Whatever happened to Sherrie Swafford photo
Sherrie Eldridge has been inspiring and illuminating the American adoption scene for almost decades with her various books on "20 Things ...", "20 Things Adoptited Kids Wish Their Parents Knew" or "20 Things Adoptive Parents Need to succeed". She also picks up on these topics from her books again and again in her blog. And in one of their last posts I came across these two young adult (adopted) men who are vlogging on YouTube and are currently "rocking" the American adoption scene. Or to use Sherry's words: "Two Korean adoptees who take the world of Adoption by storm…."
When I saw this post, I had to say "Yes!" To everything you relentlessly said and commented on. Above all, however, since then I have so much wish that my children will at some point have this self-confidence and this serenity and this serenity, but also the humor that these two display ... Simply great and admirable! But look for yourself:
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Before I flew to Moscow with Maxim, a dear friend was visiting. First she asked: "Are you excited?" I answered hesitantly. She followed up, or rather summarized what had been going through my head and gut for days: "But you are alone with your emotions ..." Yes, it was exactly like that, and it was a rollercoaster of emotions that only ended in Moscow .
Even if this trip with Maxim for a few days to Moscow was on the one hand a first step in the direction of “searching for roots”, it was mainly a small “cultural trip”. We didn't go to a children's home, we didn't go back to old places where important decisions were made years ago. We “just” looked at Moscow a little, immersed ourselves in this immensely large Russian metropolis, and experienced a little bit of Russia. Less the “typical”, the real Russia that we would encounter in other cities. Nevertheless, this trip had been associated with a lot of emotions beforehand.
All of a sudden, old memories broke out, of our first entry into Russia, of the days when we first met Maxim and Nadezhda in the children's home, of our court proceedings, of all the stamps we had to collect, of the fear the departure in this terribly overcrowded departure hall, in this almost unbearable heat, the fear that our family plan might fail again. Not least because of my “health problem” that one doctor recently couldn't solve, and the only doctor around here who can possibly solve it, the one who operated on me for my miscarriages, was remembered again the bitterness and pain of one's own childlessness awake. And then there were the thoughts of worries about whether I would be able to accompany my children, whom I had been entrusted with, really well into life. Yes, sometimes life is exhausting with its never-ending needs and new challenges. It takes strength and energy that I sometimes don't have enough. Sometimes I feel like the wonderful Sherrie Eldridge once again wrote it in such an honest post about anger in adoptive children that I would like to share with you here. What touched me most was a sentence in which she speaks of the adoptive mothers: “They're in a war they never chose, in a place they don't belong, and in an ocean that is life-defying.” Yes, me never wanted this "war". Maybe the word is too violent. It's a fight, but not a war that I never really felt prepared for. Even if the needs of adoptive children were adequately described to us in advance of the adoption, and I had read so much beforehand, but really appreciate what that means and what it means, and how it feels, that only happens when you are actually in it , in real life with two adopted children.
So I was now alone with my fears and worries about the trip to Russia. But then there are friends who somehow suspect and suspect it. That was good. And in the end the days in Moscow with Maxim were more than forgiving. Many fears dissipated into pleasure. Starting with entering the country, not knowing the Russian language and finding your way around a metropolis of 18 million people and moving around in a city that is anything but safe to leaving. It is usually beneficial to confront the fears and go through them. The entry was rather unspectacular, barely 30 minutes after leaving the plane, we had entered the country, held our suitcases in our hands and faced our driver to the hotel. After a day I had all the Russian letters ready again, remembered words and no longer began to feel so strange in this immeasurably large metropolis of Moscow. A lot has happened in her since our last stay. At first I thought it was my transfigured memory. But that was only partially the case. In the meantime, the country also had a soccer World Cup, in the run-up to which a lot of money was invested to make the venues beautiful and safe. And with success too. The inner city of Moscow is so incredibly clean and beautiful today. And just safe. Or at least the feeling of security is conveyed successfully. Yes, there are a lot of security personnel and a high police presence, but I did not feel that I was being monitored, but "protected". Maxim and I found our way around, enjoyed our time, took in the many impressions, were fascinated and overwhelmed. As the days passed, we got along better and better, found our way through the city, and developed more and more a spirit of discovery. We would have loved to stay longer. But it was good as it was. On our next visit we will be more courageous to explore even more on our own, now that we have a first little feel for this city.
Much fear has given way these days, not only of this unpredictable 18 million metropolis Moscow, also of this immeasurably large and fascinating country Russia and ultimately also of the search for the roots of my children…. maybe that's why the visit to the Cathedral of Christ the Savior was so uplifting and liberating….
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The brave Sunnybee from the mother-son blog invited me to the blog parade “What is real strength for you?”. And of course I like to follow that. The topic is a starting point for me right now, as I only had a conversation with my children's former class teacher last week when they were both in the more sheltered pre-class. Among other things, it was precisely about this topic. Not about my strengths, but about those of my children, and about keeping precisely these in the focus of all viewers and those involved. So I dedicate this post to the strengths of my children!
That I am strong as her mother and that I have to be strong every day is unaffected. Yes, everyday life here. For free. Every mother has to do this, regardless of whether she is a single parent or with a man who at least takes care of the family income. Yes, all the family work, also for free. Somehow it is also clear that as a mother of two children in need of support you also have to be strong when it comes to working with the school. At least I've written a lot about it. Somehow this goes hand in hand with the fact that you have to be pretty on your toes when it comes to funding and support. Yes, these are all a sign of strength. Clear signs of strength. - Especially when it's mothers like Lydia, for example. It's really very impressive how she has her family life under control and always finds a way to make the impossible possible. And doesn't let anyone or anything fool you. This is not just strength, but for me a sign of true greatness. -
Real strength? In my eyes, these show my children above all. Every day anew. Maxim and Nadezhda are survivors. Survivors of an early childhood marked by poverty and loss. Loss of her Russian mother, poverty in all respects, but above all poverty in love and affection, poverty in attention to her needs, poverty in security and care. What they had to endure would be difficult to endure, even for an adult. But they fought, every day anew, and survived the trauma. Then we came as supposed saviors, as some might think. But we asked Maxim and Nadezhda to leave their familiar surroundings again, to go to a foreign country in which they knew neither the language nor the everyday cultural life. With two people who were ready to do anything for these two children, but who were strangers to them. They did that too. They were so strong and courageous to get involved in a new environment and new caregivers. They have learned a new language, they have embraced and conquered their new surroundings. Years later they have overcome their fears more and more and learned to develop a deep education about us as their “new” parents. How strong and courageous do you have to be to build up new trust after all the emotional injuries? Despite all the adversity, Maxim and Nadezhda had the strength to take their little life into their own hands, to develop, to keep learning and to grow. I never forget the moments when Nadezhda just got up at some point and ran or Maxim finally spoke his first word after months. The weeks and months in which Maxim was not doing well in kindergarten, but he struggled through it, or Nadezhda strongly regressed but then caught up with her development and reached for the sky are unforgettable.
Even today, they prove their incredible strength every day anew. Every day, both fight tirelessly against the weaker self of refusal to exercise. They manage their day-to-day life at school, although the alarm in their heads torments both of them. Over and over and over again. But they don't give up! You won't let yourself get down. And every step, no matter how small, is a great victory! Maxim and Nadezhda are such brave fighters. Their will to conquer their lives, despite all the adversities that fate has given them, is unbroken. The fact that they assert themselves against all odds in life is a real strength for me.
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In early summer I worked for a theater production at the school, with the 8th grade. All children were in the middle of puberty and very busy with their own inner emotional and spiritual restructuring. I remember two young people forever, because the commitment with which they fulfilled their roles sometimes showed a very special kind of obsession.
We played "Oliver Twist". For those who do not have the plot of the classic by Charles Dickens in mind: A young pregnant woman collapses exhausted and completely exhausted on a rainy night in front of an orphanage. She gives birth to another child, Oliver, and dies. Oliver Twist now lives in an orphanage until he is ten years old and is supposed to do an apprenticeship with an undertaker. From there he flees to London and is taken in by a gang of small crooks. In his first theft of his own, he meets the rich Mr. Brownlow, who, as it later turns out after many errors and effects, is Oliver's grandfather.
The girl who played Agnes, Oliver's mother, first caught my eye because she initially had a very fixed idea about her dress. At first I dismissed it as a "little girl's dream" and let her have it. Everyone else was more likely to see their costumes from a critical distance. It was almost embarrassing to put on such old "fumble". Even when she kept coming up with new ideas over several days on how to stuff the pregnant belly, I still didn't listen carefully. During rehearsals she was often unfocused and not really focused on the matter. Only the scream she had to utter in the birth scene was right. So I was all the more surprised when “Agnes” played her part in the actual performances. When she went down the hall to the stage - on the way to the orphanage, you could literally feel the pain of this world that weighed on her shoulders.
I was also moved by the portrayal of Mr. Brownlow. The boy who played him had already caught my eye in class in 8th grade. Not because he was now the cleverest, but he was so hard-working and committed, with me, less with his class teacher. When I met him in the parking lot in the morning, he always tried to get in touch with me, as if he wanted to tell me something completely different. The care with which he, as Mr. Brownlow, looked after the orphan boy Oliver was remarkable. And in the final scene, in which the grandfather embraces his lost grandson, it seemed as if the pupil was expressing a very deep inner wish of his own.
A few days ago I looked at the pictures of the performance again with a colleague. When I took a photo of Agnes, distorted by pain, I noticed once again how admirable I found her playing. Our conversation drifted to the two students. When I discovered that the student who played Mr. Brownlow was so different from his brother I currently have in class, she said, "Well, they don't have the same parents either." puzzled, although I knew the answer, because she added: “The two boys are adopted. And I mean the "Agnes" too. "
It was then clear to me why these two students were so lost in their roles on stage: They played their own fate ...
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I organize meetings for adoptive families twice a year. I think it's important to give these families an opportunity to exchange ideas in a casual setting. Most of the time, we always have a small part of the seminar on adoption-related topics for the parents at these meetings. Be it about working with the school or “refusing to make an effort” and dealing with it, or dealing with anger and frustration. An adoptive mother who regularly comes to these meetings has been stressing the subject of “biography work” for years. That would be so important and we parents would have to work on it, and so would the children. A whole weekend with very intensive biography work in the large group, of course parents and children from different perspectives. I've always taken note of it benevolently, but somehow I didn't dare to do it. Somehow there was always a disruptive factor for me. And now I know why….
Without a doubt, biography work is incredibly important! At some point, adoptive children want and should trace their roots, know and understand their history and their origins and find their own way of dealing with them. The wounds that tore the separation from the biological mother are too painful and the consequences of it too omnipresent. Regardless of the further life story, such as a life in a children's home or the cultural uprooting through adoption. In the euphoria of adoption, everything a child loses with his new life in another country is quickly lost. A picture has become indissolubly burned into my memory: on one of the children's home visits in our adoption process, we saw Maxim go for a walk with his group. It was clear to see how comfortable he felt there. He happily waved to us from across the street. It was then that I realized for the first time what we were taking away from him with adoption.
The fact that adoptive parents also have to deal intensively with how biographical work can be brought in in a salutary way is just as unaffected. It is crucial to have the necessary level of sensitivity, to deal openly with the topic, to have dealt with the role of the adoptive mother and to have found a peaceful and humble relationship with the biological mother. In addition to a few practical tools, how you can deal with your adoptive child about your origins and your roots and the feelings that go with them. Above all, Irmela Wiemann has achieved great things here in the German-speaking area. Your guides are more than helpful and, in my opinion, required reading for all adoptive parents. For a long time I have missed a suitable children's book for searching for origins and roots. Irmela Wiemann has also published this together with Schirin Homeier with “Herzwurzeln”.
Jannik is a foster child and has only been living with his foster family for a few weeks. In his class he meets Ayana, who was adopted as a baby by her parents from Ethiopia. Jannik tries to get into his foster family, but again and again he is overtaken by his "lightning rage", with sadness and pain about the fact that he is no longer allowed to live with his mother and siblings. Ayana is looking for her Ethiopian roots. She, too, repeatedly struggles with anger and despair. When her parents' efforts were once again unsuccessful, she took the initiative herself and sent her parrot to Ethiopia with a letter to her birth mother. In their common suffering, Ayana and Jannik become friends and after a long journey they both find their "heart roots" in themselves and in their families. Referee Homeier and Irmela Wiemann have added an advisory section for children to the story for the first time, in which not only the technical terms from the adoption and care sector are explained in a child-friendly manner, but also the concepts and different forms of parenting and family. With wonderful illustrations, she gives the children assistance in dealing with diffuse feelings such as “lightning rage” or the fear of further injuries that are locked in the “heart with two chambers”. The book is supplemented by another guidebook for adults, in which parents of origin, adoptive parents, but also specialist staff are addressed.
I read it for the second time during the summer vacation. In the hope that Maxim above all might jump at it. But he didn't. Although, when he was younger, we always read one or two children's books in which the topic of adoption is presented in a child-friendly manner. Although the topic of "origin" has been very present again in the past few weeks.
Maxim is in "Russia fever". He wants to learn Russian, he reads stories about Moscow, he is currently fighting for the Russian alphabet letter by letter. And he would like to fly to Moscow tomorrow. He can hardly wait for his Russian passport to finally be reissued. Nadezhda, on the other hand, shows either no interest at all or vehement rejection: “Mom, I don't want a Russian passport. It's only for the babies that come along. I do not need that. And I don't want that. And if I say no, that means no too. Understand? ”What they both have in common is that they show absolutely no motivation to look for their Russian mother. Maxim wants to get to know his Russian roots, symbolized by the Red Square in Moscow. He wants to go there. From the books here at home, he has now internalized almost every monument and building that is formed around Red Square. But neither his hometown, the children's home, nor his biological roots seem to interest him. But on closer inspection he senses that he doesn't want to touch these wounds. He can't do that yet. He does not yet want to deal with his dual parenthood. Nadezhda, too, has buried it deep down inside her after it flared up for a short time last autumn, but brought it to her from the outside. And her reaction at the time was clear that she didn't want to deal with it.
Then I realized once again that working on a biography and dealing with one's origins is a very individual process. It's not just about reading a guidebook, attending a seminar and then tinkering a “book of life” with your adoptive child, painting a picture of the birth mother and writing her a letter and then at some point, when the child they wish to travel to their country of origin and possibly look for their birth mother. All of this is important! And adoptive parents need the professional support and the impetus that Irmela Wiemann in particular provides. But after that, in my eyes, it is a very individual process how the biography work is organized at home in the family. In my opinion, it must be as individual as the life story of each adoptive child and also as individual and unique as the child's way of dealing with his or her story. I see that in my own children. They have the same Russian mother, they share much of the story even before they came to us. But both have their own way of dealing with it. A way of dealing with things that does not allow me to work through advice like “projects”, as the specialist literature suggests, with my children like checklists.
How individually each adoptive child deals with his or her story can also be seen in our circle of friends and acquaintances. Some adoptive children really want to go back to the children's home from which they come. Others reject her Russian name on the grounds that they do not have fond memories of him. In the end, it is crucial that we as parents clearly show our children the openness that they can talk to us adoptive parents about their origins and their history, but that they determine the pace, the path and the content. Because above all it is her very personal story with her very personal sad feelings. With empathy and, in my opinion, only very privately with the family, there should be space where our adoptive children can deal with their story whenever and how they want. And as it is wholesome and good for them.
Information on "heart roots":
Schirin Homeier and Irmela Wiemann
Mabuse-Verlag GmbH, Frankfurt a.M. 2016
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Oh, there is something wonderful about a week with a public holiday! Stop for a moment in the daily grind, spend a day without appointments and plans. That has something. I look forward to the fact that May will bring us a few more weeks like this with a holiday. And it is good that I have decided for this year that we will not use the other long weekends to go away, as we have in the past, but simply enjoy the peace and quiet at home. Still, the other three days of the week were busy and at the weekend I had to go to school again. But an end is in sight. Two more weekend seminars and then it's finally done. So today I am grateful for these three Sunday favorites:
- Did I already tell you that my son now voluntarily sets the alarm clock to six in the morning so that he has enough time to read or play before school? Yes indeed! He himself got the idea when he realized that he couldn't sleep late and still read or play before school. He's got up early for a few weeks now and then gets ready in time by himself without any warning or reminder. Since then, our morning life has been so many times more relaxed.
- Nadezhda is once again concerned with her origins. In the evenings before going to bed, “old” topics keep coming to mind. They then have to be taken out and cleared up. Also this week: "Mom, why does Marie think that you are not my real mom?" When I explained to Nadezhda again that I am just as much her real mother as her Russian mother, my little girl sighed from the bottom of my heart her arms around me and said: "I'm glad about that."
- My second seminar paper is now as good as finished. One more proofreading and then this can also be printed. It is such a liberating feeling that my training is coming to an end very soon.
Have a wonderful Sunday and a safe start to the week!
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