Summer memories. Chances are those two words take your mind and heart back in time several years. If you grew up in New England, the words may take you to a beach on Cape Cod or the rocky coast of Maine, to a campfire on a lake in New Hampshire or to farm and fields in Vermont. The words may bring back s’mores or dripping ice cream cones acquired on after dinner walks with your family or to fried clams and sand in your bathing soon, to sand castles and…
So what does all this have to do with adoption? In our work with adoptive families, we have come to see adoptive parents as the architects and builders of memories. Actually, this is something all parents do, but adoptive parents tend to be more conscious of their role and more purposeful in their efforts. They see it as a privilege and a pleasure to help their children form memories that will last a lifetime. These memories help anchor children in their families and remind them, in good times and in rough ones, that they belong.
With summer on its way, we are writing to encourage you to approach your summer plans with an eye to memory building. Here are a few specifics thoughts and suggestions:
1. Create traditions. Doing something once or maybe twice can be fun; repeating it several times becomes a tradition. Children love traditions and they especially enjoy claiming those that belong to their family. One family may do a whale watch every summer around the 4th of July. Another enjoys an annual outing to Storyland or Canobie Lake Park. You may have ice cream for breakfast on summer Sundays or pitch a tent in your backyard each Labor Day weekend or all join in to make blueberry pancakes for dinner. It does not matter what it is but rather, that your family enjoys the experience at the time and comes to cherish it as a memory.
2. Enlist your older children’s help. When your children are little, you are both the architects and the builders of memories. As they grow, consider having them participate in the planning and implementing of family activities. Giving them some ownership of an outing or event will help ensure its success and it will contribute to your child’s self confidence and self esteem. And of course be sure to give them credit (this will be win-win—they will appreciate credit and if they “own” the plan, they are unlikely to complain about it!).
3. Consider some adoption specific plans. We are not saying that adoption should be front and center as you build your summer memories but you may have some nice ways of including it. Probably the simplest is to plan something with friends of yours that are also an adoptive family and if you all enjoy the time spent together, talk with them about making it a yearly event. If their child or children are about the same age as yours, they may want to team up to adjust the activities from year to year so that they are age appropriate.
If you have an open adoption, summer is an ideal time to get together with the birth family. Just yesterday we heard from parents of a four year old who have been in phone and email contact with their daughter’s birthfamily but have not seen them since her birth. They just made plans to fly to the mid-western city that she was born in and spend the day at the local zoo, followed by dinner at a kid friendly restaurant. Another couple, whose teenage daughter has recently expressed lots of curiosity about her birthmother, was able to contact her. They are planning a family trip out west that will include a day visiting the birthmother. As you can see from both examples, the focus in each family is on their time together with the birthfamily visit being only a small piece of that time.
Hard as it is to believe at times, your children will grow up. We mention this obvious fact for two reasons. The first, is to remind you that you have a relatively limited time with young children and hence, limited time to build, nurture, grow and preserve memories. The second reason we mention your child (ren) growing up is to anticipate the pleasure you will feel in the future. Imagine how good it will feel to have your college age or young adult child offer up cherished memories of “ the year it rained throughout the whale watch” or the year “we there was a skunk outside our tent when we went family camping.” Think of the pleasure you will feel when your child is a parent and you see him or her building a sand castle with his/her child just the way you did on your times together on and in sand.
With all this in mind, Adoption Associates is pleased to announce our summer program, a series of drop in groups for parents, for children, and for young adults. This will provide an opportunity to get support and know other parents or children by adoption, and realize you are not alone!
Feel free to attend one or several, as fits your schedule; just respond by 48 hours prior to the meeting so that we can plan.
Dates For Parent Groups:
Thursday July 13 – 9:30 am
Tuesday July 18 – 6:30 pm
Tuesday July 25 – 6:30 pm
Tuesday August 1 – 9:30 am
Tuesday August 8 – 6:30 pm
Thursday August 17 – 12:00 pm (noon)
Dates for Young Adults:
Tuesday, June 20, at 6:30 pm
Tuesday, July 11, at 6:30 pm
Dates For Teens:
Wednesday June 28 – 5:30 pm
Dates For Children:
Wednesday July 19 – 5:00 pm
Wednesday July 26 – 5:00 pm
In addition, we still have room in several on-going once/month parent groups. These groups allow for more relationship building and sharing.
Please call us at (617) 965-9369 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
If you are wondering how we can do all this, we are excited to announce a new addition to our staff:
Meet Joele Zeger:
Joele has been practicing social work since 2012. Prior to joining Adoption Associates, Joele worked closely with children and families with special needs, which strongly cultivated her belief in creating and sustaining support systems for families. Joele’s expertise is primarily with young children with behavioral and emotional needs. She has also supported adoptive families in finding and maintaining mentoring relationships for their children.
Joele is extensively trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Joele believes in empowering clients to process and perhaps change their perceptions of any negative or traumatic experiences to promote healing and positive change. Joele enjoys supporting children to help build their social skills, manage worries, and increase coping mechanisms.
We are excited to have Joele join our team and she is looking forward to meeting some of our families.