Adoptive mother: Yes I Can?

My shin and foot are not very happy right now. I was attempting to break a board with a round kick in taekwondo yesterday (a board breaking kick I had done once successfully earlier in the week) but I wasn’t positioned correctly this time when I hit the board, as a result I banged my shin and foot resulting in some nice bruises. Needless to say, my confidence which was already somewhat uncertain taking on a new sport is now completely shaken.

Is it a coincidence that the life lesson for the months of March and April at Victory school happens to be ‘Belief?’ I don’t think so. I think life has a way of presenting things to you at times when you need them. And clearly I do need to believe in myself right now.

On thinking about my shaken confidence I realize that this feeling, the one opposite of belief, the one that says “Oh you can try and try and try but that’s not going to happen for you,” is one that I’m familiar with in my life. Many people are faced with their our own version(s) of this scenario in their lives. My biggest struggles over the last decade have been in dealing with infertility, and in more recent years, parenting a child who can be challenging at times. In dealing with these experiences, I know firsthand that sometimes you can try and try and believe that things will work out and despite your best efforts to make changes and succeed sometimes things don’t work out the way you expect. So I’m really struggling with the ‘Yes I can’ thing right now.

“Stinkin’ thinkin’!” I learned that phrase in taekwondo yesterday. Stinkin’ thinkin’ is when you have those thoughts that start making you believe you can’t do things. So what are you supposed to do when those thoughts come up? Respond with, “YES I CAN!” according to the Victory school instructor.

But what if you can’t? Let’s look again at those things that have shaken my confidence. Did I actually fail in either of the things I’ve been struggling with in regards to dealing with infertility and in trying to tame a challenging child?

I supposed I failed in having a baby the traditional way but did I fail in the final outcome, of having a child? No! Thanks to adoption and my son’s birthparents I have a beautiful, healthy and very strong willed/strong personality kid who has so many amazing and endearing qualities about him alongside his more challenging ones and I love him so much. But am I failing as a mother when my son is still sometimes quite defiant despite all efforts we’ve put into helping him manage his emotions? My logical side says “no,” since dealing with behavior issues is challenging and takes time and my son is still so young, but my emotional side at times feels like a failure.

I suppose this is where faith and/or belief MUST come into play. Can I choose to believe I can help my son deal with his emotions overtime? Can I choose to believe that I can break that board again in taekwondo without hurting my foot? I’d like to think yes on both accounts and that I’m a strong enough person to believe that things will work out in the end so long as I keep believing and trying, but I’d be lying if I said this isn’t a huge struggle for me.

Adoptive mother: Book review

As an adoptive parent I’m always keeping an eye out for children’s books that are out there which resonate with our own son’s adoption story. Because adoption stories can vary from each other tremendously there aren’t a lot out there that resonate with each family’s story. Until the other day I had only one children’s book on adoption on my bookshelf, which is a decent one, but again, because it gets specific in the details in the story of what happened on the night of that one particular adopted child’s birth, it doesn’t capture our story the way I would like. Keep in mind also that the type of adoption that took place (example: international vs. domestic vs. foster care) vary tremendously from each other. So finding a good children’s book for an adopted child is really no easy task.

With that said I’d like to give a shout out to a new children’s book sent to me by Blue Slip Media (to be released on April 25) called Wonderful You by Lauren McLaughlin. This story resonated with me because the focus of the book centers around the concept of an open adoption where a birthmother searches for and selects the parents for her unborn child.

The moment I opened up the cover of the book I was intrigued by the bright and vibrant colors. As an artist I appreciate good artwork and the illustrations by Meilo So are truly beautifully done. Each page is its own masterpiece.

The story begins with the introduction of the birthmother, ‘a lady in blue,’ who is looking all over the world for the parents for her unborn girl. A couple of pages in she spots the parents-to-be in which they exclaim, “Can it be? Is she looking for us? Is it finally time?” (At this point in the story I had tears welling up in my eyes remembering this defining moment for us and the intense longing that many adoptive parents feel in desperately wanting to love a child and start their own family but having to wait to be picked.) A page or two later the book touches on how carefully the birthmother was about being sure the home she was picking for her child was a good fit. “‘Will you love her,’ she asked, ‘every morning and night?’” (OK now I was a crying blubbering mess! What a beautiful way to exemplify the love a birthmother feels for her child.)

The story goes on for several pages with the girl growing into a toddler then a young child and the adoptive family is shown having lots of fun together doing various activities and living life together as a true family. Near the back of the book ‘a woman in blue’ shows up again on a faraway perch up in the sky watching over her child and her parents as they get ready for bed. The book ends with the adoptive family of three playing lovingly together.

I have read this book a half a dozen times now and I love it despite the fact that I can’t seem to get through it without shedding at least one tear. I’ve shared it just once so far with my son who seemed to enjoy it. His only comment throughout the book said in his sweet little voice was, “Don’t cry Mommy,” which he is used to saying whenever I tell him about the days surrounding his birth.

If your family was formed through an open adoption or if you are thinking of giving a gift to another adoptive family who went through an open adoption this book really is an absolute must. It may even be appropriate for families of international adoptions as well although birthmothers would likely be more mystical characters to the children vs. reality since the process is done so differently. Either way, this book is a nice addition for both children and adults in the adoption community.

Note: Although Blue Slip Media contacted me to consider reviewing this new book for them it was not at all an obligation and reviewing the book was purely voluntary on my part with no money exchanged. I am happy passing along adoption resources that help other adoptive families or bring them joy.