Three years ago, Dave and Juanita Alexander found themselves halfway around the world with 18 suitcases, 12 carry-ons, a year’s worth of supplies and four children. Dave and Juanita, have collectively lived and worked in five countries (including Canada), and have four beautiful children through adoption. In 2012, they uprooted their lives to move to Uganda for a year. Since then, they have settled back into their daily lives in Langley and continue to enjoy new adventures together.
Sticks and stones
Remember that rhyme you learned as a child? “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Obviously words can’t cause physical harm, but I’ve learned they definitely can cause emotional pain, the kind you hold in your heart and wear on your sleeve. The kind that leaves scars that never really go away.
Noah sits tall in his booster seat, and I catch a glimpse of his messy curls in the rearview mirror. My eyes are on the road ahead, so he can talk to me and tell me things, but not see my facial expression. It’s a safe place to test out hard questions.
Last week’s booster-seat confessional was an open discussion between my seven year old son and me. He began matter-of-factly. “So, you’re not my real mom....”
A passion for culture
June 2015 will mark the eighth annual Roots Celebration within Okanagan First Nation Territory, the land of the Syilx people. The event serves Indigenous children and youth in care by helping to instill in them a sense of pride, honour and respect for their identity and heritage. Organizers and participants represent many Nations and bring together the best of what they have to share over a weekend rich in Indigenous cultural experiences focused on children and youth.
Knowing adoption, knowing love
Sometimes I feel like there’s nothing going on--with adoption, that is. Life is full with school, friends, soccer, baseball, work, field trips, family gatherings, and the endless parade of birthday parties. For us to just stop talking about adoption would be easy, but that would be a shame.
Adoption adds complexity to the life of adopted teens, even those adopted as newborns.
All teens struggle with the question, "Who am I?" Finding the answer usually involves figuring out how they are similar to, and different from their parents--a task that can be particularly complicated for children who have both birth and adoptive parents. Unknown or missing information, or having a different ethnicity from parents, can make piecing an identity puzzle together especially difficult for adoptees.
These stories illustrate the power of the elemental need to parent, the ability to mourn but not blame, the uniqueness of every adoption, and what an agonizing decision adoption can be for birth parents.
In BC, birth mothers have 30 days form the time their child is born to change their minds and decide to parent their child. Usually those 30 days pass by, albeit slowly, and the adoptive parents can breathe a sigh of relief. For others, it's not quite so simple.
All parenting has its ups and downs, and parenting adopted children is no different. One thing that is different is that there are certain times that tend to be more difficult for adopted kids than their non-adopted peers.
Holidays rank high as one of these difficult times. Like birthdays, the holidays are a natural time to reflect on family and the past, and this is often true for adopted children. For obvious reasons, Mother's Day and Father's Day are extremely common times for adopted children to feel down or to have a lot of questions about their birth parents.
Are you thinking of adopting a sibling group? Before you decide, ask the following:
Learning about open adoption
When my husband Chris and I decided to walk through the adoption process for the first time, we heard from several social workers and adoptive families about what openness in adoption typically looked like. We were adopting from the United States; in most international adoption situations, openness seemed to mean having occasional contact by letter, email or phone, which usually died out after the first few years.