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68. It’s June– That means Junteenth and Pride… Let’s celebrate ALL our LGBTQ+ and Black brothers and sisters!

Hello, all, I’m sitting in my comfy suburban home, safe and contemplating the privilege that I experience. Yes, I am gay, and I’m white. It’s that second one that grants me privilege and a safety net around the first descriptor. I recognize that privilege and use that, and this platform to lift up voices far more informed than me.

This month, and every month, I encourage you to listen, follow, and contemplate the words of people of color, transracial adoptees, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Here are just a few to get you started:

Angela Tucker Transracial Adoptee that lifts up voices of other adoptees!!

The Adopted Life (www.theadoptedlife.com) began as a personal blog that allowed me to publicly process my emotions and experience as a transracial adoptee; a means by which I’d hoped to build a community of other adoptees growing up in closed adoptions. The platform has grown in to a 3-part episode series and an online community where honest conversations are encouraged.

I’m so fortunate to be able to live out my mission of strengthening the adoption community by amplifying adoptee voices through multiple venues. Thank you for your support.

-Angela Tucker

Astrid Castro I had the privilege of attending a conference led by her… WOW is all I have to say! An adult adoptee that challenges your ingrained racism!

Astrid’s personal experiences as an adoptee, a woman of color, and growing up in a white family and community, fuel her professional path to helping others. Astrid is aware of the benefits of post-adoption services for individuals and their families and seeks to bring these services to the adoption community. Her life-long interest in adoption is rooted in her own adoption at the age of four from Colombia (along with her older sister). Astrid has been in reunion since December 2012 with her birth family in Colombia. Read the Oregonian article on Astrid!

When Astrid is not working she loves to spend time with family, friends and enjoying the adventures of life as the mama of an amazing teenage daughter.

Good Black News Who doesn’t need some GBN? It is a delight to see come across my feed positive things that are happening in the black community!

The Good Things Black People Do, Give and Receive All Over The World

Jesse Williams– I mean… come on… Jesse is a level 10 hottie that is also an advocate and educator on issues affecting the black communities!

He uses his celebrity status to influence and educate his 2.3 million Twitter followers about issues that affect people of color. He has a degree from Temple University in African American studies and film and media arts, and taught in the public school system, giving him firsthand experience about the issues he’s passionate about.

Harper Watters-Black, gay, ballerina… need I say more!?

Harper Watters is a soloist for the Houston Ballet. Through his work with the company, the viral videos of him dancing in towering pink heels, and his YouTube channel The Pre-Show, Harper serves as a role model dedicated to empowering those in his communities to live in their authentic expression.

Munroe Bergdorf A black transgender model and activist! What’s not to love?

Munroe Bergdorf is an English model and activist. Bergdorf was the first transgender model in the UK for L’Oréal, but was dropped within weeks after a racial row. In February 2018, she was appointed as an LGBT adviser to the Labour Party, but resigned the following month citing tabloid pressure. Bergdorf went on to star in the Channel 4 documentary What Makes A Woman, which aired in May 2018.

Bergdorf won ‘Changemaker of the Year’ at the 2018 Cosmopolitan Awards, and was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2019 by the University of Brighton.  She joined UN Women UK as an advocate in 2019, supporting its #DrawALine campaign, aiming to put a stop to female genital mutilation (FGM). (Wikipedia)

Juneteenth– Please take a few moments and learn about this historic date. Then… Sign a petition to make it the NATIONAL HOLIDAY it deserves!

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

From its Galveston, Texas origin in 1865, the observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond.

Interested in gaining a deeper perspective on systemic racism and how it shapes society as a whole? If so, join me in Unlearning Racism every other Saturday morning! I hope to see you there. Don’t feel like you are ready to speak up and discuss, that’s OK! Come and listen to the discussion. No pressure.

Please tag and comment who YOU find to be critical to follow. 

67. Foster Care Online Support

Hello, all, Mama S here,

I was chatting with some foster parents last week and they said that they are struggling with Covid 19 as it relates to their children. I reminded them about the foster care online support group that I host every other Wednesday evening.  Parenting in the times of Covid 19 is something that none of us were prepared for, let alone prepared to do it alone with just our children to keep us company! The great news is, you don’t have to do it alone.

Every session there are parents that jump on the foster care online support group ready to chat about their triumphs and struggles. Parents that join the group are looking for a listening ear or may be looking to just hear what others are going through with their children so that they don’t feel alone.

The format is straight forward. Join the foster care online support group via zoom… don’t have a zoom account? That’s OK, once you register you will receive a link to click at the time of the session- no account required (you will need the app).

Covid 19 is taking us all, including our children, by storm. Join other foster and adoptive parents and hear their tips and tricks on how they are helping keep their sanity and helping support and connect with their children in these trying times.

Need an example of what we may chat about? If I were a member of the foster care online support group this week, I would chat about helping my children make choices and having the strength to sit by and watch them make mistakes. Our oldest is almost ready for college…*gasp*… and she came to me last week with concern in her eyes and fear in her voice. She had a problem and didn’t know how to move forward. Her school was setting up scheduled sessions for students and they directly contradicted with her work schedule. I simply asked her what her thoughts were and who she had spoken with so far. She told me that she should probably talk with her teacher to see if that was the only time that they could meet and explain about work. I said that sounded like a great idea and asked if she wanted to work through verbiage. She said no and I smiled and sent her on her way. Our children need us to be a sounding board as they get older, they don’t need us to solve everything for them. Our daughter needed someone to bounce an idea off of and ensure that she was on the right page and then a person to come back to after she gave it a shot. If I were a parent at the foster care online support group, I may have presented that as “I don’t know what to do when my daughter comes to me for advice”. The group that joins would be more than happy to offer help and a listening ear to your concerns.

We are all in this together. Covid 19 will not sink our ships! Not if we band together for support.

Biggest Hugs,

Sarah

 

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66. Let’s talk about sex baby…

This has been a whirlwind 2 weeks in the Salisott home and I’m not even sure how we got here. To rewind… I started a part time job at Starbucks (Hello Awesome Insurance— just what a small business owner needs!!) and have been working full time hours there, Covid 19 is still just as ripe as a baby diaper, I just finished writing my final for my (fingers crossed) last class of my college degree and one of our kiddos is still at the residential facility. My brain is about to explode and I’m about to pass out from sheer exhaustion. Cue to my daughter… stage right.

One of the things that I have always prided myself on is the ability to be asked anything. I mean anything as long as there is a genuine curiosity. My pre-teen has tested that limit and has asked me…. oh… I’m thinking about 1,375 questions on the topic of sex in the 3 years we have known her. Cool. No biggie. I’d rather have well informed children that are armed to make safe choices than kids that are trying to figure it out in the back of a school yard with a teenager guiding the way– yuck.

Ok, back to the present. My teenage daughter had some questions about the plan B that we keep in the closet for emergencies. We talked about how to use it 6 months ago and went on our merry way. Recently she came to me and stated that a friend found themselves in a pickle with a not so considerate partner and they were in need of the pill. She was more sad to tell me that she had to break quarantine to get it to her friend than the fact that she had to tell me her friend needed it. Cool… I’m doing a great job of setting the stage for an “ask me anything” relationship.

The problem came that neither my daughter, nor her friend, knew anything about the plan B pill, when or how to take it, and what would happen after the fact. I remained calm even though every fiber of my being was alarm bells and told her that her friend could call me and I would talk her through it. If it didn’t work and she became pregnant we could talk through that as well. No judgement. No pressure.

Was this conversation for my daughter’s friend or for her? Both I think. My daughter needs to know that she can come to us for help and that we will work through whatever situation without yelling and shaming. Sex is natural and curiosity about it is as well. Questions are welcome and we want to help set her up for a safe adulthood that doesn’t start too early with unplanned pregnancy.

That being said, I have also set the boundary that sex isn’t a conversation that I just “want to have”. I am her parent and not her BFF. If she needs knowledge in a judgement free zone, cool, I’m her mom. If she wants to gossip, ERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR No. That is not a boundary I want to cross.

We rounded out our conversation about the fact that the brain is not fully matured until 26 so she, and her friend, need to be mindful that they are putting themselves in situations that they can’t possibly fully understand the severity of and there is much more at risk than just unplanned pregnancy. We chatted about sexually transmitted diseases, consent, considerate partners vs. inconsiderate partners, making choices that are in her best interest and, of course, reinforcing to come to me with any questions. The whole chat lasted under 20 minutes and was mainly guided by my daughter.

Let your kids ask questions. The more you shut them down and out and shame them for their curiosity, the more likely they are to go to their peers to get answers… if no one knows what they are talking about then they are just going to be spewing out ideas they have- now that’s terrifying.

I do want to confirm… I in no way encouraged my daughter to go out and have sex. If I had it my way she wouldn’t have sex until after the age of 28 after she has established a life for herself (whatever that looks like for her). She knows this… I have told her this multiple times. Alas, teenagers are not on the same page as the, oh so wiser, adults and they do as they see fit in the realm of hormones. I just want to make sure that she is safe and well educated to make safe choices when she is out making these choices.

Not sure how to talk to your kids about sex? Join me on Wednesday evenings between 6pm and 7pmCT on my zoom and we can chat about some talking points. Or, sign up for parent coaching and we can take a deeper dive! Either way… You’ve got this!

Sarah

65. Parenting in the times of “safer at home”

Hello, everyone. I have been putting off writing a post because I wanted to see what happened in the world. I was like everyone else, sitting on the edge of my seat watching the articles and news trickle in. I was a person that took Coronavirus (COVID-19) seriously when it was “still in China” and that wasn’t enough to keep me from catching the virus.

April 13th, 2020 my fever spiked to just over 101 degrees at about midnight. I had had a slight odd sore through the Wednesday before but didn’t think anything of it. The next 3 weeks were brutal. There was more than one point that I thought I was going to die. My thoughts went to my family. My wife, our daughters, one getting ready to launch into the world and the other living in another state at a facility. How would they do if I didn’t make it. If I suffocated in my sleep, as was my biggest fear. Would the world move on without me quickly or would my little corner of the world stop for just a few moments in the midst of a crisis?

These are not thoughts any parent wants to be having at 2am. Let alone a parent in their mid thirties. A parent that has to put on a brave face for their kiddo that is living a state away in a facility who is deathly afraid of natural illness and crisis. A child that has attached closely to me in a way that she hasn’t been able to do so with anyone else. How could I give up and leave her alone? I couldn’t. So I fought. I pushed through excruciating pain and I walked around the house at the pace of turtle walking through molasses. But I walked. I went outside and let the crisp air fill my lungs while my family sanitized the house day after day. I pushed through and I’m on the mend.

I share this, mainly because I get how hard it is to parent in the time of safer at home, and I know how hard it is parent while sick with this virus.

It all seems impossible. We love our kids. We love them more than life itself, and yet we just want one moment of peace! One moment where someone isn’t standing in front of you, or on your lap, or hanging from your neck while you try to use the restroom. One moment when these young humans are not looking to you for answers we don’t have.

This pandemic has us all reeling. The adults are struggling with their mental health and we can sit on zoom once the kiddos finally succumb to sleep and chat with friends while drinking a glass of wine (or Fresca in my book :D). We can talk to our parents, our significant others, we can read things online, and we can access tools to help us cope. We are ALL that to our kiddos. That is a heady task. You don’t have to do it alone.

If you are interested in parent coaching, message me. I’m offering one heck of a discount right now (33% off for life). I specialize in working with parents through the hardest parts of parenting. Check out the testimonial page for what current/past clients have said.

Not interested in parent coaching? That’s cool too. Find your people. Your support. A therapist, a friend that “gets it”, a fellow parent that is in the same boat and will help you through the muck- that validates your feelings and helps you through them.

Find your people because the one thing that is perfectly clear right now, in a time when things are murky at best, is that we need each other more than ever.

Biggest of hugs!

Sarah

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64. When the World Stops Seeing the Trauma

Hey there… it’s been a bit of a delay in writing due to a wild ride on our part. One kiddo has been struggling greatly and has been transitioned into a residential facility and the other is getting ready for their own huge transition. All this is happening while I transitioned from working full time to running my own LLC (soon to be 501(c)3). Suffice it to say that the Salisotts have their hands full. More on those topics later. Today’s chat is about when the world stops seeing the trauma of the littles in our lives.

One of our kiddos has lived with us for 1/5th of the time they have been in out of home care. That roughly equates to 1/10th of the time they have lived with trauma and hardship. People think that because they now live with a loving and caring home that meets their needs that they are “fixed” from trauma. I’m sad to say that it doesn’t work that way.

Trauma isn’t healed in a night, or month, or even one plus years. Trauma has the ability to change the structure of a child’s brain. That sort of change takes a strong intervention and consistent work, patience, understanding, and determination to move small blocks. Most of all, it takes time.

That’s where people forget/fall off. They see the kiddo in a loving home and they forget the years/months of trauma.

There is a quote from a book I read that said something about the fact that kiddos with outward symptoms of delays are at a far greater likelihood to receive help and intervention than those kiddos that appear “normal”. That is so hard for our kiddos. That is crushing for the kiddos in our home.

One of our daughters went to school on a run of the mill day with an invisible backpack that included the knowledge that her sister hasn’t been sleeping in her bedroom in our home for awhile now. Her sister wasn’t sleeping in her room, not because she was kicked out for being “naughty”; that our daughter could have understood, but because she was getting intensive out of home help.

The part that was weighing our daughter down is that we hadn’t just given up and walked away from her sister when she was acting out and needed intensive help, like so many families had done to her in the past. What is so different about her sister? Why should her sister deserve a family to stick with her through hard times? Why did she have to move time and time again because the adults didn’t understand trauma and what was going on? WHY ISN’T THE WORLD FAIR?! When would her sister come home? Would she be better? When would we walk away from both of the girls? What would it take for that to happen?

This burden weighed on our daughter, grinding her gears until she was a wound tight ball of nerve, confusion, a scared little girl, and oh so full of anger.

To the rest of the world she was a smiling polite kiddo that they have grown to know. Inside she was about to explode.

And then she did.

All over the basketball game she was at. So much so that there had to be adult intervention. The world around her was aghast. How could this child that is in this loving home act this way? What does she have to be so angry about now?

Trauma. Plain and simple.

That day I wept. Not for the explosion. That I was grateful for. I was grateful for the outward expression of her feelings. She got to a point that we could work on it rather than just stuffing it down. I wept for the lack of understanding the rest of the world had and their inability to see the why.

Why can’t we take time to really see the why behind behaviors? Why can’t we slow down enough to ask those questions? Why can’t we fix the problem before it becomes a problem? Most of all, why can’t we remember to extend grace to everyone around us, as we are all dealing with invisible backpacks- some far more full than others.

I guess that in this rambling piece I ask. Please, please, please do not expect a kiddo to be “healed” just because they live in a safe, loving home now. That sort of expectation is harmful for the kiddo and parents and leaves both feeling isolated and alone. Instead, assume positive intent and seek to learn the need behind the behavior and help the parents meet that need in the best way they are able to.

Until next time!

Sarah

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63. On the “other side”

We have always extended grace to the parents of our kiddos. We knew it was hard to have all your interactions supervised, we just didn’t know how hard that truly was. We do now.

I sat in a strange chair in a strange room with one sided glass on the wall and a video camera in the corner. Act naturally, I though. You have nothing to worry about. This is routine and “they” just want to see a baseline of how you and your kiddo interact so they can gauge progress of the program. Easier said than done as I anxiously steal a glance at that camera in the corner. To be blissfully unaware as the kiddo. To not know what is on the line. To not have your heart beating so loudly that people 3 buildings away can hear it. I will never forget that feeling, the smell of that room, or the reason we were sitting at that table.

It’s crazy to think that we have found ourselves in the position of people that have their visits and phone calls supervised for the time being. Let me tell you, there is nothing in this world that is more uncomfortable. No other experience could have prepared us for the anxiety that comes with answering the phone knowing that someone is writing everything down to analyze your relationship. Nothing could have prepared us for the deep anxiety of participating in an attachment assessment. To know that there is a complete stranger on the other side of one way glass that is watching and recording you when you are supposed to be interacting naturally with your kiddo.

We have been huge advocates for extending grace and understanding to kiddo’s parents in the past; it is so much more than that now. I hope, for your sake, that you never know the discomfort of this feeling.

That being said, this is where we are. This is where situations brought us and we will adapt and overcome (as a dear friend says). We will learn to function in this new normal and we will heal together, as a family.

So I ask you… the next time that you are supervising a visit or phone call and you feel anxiety or wanting to be done from the other side… please extend grace and put yourself in their shoes. How would it feel to know you love your kiddos with all your heart and it is someone else’s role to judge that? Only then can we come together in the triangle to heal all around for the kiddos in our care.

Thank you for coming along on this journey with us and allowing us to share our stories.

62. Where we went

Good evening, family, friends, and readers. We disappeared. We folded into ourselves and our home due to stress and trauma taking over. I ended up having to take a break from work due to stress and our kiddos struggles were real. That is where we are. Foster care isn’t always sunshine and roses; in fact, it isn’t most days. Many days trauma jumps up and bites you in your places you were not paying attention to only to have you settle that down and have it jump up in a different place. You are not alone. We are not alone. Find your group. I am starting a support group in my local area. If there isn’t one where you are, start one! Drive to find one. Talk to your friends and family. If there isn’t a group for them, invite them to come to the greater Milwaukee area to my group for friends and family of foster parents.

Continue reading “62. Where we went”

61. Finding your kid’s jam

Hello, Mama S here. Have you ever felt in your “zone”. The sky is brighter, the outlook is better, and you feel at one with the universe? Feels great, right? How often do you help your child feel that sense of zen with the universe? Continue reading “61. Finding your kid’s jam”

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60. The different “levels” of foster care- foster parents

Hello, All! Mama S here. Thank you for coming along on our journey. Today I’m going to break down Mama A’s and my “level” as it relates to fostering. Before we get into what our level is, it is important to have an understanding of what all the levels are. Continue reading “60. The different “levels” of foster care- foster parents”

59. A slight window in how multiple moves have shaped our kiddos

Mama S here! Have you ever packed up all your belongings and moved to a different home? Did you do it alone and sever all ties to people/things/places in the process? This is what foster kiddos are doing every day and doing so leaves marks on their soul that are very hard and slow to heal. Continue reading “59. A slight window in how multiple moves have shaped our kiddos”

58. An open letter to our daughter’s social workers

Good morning,

You may not know this, but we have gotten out of bed some days simply because of your support. We have gotten ready for the day with confidence that you helped us build. We have tackled emergency situation after emergency situation with a calmness that you helped us find. We snuggled our daughters a little harder because you reminded us of what trauma can do a brain. We welcomed in a sixteen-year-old daughter with no notice because you helped us see that our family was set up to be able to handle the additional challenges. We are about to adopt a teenager because you helped us see what our lives would be like with her as our forever daughter.

~The Salisotts Continue reading “58. An open letter to our daughter’s social workers”

57. Mama A talks about being open and ready for whatever the girls bring up to talk about

Mama A here this week making a guest appearance! An interesting thing happened this weekend and I wanted to take a few moments of your time to share.

This past Sunday Mama S and Little Lady attended a conference to help Little Lady think about and prepare for college. That left P and I home for a lazy Sunday morning. I was folding laundry and P was working on a PowerPoint presentation to teach the family about space (she loves space and we are a family of life long learners). She came into the room I was folding laundry and said that she thinks she was grumpy the week before and Saturday because she thinks she might have a crush on a girl in her class. Now I could have reacted in an array of different ways. What I chose to do in that moment was to give her my attention. I continued to fold laundry but I gave her space to talk or not talk. What I didn’t do was make a big deal out of anything. Let me repeat that. I didn’t make a big deal out of anything. Continue reading “57. Mama A talks about being open and ready for whatever the girls bring up to talk about”