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Karina Chronicles

18 Ways to Celebrate and Support A Growing Family In Your Life, Part 2

Rosie holding son

ROSIE MOLINARYAuthor, speaker, and teacher, Rosie Molinary, empowers women to embrace their authentic selves so they can live their passion and purpose and give their gifts to the world. The author of Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self Acceptance and Hijas Americanas: Beauty, Body Image, and Growing Up Latina, she teaches body image at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and facilitates transformative workshops and retreats for women.

November is Adoption Awareness Month.  Rosie Molinary, a Karina Brand Ambassador, is the mother to a five year old boy who joined her family when he was five months old in 2009.  In celebration of National Adoption Awareness Month, we’ve asked her to share some insights from her perspective as a mother through adoption.

Once they are home

7.  At first, resist calling too much.  It’s stressful to have to remember to return phone calls in the midst of everything else, and it is hard to even put a thought together.  Know that if your loved one needs to talk to you, he or she will call or email or send out smoke signals.  Just for right now, give them permission to do whatever they most need to do.

8.  And then, once the phone bubble has been broken (by their reaching out to you or a few weeks passing), always, always call before you stop by.  It helps them plan for the visit.  It helps them strategize around nap time, etc.  It helps them graciously turn down the visit if it’s not a good time.  You might even say, “is this a good time?  We can plan for a different time if that’s better.”  Your visit might seem really necessary to you.  It might not be so necessary right at that moment, though, for what they have going on in their lives.  So give them the option, give them the out, and when you do get to visit, stay less time than you’d really like.

9.  Do think outside the dinner box when you think about putting together a little care package.  Easy to grab breakfast food, soups for lunch, and cut up fruit are decadent.  It was wonderful to not only have meals covered but to also have easy to grab food on the fly as we ran through the kitchen.

10.  Help your loved ones observe the limits they need to set especially on lengths of get-togethers.  Families with new additions have limits– as well they should.  As their ally, respect their limits, pay attention to their limits, and help them mind their limits, even when you really want that baby or adorable six year old to hang around a little longer.  There will be other get-togethers.  Push a child past the point where they can control their state, and you’ve asked far too much.

11.  Ask first about everything.  It may not be a good time for the child to be held by someone else or to be given a cookie.  Show the parents that you respect their right and ability to make the best decisions for their child and show the child that you understand who should be making the decisions for them.  It may not be a good time for the baby to be held.  It may not be a good time to run outside.  Whatever it is you want to do, remember that what you do could undo something the parents have been working towards for a long time.  Asking first is a gift to everyone involved.

12.  Accept the answer.  So, if you ask, you might get an answer you didn’t really want to hear.  Just remember that it’s not about you.  It’s about a specific child and his or her specific parents who have a specific goal and objective in mind that really isn’t about you.  So give grace abundantly.

13.  And don’t give advice abundantly unless you are asked.  One of my dearest girl friends is a doctor.  She always, always waits for me to ask a direct question before giving me advice.  I love that she trusts me to make good decisions and to know what I need to ask.  And she’s the first to say she hasn’t been in an adoptive situation.  She fully gets and respects that adoptive parenting has its own unique nuances, and she knows that we are students of the process so she even couches everything she says to me (that I ask about and when appropriate) with observations that show there are caveats for our unique situation.  I love how she demonstrates her trust and respect.

14.  While resisting the urge to give unsolicited advice, also resist the urge to make pithy statements (when are you going to let me see that baby, he’s spoiled already, etc).  It might seem like a joke, but it really does sting.

15.  Call when you are going by the grocery store or the dry cleaners or the pharmacy or post office to see if you can pick something up or drop something off.  Who knew the gift of time could really be given?

16.  Offer to come over and give support to the parent– washing and folding laundry, ironing, cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, raking leaves, etc.  The dailiness of maintaining a household can be really overwhelming when you are adjusting to a new family member, and if you try to keep up with everything, you are likely not sleeping and creating a vicious cycle of crazy exhaustion that becomes hard to break.  Help from a loved one can go a long way towards resetting!

17.  Give your loved ones an out when it comes to thank you notes.  You know that they are grateful so let them know that you know that and tell them that you don’t want them to write a note.  I absolutely insist on this every time I deliver something to a growing family in my life (but truth be told; never listen when I am told this because I really do LOVE writing thank you notes) as it is one less thing on a list that has become endless.

18.  Ask questions.  How are you doing?  What can I do?  What is going well?  What’s hard?  What do you need?  How was the journey, experience, etc?  What have you learned?  What helps?  It is so nice to share this journey with people that you love and that love you.

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