Give the Gift of a Good Book

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You can hear and see it for the first time on video! Please check it out and if you like what you hear order your copy online!

The book is available on my publisher's site LuluAmazon, Barnes and Noble and signed copies available right here on my site! 

Amazon.com reader reviews:

“Such a sweet book to read to your little ones.”

“Such a precious message to share with little ones! Quickly became a family favorite!”

“Love this book! My son and I read it together for a bedtime story. Especially close to my heart since I adopted a few kiddos.”

“This book is adorable! We have read this book every night to our kids and they absolutely love it! This is a must have book!”

The Three Trimesters of Adoption

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National Adoption Month is this month and I have been thinking a lot about adoption and how it has changed my life.

First, I am so thankful for adoption. This seems fairly obvious because adoption brought us our oldest son and the privilege of becoming parents for the first time. I could not imagine life without him in it and I am thankful everyday for his birth mom who made the toughest decision of her life and chose us to be his parents.

Second, adopting our son opened my eyes in so many ways to the situations and environments that children are brought into. National Adoption Month is a month to shine light on the needs for permanent families for children in foster care.

For me, it is also a month to shine light on those families who are thinking about adopting or in the process of adopting a child from any background (foster, international, domestic).

We went through an agency that worked exclusively with domestic infant adoption so much of what I write about and have experiences with is from that perspective. However, from speaking to other people who adopted in different ways a lot of the paperwork and emotional aspects are similar.

I like to break the adoption process down by trimesters because I feel like most everyone has an understanding of pregnancy but less people have an understanding of adoption. I also think people assume adoption is easy because there is a need for adoptive parents.

Let me assure you, it is not easy and that is by design. Although, it is very hard to understand the design while you are going through the mountain of paperwork. The point of the paperwork is so a child does not end up in a home with people who have less than loving intentions. Even the tremendous amount of paperwork fails a child sometimes.

Bottom line, the paperwork and process can suck and adoptive parents shouldn't be ashamed to say that. Just like a pregnant woman shouldn't be ashamed to complain about her sore back or exhaustion. I've complained about both. #sorrynotsorry

So, if you are considering adoption, you know people who are thinking about adopting or in the process of adopting a child here are a few things to consider.

1. The adoption process and paperwork is incredibly daunting and difficult. Just like the first trimester of a pregnancy the paperwork process is new and will be very overwhelming. The adoptive parents may not be creating a human life but they are building the foundation that will eventually lead to a child and both situations take an incredible amount of care and energy.  

2. Waiting is the hardest part. The adoptive parents have completed the paperwork. They are feeling pretty good and are anxiously awaiting the call that will change their lives forever. This is when pregnant woman want to nest and just like them, adoptive parents want to nest too. They want to ready their home for a child. But when will the child come? The dream of adopting a child is closer than before, but no one really knows how close. The couple feels like if they buy too many things in preparation for a child, it could for some reason jinx the entire process. The waiting and wondering is intense.

3. Just because they have been matched, it doesn't mean that everything is final. The legal system needs to run its course. This means that a few things need to happen: The birth parents do not change their mind, birth parent parental rights need to be terminated and the legal adoption is finalized. This is like the third trimester of a pregnancy because the couple starts to feel the pressure and anxiety over welcoming and/or meeting their child for the first time. Except this trimester for adoptive parents is WAY longer than three months.

Adoptive parents are also running every single what-if scenario over and over in their heads. The hope is that the child that has been growing in their hearts for so many months is legally theirs and the weight of paperwork and the legal system will be lifted. That's the hope, but adoptive parents can also experience loss. Birth parents can change their minds, and the window for which they can cancel the adoption is different in each state.

My advice and I am quoting my husband: "Stay cautiously optimistic." Don't let the process take the joy out of what you are doing. You are building a beautiful family.

 

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5 Things I Learned from My First Story Time

Little kids are incredible. They have this ability to make you do ridiculous things just so you can see them smile and laugh. I had my first story time and book signing at the Oak Creek, WI Public Library this past weekend and it turned out to be so much better than I expected. I learned afterwards that the room was at fire code capacity with more than 70 adults and kids, whoa! 

Going into it I just thought it would be my friends, my mom, my husband and our kids. So my expectations for attendance were pretty low.

I was shocked when people started to show up that I didn't know. That's when my nerves kicked in. I can sing nursery rhymes off key and act like a fool in front of my family and friends because they already know me. They know I'm goofy and awkward. They'll still love me if I fail (right?! lol). Not knowing the faces in the crowd made it a million times more intense. I HAD to sing and read to strangers and I HAD to do a good job. GULP.

After I was done with the story time portion of the program a sweet woman and her son came up to me and said, 

"Are you a teacher? The reason I ask is because you have a really good way of presenting to the children. A great energy." 

It really meant a lot to me that she said that. She was a stranger and because I was nervous to begin with her compliment made me feel like I didn't totally suck. 

I know that with each time I speak or present a story time I will learn something. I'm new at this so I wanted to get these five things written down as a reminder to myself and maybe it will help some other people too.

Here are five things I learned from my first story time.

 

1 - Give your presentation or program to your own kids or family first. 

This seems like an obvious one but sometimes presenting to your family is the hardest because they are the most critical. Do it anyway. 

You'll be happy when you work out the kinks in front of them instead of strangers.

I presented mine to my mom and my own children. My mom was engaged and giving great feedback. My kids were jumping on the couch asking to watch a show (eye roll). I figured their poor behavior would prep me for any craziness and distractions. 

2 - Make an outline and keep it by you.

I wouldn't recommend notecards. You'll look like you're giving a presentation in college, SNOOZE!

If you print out an outline and keep it next to you it's easy to glance at without giving much pause.

I printed mine and because I knew it was there I never ended up looking at it.

3 - Focus on the children's faces.

Kids don't pretend to like things. This is incredibly frustrating and adorable. If the kids are engaged and smiling you are doing a good job. 

If they aren't paying attention you have to up the energy and channel your inner goofball. 

If all else fails make a fart noise...kidding...but for real, fart noises are funny.

4 - It's not brain surgery.

If you start to feel overwhelmed by the thought of public speaking remind yourself, it's not brain surgery. You can make jokes and mess up a little and it will be OK.

When I got to the singing portion of the program I was so excited I wasn't remembering to breathe. I laughed a little to myself and thankfully the kids were singing so I could whisper-sing and catch my breath before passing out. It was a really challenging vocal of Skinny Marinky Dinky Dink...don't judge.

5 - Don't wait too long to make edits to your program.

After your program/presentation go home and make notes for yourself about things that went well and things you felt could be done better. 

The hope is that you will be asked to do it again so it's better to get your thoughts on paper before they leave your brain.

I needed to slow down and breathe more. Hopefully next time my nerves will be more in check and I won't have to remind myself to take a breath. 

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Breathe. You got this.