Posts Tagged ‘adoption education’

Open Adoption: Capturing the Voice of the Adoptee

April 18, 2012

Katie and I are deep in work on our newest project, an online course for prospective parents considering an open adoption.  As part of our work we have launched a research project to try and capture adult adoptees’ voices.  We’re specifically looking for adults 18+ who had some degree of contact with birth family members while growing up.  Please share this link with those you know who might want to participate.  The participants may remain anonymous.  Results will be published on our website and used in our course.  The survey takes only a few minutes to complete.

Heart of the Matter Home



Resolving to Get What You Want

January 4, 2012

Did you make a New Year’s resolution having to do with parenting?   Or, are you like me… a resolution-avoider?  Regardless,  I heard a great quote today.  Although it was used in the terms of healthy eating, it applies to much more, including parenting.  Here it is:

Don’t trade what you want most for what you want at this moment.

There is a lot to think about in that short little statement, but what first came to my mind was discipline.  Many of our courses talk about choosing discipline techniques that make sense in terms of brain development and building skills such as self-control, empathy, cause and effect thinking, ability to let go of control and impulse control.  While we get a lot of agreement that yes, pull close parenting types of discipline do manage the child’s behavior while building those skills, we find that for many of us (ourselves included at times!) what we want right now, in that moment, sometimes gets in the way.

Take the example of a younger child who is throwing a temper tantrum.  The science of brain development tells us that the ability to regulate one’s emotions is learned through someone else helping keep your emotions regulated.  We also know that we have to be present to help the child calm and regulate that mad feeling.  And yet, there is still a temptation to do something that makes them stop crying or throwing a fit right now!!!   …even if “making it all stop” works against what you really want… a child who will ultimately be able to handle their own angry feelings appropriately.

So, take a moment and ask yourself:

What are my goals for my child?
How do I get there?  Do I know how to get there?
What do I need to get there?

Heart of the Matter Seminars

Holiday Gift Giving Ideas For Adoptive Families: Julie and Katie’s Top 10

November 29, 2010

Cyber Monday has us thinking about shopping so we thought we’d share some favorite holiday gift ideas for adoptive families.   Here is the “top 10 list” that Katie and I generated this morning.  It’s not comprehensive but we think these are all worthy and purposeful gifts.  And hey, these are not only great ideas  for the family parenting the child who waited, but also for all families interested in promoting attachment and optimizing  brain development.

#1:  Double Sized Blanket for Cuddling–   Cuddling is not just good for your baby but also your toddler, (more…)

Stop going to the hardware store to buy a loaf of bread! Advice for adoptive parents…

July 27, 2010

Adoptive parents benefit from relationships with other adoptive parents,  especially when both  families have children with similar backgrounds.  So what does that have to do with bread and hardware stores?

My sister called an important revelation to my attention this week.  She told me that she and I had to stop going to the hardware store to buy a loaf of bread.   In the context of our conversation she was referring to how we both tend to expect our husbands to magically emote and communicate the way we do with each other.  This of course is as ridiculous as trying to buy a loaf of bread at a hardware store.  It’s even more ridiculous when you think about the fact that we can meet those needs for each other as sisters.  She shares so many of my same life experiences!  It’s more like looking for bread in a bakery if you will.

This led me to think about how often adoptive parents “look for bread in a hardware store.”  Here are just two examples… (more…)

Same Song, Different Verse–Distinguishing Needs

July 6, 2010

Our 4th of July started out and ended a bit rocky.  (Fortunately, there was a ton of good stuff in between.)  Although some of the behaviors looked very similar the need and therefore, my response, was very different.

Olivia's dramatic attempt at looking "scared"

At the start of our 4th of July festivities, Olivia was working hard at being dramatic about the fireworks and specifically, the noise.  She was “scared!” (supposedly) and was working her way from drama to truly psyching herself out.  So, what was the need? (more…)

From Our In-Box

June 22, 2010

I just responded to an email that came to our general mailbox.  It brings up some great points about education vs. training vs. dispensing information:

I’m interested in purchasing the Because They Waited course.   My husband and I are adoptive parents;  our daughter (adopted from Ethiopia) joined our family last September at the age of 7 months.   We were careful to follow the attachment guidelines we’d read about and our daughter appears to have adjusted well and to be attaching well.   (more…)

“We don’t do that!” (Yes we do.) Word Choice in Parenting

June 14, 2010

So I’m in the library helping my daughter pick out books when a commotion breaks out in the next aisle.  The sound of little feet running and little voices squealing breaks into the normally quiet environment and  as I finish my selections and walk around the aisle I see a very tired looking mom grab her preschooler’s arm with one hand and a 7 or 8 year old’s arm with her other.  As she is hustling  them towards the door she leans down to whisper loudly to them,

“We don’t run and yell in the library!”

Now I did feel for this mom.  I’ve been there and done that (and I’m sure many of you have too.)  But I couldn’t help also sighing to myself at her comment.  So often I hear parents begin their discipline with “We don’t….” and end it with whatever the child is actually doing or just finished doing.

“We don’t talk with our mouth full.”

“We don’t hit.”

“We don’t leave toys on the floor.”

The problem is that whenever we say these things just as the child is doing them we really look a bit foolish and incompetent because clearly the child IS DOING these things.   Sending poor competency messages can be a minefield for any parent, but for those of us parenting children who began life in a less than optimal environment this can be an even bigger problem.

Why is this?  Those of you who have completed Because They Waited will remember the module about promoting attachment.  Children with attachment strain need even stronger competency messages from their parents in order to move to a healthier place on the attachment continuum.  Their early life experiences have often left them with reduced or lacking trust and when a child cannot trust they often have an increased need or urge to control their environment.   This means that our children are even MORE likely to engage in challenging behaviors, especially when we respond in ways that signal we are less than able to handle the situation.

Word choice seems like a little thing but it is really powerful in sending (or not sending) messages of competency.   The following statements still make the parental expectations clear without reducing parental competency:

When we run or shout in the library we have to leave.  (Parent then leaves with the children)

Talking with your mouthful is considered bad manners.

Stop!  Hitting hurts!  (Remove child from the person he or she is hitting.)

Someone might trip over toys left on the floor or your toys might end up broken.  (Help the child pick up the toys.)

These statements are only slightly altered and yet they send  much stronger messages of competency

Heart of the Matter Seminars Home

Handwriting, Child Development & Less Than Optimal Beginnings

June 7, 2010

I recently caught a short story on our local news about the program, Handwriting Without Tears, becoming more widely used in public school systems.  I was too late in finding a link to the original video I saw, but I did find a link to a written article online here.

I first heard about Handwriting Without Tears about 10 years ago through Children’s Therapy Group here in Kansas City.  They provided a summer class for children using this program.   Now, it’s being used with the general population in public schools.  I find this fascinating because it is a real-life example of what we at Heart of the Matter have always believed–that parenting or caring for children mildly or moderately affected by less than optimal care in the beginnings of their life is oftentimes just a more purposeful, more intense, more lengthy and more conscious form of overall “good parenting”.   (more…)

Valuable Resource on Brain Development

May 27, 2010

I  stumbled onto a great brain development resource and I’m so excited to share it!

Those of you who have completed the Because They Waited™ system for adoptive parents and professionals know how important we believe it is for all parents (but especially foster care and adoptive parents) to have an understanding of brain development and to learn ways to positively impact a child’s brain development.

We’re always telling parents that “brain development is not rocket science” and trying to get them to understand the everyday simple things that they can do to optimize their child’s experiences in terms of brain development.

Well I’ve found someone who shares our passion!  Deborah  McNelis is the creator/owner of braininsights® and also the author of a great blog that gives daily brain facts with the hope of educating and inspiring parents about brain development.  I love how much you can learn and how many great ideas you can get by simply reading these daily facts.

Check it out!

Adoption Education is Like Sticky Spaghetti

May 17, 2010

Does this resemble some "adoption education" you're familiar with?

Julie and I have been in the realm of adoption education for about 12 years now.  From the start, Julie’s background as an educator and her innate “teacher-self” shaped what we did.  She insisted that we spend a lot of time creating what she calls “rhythm” and in building a framework.

By nature, I am more the type to jump in and get it done (some would call it haphazard, but I prefer to think of myself as a do-er).  At times, her insistence on sculpting our first programs made me crazy!  We had important information that parents needed NOW!  Let’s get the show on the road!

My approach (then) was to throw good information out there with the belief (hope) that something would stick. (more…)

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