Category Archives: First year home

Issues relating to the first year after bringing your adopted child/children home, a time of transition, building the parent-child relationship and establishing new family dynamics.

Life Lessons from Baby Shark

Life Lessons from Baby Shark

What makes Baby Shark so catchy? It’s a children’s song and a top 40 hit that appeals to kids and adults around the world. It has spawned dozens of variations and its own line of toys. It’s been viewed more than one and a half billion times on YouTube.

By now, you’ve probably seen the video regardless of whether you have any small children at home. Maybe you’ve even danced along as the family of sharks goes hunting and cheered for the happy ending where everyone winds up safe.

Besides the FUN factor, there’s plenty of unpredictable “magic” behind any internet sensation. However, you can tap into some of the ingredients that make these little sharks such a success, starting with these 3 basic principles.

The Value of Simplicity

The song is only 1 or 2 minutes long, and most of the lyrics consist of repeating the sound DO.

 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 6:33 (ESV)

Seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness first and foremost, what could be simpler than that!? We tend to stress, strive and strategize over so many other things. But putting first things first – – prioritizing God in our every day living is the number one way to simplify your life.

Free up your time, save money, and reduce stress by getting down to basics.

Use these strategies to simplify your life & model simplicity to others:

  1. Buy only what you need. Studies show that experiences rather than possessions contribute more to happiness. Develop a hobby instead of shopping for entertainment.

  2. Clear away clutter. Take a look at the possessions you already have. Put aside things you can donate or sell. Owning less stuff means less time spent cleaning and maintaining it.

  3. Be mindful. Forget about multitasking. Instead, focus on doing one thing at a time. You’ll experience less stress and the quality of your work will increase.

  4. Give thanks. Appreciate what you have rather than longing for more. Make a list of the things you’re grateful for.

  5. Set priorities. Your values and beliefs are foundational to making choices for living a meaningful life. Schedule your time so that you put God first, and allocate the rest of your time and your other resources where he leads.

The Importance of Family

Baby shark sticks close to his parents and grandparents. The quality of your relationships plays a big part in determining how happy and productive you are. Put the time and effort into building and maintaining quality relationships, remembering to put your relationship with God first and foremost. Always give space for the other person whether your spouse, child or someone else in your life to start fresh and reconnect. You may know you aren’t holding any grudges, but do they still feel a disconnect? Let them know that even after a blow up, your relationship is on solid ground.

Try these techniques to strengthen your family bonds:

  1. Talk more. Listen closely to each other. Describe your dreams and express your feelings. Help each other to feel valued and understood.

  2. Eat family dinners. Sit around the same table for a meal at least once a week. If dinner is difficult to coordinate, make it breakfast or lunch.

  3. Spend one on one time. In addition to family outings, plan activities that you can do separately with each child and your partner. You’ll create a closer connection and lasting memories.

  4. Share decision making. Giving each family member a voice in the process increases the enthusiasm for working towards shared goals. Vote on where to go for your next vacation. Let your child decide which homework assignment to complete first.

The Power of Repetition

Major accomplishments usually require many small actions. Repetition helps important lessons to sink in.

Follow these steps to make small changes with big results:

  1. Clarify your thinking. Even when a subject seems basic, reviewing the matter may deepen your understanding or reveal new facets. You could wind up with a stronger business plan or a scarier shark costume.

  2. Pick up new skills. Expertise is usually developed through extensive practice. Persistence and patience pay off.

  3. Form positive habits. It’s easier to make constructive choices when you make the process automatic. After a month of jogging each morning, it will seem like the natural thing to do.

Baby Shark is so much fun that it will make you feel safe to go back in the water. Let this children’s song inspire you to simplify your life and create your own happy endings.

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Connect with me above or with my virtual business card to find out how to get yours and plug in to a group of people who are serious about being the gatekeepers of their homes when it comes to the safety of the products they bring into their homes and use around their families.

Ask for the information about the Natural Cleaner when you contact me with my Virtual Business Card.

Help! My Adopted Child is Terrified of Sleep

For the first year or so home, my youngest (adopted) child literally screamed himself to sleep.  One of my adopted daughters would often yell out in her sleep (still does occasionally after 10 years), never fully waking up and never remembering it in the morning.  Another one of our adopted children used to get to sleep okay, but get up during the night or wee hours of the morning, unable to fall back to sleep (and wander the house which also caused problems).

Adults may be able to self-talk and work through their night-time anxieties, but kids have less experience and big imaginations!  Even as adults we understand that worries, fears, concerns often loom larger at bed-time, weighing on us.  But children from traumatic backgrounds may have an even harder time with all of this.  It’s harder for them to separate what’s real and what’s not, especially at night.  And it can really affect their sleep which affects their days and the rest of the family, too.  The cycle can spiral downward if it doesn’t stop.

Lack of good, restful sleep on an ongoing basis can affect a number of things and can be detrimental to their health.  It is during sleep that our brains make a clean sweep of accumulated toxins, so among other things we can think clearer the next day.  It’s during sleep that production of several hormones rises, including growth hormone.  Ever hear that children grow in their sleep?  Lack of growth hormone can impact not only growth in height but even cellular repair.  Another hormone, lack of melatonin, the sleep hormone can cause greater sleep problems.  A strong immune system is supported by good sleep.

Sleep is should be restorative and our children need even more sleep than we as adults do in order to function optimally during the day.  I recommend making sleep a priority for your entire household.  Try not to deal with stressful issues near bedtime.  If you can table it until morning, do so.  If there is always conflict over pajamas or tooth brushing, drop the issue or do a workaround – – maybe brush teeth right after dinner so it’s over and done long before bedtime, for example.

We are super careful not to use supplements with food coloring or msg (an excitotoxin to the brain).  But using melatonin has helped so much, as well as other supplements depending on the person,  and specific essential oils that are beneficial for sleep either for calming or with a sedative effect or to help alleviate racing/troubling thoughts.  Some are effective to help with pain that may seem worse at night and be a hindrance to getting to sleep.  There are different ones for different issues.  With my large family, we have had lots of sleep issues which vary from person to person.  I know I personally cannot take anything that will up my blood pressure.  Essential oils have been a huge help to me, too as well as my kids.  Wish I had had them sooner!

I want to emphasize that there are a lot of reasons you or your child may have difficulties sleeping.

IMPORTANT:  I am not a doctor and nothing in this post is meant to diagnose, treat or cure anything.  Please see your healthcare provider for any medical issues.  I am not giving medical advice here.

And please don’t give up looking for the right solutions.  There ARE solutions and it IS important.

When you become your own sleep detective you may gain new insight as to what you can change in your daily routines for optimal sleep to take place.

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Real life is often emotional and kid’s from hard places often have overwhelming emotions. As a parent, I want to help my children learn to use positive coping skills and give them helpful tools. 

Contact me to request my free “Sleep Detective” PDF booklet to download.  It’s a fun way to help your child or teen start to focus on their need for sleep and empower them to be an active force in making positive changes.

And if you like the content on this blog you might like to check out Yesterday’s Orphan on Facebook with the link in the sidebar.

 

 

Play’s the Thing

It can be hard to break out of serious mode when life gets chaotic. But notice your child. With them, play’s the thing. They might try to lighten the tensions with awkward attempts at play or joking that may seem inappropriate at the time to adults or older teens. Yet in their own way these children are doing the right thing – – attempting to move out of the negative and onto the positive, letting go of heavy, negative, even scary emotions and urging us to do the same.

When your child attempts to lighten things up, take their lead. And maybe initiate some play yourself, when feeling stressed. It may be just the thing to help everyone to recharge and tackle the serious issue with renewed assurance that it’s the issue – – not the person – – that needs solving. Knowing that the relationship is secure can be HUGE in garnering cooperation and communication.  And it may only take a little playfulness on your part to show that acceptance to your child.

Try it and see how it goes!

Zechariah 8:5 English Standard Version (ESV):

And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets.

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Real life is often emotional and kid’s from hard places often have overwhelming emotions. As a parent, I want to help my children learn to use positive coping skills and give them helpful tools.

I have begun using some fantastic essential oils and other products that make a big difference in helping some of my family members with often overwhelming emotions, to manage and focus better.

Hit Reply (if you are reading this in e-mail) or Contact (if you are on the website) above or below to learn more about our toxin-free natural plant-based personal care products and dietary supplements.  Learn how they can help you and your family, too.

 

Could Your Child have Parasites?

Parasites! Uggh!  

 

Who wants to think of the possibility that their child has a parasite problem?  But it is often a problem for adopted children, particularly internationally adopted children.  Overcrowded orphanages, poor hygiene and poor diet can contribute to the likelihood of a parasite infection.  

 

Testing & Treatment

 

Once home, your child’s doctor should do the recommended testing for parasites.  However it is not always that easy. I remember our oldest adopted daughter absolutely refusing to do the stool test at nine years old.  The most current recommendations I have see are for three rounds of stool tests. Signs and symptoms of parasite infestation are often general and vague, making it harder to recognize the connection to the possibility of parasites.  Vague abdominal signs could be attributed to any number of things such as new and unfamiliar foods, allergies, etc.

 

Two of my biological children have had parasite treatment through our functional medical doctor after Lyme disease caused them to have greatly lowered immune systems.  Even in the U.S., people with impaired immune systems are more susceptible to parasites. Many people do a parasite detox or cleanse once or twice per year. There are many options available over the counter, but I highly recommend requesting the CDC recommended parasite testing for internationally adopted children through your doctor if not already done and following the doctor’s recommendations for treating any positive findings of parasites.  

 

Tips for Parasite Prevention

 

As I have learned more about the prevalence of parasites and just how commonplace they are, I now understand that parasites are very opportunistic and can rapidly gain a foothold when there is a lowered immune system.  Therefore, keeping the immune system strong and healthy is key to keeping parasite infections from causing trouble.

 

Many, many things can lower the immune system’s defenses, even temporarily, giving any present parasites an opportunity to spread.  Illness, stress (as with bringing a new person into the family or moving into a new family), even vacations!

 

Good hygiene is imperative. To teach and enforce good hygiene from the get-go is an important step that I am sure you are already aware of.  Hand washing; Not sharing of utensils, hair brushes, toothbrushes, drinks; etc. Some of the things a younger child would normally have already learned may need to be taught your older adopted child, plus they may need to “un-learn” some habits and practices.  (Nail biting and thumb sucking are difficult to curb!) Mouthing objects like a much younger child can introduce unwanted “germs” (viruses, bacteria, and parasites).

It is worth it to spend the time to focus and really train good hygiene practices early on, as all through life a healthy immune system is going to be a good foundation for health and prevention of not only parasites but other health maladies.  

 

In addition, though your child may not show any definitive symptoms of parasites, they could be present and easily spread to the rest of the family.  We know when traveling to a foreign country where parasites are rampant, the local folks may not show symptoms but travelers are often advised not to drink the water or eat any uncooked vegetables.  Those who do are often hold up with some painful symptoms, unable to enjoy the remainder of their trip due to an acute parasite infection. So it’s worth it to zero in on good hygiene practices for the whole family (Hey, we can all use a reminder sometimes).  

 

Be aware also that there are gentler household products that clean as well or better than some of the commonly available products with harsh ingredients.  Some of the common ingredients can not only aggravate pre-existing conditions (our youngest adopted child had persistent respiratory problems and severely dry skin), but can sometimes do further damage to an already lowered immune system.  We avoid the now common hand sanitizers and either use good old fashioned hand washing with soap and water, or the waterless hand purifier available through Oils for Orphans that does not strip away the skin’s natural protectants.

 

Good nutrition is certainly a great way to boost their immune systems and help them get over some of the issues they may have upon coming home.  Of course with picky eaters it may not be as easy as it seems. And then the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) may be better than what they had if it was severely restricted, but yet not optimal.  If malnourished (and with possible parasites) even the food that they are eating may not be being utilized well in the body. You may ask your doctor about supplements and look into getting the most bang for the bite by offering nutrient dense foods more often and tweaking some of your recipes to include them.  Just google “nutrient dense foods list” from which to make your own list of foods to try. Just because your kid won’t eat liver doesn’t mean there isn’t something else that may become a favorite.

 

A transition diet may even be in order if they need healing time for gut health to improve.  Your doctor or dietician can give more help, but these are things to consider and perhaps ask about.  Being careful not to introduce harmful pesticides through serving mostly organic produce that is thoroughly washed is important, as is helping them flush out toxins that may have accumulated plus those they are continuing to accumulate.  A high antioxidant diet can be beneficial and can boost the elimination process. One of the ways parasites do damage is from the toxins they secrete in the human body, and eliminating these (as well as the parasites when they die) is paramount.

 

Supplements

 

While you are working on getting your child to eat healthy, a good multivitamin or at least a B-complex vitamin and/or multivitamin can give them a good boost, supplementing what they get in their food, and sometimes can be easier for the body to metabolize.  An enzyme supplement can help their bodies to break down their food more effectively as well as a good quality probiotic.

 

Oils for Orphans has a range of healthy supplements without unnecessary fillers and with proven ingredients from high quality sources.  Kids like our super-food high antioxidant drink supplement, Ningxia Red with micronutrients. With Ningxia Red you may want to begin with a half-ounce or quarter-ounce and work up to a recommended one ounce daily serving (two ounces for adults).  

 

Wherever you get your supplements, it may be a good idea to run them by your health practitioner if you are unsure.  If medical treatment of parasites is necessary, it may be unpleasant, but very worth it for healthy digestion and ability to break down and use the nourishment available in the diet.

 

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If you are interested in any of our children’s supplements or other products contact me and I will be happy to help you.  You can browse the Oils for Orphans website at http://www.oilsfororphans.com

 

Top 3 Shifts for New Adoptive Parents

From one adoptive parent to another I am no professional and so my perspective is as a parent, same as you.  It is easy to fall into thinking that parenting your adopted children with the same ways of thinking and parenting other children should have similar effects, but in my experience and from what I have learned from others it absolutely does not.

I want to touch on just three shifts that I think will help adoptive parents and their children in practical everyday experience.

The first shift is to add visual language. Since our adopted children were not native English speakers, one of the first glaring need was that of basic communication! Our youngest is deaf and hears now with a cochlear implant but still struggles with English. As the old saying goes, “if I had known then what I know now. . .” well, now I recommend adding visual language in your first year home (regardless of hearing status) and preparing ahead of time to do so.  While it seems like an extra step in the hurry to get them fluent in English, the extra effort will pay off.  If your child has any language delay or is switching primary languages I strongly recommend everyone in the household taking time to learn the basics of a visual (sign) language prior to bringing your child home and continuing to learn along with him/her.  Even if there is no language delay or language switch, I think adding a sign language component is a fun way to do something as a family, to have a bit of a secret code that not everyone will know (but some will – and that’s fun too!).  Plus, when a child can sign to communicate at times when they are too overwhelmed to use their voice it can be a huge way to stave off frustration.

Is is worth the effort and time to put into learning to sign? In the long run, a second language (or third) will only help.  ASL is a beautiful language that with fluency can open doors of opportunity.

We learned (and later saw it in our own children) that children who are moved away from their native language (as was ours with an international adoption) typically lose the native language gains faster than the gains they acquire in their new language.  As language builds upon language, the basics of a visual language can be learned rapidly and serve as a bridge to a more complex spoken language (and a great start to learning sign language) Language builds upon language. And building a new relationship with understanding, trust and attachment requires communication.

The whole family can begin to learn the sign language alphabet and some basic words and phrases while waiting for adoption finalization and continue learning together once the new child/children are home.  Children are very visual and pick it up easily.

Signing Time videos are a great child friendly start which adults can learn from, too. Lifeprint.com has a free video course which is terrific for parents.

The second shift I recommend is in the perspective toward stuff. While it may be tempting for you and all your friends and relatives to shower your new little darling with tons of new stuff, it is better to temper the urge and keep it simple.

Let friends and relatives know in the most tactful way possible that you have chosen to follow the advice not to overwhelm your child with gifts, but to focus more on personal relationships. An alternative for those who insist on giving something would be to suggest gift cards that you can use at a later time for your child’s needs.  Or perhaps a family membership to a local zoo.   (Along the same line is to avoid overwhelming them with crowds of people initially and keep it to smaller get-togethers spaced out over time.)

Finally, the third and most counter-intuitive big shift adoptive parents can make is in thinking about discipline.

Because of their backgrounds the typical rewards and consequences not only may not have the desired effects but may totally backfire!  Trauma and neglect plus a host of other possible issues can predispose your child to think in a way that defies logic.  Suffice it to say that instead of connecting the dots (Behavior X leads to Consequence Y, therefore if I do not like Y, I must not do X) responses to consequences and rewards seem often to result in reinforcing undesired behavior and/or thinking.

If you find that typical parenting techniques frequently leave you wondering what just happened over a period of time, I recommend seeking out knowledgeable, professional help.

Be proactive in these three shifts: adding a visual language bridge; prioritizing relationships building over stuff, setting firm boundaries on allowed items; and have trauma-informed understanding of discipline.  You will find it is time well spent to be ahead of the curve.

Proverbs 3:5 says Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding . . .”

 

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Real life is often emotional and kid’s from hard places often have overwhelming emotions.  As a parent I want to help my children learn to use positive coping skills and give them tools to help. While not a substitute for professional help when needed, there are some natural products we have begun using in our family that make a big difference in helping kids (and their parents) be ready to learn appropriate ways of coping with their big feelings, to focus and be more settled.

If you think it might be helpful for your family to learn more about these products feel free to contact me and I’d be happy to fill you in.