Sometimes It’s the Parent Who Needs to Regulate

Isn’t it a shock when you see yourself on video? Often we say, “I didn’t know I looked or sounded like that.” We aren’t aware of our tone, our posture, our facial expressions, or even how we communicate our emotions.

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Part of self-awareness is recognizing that what we think or feel on the inside doesn’t always translate accurately through our voice, emotions, and actions. Or do they?

Remember Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood? I can hear him now singing his simple greeting song:

“It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood. It’s a beautiful day for a neighbor. Could you be mine? Would you be mine?”

Hearing that song in my head calms me. He was always calm. Always smiling. Always pleasant.

How I wish I was more like that.

I remember when my son was about four years old, and I noticed him exploring my face when we talked or played, even when I corrected him. He still does this a lot. I think he is gauging to see how safe I am.

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Year Four Adoption Update

Hard to believe that it has been four years since we stood before the judge and adopted our son. The actual “Gotcha Day ” was September 21, 2012.

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Working hard at the new house.

Our son isn’t old enough yet to fully understand what his gotcha day means, but this year I got to eat lunch with him at school. He is in kindergarten now, and it was Dads for lunch day at his school. I thought it was a great way to spend some time with him on this special day.

This past year was a year of transitions. Last September I had major surgery on my right ankle; we moved to a new home in January; our son graduated from a preschool that he had attended for three years; Danielle had surgery in May; and finally our son began kindergarten at a new school where he didn’t know anyone.

Whew. As you can imagine all of those events made life just a little interesting around our house.

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Why Can’t We Tell Our Kids “Yes”?

I get really good at saying no. I can say it kindly, with force, in rapid succession, with anticipation of the question, and even without looking. In my mind, I always have a good reason for telling my son no. I don’t want him to do that, eat those, or bother me at the moment.

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I think I should invent an app kind of like the ones that record every step you take so you can see how many miles you incidentally walked in a day. Except this app records every time you say no to your child. On second thought, I don’t think I want to know.

Why is it so hard for me to just say it. Just Say Yes.

I think I know why. I am afraid if I say Yes too much it will ruin my son. Won’t he end up thinking that he can have anything he wants, do everything he wants to do, and never have to wait his turn?

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His Hands. His Feet.

Sent to the fatherless, the brokenhearted, and those far from Him

You not only notice the person standing on the street corner holding a sign asking for help, you have compassion for them. You are the person who brings the child of another person into your home and treats them as if they were your own flesh and blood. You use your resources, like time and money, to invest in people who are in need.

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You engage with people who are hurting and broken knowing that it is going to get messy. You are the one who uses your vacation time to travel to places so you can share Jesus with people who might otherwise never hear about Him.

Even though you are that person, you don’t always know what to do. Some days you need encouragement. Other times you look for inspiration.

Why do you live life like this?

You understand that you are His ambassadors. He didn’t create you, then redeem you so that you could live your life the way you want. You know you are sent.

You are His Hands. His Feet.

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15 Ways We Shame Our Children

As I work more with our adopted son and in the foster care/adoptive world, I see a connection between trauma and shame. Even if a child never makes a bad choice in their life, the things done to them, and what they see others do causes shame to pour over their soul like a bitter, sticky molasses.

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Abusive, broken homes are a sick petri dish for cultivating shame. I don’t think that surprises anyone. If a child is old enough to remember leaving a home to enter foster care or adoption, they often wonder what is wrong with themselves. Even a child who was a baby when placed in foster care or adopted seems to struggle with a deep sense of shame as they grow older.

Sadly, many children live in shame-based homes, not just ones that end up in foster care or adoption.

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5 Signs My Son Is Developing A Healthy Attachment

We are created for attachment. By attachment, What I mean by attachment is a healthy relationship with other people. Sadly, many of us aren’t very good at it. If this is new to you, read this blog post—What Is Your Attachment Dance?

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I often notice the interaction between a child and his or her parents. I smile when I see a child confidently interact with his or her environment. I know that a lot of that has to do with how much that child trusts his or her attachment parent.

Then I also notice when a child feels insecure.

The reality is that every child that comes from a hard place comes to us with an insecure attachment style. No way around that fact.

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Enjoying the Sound Of “Momma” In My Home

For 23 years Mother’s Day around our house was bittersweet. In many ways we felt stuck in the role of children wishing our well-deserving moms a happy Mother’s Day. It was like we never had made the transition into adulthood ourselves of ever feeling the joy and anguish of having our own children.

We watched the second Sunday of May approach us each year with a sense of dread. Should we even attend church this year? All it does is stir the feelings of loss and defectiveness.

All that may sound melodramatic to you, but it doesn’t to anyone who has struggled with infertility or suffered the loss of an only child.

As I reached my late 40s I became resolved that I would never hear the words of a child calling for his or her mother in my home, my family. But my wife, Danielle, still longed for a child of her own. And God listened to the desires of her heart.

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Dear Foster Parent, They Are Not Your Enemy

3 Ways to Work with the Biological Family

When a child is placed into a foster home, most foster parents go into Papa and Mama Bear mode. A sense to protect this child from any more harm overrides every emotion that creates an “us against the world” approach.

When CPS placed an eight-month-old boy with us, I listened to the case worker explain in general why CPS removed him from his biological family. Even though I didn’t get a lot of detail, I received enough that I did go into major protection mode.

No one was going to hurt this child again.

Two days after CPS placed our son with us, he had his first parent visit. Naively, I didn’t think we would meet the parents, then or ever. Honestly, I didn’t want to meet them.

To me, they were the enemy.

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7 Things Your Foster or Adopted Child Needs to Hear from You

Really Any Child Needs to Hear!

Words we say. Words we don’t say. Both are powerful. Lately I am learning the hard way. I have said some things to a loved one that hurt deeply. I am also guilty at times of not saying something when it’s needed.

I think our society is losing it’s ability to talk to each other in ways that edify. I’m not sure what the cause is or what that reflects, but I don’t think it’s a good thing.

We don’t understand the power that is found in our tongue; our words.

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Big Things Happening at Fostering Hope Austin

Fostering Hope Austin equips churches and families to transform the lives of foster and adopted children. —Fostering Hope Austin mission statement.

Fostering Hope Austin, as a collaboration of a few churches in the Austin area, began about 10 years ago serving families and children. Children from foster care or adopted. Families who welcomed them into their home. Churches committed to caring for children without families. Committed to surrounding families with needed support.

In the beginning Fostering Hope Austin didn’t have a name. The group of churches mainly put together an annual conference—A Future and A Hope—and made a few trainings available throughout the year.

Over the past 10 years, these churches saw a need to offer a holistic approach to foster care and adoption. We can easily motivate families to foster and adopt. An annual conference gives some invaluable resources for those considering and others who are in the midst of it. But what about ongoing support.

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