Monday, June 15, 2015

I'm not getting rid of the dog

I feel like I am supposed to share this, though I'm not sure that everyone is going to appreciate it.  But something hit me in the middle of the night last night.  Or more accurately, something bit me and then something hit me.

I got up to go to the bathroom, as I often do, many times, and I came back to find our dog, Quin, on our bed.  He is a rescue dog and we have had him for two years.   This dog loves me -- unlike our other dog who pretty much ignores me all the time.   Quin is a gorgeous dog -- I found him online, and we have never regretted our decision.  He is gentle and patient, hardly ever barks, and is always eager to see me.  I'm not a dog person, so for me to tolerate, much less enjoy, a dog is surprising.

Quin's habit is to sneak in our room while I'm in the bathroom, wait until I get back into the bedroom and get settled and then jump off the bed and beg to be let out.  So I reached over and nudged him to get him to jump off the bed and head out into the hallway.   I startled him in the dark, and he bit me.  It hurt.   It didn't break skin, but I have bruises this morning.

As I was falling back to sleep I realized that I was not blaming the dog -- I was blaming myself and trying to figure out what I could do differently the next time to keep that from happening.   And then it hit me.   I wish I would have done the same thing with my children during our roughest times.  But instead, I blamed them, wondering if they were safe to live at home.

I never thought once about this being Quin's fault.  He responded as one would expect a rescue dog, who has had who knows what happen to him, to respond.   He acted out his fear.

Are children that much different?   Grant it, I don't encourage children biting their parents, but what if our response to our children's aggressive behavior were more along the lines of "how can I change what I am doing to stop that from happening again?"

I know there are a lot of kids who have behaviors that come out of nowhere.  But many, many times they start with something small and escalate because of the way we, as parents respond.   Things get escalated to the point where someone is in danger and then our conclusion is often to blame the child and wonder if we are safe with them.

Maybe I'm entirely out of line here, but I think I'm on to something.   If I had it to do over again, and I've said this to many of you, I would have found a different answer than residential treatment or foster care for a couple of our kids.  I don't get to do it over again, but if I could I would change MY response, because even a decade later their behaviors haven't changed much.  I never was successful in "fixing them."    Fortunately my behaviors have changed as I've come to the realization that I can change only my response to their behaviors.

I'm not going to send Quin away because he bit me.   But I'm certainly not going to tap him on the head in the middle of the night again.   I envision a world where adoptive parents have the same response to their children as I did to Quin last night, as my hand screamed with pain, and plan a way to stop it from happening again.  I envision a world where we all have the  support, skills, and training necessary to FIRST respond by wondering what we can do to change.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the people I cannot change
the courage to change the one I can
and the wisdom to know it's me.  (anonymous)

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

How it works exactly....

So I started my brilliant idea yesterday and obviously my lack of attention to detail is not helping people figure out how to participate in this Stronger Beginnings Challenge.  So, here is how it works.

1)  You pick some people you want to honor.   Examples of 15 different categories can be found in this blog post from yesterday.

2)  You go to the Stronger Beginnings Approach Go Fund Me website and make a donation.  You start by hitting donate, then you put in your amount (at least $5) and your information as well as credit or debit card info.   Then in the comments section there you put who you are honoring.  Example from my first tribute:
I'm giving to Bethany in honor of some of my first friends in the adoption journey... those who have been parenting kids from hard places for as long as I have. Meg McDonald, Michele Hutton, Paula Lee Dunham.

3)   After it processes your donation, hit "Share" and it will take you to Facebook.   Add to the Facebook post the words above.   Then challenges those people to spend 5 minutes and $5 to honor some people in their lives.

4)  Remind them and show them how if they need help.

Make sense?  Questions?

Monday, June 01, 2015

Why I've Been Awake since 3:15 a.m.

This morning I woke up at 3:15 a.m.  It wasn't an emergency.  No police, no appendicitis attacks, no kids sneaking in or out -- just an idea that wouldn't go away.

You may have noticed on my Facebook that Bethany has started a Go Fund Me campaign to support our Stronger Beginnings Model.  A couple who are on my board -- and who are amazingly awesome -- have agreed to help raise money for the campaign.   I have been trying to figure out a way to give the campaign a jump-start and instead I have come up with the idea for a movement.  Yes, if you know me, you are probably not surprised that I am envisioning a movement.

But what would it be like to have a list somewhere of people who love children?  I place where I could put my name that signifies things like "I believe kids grow best in families.  I believe that they are entitled to the best start possible."  

As I began thinking about this I thought of all the groups of people out there who believe this to be true and have an impact on children.  I thought it would be so cool to honor them in a tangible way.

So I am going to donate money to Bethany for each category of people I want to honor and tag them on Facebook and see if there are people in that category -- or another -- that they want to honor.  And, of course, if it took some of the pressure off of me and my current deficit budget because we have started this new approach -- that would be a nice by-product.

 I know that 90% of my readers would hand me a five dollar bill if I asked them to -- even if it was to buy myself my favorite Starbucks drink (Trenta Shaken Tazo Tea, Unsweet, with Extra ice).   So maybe, just maybe they will be willing to take 5 minutes and donate that $5 to Bethany in honor of someone important to them.  

So, here are the categories I have thought of and I would love to have you pick one and join in on the fun.

1)  I'm giving to Bethany in honor of my mom and in memory of my dad who gave me the best start possible.   So many people knew and loved my parents for the investment they made in the lives of children over the past 80+ years.  I know that they have many friends who have parents who did the same for their children.

2)  I'm giving to Bethany in honor of my husband and others out their who have been a true partner in parenting.  Without him my children would not have made the progress they have and I would be a complete wreck.

3)  I'm giving to Bethany in honor of single moms, especially the single moms who are raising my grandchildren.   Their lives aren't always easy, but they are working hard to give their children the best start possible in the situations they are in.

4)  I'm giving to Bethany in honor of my children who, though they may not have had the strongest beginning, are working hard to overcome their past, move forward, and have a stronger future.

5)  I'm giving to Bethany in honor of adoptive parents whose parenting journey would have been so much different had their children had a strong beginning.  I honor them for the tremendous gift they have given their children from "hard places" -- I honor them for their resiliency, their tenacity, and their strength.

6)  I'm giving to Bethany in honor of some of my first friends in the adoption journey... those who have been parenting kids from hard places for as long or longer than I have.

7)  I'm giving to Bethany in honor of adoption professionals who work with expectant parents, who prepare adoptive parents, who support those who are in the trenches.

8)  I'm giving to Bethany in honor of educators.   Teachers who invest in children regardless of their abilities, recognizing that children did not choose their own beginning.

9)  I'm giving to Bethany in honor of pastors, youth pastors, children's pastors, and other leaders in the churches around the world who invest in the lives of our children.   Their contributions to the lives of all children and their parents is unmeasurable.

10)  I'm giving to Bethany in honor of those who are using their careers to support orphan care.  Social entrepreneurs who are finding ways to use their gifts and abilities to make a difference in the lives of children whose beginnings were not what anyone would have hoped.

11)  I'm giving to Bethany in honor of my coworkers at Bethany.  Their dedication to children is unparalleled and I am blessed to know them and to be part of the bigger Bethany team.

12)  I'm giving to Bethany in honor of bloggers who have influenced the world by sharing their stories... especially those early bloggers who blogged only to help others -- before it became a method of self-promotion.

13)  I'm giving to Bethany in honor of folks who may not be working in adoption, but who strive for those early beginnings for children that are so important -- people who work to prevent child abuse, fetal alcohol and drug exposure, domestic violence -- people who work as nannies or in preschools.  

14)  I'm giving to Bethany in honor of really cool young people who love children... who are great aunts and uncles, cousins, and friends.

15)  I'm giving in honor of my Bethany board and their commitment to us as a staff and to making a difference in the lives of children.

I think I better stop or Bart might suggest that I'm giving a bit more to Bethany that I need be in our current financial situation (we already have a monthly pledge, so this is above and beyond).

I bet you have a person you would like to honor in one or more of the above categories.

If not, maybe just encouraging me with a $5 donation would be enough to get you to do it.   :-)

Here is the link:  Bethany's Go Fund Me Campaign

If you do, please share with your online network and tag someone you want to honor, encouraging them to do so as well.  And just so you know, I'm not going to tag everyone in every category -- so if you fit any of the above, consider yourself tagged now :-)

This is what I intend to post along with the sentences above.  And yes, I'm going to give 15 times. 

5 minutes and 5 dollars is all it will take to honor someone important to you and declare that you believe children deserve the best beginning possible and that children grow best in families.  Please join this list by giving to this Go Fund Me campaign and then tagging others to do the same.

One more thing -- if you read the description of the Stronger Beginnings Approach and listen to the video and for some reason do not agree with our approach, just designate that you would like the donation to go to one of our other programs:  International Adoption, Post-Adoption Support, Older Child Foster Care Adoption, or Post-Adoption Counseling and Services.

As you know, this is more than a job for me.  This is my life's passion and the reason I get up every morning.    Thank you for being some of the first ones to join this movement  :-)

You can check out some of these posts on Facebook today and see how it's going, but I would love to see you do this before I tag you.... and that would make you one of the originators of the movement that woke me up at 3:15 a.m.  :-)