"...suffering is one of the universal conditions of being alive. We all suffer. We have become terribly vulnerable, not because we suffer, but because we have separated ourselves from each other." -- Rachel Naoimi Remen

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Top 5 things Toddlers of today have never known life without

As members of Generation X, raising children from Generation Z, also known as the iGen, post-Millenials, or Plurals, is an always interesting endeavor.  Perhaps this has been an issue throughout the course of history, where moms and dads and parental figures of all kinds struggle to adapt their parenting, guidance and discipline to a changing landscape that their own personal history cannot account for.  Nevertheless, this being our first experience with parenting and the technology boom having occurred within the 3 decades of our lifespans, we feel it's particularly challenging.  (They call us the "Oregon Trail" generation for a reason!)  Although we aren't terribly proud of most of this, we couldn't help but share...   

The top 5 things today's toddlers have never known life without :
# 5:  The internet in their (parents') pocket: Toddlers these days know your smartphone passcode and can enter it quicker than you notice the phone is missing!  They quickly learn, from us, that this is our go-to source for weather, directions and all kinds of information!  Most importantly in the child's eyes, they quickly learn the advantages of text conversation, as our son is always directing, "Can you text Evan's Mommy and schedule a playdate!?"

# 4:  Video chat:  Although we're huge proponents of the traditional letter - with an actual paper and envelope - kids today learn to communicate through screens at a very young age.  Video chats like Skype are a great way to keep in touch with family who live many states away.  It also comes in handy when one or both parent travels, even internationally, to communicate across the miles.  These modalities are especially useful when the toddlers aren't great with actual conversation yet, but if they can still see mommy or daddy, it really helps.  Of course, our son's favorite question remains, "Can I hang up on Daddy now!?"

# 3:  Online Shopping:  Even though we love to "shop small," our son knows that we're also creatures of convenience, so half of what we own is ordered online.  Our mailmen moonlight delivering Prime packages even on Sundays.  Our toddler often suggests that we order his latest favorite action figure for his birthday.  When we can't find what he's looking for, he reminds us, "Why don't you check Amazon?" 

# 2:  Instant Entertainment:  With the advent of DVRs and Netflix, children of today have nearly constant, immediate access to television and movies.  Dare we use the phrase, "when I was a kid," cartoons were only on for one or two hours per day and children had to watch whatever happened to be on one of the five or six channels that were broadcast.  In our family we strictly follow the American Academy of Pediatrics's guidelines for screen time but, whether we like it or not, TV with a DVR, Blu-ray and Netflix, smartphones, an iPad, Google, Amazon and texting are all part of our son's vocabulary and interactions.  With all these modalities in not just our home but also available on the road, and even in restaurants or shopping, toddlers can watch exactly what they want when they want it - if allowed.  Gone are the days where kids had only a few choices, today they can look at and choose exactly which season and episode they want to watch, from countless programs.

The Millenials have been called by many the "entitlement generation" and with these iGen'ers we worry that instant gratification isn't just instant, it's expected.  We wonder how that's going to affect them in high school, college and beyond. 

In our house, "fast forward!" is the only thing yelled louder than "wipe my butt!"  

(Caveat here: we don't usually allow our son to use screens outside the house, but the point is - it's possible... and he knows it!) 

 # 1:  Selfies: A brand new word to the English language just a few years ago, indicating a picture of oneself taken by oneself, was made easier recently with the addition of a
camera on each side of many smartphones.  "These days" the number of pictures taken during one's childhood are often in the thousands.  In particular, parents take countless selfies with their babies as they grow (ourselves included / for better or for worse).  And one thing we know for sure, after a few years of raising kids, is that children are paying attention - to everything we do.  They emulate our fondness of the camera (and phone) and quickly learn how to turn the camera around so they can admire their own beauty, and document it as such.  At age 4, our son has already mastered the art of taking a selfie and Mommy has 162 examples in her phone's memory from just yesterday to prove it!

What other new stuff is your child totally savvy with?  
We'd like to hear your stories! 

by MaryEllen & Michael Pfeiffer

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


Forever a Family
August 5, 2015!

In an effort to commemorate a necessary and special day, I thought I'd answer some questions many people ask. 
1.  Time from baby's birth to adoption finalization: 8 months and three days :)  !
Is "Gotcha day" something you'll celebrate in your family like a birthday?  No, I don't think so.  Of course, as with all things concerning children, this is certainly subject to change if something comes along to make it more important.  For us, in a domestic newborn adoption where my husband cut the cord in the delivery room as I cheered him and our birthmother on, Gotcha day feels like it was eight months and three days ago.  Certainly, today holds the legal promise and is a reason to celebrate, but I'm not sure for us, in our family, it'll be meaningful to celebrate in an annual fashion moving forward.  For others with older children, international adoptions, children whose birthdates are unknown and various other circumstances, I'd imagine this "Gotcha day" is even more significant than the child's simple birth date, that just doesn't happen to be the situation in our individual case. 
2.  Time from beginning to end of adoption process: Almost exactly 2 years
3.  Time from first miscarriage to signing with adoption agency: Almost exactly 2 years
4.  Time from last miscarriage to signing with adoption agency: 3 months
5.  Time from signing with the adoption agency to match with our birthmother: 11 months
Why did this take so long?  Truly, God only knows.  In retrospect it was obviously because the baby who was meant for our family wasn't yet on earth.  Our agency (ANLC), like most, only works with women after they are through the first trimester.  Initially, they had quoted us an average of 9-12 months for a couple open to either gender to be matched with a birthmother.  However, the agency really has no control over this variable.  Birthmothers today have complete control over how quickly adoptive families are "picked."  Of course, our agency boasted some of the best marketing (of us as a potential adoptive family) out there and we hoped this would help a birthmother find us sooner than later.    
6.  Time we took between being presented with our adoption match and accepting that match?  1 day
Really, both my husband and I would have agreed on the phone with our liason if she would have allowed us, but she encouraged us to take the night to talk it over and be sure. 
7.  Time between match and birth? 5 months
8.  Time between baby's birth and termination of biological parental rights?  As soon as was legal.  His birthmother signed her relinquishment of parental rights as soon as she was allowed, about 28 hours after his birth.

Every state has different laws about how quickly this process can occur. 
9.  Time spent in birth state after baby was born?  7 days 
ICPC (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children) dictates this.  Basically, the lawyers have to get all the initial paperwork done and then give you permission to go home. 
10.  Time it took to fall in love?  Honestly, I think we were in love with our son before he was even conceived.  When we first met him, in that delivery room, ours was an instant unconditional love, just like it had been with our first son.
In summary, so glad to finally say,