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.
Lose your expectations
When Ethan came into our family, he was very angry. My family and friends wondered what he had to be angry about. All they could see was that he was part of a loving family. They thought he should be grateful. It was interesting to me that these usually empathetic folks couldn’t immediately see the loss suffered by this child. Before I could understand what was going on, I had to abandon my expectations of them--and of Ethan.
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.
Each year, around 550 children are adopted by BC families. There are probably children in your class who have joined their family through adoption. We have prepared this information to help you understand some of the issues that adoptees can face at school and how you can help them.
There are many good reasons to be sensitive to adoption in the classroom:
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.
- Go on a date with your partner/friend.
- Can your kids go for a sleepover?
“Adopted Voice” is our response to the #FlipTheScript campaign, which promotes the importance of making space for and listening to the voices of adopted people. If you’re an adoptee of any age who’s interested in writing a column for “Adopted Voice,” we’d love to hear from you! Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brandan’s story – and mine
As the adoptive parent of 10 children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, I know how difficult it can be to access services and develop a support network for people with FASDs. I regularly give presentations about FASD to groups, using the story of my son Brandan’s life (with his full permission) to illustrate these difficulties. I’ll share a condensed version of his story in this article.