Wednesday, May 09, 2007

How'd you get here from there-Part IV (updated with picture)

How do you prepare siblings for an adoption? Adopting a baby? The preparation would seem pretty much the same as preparing for a birth in the family. But adopting an older child? Well, it might be a little different. People tend to gush over little babies, especially very adorable Ethiopian ones, but it might be harder for a sibling whose place in the family is about to be usurped or well-meaning family and friends to visualize a positive outcome when an older child(ren) is (are) adopted.
Take a hint from Mary Magdalene. What a beautiful example of steadfast love. Remember the story of Mary Magdalene on the morning of the Resurrection? Scripture tells us (Jn 20:1-2) that she ran to the tomb "while it was still dark" even in her sorrow and exhaustion because of her great love for Jesus.
So, what's the point? It is simply that our great love, our sheer desire, which can be all consuming when welcoming a new child to the family, was what we wanted to convey to our kids. How'd we do it? Same as Mary did. We ran, full speed and head first towards our loves and we grabbed the hands of our four children along as we ran. We talked frequently both as a whole family and in smaller one-on-one conversations about our new kids. We prayed for them nightly, at first in a general sense, but later-once we knew them-we prayed for them by name. Our children all accompanied us to the store to select items for the "Welcome Bags"--everyone was able to include something. They helped select and/or take photos for the Family Albums. We prepared bedrooms and selected photo frames to begin displaying our "new kids" pictures (that we searched for together on our agency's Snapfish account) around the house in prominent locations. At the suggestion of a friend, we added our two new chidren to our family "operations center" (shown right) prior to their arrival and even selected job cards for them each Sunday. The "resident" kids pitched in to help do the "new kids" jobs until their homecoming, which was a real motivator for our two older children to anticipate the swift arrival of their chore helpers! The children, who were old enough, wrote letters (on their own) to send. The younger ones drew pictures that they signed, "Love, Your Sister N..." When a stumbling block occured, we shared our sadness with the children and when news that filled us with joy came, we shared that, too. As a matter of fact, we celebrated with a special dinner when our court case passed. It was just that important.
Our oldest son (12) prepared for their arrival, in a very real way, as he accompanied my husband to Ethiopia to bring our kids home. Our three girls (8, 3, and 2) helped ready the house and make giant "welcome home" signs to bring to the airport for their arrival.
Did it make a difference? I can't say for sure as this is the only time we've adopted. But what I can say for certain, however, is that by the time H and Baby T walked through the customs gate that our children ran those final few steps into each other's arms in what might have seemed to the unknowing onlooker a long-awaited reunion.


Owlhaven said...

Jane, I loved these ideas! Thanks for sharing!


Umm 'Skandar said...

Great Ideas about siblings!

But I want to hear more about your "family operations center" Details please!!


What a great way to show your kids to love! Happy Mothers Day!!

Jane (a.k.a. patjrsmom) said...

Thanks! I hope these ideas can be helpful. I will definitely make a point to share about our "family operations center". We were just updating a few aspects of it tonight, actually. It has been very helpful in organizing the 8 ark-members here and I promise to share more soon!