

a mother silently wept.

While in a room close to her,

her newborn daughter slept.

So close we were together.

So far we’re now apart.

Two lives were separated.

A love doomed from the start.

And so each year since I was born,

this day has been the same.

No one can know the sadness.

No one can know the pain.

No candles ever bright enough

to light my darkened soul.

No happy birthday party.

No heart that can be whole.

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Health and Heredity

I grew up with many health problems. I remember spending hours and hours of my childhood sitting in hospitals and doctor’s office  getting x-rays, casts on and off my feet, sometimes on my arms, fingers, wrists… you name it.

Even without broken bones, I was constantly in pain. Migraines, back and feet  hurting me almost everyday… Plus I was growing too fast. My heart beat was always working too fast. I was constantly falling and my vision was failing quickly.

No one really knew what was wrong with me until, at age 9, an endocrinologist finally came to the conclusion that I had Marfan Syndrome.
From that point on, my days being a lab rat for cardiologists, orthopedists, ophthalmologists and everything else was just starting it. It was a living hell for me. I was only a child. I had no clue of why I had to be going to so many doctors while my quality of life was degrading severally due to lack of explanation given to me about Marfan and how to live with it. I was not allowed to say or ask much because my adoptive mother wasn’t a very patient and loving mom. Her habit of constant hitting me on my back, head and legs was not very helpful to my already achy skinny body.

But I grew up and went through high school and College forcing myself into sports I loved: Volleyball, Handball, Soccer… and with that came more broken bones and pain.

My adoptive family kept lots of pertinent information from me. They had the opportunity to explain what they knew about this heritable disorder of the connective tissue that affects many organ systems, including the skeleton, lungs, eyes, heart and blood vessels. They could have save me a lot of trouble but they chose not to.

Obviously there was no history of Marfan in the family, so they opt to keep me in the dark, living like nothing was really wrong with me.

I guess they were under the fear that I could, put two and two together about being adopted and start digging about my origins and eventually discover that I was illegally adopted.

Having a child under their roof with serious heart problems, chronic pain, anemia, and predisposition to glaucoma wasn’t enough justification for them to tell me that I was adopted and needed to understand the effects of it to me and a future child, if I ever lived to have one.

It took 40 years and several life threatening surgeries for me to understand the importance of knowing my health history.  I know now what Marfan really is and how it can affect my blood kin.

My adoptive family still refuses to give me any information about where I came from or a lead to someone who could help me to discover what else is hidden in my roots. And the question that often takes over my sleep remains: “What else should I and my 9 year old daughter watch out for it?”

Well, I guess that door is closed to both of us.

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Over 4,000 diseases are caused by single defective genes. Missing and sketchy health histories put adopted persons at risk, particularly as they age and need to know the risk factors for common killers such as cancer and heart diseases.

Adrenoleukodystrophy
Albinism (ocular form)
Alzheimer’s Disease
Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease
Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia
Familial Amyloid Neuropathy
Familial Polyposis of the Colon
Growth Hormone Deficiency
Hemophilia A
Incontinentia Pigmenti
Manic Depression (bipolar type)
Muscular Dystrophy (Duchenne type)
Neurofibromatosis
Osteogenesis Imperfecta
Polycystic Kidney Disease (adult type)
Retinoblastoma
Spinal Muscular Atrophy Thalassemias
Von Willebrand Disease
Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome
Agammaglobulinemia
Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency
Aniridia
Chronic Granulomatous Disease
Cystic Fibrosis
Familial Hypercholesterolemia
Fragile-X Syndrome
Hemochromatosis
Huntington’s Disease
Lymphoproliferative Syndrome
Muscular Dystrophy (Becker type)
Muscular Dystrophy (myotonic type)
Ornithine Transcarbamylase Deficiency
Phenylketonuria
Retinitis Pigmentosa
Sickle-cell Anemia
Tuberous Sclerosis
Wilms’ Tumor


“Morally, there is no family, and no person planning to have a child who can ignore the new genetic discoveries and techniques for preventing genetic disease. Your health and welfare and that of your (future) children are at stake. We all have a right and, indeed, an obligation to know about our particular genes and to consider the options available that increase our chances of having healthy children. We should also all have the freedom to exercise these options as we wish and as rationally as we are able.”

“Knowing your family’s health history can save your life,” said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. “By having the information readily available, doctors can more closely monitor a person’s health for common diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, or even rare disorders like sickle cell anemia or hemophilia, that can run in families.”
– Aubrey Milunsky, M.D.   

 

The picture above is from the film Roots: Unknown by Zara Phillips. And speaking of Zara, here is the trailer for her movie:

 

 

 

 

 

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When you’re not good enough

This video came to me through my Facebook news feed yesterday. Today I’ve decided to watch it one more time thinking that i may have been a bit too over sensitive last night. Result: Tears again.
Here is the post:

“I really wish I could be one of those cool kids who can say awesome things about their birthmothers and/or adoptive mom’s. But I can’t. Rejection hurts really deep some days.
I try to live my life always looking forward, I try not to look back. But some days my heart does nothing but hurt. I was rejected at birth, mistreated and lied to for 40 years and to top that, after I’ve found out about being adopted the “family” turned their back away from me. Completely. There is only one person who stands by. He lied too. And I went through my share of hell being the little sister of an aggressive unruly boy. But he is the only one who still talks to me. He says I’m his sister. But he doesn’t help me to understand why his mother, (my adoptive mom) and her mom and sister and cousins treated me like I was a worthless good for nothing piece of crap.
He doesn’t help me to find out where I came from neither. And just like the rest of the family, he doesn’t see how important it is for me to have something to relate to. Anything that can give me some sense of purpose, belonging.
But I’m not worth the truth.”

You know, I can’t understand how come some people are incapable of loving. I do not know the circumstances of my adoption. I know nothing about my adoptive parents motivation to adopt me. And much less I understand how can a person raise a child and have ZERO affection for that human being.

I’ve tried. I did every thing a child could possibly do to earn affection. I did great in school. I was obedient, nice, stayed away from drugs and alcohol. I followed “the book” accordingly. but that wasn’t enough.  I don’t remember one single hug or a kiss on my cheek from my mom until the day I got married.  I guess she was relieved that I was going to finally go away.
And my question remains unanswered: ” Why adopt a child if you aren’t willing to raise her as one of your own kids?

I think this song sums things up pretty good:

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What did your adoptive family do to help you settle in and feel like a part of the family (if that happened)?

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Here is a small portion of the post from Lisa, who was introduced to Attempting Agape when she talked a bit about her journey through foster care.

 Continue reading the whole post here  for some first hand answers from an adult who spent some of her formative years in foster care and then went on to be adopted by her last and final foster home.

Thanks for sharing Lisa!

 

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The first thing was the discussion of names. They made it clear that we could change our names if we wanted to. We could change our first name, last name, both or neither. I knew immediately that I wanted to change my last name. I wanted to “belong” and to me that meant we all needed to have the same last name. I think it meant a lot to them too that we all had the same name, but I know they wanted us to feel comfortable with the decision. My brother and I both ended up keeping our original first and middle names and changed our last names to match our parents.

The second thing was the adoption party. My parents threw a huge party celebrating our adoption and welcoming us to the family. All of our relatives from both my mom and dad’s side of the family were there. I got two presents that day that now mean the world to me. My grandmother gave me a bible with a beautiful inscription and the date. And one of my dad’s relatives gave me a bracelet inscribed with my name and the date of my adoption. This dates means a lot to me and even though we don’t really celebrate it, I always call my parents on that day.

The biggest thing was just creating our own family traditions and memories that we still follow and talk about today. There’s the Summer Rain Dance, the Ice Cream Bowl Ceremony, and heart-shaped meatloaf and pink mashed potatoes on Valentine’s Day. There’s the time when my brother ate horseradish sauce for the first time, the time I got a new bike and proceeded to crash into our neighbor’s mailbox and the time we all dressed up in matching shirts to sing Happy Birthday to my dad at work. These are the things that create a family.

Who is Attempting Agape?

I am Alisa.  I happen to be 33 years old and have been doing this foster care thing solo for the past 2.5 years.  I have had so many ups and downs that don’t appear on this blog – but I try to capture the overarching ebb and flow of the life of a single foster parent.  I love photography, coffee and the rare adult conversation (about something other than play-dough).  I also love Jesus, mucho.

I was licensed in June 2010 and desire to love kids from hard places the way that God has loved me, with mercy, grace and truth. It also my hope that this blog could serve as a vehicle to connect all those involved in the foster & adoption world: the parents (birth, foster and adoptive), the children and adults (adoptees and foster alumni) and the social workers involved in the child protection system, both in the US and overseas. Lets keep learning, so we can learn from our mistakes and make it better for the next generation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

by Marc Chernoff

30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

When you stop chasing the wrong things you give
the right things a chance to catch you.

As Maria Robinson once said, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”  Nothing could be closer to the truth.  But before you can begin this process of transformation you have to stop doing the things that have been holding you back.

  1. Start spending time with the right people. – These are the people you enjoy, who love and appreciate you, and who encourage you to improve in healthy and exciting ways.  They are the ones who make you feel more alive, and not only embrace who you are now, but also embrace and embody who you want to be, unconditionally.
  2. Start facing your problems head on. – It isn’t your problems that define you, but how you react to them and recover from them.  Problems will not disappear unless you take action.  Do what you can, when you can, and acknowledge what you’ve done.  It’s all about taking baby steps in the right direction, inch by inch.  These inches count, they add up to yards and miles in the long run.
  3. Start being honest with yourself about everything. – Be honest about what’s right, as well as what needs to be changed.  Be honest about what you want to achieve and who you want to become.  Be honest with every aspect of your life, always.  Because you are the one person you can forever count on.  Search your soul, for the truth, so that you truly know who you are.  Once you do, you’ll have a better understanding of where you are now and how you got here, and you’ll be better equipped to identify where you want to go and how to get there.  Read The Road Less Traveled.
  4. Start making your own happiness a priority. – Your needs matter.  If you don’t value yourself, look out for yourself, and stick up for yourself, you’re sabotaging yourself.  Remember, it IS possible to take care of your own needs while simultaneously caring for those around you.  And once your needs are met, you will likely be far more capable of helping those who need you most.
  5. Start being yourself, genuinely and proudly. – Trying to be anyone else is a waste of the person you are.  Be yourself.  Embrace that individual inside you that has ideas, strengths and beauty like no one else.  Be the person you know yourself to be – the best version of you – on your terms.  Above all, be true to YOU, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it.
  6. Start noticing and living in the present. – Right now is a miracle.  Right now is the only moment guaranteed to you.  Right now is life.  So stop thinking about how great things will be in the future.  Stop dwelling on what did or didn’t happen in the past.  Learn to be in the ‘here and now’ and experience life as it’s happening.  Appreciate the world for the beauty that it holds, right now.
  7. Start valuing the lessons your mistakes teach you. – Mistakes are okay; they’re the stepping stones of progress.  If you’re not failing from time to time, you’re not trying hard enough and you’re not learning.  Take risks, stumble, fall, and then get up and try again.  Appreciate that you are pushing yourself, learning, growing and improving.  Significant achievements are almost invariably realized at the end of a long road of failures.  One of the ‘mistakes’ you fear might just be the link to your greatest achievement yet.
  8. Start being more polite to yourself. – If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend?  The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others.  You must love who you are or no one else will.
  9. Start enjoying the things you already have. – The problem with many of us is that we think we’ll be happy when we reach a certain level in life – a level we see others operating at – your boss with her corner office, that friend of a friend who owns a mansion on the beach, etc.  Unfortunately, it takes awhile before you get there, and when you get there you’ll likely have a new destination in mind.  You’ll end up spending your whole life working toward something new without ever stopping to enjoy the things you have now.  So take a quiet moment every morning when you first awake to appreciate where you are and what you already have.
  10. Start creating your own happiness. – If you are waiting for someone else to make you happy, you’re missing out.  Smile because you can.  Choose happiness.  Be the change you want to see in the world.  Be happy with who you are now, and let your positivity inspire your journey into tomorrow.  Happiness is often found when and where you decide to seek it.  If you look for happiness within the opportunities you have, you will eventually find it.  But if you constantly look for something else, unfortunately, you’ll find that too.  Read Stumbling on Happiness.
  11. Start giving your ideas and dreams a chance. – In life, it’s rarely about getting a chance; it’s about taking a chance.  You’ll never be 100% sure it will work, but you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work.  Most of the time you just have to go for it!  And no matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should be.  Either you succeed or you learn something.  Win-Win.
  12. Start believing that you’re ready for the next step. – You are ready!  Think about it.  You have everything you need right now to take the next small, realistic step forward.  So embrace the opportunities that come your way, and accept the challenges – they’re gifts that will help you to grow.
  13. Start entering new relationships for the right reasons. – Enter new relationships with dependable, honest people who reflect the person you are and the person you want to be.  Choose friends you are proud to know, people you admire, who show you love and respect – people who reciprocate your kindness and commitment.  And pay attention to what people do, because a person’s actions are much more important than their words or how others represent them.
  14. Start giving new people you meet a chance. – It sounds harsh, but you cannot keep every friend you’ve ever made.  People and priorities change.  As some relationships fade others will grow.  Appreciate the possibility of new relationships as you naturally let go of old ones that no longer work.  Trust your judgment.  Embrace new relationships, knowing that you are entering into unfamiliar territory.  Be ready to learn, be ready for a challenge, and be ready to meet someone that might just change your life forever.
  15. Start competing against an earlier version of yourself. – Be inspired by others, appreciate others, learn from others, but know that competing against them is a waste of time.  You are in competition with one person and one person only – yourself.  You are competing to be the best you can be.  Aim to break your own personal records.
  16. Start cheering for other people’s victories. – Start noticing what you like about others and tell them.  Having an appreciation for how amazing the people around you are leads to good places – productive, fulfilling, peaceful places.  So be happy for those who are making progress.  Cheer for their victories.  Be thankful for their blessings, openly.  What goes around comes around, and sooner or later the people you’re cheering for will start cheering for you.
  17. Start looking for the silver lining in tough situations. – When things are hard, and you feel down, take a few deep breaths and look for the silver lining – the small glimmers of hope.  Remind yourself that you can and will grow stronger from these hard times.  And remain conscious of your blessings and victories – all the things in your life that are right.  Focus on what you have, not on what you haven’t.
  18. Start forgiving yourself and others. – We’ve all been hurt by our own decisions and by others.  And while the pain of these experiences is normal, sometimes it lingers for too long.  We relive the pain over and over and have a hard time letting go.  Forgiveness is the remedy.  It doesn’t mean you’re erasing the past, or forgetting what happened.  It means you’re letting go of the resentment and pain, and instead choosing to learn from the incident and move on with your life.
  19. Start helping those around you. – Care about people.  Guide them if you know a better way.  The more you help others, the more they will want to help you.  Love and kindness begets love and kindness.  And so on and so forth.
  20. Start listening to your own inner voice. – If it helps, discuss your ideas with those closest to you, but give yourself enough room to follow your own intuition.  Be true to yourself.  Say what you need to say.  Do what you know in your heart is right.
  21. Start being attentive to your stress level and take short breaks. – Slow down.  Breathe.  Give yourself permission to pause, regroup and move forward with clarity and purpose.  When you’re at your busiest, a brief recess can rejuvenate your mind and increase your productivity.  These short breaks will help you regain your sanity and reflect on your recent actions so you can be sure they’re in line with your goals.
  22. Start noticing the beauty of small moments. – Instead of waiting for the big things to happen – marriage, kids, big promotion, winning the lottery – find happiness in the small things that happen every day.  Little things like having a quiet cup of coffee in the early morning, or the delicious taste and smell of a homemade meal, or the pleasure of sharing something you enjoy with someone else, or holding hands with your partner.  Noticing these small pleasures on a daily basis makes a big difference in the quality of your life.
  23. Start accepting things when they are less than perfect. – Remember, ‘perfect’ is the enemy of ‘good.’  One of the biggest challenges for people who want to improve themselves and improve the world is learning to accept things as they are.  Sometimes it’s better to accept and appreciate the world as it is, and people as they are, rather than to trying to make everything and everyone conform to an impossible ideal.  No, you shouldn’t accept a life of mediocrity, but learn to love and value things when they are less than perfect.
  24. Start working toward your goals every single day. – Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.  Whatever it is you dream about, start taking small, logical steps every day to make it happen.  Get out there and DO something!  The harder you work the luckier you will become.  While many of us decide at some point during the course of our lives that we want to answer our calling, only an astute few of us actually work on it.  By ‘working on it,’ I mean consistently devoting oneself to the end result.  Read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
  25. Start being more open about how you feel. – If you’re hurting, give yourself the necessary space and time to hurt, but be open about it.  Talk to those closest to you.  Tell them the truth about how you feel.  Let them listen.  The simple act of getting things off your chest and into the open is your first step toward feeling good again.
  26. Start taking full accountability for your own life. – Own your choices and mistakes, and be willing to take the necessary steps to improve upon them.  Either you take accountability for your life or someone else will.  And when they do, you’ll become a slave to their ideas and dreams instead of a pioneer of your own.  You are the only one who can directly control the outcome of your life.  And no, it won’t always be easy.  Every person has a stack of obstacles in front of them.  But you must take accountability for your situation and overcome these obstacles.  Choosing not to is choosing a lifetime of mere existence.
  27. Start actively nurturing your most important relationships. – Bring real, honest joy into your life and the lives of those you love by simply telling them how much they mean to you on a regular basis.  You can’t be everything to everyone, but you can be everything to a few people.  Decide who these people are in your life and treat them like royalty.  Remember, you don’t need a certain number of friends, just a number of friends you can be certain of.
  28. Start concentrating on the things you can control. – You can’t change everything, but you can always change something.  Wasting your time, talent and emotional energy on things that are beyond your control is a recipe for frustration, misery and stagnation.  Invest your energy in the things you can control, and act on them now.
  29. Start focusing on the possibility of positive outcomes. – The mind must believe it CAN do something before it is capable of actually doing it.  The way to overcome negative thoughts and destructive emotions is to develop opposing, positive emotions that are stronger and more powerful.  Listen to your self-talk and replace negative thoughts with positive ones.  Regardless of how a situation seems, focus on what you DO WANT to happen, and then take the next positive step forward.  No, you can’t control everything that happens to you, but you can control how you react to things.  Everyone’s life has positive and negative aspects – whether or not you’re happy and successful in the long run depends greatly on which aspects you focus on.  Read The How of Happiness.
  30. Start noticing how wealthy you are right now. – Henry David Thoreau once said, “Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.”  Even when times are tough, it’s always important to keep things in perspective.  You didn’t go to sleep hungry last night.  You didn’t go to sleep outside.  You had a choice of what clothes to wear this morning.  You hardly broke a sweat today.  You didn’t spend a minute in fear.  You have access to clean drinking water.  You have access to medical care.  You have access to the Internet.  You can read.  Some might say you are incredibly wealthy, so remember to be grateful for all the things you do have.

30 Things to Start Doing for Yourself

Remember today, for it is the beginning.
Today marks the start of a brave new future.

Please  visit Marc Chernoff’s blog for more inspirational and Practical Life Tips:
http://www.marcandangel.com/

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And if you need someone to talk to or simply to listen to you, I am here for you 🙂

The best way to get a hold of me is through private messages:

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Coping With Adoption Stress

It’s essential for families to develop the ability to cope with the stress that adoption can place on parents and kids.
by Debi Grebenik

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It is through the expression, processing and understanding of our own fears that we can calm our stress. Both parents and children experience stress, so it is imperative that we understand the role stress plays in our relationships, particularly the unique stresses for adopted children.

Stress is triggered through a sensory event, and when this trigger is activated, the amygdala responds with a fight, flight or freeze reaction. This alarm reaction activates the central nervous system. Without the subsequent release of cortisol, the child may become hyper vigilant toward all situations, perceiving every event as a threat. This arousal can be mitigated through positive repetition in the environment and in relationships.

For example, a child adopted at age five goes to a department store with his mother, walks through the cologne section en route to the clothing department, and then immediately becomes agitated and starts crying and yelling. The mother, unaware of what is going on, finds herself angry, scared and frustrated and easily displays a negative behavioral reaction to her son. She may respond by yelling at him or grabbing him roughly and leaving the store.

A mother who understands that trauma occurred in her son’s first three years of his life demonstrates emotional flexibility, not rigidity. The first step she could do, whether she understood the trigger or not, would be to sit on the floor in the store and say to her son, “I’m not going anywhere, you are safe.” The child calms after a few minutes because the mother is calm. She doesn’t react to his behavior with her own stress but attempts to discern that his behavior has a reason behind it. Many adopted children cannot express their pain or prior trauma through their words, so they use their behavior.

This mother may later discover that her child was around an angry man, the boyfriend of his mother, who wore the cologne he smelled. This smell acted as a trigger to his stored trauma memory and caused him pain, which manifested in his behavior. But whether she ever understands the reason, she has calmed his deeper fear with her reaction. Your own stress regulation during these acting out episodes is vital. You are calming the child as he expresses his pain.

Also important to consider is that adoptive children will trigger any unresolved issues adoptive parents may have. These issues may include child abuse, family death, uncontrollable anger, a parent’s absence, failed marriage, relative incest, alcohol dependence, generational trauma, financial difficulties, spiritual warfare, emotional depression or unresolved infertility. Because these traumatic events may be stored unconsciously in the state level of memory,1 they rear up as ugly monsters when triggered.

Trauma must be expressed and processed to be understood. Once understood, the trauma may be integrated into our lives, without holding us captive to its power. While most of us strive for resolution because we want our lives to be neat and tidy, the focus must be on integration rather than resolution. If these traumatic events of the past are not processed, parents will continue to be triggered by their child’s behaviors.

The best gift an adoptive parent can give her adopted child is to be regulated and to create a regulated environment. To be regulated means the ability to experience and maintain stress within one’s window of tolerance. In contrast, if one member of the family is dysregulated, the entire family system experiences the ramifications. When a stressor event is prolonged, overwhelming or unpredictable, or if the events continue on unexpressed, unprocessed and misunderstood, additional stress occurs.2 Only when these traumatic events are processed in the context of a loving, regulated relationship can the adoptive parent be free to parent from a place of love, not fear. Then she can truly respond, not react to her child’s behaviors.

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This beginning leg of the journey requires flexibility in expectations about the child; coupled with the ability to change your expectations to match the capabilities of the child you adopt. When we are flexible and adaptive, we can demonstrate a true acceptance of the child, her differences and her needs. In the book, Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You, James Friesen states that “wounded people heal in relationships . . . Growth, repair, maturity, and faith development are all intimately tied to relationships. People do need to achieve wholeness in a fractured world.”3

When a child is removed from his birth mother, he experiences trauma. This trauma can be mitigated through an authentic relationship with the adopted parent. You must be aware of the trauma first and then understand the power of relationship — how it must be a lifelong commitment with flexibility and acceptance during the journey. You may adopt a child who is older and did not have a nurturing home environment the first years of his life. These children may take longer to heal, however, all healing takes place in the context of relationship.

This healing is parallel to the healing Jesus promises when He says to us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

Sources:

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Bonus content originally excerpted from Handbook on Thriving as an Adoptive Family, published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., © 2008 by Sanford Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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1Heather T. Forbes and B. Bryan Post, Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control (Orlando, FL: Beyond Consequences Institute, LLC, 2006), 4.
2Ibid, 16.
3James Friesen, Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You (Pasadena, CA: Shepherds House Inc, 1999), 13.

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