Thursday, February 25, 2010

Adoptive Parenting: An Interview with Judy Miller

Judy and her beautfiul family

I was very honored to sit on a panel at the SCN conference with Judy. Next conference I hope to have more time to chat with her, but in the small amount of time we had together I couldn't help but be in awe of all she does. I know many of you out there are adoptive parents or have thought about adopting and so I think you will enjoy this interview. Even if adoption is not something that has touched you personally I think you will be inspired just the same.

Judy M. Miller is an adoptive parent and adoption advocate living in the Midwest with her husband and four children. She has mentored prospective adoptive and adoptive parents for over a decade about adoption—its joys and issues. She is a member of Adoption Voices (moderating a group for parents of tween and teen adoptees), AdoptionParenting, AdoptionParentingTweens, Families with Children from China, and Our Chinese Daughters Foundation.
Judy is a columnist for the adoption network, Grown in My Heart. Her essays and articles appear in adoption and parenting magazines. Judy’s stories are featured in A Cup of Comfort for Adoptive Families (Adams Media), Pieces of Me: Who Do I Want to Be? (EMK Press), and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom (Chicken Soup for the Soul). She recently presented on “Finding Our Stories Online” at Story Circle Network’s Stories of the Heart. Judy facilitates classes for adoptive parents of tweens and teens at Parenting Your Adopted Child: Tweens, Teens and Beyond

An Interview with Judy M. Miller about Parenting Your Adoptive Child: Tweens, Teens & Beyond

What prompted you to create a class on parenting adopted children?
I was moved to create Parenting Your Adopted Child: Tweens, Teens & Beyond for several reasons, but the main reason was that many parenting classes target waiting parents or parents who have recently adopted infants and young children. There are few classes for adoptive parents of kids entering tweens and teens.
I created Parenting Your Adopted Child: Tweens, Teens & Beyond because I observed the hunger adoptive parents have to connect and share with other adoptive parents. I know from personal experience that this hunger to connect with other adoptive parents never goes away and is especially needed when parenting is most challenging—before and during adolescence.
I also found that as I became a more experienced adoptive parent, I had countless requests for my “expertise” for over a decade and fell into a mentoring role for other adoptive parents and parents beginning the adoption process. I believe we glean the most from our own tribe, from collective experiences as adoptive parents, adoptees, and birth parents. Parenting Your Adopted Child: Tweens, Teens & Beyond was created in this spirit.
Why teens and tweens?
Why not parenting young adopted children or school-age adopted children?
Issues inherent in adoption typically begin to surface when the child realizes they are becoming independent from their parents. Questions many parents assumed had been addressed when their child was younger often resurface. Most adoptive parents aren’t aware of this or prepared for it. Parenting Your Adopted Child: Tweens, Teens & Beyond is a class that helps the adoptive parent navigate these parental challenges, which are compounded by the complexities of adoption. I often say that parenting is not adoptive parenting. Parenting adopted children is adoptive parenting—more is required of the adoptive parent in parenting the adopted child.
Who would be helped by your class the most?
Parenting Your Adopted Child: Tweens, Teens & Beyond is for parents who have children between the ages 6 and 18. During these years kids begin to understand what they have gained and lost by being adopted. Parents find themselves challenges with a lot of questions as in “Why did my birth mother give me up?”, “What did I do to be given up?” and “Why did you adopt me?”
I even have one parent, who is considering taking the class now, even though both of her children are under the age of five. This parent wants to be proactive, prepared as much as she can be. She sees this class as the next step in parenting her adopted children. I think it’s always a good idea to be as informed and prepared as you can be as an adoptive parent.
Aren’t there already ample resources available on this topic?
Wonderful books, articles and resources are on parenting adopted teens are available, but reading takes time and digesting the facts takes even more. Many adoptive parents don’t have the benefit of having the “conversations” with other adoptive parents, who best understand what they and their child are experiencing. There are a few online classes for adoptive parents of adolescents, with little, if any, interaction with the other adoptive parents in the group. And, of course, there are online forums, but discussions there tend to go off on tangents and are not private.
Although I have a library of resources to draw from, my preference has always been to connect with others in the adoption community—adoptive parents, well-seasoned adoptive parents, and older adoptees for insight and perspective. So, I’ve created an e-mail class that offers the benefits of all the resources, my experiences parenting four kids, and the wisdom of the group.
If someone has never taken an e-class before, can you explain what they can expect in terms of their time commitment to the class?
I send course material out weekly via Microsoft Word Document. The workbooks cover different topics related to parenting the adopted tween/teen. The beauty of the class is that participants meet each other virtually through the class introduction and sharing of weekly class work. Participating parents do weekly assignment at their convenience, when it fits into their busy life. The weekly time commitment is only a couple of hours per week but, of course, the parents can reflect on what they are learning and discussing as much as they like. The class lasts six weeks and the class materials can be referred back to as needed in the future.
The next Parenting Your Adopted Child: Tweens, Teens & Beyond begins April 7th. Class is limited to 12 participants. Parents can find out more and register here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Really Cool Pen

While I was at the SCN conference I learned all sorts of interesting tidbits. One of them was this very cool pen, Becca who I was on the blogging panel with, had it in her hand. It is called a livescribe pen.

This smartpen takes pictures of everything you write or draw and can be downloaded to your computer. You can also record audio with it and if you're writing at the same time when you download what you've written to your computer it will highlight the text that went along with the recording! It requires special paper but they sell all sorts of notebooks and paper to go with it.

I was thinking of journaling and how this pen could take it to a whole new level. Even for writers who like to scribble notes and ideas down when they are in the carpool line, grocery store, ballet lessons, etc. Now they can scribble away and later download it to a file.

My husband has a second cousin who does little political cartoons and such. I'm thinking this would be a very neat gift for her too. The applications are probably endless and to think I never even knew this little guy existed!

Many times writing is actually pounding at the keyboard and sometimes I just need to grip a pen between my fingers and work out my ideas that way. This pen would be a wonderful way to do that then be able to easily transfer it to a file. I wonder if it could put it into neat text for you...hmmm I need to check that out.

Okay, just wanted to share my new discovery! Do you like the idea of this pen and do you know of someone who might like it?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

SCN Conference Blogging Panel

I recently traveled to Austin to participate in the Women's Storycircle Network Conference. I've written about SCN before and have been a member for about ten years. This year I was on a blogging panel with some very neat women bloggers. It was so interesting to hear why each of them started to blog. Some are building platforms for their writing careers, others are using their blogs to journal their life stories, and some offer valuable services such as tax tips. We had a big group attend and answered all kinds of questions about the blogging world. The picture above is the blogging panel, we came from all ends of the country.
Starting from the left is Linda who writes at My Own Velvet Room. She lives in the Pacific Northwest and is such a neat lady. I'm so glad I got to meet her face to face.
Next is Nita Lou Bryant who blogs at Cafe Nita Lou and Electric Nita Lou.
Judy blogs at The International Mom's Blog where she talks about her family and international adoptions.
Next to her is Becky, we call her the hill country hippie:) She blogs about her life at Seasonality.
That's me in the purple shirt, wearing my hair down for once, because my 2 year old wasn't with me screaming "ponytail, ponytail" (apparently she believes that is the only way I should wear my hair!).
In the cute pink cap is Rhonda. Rhonda I need to say thanks to because she donated sweet painted pots full of aloe plants to our table decorations for our Sunday lunch. I won one to take home and it has already healed a burn my little Soph got from a too hot plate!
Anyway, Rhonda blogs at Rhonda's A "Muse" ing Ramblings.
And last but not least is Becca, she is a technical wiz and she blogs at Becca's Cyber Home.

They are a very neat bunch of women, all with stories to tell and all dedicated to the art of writing.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Month of Love

I haven't had a chance to write about love, which this month makes everyone think about. Or at least those of us that are hopeless romantics. The month starts out with my parents anniversary. This year they are celebrating over 40 years of marriage! My family will end the month celebrating the birthday of my oldest child. And of course in between we will celebrate Valentine's Day, Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras, and Ash Wednesday. Celebrations that celebrate love on many different levels. February is truly a lovely month.

This last weekend I was in Austin for the SCN conference. I met some wonderful women, got to visit with old writing friends, and sat on a panel about blogging. What a wonderful time I had and I learned so much. When I get home I'll have to share some of the things I did and learned. But right now, I am enjoying a few days with my parents in Houston.

How is your month of love celebrations going?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Roaring Lions ,Cracking Rocks, and Other Gems from Proverbs

My blogging friend Warren Baldwin, has written a wonderful book by the above title. It is a guide to life through the teachings found in Proverbs and I have thoroughly enjoyed it!

Warrren writes, "The real aim of Proverbs is not to equip us with witty sayings to help us function more professionally in the world; it is to promote godly character so that we can enjoy virtuous relationships with God and people".

As I grow older and am trying to raise my family in a Godly way I often feel at a loss as to how to proceed. I've realized that as I strive to better myself, make myself a better disciple of God, that in turn I become a better role model and parent. This is so important because I know you lead by example. But there are days I hang my head in defeat knowing I didn't make the best choices that day and wondering where I can turn to find guidance. More and more I realize that we do indeed have an instruction book, it's called the Bible, and proverbs is full of ways to set a good example for your children.

Proverbs 4:10-12 says "Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many. I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble."

Warren uses this proverb to explain "We can't just tell our kids what to do. We need to explain, to show and to help them..." Sometimes my most frustrating moments as a parent comes when I ask my children to do something, something they are not familiar with, and then get upset when it is done wrong. But if I don't first set the example then I am not teaching them. This needs to be done with chores, schoolwork, and most importantly in the ways of being good followers of Christ.

For each proverb Warren quotes is a heartwarming real life story or situation to go along with it. This really helps to bring the scripture "home". I've found myself nodding in agreement, reflecting, and starring some scriptures that speak to me at the moment.

I hope you get a chance to visit Warrens blog, Family Fountain, which speaks on many subjects involving faith and family. I also hope you go to his site and pick up one of his books. Mine has a special place next to my bible and meditation journal.

Is there a scripture in Proverbs that speaks to you?