‘About the adoption option…’

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Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the orphan. Fight for the rights of widows. Isaiah 1 vs 17 (NLT)

This is us, the Kynies – a rainbow nation mash-up. My husband, Ryan, and I are proud parents of two of the best kids. Ilan is three and enjoys ‘dancing like a Zulu’, imitating his sister and riding his bike dangerously down hills. Kira just turned one and is a real busy body – she can handle cuddles in a maximum of five second increments at most, has a deep belly laugh and has eyes only for her brother. We’re a family pieced together through adoption.

Ryan and I discussed our shared heart for adoption before we got married and when we felt ready to start a family, adoption was our number one choice. It helped that we’d seen adoption played out in other families and that we were able to discuss adoption with parents who had pioneered into the world of social workers and courtrooms ahead of us. Even though we felt under-qualified as first-time parents-to-be, we were reassured that ANY family is better than NO family for a child who needs a family.

Our concerns and questions about adoption made me realise that many people – whether it’s something they are personally exploring or never really considered – are also apprehensive when talking about or even approaching the topic. So, having said that, I thought some of the lessons I’ve learnt in my journey so far could be helpful advice to everyone out there – you don’t need to be a Hollywood celeb to broach the subject of adoption.

Celebrate with us!
Please rejoice with us when we tell you that we’re starting or expanding our family through adoption. Please continue to celebrate adoptive parents-to-be in the same way that you’d celebrate a pregnancy announcement – baby showers and meal rosters are very welcome. Please don’t deflate our moment by asking us to explain our motives.

Jumping through (many, many) hoops
So. Much. Admin. We’ve learnt that adoption admin is not for the faint-hearted! Adoption screening is not easy, nor cheap and you never know how long it will all take but all of this fades into the background when you get ‘the call’ to say that you’ve been matched as parents of a precious little one. When you meet your baby for the first time it really feels like you deserve to be there – the home visits, prying interviews and psychological assessments were so worth it. What a gift it is to parent one of God’s very own special ones.

The story
As difficult as it is to keep this information to ourselves, our kids’ stories are not for us to share. Their history doesn’t belong to us. We aim to tell them the best version of their stories in an age-appropriate way as they grow up and if they choose to share it one day, then that’s up to them. South Africans must pray that our collective heart breaks for the issues that break God’s heart. We need to pray that the cycle of poverty and injustice in our country is broken. The reality is that God is building families through adoption despite a fallen world and it is by the grace of God that we don’t find ourselves in the same position as our children’s birth moms. Adoption means understanding, not judgement.

Bite your tongue
Let’s try and choose our vocab carefully. Adoption is such an overused word. Ilan is not our adopted son, he is our son. Plain and simple. Own is also an overused word that is not well received amongst adoptive families, please rather say ‘biological’ if this is what you mean. Our kids are our ‘own’ and yes, now they’re related. Lucky is another oneour kids are not lucky to have us, we are the lucky ones! Please try your best to avoid these words and forgive us if our knee-jerk reaction is to cover our kids’ ears when you use any of these words around them.

African hair, yes we care
We certainly don’t have a whole lot of experience in this department, so if you are someone who does, then help us out! We want to know which barber is going to rip us off and what hair products to use for our kids’ hair. Take it one step further and help our family celebrate our racial differences, see the world in colour and help our kids figure out what it means to be black in South Africa. Adoption is a team effort and we need you on our team.

This blog was originally posted on the Common Good Blog.

Win with Bennetts & Heart Mama Blog {CLOSED}

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Bennetts for Babies is one of those brands that have really stood the test of time and so as a result it has become the natural brand choice for me when it comes to Baby Bum Creme and Fragrance-Free Aqueous Cream. Not only are their products affordable (we go through A LOT of aqueous cream in this house), they have also been tried and tested over the years. Bennetts has proven to be a brand that we can trust. I can honestly say that neither Ilan or Kira have ever had nappy rash ever in their lives. When I changed Ilan’s nappy for the first time, the Nursing Sister at his place of safety said, ‘You can’t go wrong with Bennetts’ and I have to agree.

When Bennetts for Babies officially welcomed me to the world of ‘Mommy blogging’, I was only to happy to receive a gift hamper in exchange for a review and write up on my blog. Naturally. Bennetts gets a thumbs up from me, with or without a hamper. Click here to read more about the Bennetts for Babies full product range. Their products are dermatologically approved, clincally tested for mildness and suitable for sensitive skin which is great because Ilan suffers from awful eczema flare-ups.

My hamper included the following: Baby Aqueous Cream – fragrance-free & fragranced,  Baby bum creme, Saline nose drops with a soft tip nasal aspirator (commonly referred to as a snot-sucker in mom circles), Easi-breathe vapocaps, Easi-breath kit, Aqueous bath drops, Nipple cream (I won’t be needing this), Mozzie stick, Aqueous Bath Drops and Sunblock for babies & toddlers. You know you’re a mom when you can get excited about a hamper like this! Even Ryan was stoked.

And now for the reason you’ve clicked the link to this blog post – Heart Mama Blog has a Bennetts for Babies hamper giveaway valued at R500. To stand a chance to win this hamper, please follow these steps:

1. Comment below & mention your favourite Bennetts product.

2. Click here to like Heart Mama Blog on Facebook.

3. Share the ‘Win with Bennetts & Heart Mama Blog’ post via Facebook to your profile.

The winner will be selected via Random.org on Mon 29 September. The winner drawn must have followed all three steps above in order to qualify for the prize. Competition is open to South African residents only and collection can be arranged from Cape Town. 

Hooray! Danelle Hess, you are Heart Mama Blog’s very first winner.

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It’s the weekend, baby!

Weekends no longer mean sleeping in and I don’t see this ever happening again. But this is ok, because weekends now mean kid cuddles in mommy and daddy’s bed. This is probably one of the best things in the world, believe me. Ilan is a real cuddler and when he’s not playing peek-a-boo under the duvet then he’s giving some loved up squeezes. Recently he’s started summoning us for ‘family cuddles’ which I will enjoy while he still thinks it’s cool. Ryan has also taught him to say ‘It’s the weekend, baby’ with Gareth Cliff’s exact intonation which basically makes Ilan the coolest kid on the block. Ilan also likes to unexpectedly pipe up with tuneful phrases like ‘I got it from my mamma’, ‘wake up, little Susie’ and ‘wiggle it just a little bit’ which comes with a little wiggle of the bottom too. He didn’t get the love of late morning snoozes from his mama, unfortunately.

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Saturday mornings start earlier than I’d like, but on the plus side there is no rush to get up and ready for anything because ‘anything’ is likely to start at 09h30 at the absolute earliest which means about three hours of pj mooching before the rest of the world starts surfacing.

Our weekend morning tradition is to read some books and then hide under the covers and then tease Kira to make her giggle and then hide again and then pretend that we still can’t find Ilan even after he’s hidden his head under the pillow for the sixth time in a row. No my dear boy, we can’t see you at all when you’re hiding your head. We can’t see a single part of you. We also can’t locate your voice that shouts, ‘I’m hiding under the pillow.’ Bless.

I love my life, I really do but my advice to those of you who plan to become parents one day – start banking those precious Saturday and Sunday sleep-ins as they won’t last forever. For the rest of us, let’s relish in the memories created with spilt milk on our clean bedding and being asked to read the exact same jolly book out loud, week in and week out.

Some days are like this and other days are like that

This boy. Ilan is clearly very pleased with himself. Me, not so much.
This boy. Ilan is clearly very pleased with himself. Me, not so much.

Some days I want to pull my hair out.

Ilan doesn’t want to nap. He jumps on the bed. He tests my patience in the hugest way. Some days (yesterday), I hear a little noise from his room and pop my head in to investigate. He’s not in his bed. He is behind the curtains with my ball point pen and has left an ink trail in his wake. He’s ‘coloured in’ my desk and some of his books and has given himself a moustache. Artistry of this magnitude must have taken him ages, but he did it all so quietly that I didn’t have a clue.

Deep breath. Take a photo. It’s actually quite funny.

Nothing beats this.
Other days.  

But then, there are other days like this – spontaneous ‘Can I give you a hug quickly, Mommy?’ during supper or a gentle stroke on my arm or a ‘Just one more cuddle, ok?’. Or, if you’re lucky, you are rewarded with five minutes of cuddly sleepy kid on your shoulder on the walk in from the car.

Parenting is a mixed bag of this and that. A mixed bag of blessings.

Truth.

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My babies, one day we will have to explain this to you. It will be so hard, but you will survive it and so will we.

God knows what He’s doing. When he pieced our family together, he made something beautiful from something so broken. You are beautiful! You are perfect. You are loved. We love you from the depths, depths, depths of our hearts. You actually have no idea.