As a career banker, I’ve spent the last 25 years looking for ways to manage and minimize risk. So you can imagine that when my husband and I were looking for the best options for us to become parents, the very last thing I wanted to hear about was something called “Legal-Risk Placement.”
After all, it has the word risk right in the name and, as a manager, I like to be in control. So instead, I set about finding the “safest” and easiest way for us to become parents. That approach led us through a three-year process to adopt a little girl from China. Not only did we lose much of our savings in the pursuit, we also lost the most precious thing of all—time.
That year, 2008, was a difficult year. We learned it was unlikely the China adoption program would move forward and both of the companies for which my husband and I worked were in crisis, eventually being sold. And that same year, five of my cousins had babies. It was a wonderful gift to have these beautiful children in my life … and yet also painful.
While Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are now past us, this guest column reminds us about how we should celebrate—and wisely use—our time with (and as) both parents and children.
It’s as if a mirror is being held up.
That’s how I often describe the early days of having our foster daughter. Similar to when you invite a guest to, well, anything—you become hyper-aware of how things look through their eyes (if you’re of the pious persuasion, try taking a friend to church—you’ll see what I mean).
When you prepare a child for permanency, you come into contact with a lot of people—birth parents, foster parents, caseworkers, mental health providers, educational staff, and so on. It is a lot for a child to have so many people involved in this process. Certainly it can be hard to keep up with all of it and still manage to be a kid. There is no normalcy about the children’s or youths’ lives at this point.
Let me tell you about just one example, condensing the details considerably.
Youth sports continue to be of interest to blogs and media, often with mentions of “helicopter” parents, disrespectful players and belligerent coaches.
So what, you may wonder, can parents do to make the experience a positive one for their children? Jeremias Garcia, who oversees the Center Point Day Program at the Diakon Wilderness Center near Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, not only has extensive experience working with young people of all backgrounds, but also has coached various ages and levels of boys and girls basketball and girls soccer.
We asked him to share his experiences and advice:
I asked my 15-year-old daughter what she needed to head back to school and that was her reply. I wondered why on earth she needed combat boots when it’s been 89 degrees outside and she was returning to high school, not entering basic training!
I had been expecting a request more along the lines of binders and mechanical pencils, but my three daughters consider shoes and clothing a much bigger necessity for the first few days of school. This really isn’t a new thing, but it made me wonder…
Is it just us?
So I decided to ask several parents with school-age children about their back-to-school necessities; here are some of their responses:
Choking back tears, I looked around the room at the other parents seated near me and was relieved to see I wasn’t the only one trying to stay composed. We were at Accepted Students Day at my oldest daughter’s college of choice and they were showing us a “move-in” day video.
College? Move-in day? This child I have lived with and loved the last 18 years was going to go live somewhere else?