Monday, January 28, 2013

Adoption: Our Favorite Books for Kids & Parents

For the kids, adopted or not:

A Mother for Choco (domestic or international adoption, great for transracial)

God Found Us You (domestic or international adoption, good for transracial)

Shaoey and Dot (international adoption, particularly from China)

In My Heart (domestic or international, great for transracial, not specifically about adoption per se, but about an adoptive family and REALLY good for attachment)

Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born (for domestic newborn adoption only, not transracial)

We have the top four picture books and recommend them all.  

If you are adopting transracially, it's also important to have a variety of books that show kids of different ethnicities.  Kids need to see people who look like them, in books and in real life.

Also, books with attachment/love themes are important for promoting attachment (such as In My Heart, listed above).  There are many great picture books that are not adoption-related but have great attachment themes such as Karen Katz books, I Love You Through and Throughthe Llama Llama series, etc.) which paint a picture of what healthy parent-child relationships look like.

And for the parents, my top picks:

Attaching in Adoption (really for any adoption other than newborn adoption, if you can only read one adoption book, this should be it)

I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla: Raising Healthy Black and Biracial Children in a Race-Conscious World (really informative read, particularly for a Caucasian parent of an African-American child)

There is No Me Without You (by an adoptive mama about Africa AIDS epidemic, really helps understand the situation there, emotional read but worth it)

Toddler Adoption: The Weaver's Craft (specifically for toddler adoption, author mostly focuses on international, but some could apply to domestic)

With Eyes Wide Open (not a book, but a great online learning course, Billy & I went through this together and learned so much, specifically for international adoption, really helpful in understanding how hard international adoption is from the kids' perspective and how to anticipate their needs)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Monday, January 21, 2013

Special Needs: How to Support the Sibling(s)

Right now, Shep is blissfully unaware of just how "different" his brother is from him.  Or the different paths their futures likely hold.  As far as he knows, all little brothers wear hearing aids, have physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy, go to a "special" preschool, need a medical walker to learn to walk, etc.  We come into contact with a lot of children with special needs at therapy and specialist appointments and Shep seems to appreciate everyone equally, a quality we hope he retains.

As you can tell from my blog, we are very matter-of-fact about Liam's disabilities with everyone, including Shep.  No topic is off-limits.  Anything he is curious about, we simply explain (same goes for talking about Liam's adoption).  And at this tender age, Shep is happy with short, simple answers.  Just today, after visiting Liam's new preschool, Shep asked, "I wish I could go to Liam's new school." Me: "I know, it seems like fun.  But his school is just for children who need therapies.  You don't need any therapies so you go to your school."  And that was that, his curiosity was satisfied.

Resources for Siblings of Children with Special Needs:

We have all of these except the last one, which is on my wishlist for Shep.  So far, we are only using the picture books.   We will pull out the others when Shep is developmentally ready for them.  We will also find support groups, counseling, etc. if and when Shep needs or wants them.

We keep the picture books out in our book collection and read them out loud from time to time.  Pictures books can be an easy way to broach hard subjects with kids and let them show us what they are curious about (we have several about adoption, too).  

As we read, we talk a little bit about the children in the books - what is different about each of them?  How might they feel?  Do you know why that girl rides in the chair?  Do any of them remind you of you?  Do any remind you of Liam?  Look, that girl goes to horse therapy, too - just like Liam!  Look that boy has hearing aids - like Liam!  Do you think he talks or signs?  Hey, they know sign language, just like you!

It is pretty simple conversation about mostly external things as Shep is barely four (and a boy!).  How we help him process his thoughts and feelings about his brother is something that will change as he matures.  We will follow his lead.  Right now what is important is exposing him to the ideas that we believe are important, for example, "God made everyone special.  And everyone has something to offer."  These are things we, too, are learning in a whole new way on our journey as special needs parents.

Secondly, it's important to create an environment in which Shep can feel comfortable talking to us about anything, including Liam's disabilities and how they affect our family.  Our hope is that being Liam's brother will ultimately be a beautiful, life-giving experience for Shep.  He does not naturally have a compassionate or nurturing spirit, but hopefully Liam will help develop that in him.  We hope he will learn to see people through God's eyes.  If he does, Liam will have given his brother a huge gift.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Happy Birthday, Liam!!!

Today you turn THREE!
This was a big year for you - you learned to walk!
You only used your walker for a few months and then you were off, leaving it in the dust!

Walking has opened up a whole new world for you.
You have enjoyed exploring the world from your wobbly legs, getting into drawers and cabinets, strewing contents about.
You have become quite mischievous, as a toddler should be.

In fact, you are much more a typical toddler now, tantruming and hitting when you don't get your way.
The baby who [literally] never cried has become the toddler who cries louder than all the rest.
We know it's a good thing you have reached this  milestone, albeit a little exhausting for us at times.

Your favorite things are still remain eating, balls, music, rough-housing, swinging, bubbles, water play, and people-watching.  We can now add to the list Scout, our new dog, whom you adore.  You kiss/bite him, hug him, pull up to stand with his assistance, pull his ears and tail exuberantly.  We can also add your new push tricycle, which you love so much we have to force you off.

Now that you are three, you will start next week at your new "Special" preschool.  You will love your new teacher, Ms. Moree and her assistants, Ms. Carlisle and Ms. Veech.  There will be a whole new set of therapists there, too, to add to the set you have at home!  You will learn and grow so much and we are so excited for you!  You will even get to ride the bus home.

In addition to your regular physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy at home, you started hippotherapy and aquatherapy this year.  You really love them!  You grinned the biggest grin when they first put you on Oreo the horse.  And you have become quite the waterbaby in the pool.  You work so hard to get stronger and try to new things and we are so proud of your accomplishments.

Another big thing this year was the acquisition of your hearing aids.  You are not yet speaking, but have learned quite a list of signs - 18 to date.  Not being able to communicate well does not seem to frustrate you.  You just "get what you get and you don't fuss a lick"!   We do continue to work on speech, but want you to know whether or not you ever utter a word, we love you just the same.  You are our baby boy and you are ours forever.

Happy Birthday, William Nebiyu Clark!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thankful Thursday

1. Feeling well again after a vicious virus
2. A good nap
3. A homemade milkshake
4. Weekly dollar slice night at our favorite pizza place (and no cooking for me!)
5. A few warm days in January

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Why It's a Good Time to Adopt

The IRS has released the official inflation-adjusted numbers for 2013. The maximum adoption tax credit for 2013 is $12,970. The credit begins to phase out for taxpayers with a modified adjusted gross income of $194,580, and the credit will phase out completely at $234,580.

The credit is not refundable (meaning you will not get a lump sum check), but you can spread it out over 5 years.  So if you typically owe around $6,000 per year, you will get the money back in 2 years.

This is great news for those who are considering adoption!  If that's you, please don't let finances hold you back!!!  The adoption tax credit was a huge help to us in bringing Liam home debt-free and it can do the same for you.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thankful Thursday

1. Being a part of an Inheritance of Hope retreat this week
2. Being back home after being away for 4 days
3. Time spent with a dear life-long friend, Jean
4. Starting a new Bible study at church
5. A husband who did an amazing job keeping the kids for the 4 days that I was gone

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thankful Thursday

1. The smell of cinnamon
2. Dinner at a Japanese steakhouse - so fun with the boys.
3. The start of a fresh new year, like turning a page in a book
4. Knowing our neighbors well enough to exchange favors
5. Time with a friend at a coffee shop