It isn’t as crazy as it sounds

Okay. I get it. When’s the last time you heard someone say, “The adoption process is just so fun!!!” or “I am LOVIN’ all this paperwork!”? It sounds a little crazy, right?

First off, it seems ungrateful and insensitive. After all, there is always some pain and loss involved in adoption. No doubt. And adoptive parents already get a bad (if untrue) rap as appearing to capitalize on other people’s pain. Can you imagine what people would think of us if we started to perk up a little?

There’s also a good dose of cynicism out there about what’s possible regarding adoption and your “odds” of truly rocking it out. Believe me, I understand how challenging it can be to stay positive during the process.

But what I’m about to suggest, unlike most of the other crazy ways people find to throw away their time, money and love in the quest to bring their child home, is totally free!

And besides, wouldn’t it AWESOME if it were actually possible to feel confident and relatively upbeat all through the highs and lows of your adoption journey?

Turns out, not only is it possible…it’s also a savvy adoption strategy!

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All you need to know about unhappiness

Here the truth about staying in negative emotions during your adoption (Taken from my personal experience adopting four children, as well as my experience with hundreds of other adoptive moms):

  • unhappiness is not an effective strategy. If you truly desire to do some good in the world through adoption, overdosing on stress and fear is not the way to go. Being depleted and unhappy yourself does NOTHING, zero, nada, to lift up or assist anyone else in need–from a potential birth mother to her child to the millions of homeless children around the world.
  • unhappiness breeds ickiness. Have you noticed the slightly desperate-needy vibe that can hang out below the surface of some adoptions? Your misery could be the unintentional cause! The number one challenge I hear from women adopting is fear of the unknown and a feeling like the situation is out of their control. Feeling this way can make us grabby & desperate without meaning to be. We become focused solely on the end result of bringing our child home and on getting adoption “over with.” All this can make the other players in adoption feel like pawns in our game. And that’s just plain icky.
  • unhappiness slows down your adoption. Bottom line? The fastest way to get traction in your adoption is to make your adoption profile more “attractive.” Here’s how…Beyond strategy, research, choosing the right path & professional for your unique situation. And the hundred other little practical footwork details. Adoption is ALL about having “attractive” energy. No matter how perfect your adoption profile is structurally and no matter how truly exceptional parents you will one day make, there is a crucial,  intangible quality of “attraction” that trumps all. We’re  all vibrating at a certain level. Hanging out in the positive emotions–such as love, enthusiasm, and confidence– is a high vibration and makes your energy ‘attractive’  to a potential birth mother, lawyer, agency, decision maker. Hanging out in the negative emotions–fear, victimhood, being overly controlling–brings your energy down and is a repellant energy & turns people away.

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More is Possible

I’m not suggesting you do a happy dance 24/7. But if you’ve ever been engaged in a long term project that you were totally passionate and lit up about, you’ll know the kind of enjoyment we’re going for. Some bits are challenging, some bits are fun. But through it all you can honestly say, “in this moment, I don’t want to be anywhere but here. I choose this.” It’s an awesome feeling, right?

And obviously easier said than done. So don’t try to force yourself to ‘get happy’ when you’re not. That’s like putting a smiley face sticker on an empty gas gauge while you’re driving and pretending the tank is full. You’re going to get stuck eventually…:)

Start where you are. Be genuine. Whatever emotions you’re experiencing right now, you are doing the very best you can. And you’re not the only one. Rarely do women who adopt have the support necessary to wisely manage their adoptions and master their lives and emotions during the process…

It’s only when a woman feels truly confident & well supported  that it becomes possible for her to spend most of her time in positive emotions and to attract a high level adoption.

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You don’t get many cracks at motherhood. Despite what you may have been told, it’s just not necessary to settle for anything less than a smooth, relatively speedy, life expanding adoption process that’s suspiciously low on glitches and cheap drama. And which ALSO includes a high integrity birth family situation and the child who will bring out  in you the extraordinary mother you know are meant to become.

Make a promise to yourself today to believe in yourself, believe you can have what you want, and be willing to do whatever it takes to turn your dream into your reality.

If this resonates with you, and you are a pedal-to-the-metal type woman in everything you do, I have an idea for you…

Right now, I’m offering a limited number of complimentary 30 minute Discovery Consultation Sessions to a few A player women interested in getting some strategy & support to kickstart and rock out their adoptions. To schedule your sacred strategy session, sign up here.

p.s.  If this post struck a chord with you, and you are the kind of person who trusts and acts on her intuition,  let’s discuss.

 

 

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How to Survive the Holidays When Your Heart is Breaking

by elizabeth hunter on December 20, 2012


Just the smell of sugar cookies and cinnamon candles made my stomach tighten into a nervous fist. Hearing a christmas carol piped out of a tinny department store sound system (in the U.S. this starts in November :() made me break a cold clammy sweat. Twinkling holiday lights against a cold & starless night sky sent me running away in terror.

During the years when I was single (and longing for a partner), then when I was childless (and longing for children), the holidays just  freaked me out.

I’d spend the month of December in a frenzied, overscheduled  battle to avoid–what?  Not the holidays exactly (I adore every little heartwarming, sentimental, over-the-top spiritual bit of holiday cheer). No, it was this vague aching feeling, an unnamed pain about the state of my life (and the world) that all this ho ho ho-ing brought to the surface.

My holiday avoidance/survival  ‘strategy’ worked brilliantly!  By keep myself over scheduled, worrying about what everyone in my life (except me) thought/wanted/needed, creating complicated to do lists, taking really crappy care of myself, and just generally building myself into a state of perpetual Martha Stewartistic overdrive, by around December 5th  I would be…  totally NUMB. Unable to feel anything at all-joy or pain. Which was of course the point.

So maybe you’re not in the extreme position I was right now.  Or maybe you are.  I started writing this piece to help all the women who are aching for a child to get through this holiday season.  Something about the holidays seems to shine a glaring light on all the empty spaces in our lives, doesn’t it? For women who worry they may never become mothers, this can be almost too much to bear.

But now, after the unspeakable pain that has been unleashed from the events in Connecticut last week–all I can think about is the women who are standing on the opposite side of the river from us– those mothers who have loved and lost a child. Even writing those words is almost too much to bear.  I sit here and wonder: how will these mothers ever carry this pain without falling down? How can we help them?

I don’t know.  But I do know this.  There are very few people whose hearts have not been broken open in scary, uncomfortable & unfamiliar ways by this tragedy.  There are very few of us going into this holiday season with our hearts intact.

So I offer up this overflowing holiday gift basket of nourishment and comfort to you.  Here is what I know–every little tool & technique–to help you find comfort, hope, love, connection, transformation, and, yes, joy, this holiday season.

(note: As with all gift baskets, don’t overdo or you could get a stomach ache. Be selective. Pick and choose to find your favorite. Enjoy. )

In Peace & With Tremendous Love. xo elizabeth

How to Survive the Holidays When Your Heart is Breaking (A Seasonal Gift Basket)


1.Be aware of numbing behaviors.

The line between happy social whir and negative overscheduling can sometimes be hard to see this time of year. A little less sleep or a few extra cookies might be a good thing for you.  Or not.  Everyone is different. Here’s a great way to tell  if you are pushing and overextending yourself.

Before you go to bed, take a moment to mentally review your day.  Count up how many moments of ‘exhale’ you had today– moments of gratitude, stillness, pure joy,  laughter, presence,  deep connection, or even pain that feels weirdly like beauty?

if you are going through day after day with fewer than  6  of these, this is a sign you are running on empty and possibly running from something.

2. Take the ass backwards approach to holiday time management.

if you think you may be numbing out, but feel like you just don’t have the time to  deal with it till January, hold up.Here’s why acknowledging feelings will actually save you time.

When you are in pain,your wise inner self knows it even if you don’t.  Avoiding it  just makes the wisest part of you work harder to get your attention.  You may feel incredible resistance to getting things done.  Or a general tiredness that is not of the body. Taking a quick read on what the problem is can free up stuck energy and help you get more things done faster. Simply ask yourself, ‘what is my ‘hot spot’ right now? (fear that adoption won’t work, for example). Hint: it almost never has to do with what someone else is doing wrong.  Breathe into it.  Then let it go.  Get on with your day.

3. Get still.

Create a mini ritual that helps you guarantee a few moments of stillness each day to honor what is sacred in your life.  Don’t stress out over the word ‘ritual.’ A ritual is just a beautiful way to help you remember something that is important to you. A ritual uses physical cues–tea, candlelight, a brisk walk, bubble bath, the feeling of cold winter air on your face–to calm you down. And you do it at about the same time each day. There is no wrong. It can take less than one minute. You know you’re getting the hang of it when you look forward to it. My current favorite ritual this holiday?  Waking up to candlelight, not electric lights.  Then I wake up my daughter by candlelight and we have tea as the sun comes up.

4. Get back in your body.

Keep it simple.  During a moment of quiet, take a breathe and ask your wisest self for one thing you could to reconnect with your body.  Just go with the first thing. Not what you ‘should’ do but what would feel good to your body. Like, “I just want to spend an hour in the woods.”  Or “I need to dance!”  Make a mental note of any good feelings after doing this.

5. Practice finding the ‘Body Yes!’

This is a perfect time of year to begin to practice the skill called finding the ‘Body Yes!’ or the ‘hell yes!’ When faced with a decision or choice, pick a moment in the day–maybe after stillness ritual above, or any time you accidentally find yourslef feeling good and relaxed. Let the answer to your question bubble up and zing you from your body, not your mind or your overdrive slightly manic self.  See if you can feel what this feels like when your body is truly onboard. Martha Beck calls it”Shackles Off.”   Notice how  your body tells you it wants to do something  There’s a resonance or a centeredness when something is Yes from the body and while you can still be totally excited by it, it doesn’t have that manic edge to it. This gets easier with practice.

6. Set an intention for the holidays that is yours alone.

‘Shoulds’ really don’t work for God either (as in, I ‘should get closer to God’ this season).  Get real. What is  important to you right now?  maybe it’s an overwhelming desire to rest, or connect.  Maybe you need to travel and get away from it all. Find a word that expresses how you want to feel this season and make that your mantra.

7. See beauty in pain.

This may seem like some mad science experiment at first glance,  but it helps to give you perspective.  If you do feel in a lot of pain, revel in it. It can be strangely soothing to hear a beautiful song that speaks directly to your pain and even intensifies it, or  watch a play or  experience a painting  that actually puts words or colors or melodies to your darkness. The holidays provide so many creative possibilities for this.

8. Find the reason for the season.

I’m not referring to any of the  religious elements of the season here.  I mean back in the day, the ancient ancient day, before organized religion of any kind, when it was all about nature and the flow of the seasons. In the Northern hemisphere, this is the darkest time of the year.  So go with it.  Turn out the lights. Revel in the mystery that is the darkness. Imagine what it was like when there were no floodlights on the world.  Feel it in your body.  Welcome the darkness of the season and ask it to show you something you desperately need to see.

9. Create something.

Take your pain and transform it into something tangible.  Then find a way to put it out into the world.  Take some beautiful photos and make a little album to give to friends, bake some cookies and decorate them in your own unique style and share, make some sketches and turn them into holiday cards , go caroling at a local hospital and  really get into the lyrics. Make some really kicking punch for the office party. Whatever you do, do it with your own style and with the intention releasing and transforming your pain. Let it help you connect to life again. And let it go.

10. Disassemble holiday.

Pretend the holidays are a deck of cards and play 52 card pickup: throw all the cards up in the air and see where they land. Look at all the things you normally do, are committed or scheduled to do, are thinking about doing, have plans to do.  Then think about your holiday word or intention. Does each activity fit this? If not, be ruthless: this is kind of scrooge-ey, but edit your schedule drastically. try to tone down the voice of other people’s demands. Think about January and how you want to feel when all is said & done. If you can’t quite walk away from something that doesn’t feel good, see if you can tweak it or change it somehow so it feels more aligned with your intention.  Every little move in this direction adds up quickly!

11. Reassemble holiday.

Now that you’ve created a little space by discarding one or two things that really are a drain, start shaping your holidays in an active way to make them yours alone and unlike anyone elses. .Think of each of the things you love or have ever loved about the holidays or have dreamed of doing for the holidays. What worked and how did it make you feel and what can you do to create more of this feeling?.  Feel free to Take pieces of things if the whole doesn’t work (inspired by the candelight midnight mass on Christmas Eve  but let go of some  of the other church holiday obligations, for example) Think of unconventional things that could become your own seasonal new rituals (Before we had children, my husband and I went to a local performance of Tuba Christmas, a national event of Christmas carols played on tubas. We had so much fun, we have come back every year since as our familiy has grown and now we take all four kids

12. Reach out to people who  make you feel good.

You know who I’m talking about. The people who always leaving you feeling energized & inspired after talking to them.  Make time for them.

13. Make it real.

If you are longing for a child, write a letter to him/her from your heart. Get some intention/prayer beads (they even make some for women adopting) and feel the beads in your hands while you connect with your meant to be child.  Use the heightened, mystical energy of the holidays to ground your dreams into the physical world in some way.

14. Stress presence not presents.

It is a great & rare gift to everyone around you to show up & be truly present and not stressed out! A survey  found almost nobody remembered the presents they received as a child. Rather, “rituals, relationships and feelings.” were what remained as the years passed. Have the courage & humility to make your gift giving, card sending, cookie making humble and meaningful and personal or skip it entirely if that feels right and necessary.  It takes a lot of self esteem and stillness not to try to “match” what you think other people will give or do.

15. Reclaim your right to be ‘ spiritual.’

Even if you’re not religious. Or in fact just the opposite. Especially if you live in a world where people will look at you funny if you just say the world ‘spiritual.’ The truth is we are all deeply ‘spiritual.’ it’s really just a matter of loosening up and expanding your definition of what ‘spiritual’ means.  Everything is spiritual that involves the following feelings:  reveling in beauty of any kind, love of nature,  art, a child, the joy of creativity, experiencing something new, gratitude, appreciation, love, any generous or kind impulse, deep connections (to people, a red cardinal on a sparkling icicle branch, the way your body opens up to even the faintest sunlight this time of year.)  Forget everything you know. Go to a place that just feels holy.  Sacredness and reverence is bubbling up from inside you. It makes life sweeter.  This is a wonderful time of year to begin again.

16. Lower the bar.

this one should be tatood on my sorry forehead. and this is the offense for which Martha Stewart and others like her truly should be put into jail–for tormenting all the rest of us by setting the bar so high that we forget the joy of doing something badly.  Go for memorable experiences not perfect products.

17. Be a respectful observer.

if you do find you are engulfed in sad or negative feelings and you’ve tried other things, stop trying. Cultivate the attitude of a non judgmental but interested and compassionate observer.  Give yourself space to breathe and stop berating yourself.

18. Find & prolong small moments of joy.

If you are just not feeling it this season, don’t fight it. Be where you are.  But when a moment of beauty, joy or sincere gratitude does find you, prolong it as long as you can  See if you can challenge yourself to sit with it for 10 seconds more, for a minute more, for five minutes more.  Don’t jump to the next thing and plan on feeling it later, because it may be a while (this one thanks to my friend Sara).

19. Sip the holidays like a French woman.

Did you ever watch a french woman sit at a cafe drinking coffee?  It could take her an hour.  She take the tiniest sips. And waits forever in between each sip. Staring at the people passing by. As if each sip is an entire experience in itself, not a task to be completed.  Remember: it’s the holidays not The Holidays. Enjoy small sips. Slow down. Don’t gulp trying to cram it all in. Try not to make a big fat deal of it all.  Try not to have too definite a picture of what it should be like.  Try to let it find you.

20. High five yourself.

What did you actually do right this year?  what’s going right in your life? what miracles have happened? We are so wired to focus on the Next Big Thing or the Thing That is Wrong. The things that have come our can seem  small and trivial looking back.  Because you have them now. They didn’t look so small when you didn’t have them!

21. Forgive.

Finally…Forgive yourself for every thing you came up short on this year.  Don’t just mouth the words.  Let your heart soften a little bit towards yourself.  Then forgive this messy infuriating world and all the people in it.  Not because they deserve it.  But because feeling any other way will give you high blood pressure.

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How NOT To Drop The ‘A Bomb’ (The 3 Minute Adoption Etiquette Guide)

November 20, 2012

Unless you were adopted yourself, or are the parent of an adopted child, chances are you probably don’t realize just how often adopted children bear the slings & arrows of insensitive adoption comments from friends, neighbors, strangers, and the media every day. Here’s a super simple guide to the 7 most important things you need […]

What to Cling to In a Crisis

August 1, 2012

Theo has tree climbing madness. Wherever we go this summer, he hops out of the car before the rest of us have even unbuckled our seat belts, scans the landscape for the best climbing tree, and scampers to the top (or the highest reachable branch). Then he sits. Silent and uncharacteristically still. And waits. Mostly […]

A Mother’s Day Love Letter to Women Waiting to Adopt

May 11, 2012

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How to Find the Birth Mother Who is Looking For You: The Win-Win-Win Adoption Triad

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“He is mine in a way that he will never be hers.                                                                          He is hers in a way that […]

What’s your worst adoption fear? Harnessing the power of the things that keep us up at night

March 27, 2012

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Five Ways Not to Go Insane While Adopting (or writing this blog post)

February 21, 2012

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Feel Left Out of the Mommy Club? Easing the Pain of RTS*

January 14, 2012

(*Red Tent Syndrome) Have you ever felt like every woman in the world–except you–is pregnant? That as an adoptive mother-to-be you are kind of…invisible? Does it seem like people make a big fuss over pregnant women, but they get this sort of glazed look in their eyes and a plastered smile on their face when […]

Things I Learned From My Four Year Old About Finding Your Way In The Darkness

December 21, 2011

“Let me learn to love the night as I know and love the day.  Let me learn to trust its darkness and to seek its subtle blessings.  Let me learn the night’s way of seeing.”– J Phillip Newell, Celtic benediction The Lantern Walk (12/11) We park the car on an angle on the grassy edge of […]