Sunday, February 17, 2013

Empowered to Connect

This weekend was one we'd been looking forward to for some time. Levi would get some quality time with his Georgia grandparents while Jason and I got away for some preparation time for R's coming. We registered months ago for the Empowered to Connect conference in Orlando, FL and driving back last night to our sleeping Levi at the grandparents, we came away with more than we thought our $25 registration could buy. I'm not over-exaggerating in saying that we're coming away from the conference as better individuals, a better couple and better parents for our son and daughter. Parenting should come with the required prerequisite of this conference and a reading of The Connected Child.

The principles seemed simple enough-- nurture a child by giving them a voice, opportunities for re-dos and compromises and the understanding that they are precious. Could these techniques really lead to connected, healed children and families? The explanation of brain chemistry changes and the testimonies of changed families who used these strategies was convincing. This trust-based relational intervention (TBRI) has brought healing and attachment to children with some of the most profound traumas and diagnoses. The results were children and parents' hearts growing in connectedness. Now who wouldn't pay attention to practices that claim these kind of results?  

Below we're including some, but certainly not all, of our take aways. One of my favorite things is sharing and receiving helpful tips. Like the book a friend shared that helped with a skin problem or a friend sharing her journey to freedom with food, I love learning from others and sharing things they might learn from me. So here are a few things from the conference that might be helpful to others out there reading. And just to keep this interesting, I'll be candid in our pre-conference lessons too. :) 

  • Credit card points can get you into amazing hotels you wouldn't afford otherwise. But when you only have enough points for one night and try to find a budget-friendly second night, being cheap can backfire severely. After a $40 Expedia gamble, we killed five roaches, cut our losses and moved to another hotel.  
Now lessons from the conference...
  • Lack of nurture and voice (being safe and able to safely explore and share thoughts) leads to development of overactive chemicals in the brain stem regions. Those chemicals translate into defense behaviors such as aggression, violence, manipulation, triangulation and control.
  • There is hope for EVERY child. The techniques taught through Dr. Purvis' Trust-Based Relational Intervention have helped children around the world showing incredible improvements and changes even in brain chemistry.
  • There is a great difference in being available for our children and in being engaged with our children. (Is our heart open and connecting with our child instead of our hearts and minds always away on something else?)
  • The call to adopt is not a call to make a child "mine" but to become "mine" for a child. (Instead of them being molded into who we want them to be, we are molded to see healing and connecting in their hearts for them to be all God created them to be.)
  • Seventy percent of what people take from you is based on your tone of voice. These findings are based on a ten year study conducted by UCLA.
  • "There is no healing without 'being with'." (Not sure who said this...maybe Michael Monroe?)
  • Fear and pain are primary emotions. Anger and aggression are secondary. Underneath violence is often fear or pain. 
  • Guilt is about what you do. Shame is about who you are. We should never shame our children.
  • Healthy parenting is trust-based and connection-based not consequence-based.
  • Discipline is not primarily about correcting wrong behavior. It is about filling a cup and meeting a need that has not been met. 

While we know these isolated sentences outside of their context can't do justice to the great truths we learned at the conference, we also collected a list of resources that could give a better, clearer picture. We hope in the next few weeks to read some* ourselves. At the bottom of the post you'll find some of the great resources we came away with. 

If you are stuck in a rut in your parenting, if you are an adoptive or foster parents or if you are soon to be parents, there are two more conferences this year. You can find out more about locations and costs here. We couldn't recommend the information highly enough. And if you want the info but can't attend a conference, check out the book The Connected Child and videos at both the Empowered to Connect and TCU websites. We plan to be visiting and reading here a lot in the next few months! Hope you'll find them useful too!


Websites

www.adoptionnutrition.org

www.child.tcu.edu

www.empoweredtoconnect.org

www.tapestryministry.org


Websites for help with sensory issues

www.babybabyohbaby.com (Infant massage)

http://kidcompanions.com/

www.therapyshoppe.com

Books

*The Connected Child by Purvis, Cross and Sunshine

Play by Stuart Brown

The Out-of-Sync Child by Carol Kranowitz

The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun by Carol Kranowitz

*The Whole-Brained Child by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Adoption Latest

In this adoption journey we are thankful that since beginning the process in March of last year there has been little lag time without some paperwork to be completed. The paperwork was a welcomed task as it was our part in helping the process along. Early in January we submitted our final documents to the U.S. Embassy. There will be a few more forms before travel...but for the most part we are finished. So began the wait to hear from Immigration and India's committees and courts. 

At the beginning of last week our orphanage contacted our agency. We had requested R's measurements to begin purchasing some clothing and shoes. Days later we got an email with every measurement on her body. It's incredible   that one email from us starts a flurry of activity for our little girl across the world. Technology is amazing. Included in the measurement email was the happy news that our paperwork cleared the state level committee. :) Happy news indeed. Now for the national committee clearance (NOC), court hearing for a judge to grant custody and passports and visas. We are getting so much closer. 

In this waiting time with no paperwork required, we've put our energy into preparations. Soon we should be able to send a small care package in which we can send photos of our family and a few small gifts. With R being eight years old, she understands a bit more about adoption so we hoped to include some words of reassurance along. We kept it simple and hope the translation speaks peace and a deep sense of love to her. Every page is included below except one special page. In the event you speak the languages translated here, these aren't correct. When Google Translate failed us, our tutor and his friend blessed us with the correct translations. Here is the first draft before our final translation edits: 

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A final edit page w/ only one language
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And in both of her native languages, one final reminder that these new faces really, really mean, "We love you, R..."

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Week's Arsenal

A big ole adoption update is coming soon...our timeline gives a bare bones look at what's been going on...but before that I wanted to share a quick challenge.

Do you ever realize you haven't been trusting God fully or that you've been under some attack by the enemy and it's doing a number on you? Tonight I got a call from a praying friend. She called on an oh-so-timely evening to remind me to unswervingly sing God's praises and believe. And she has a way of parting the grey clouds to help you see the truth in a matter. It's no wonder. The girl walks with God. She has trusted through impossible, even life-threatening things, and seen God's provision.  He has walked with her through the valley of the shadow of death and brought her out alive. Tonight the sweet Holy Spirit prompted her to call and remind me to cling to the Lord. 

So this challenge is here because I know I'm not the only one needing to remember to cling this coming week. And as a lesson from India taught me, worship is a vital part of clinging. Today it just so happens that I heard two great songs I've tucked in my arsenal beside the Word for the week. 
Hope you might find these big guns helpful and that a fight rises up inside us that says lies won't be acceptable, second best won't do. To God alone belongs praise. He is our hope in every circumstance. He is trustworthy and so, so good.



and...



{my favorite line is "my strength in life is I am yours..."}