Adoption Facts

Adoption isn’t one of the things we’re thinking about too much this time of year but it’s when it’s most important.

glad black family having fun on couch
Photo by Any Lane

Adoption In Numbers

In the United States, according to the Adoption Network, there are 428,000 children waiting in foster care. Only about 135,000 children get Into a family each year. Among these children, in both groups just mentioned, there are more boys than girls, over half are over the age of 6 and African American children are “disproportionately represented”. More than 60% of children in foster care are there for at least 2 years. Some 5 years or longer. Some never get into a family at all and just end up aging out of the system. In 2015 we had more children than average in foster care; 670,000. 

Percentages

There are one and a half million adopted children living in the united states although only 2% of households do all of the adopting. One third of all American households said that they have considered adopting. 37% of the adopted children are white compared to 73% of the adoptive parents being white. The average wait time is three years and the average adopted age is 8. 

Any given year about 4% of the women who experience unwanted pregnancies place their child up for adoption. Birth mothers who remain in contact with their children during and after the adoption process report having less grief, less regret and guilt and less sadness. Additionally, adoptive parents who had contact with the child or children’s birth relatives were way more satisfied with the arrangement than those with no contact at all.

Studies

One study shows that adopted children perform just as well as non-adopted children in positions of leadership. They also are just as healthy in general. Data indicates that adopted children have strong feelings of security with their families. They also have superior access to healthcare than their counterparts. They experience lower rates of crime and drug abuse and they are generally more optimistic.

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Eating Mindfully

We’ve talked about doing other things mindfully before. We’ve also talked about food in different aspects. Today we combine the two to give you mindful eating ! Food is fuel and to use it that way, we need to have a healthy relationship with it. Much like building any other meaningful relationship, it requires some undivided attention.

big family in kitchen and man feeding baby in feeding chair
Photo by Vanessa Loring on

What Is Eating Mindfully

When you engage in mindful eating, you give your food undivided attention. You breathe deeply to prepare your body and make sure your body and mind are connected. Then you inhale the aroma of the food. You investigate every part of it with both your hands and eyes. You then take one bite at a time and chew it completely before swallowing, savoring the flavor. It uses all of your senses !

Benefits

The main benefit of learning to eat this way is that you don’t over eat. When we’re eating for taste instead of fuel, it’s easy to do too much. And no one expects you to never eat for pleasure again. However, when you use all your senses first, you feel more satisfied with the treat much sooner.

Eating mindfully also gives your body and brain time to communicate properly. Scientists say it takes around 30 minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is full. So if you’re taking less than 30 minutes to eat, you end up overeating because you simply don’t realize you’re full. Using all of your senses and doing so without distractions forces you to take longer.

Signs You’re Eating Mindfully

  1. You stop eating when you’re full
  2. You eat when your body tells you to eat, despite the time of day
  3. When you’re eating, you’re not doing anything besides eating
  4. You’re eating foods that are nutritious
  5. You think about where your food comes from

Signs You’re Not Eating Mindfully

  1. You feel stuffed when you’re done
  2. Eating makes you feel tired and sluggish
  3. You choose foods because they are emotionally comfortable
  4. You eat when you’re bored
  5. You consider a meal an end product

Take Action

If you haven’t been eating mindfully, it’s not too late to start ! Take baby steps, start with the next snack you pick up. Engage all your senses and consider where the food came from. Make sure you’re sitting in one place, undistracted.

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Foster Care

When I was in elementary school my siblings and I spent a lot of time at my granny’s house. While I was in third to fifth grade maybe I remember her having several sets of foster children.

family doing grocery shopping
Photo by Gustavo Fring

Granny’s House

They often newly came to her home in tattered clothing, with dirty matted hair, little possessions and a longing to be any place else. My siblings and I were…extremely confused to say the least. We had so many questions. Who were these kids ? Where’d they come from ? Where were their parents ? When they left, where’d they go ? And why won’t we ever see them again ? It was definitely an experience.

The Foster Care System

Foster care is “a system in which a minor has been placed in a ward, group home (residential child care community, treatment center, etc) or private home of a state-certified caregiver, referred to as a ‘foster parent’ or with a family member approved by the state.” Placement of the minor is typically arranged by a representative of the government. The care-giver is monetarily compensated unless it’s a family member.

It’s Supposed To Be Temporary

Foster care is meant to be a temporary solution until children can be placed in a permanent home. This can either mean emancipation, adoption or going back to their original guardian once that person is stable and in a safe environment. The main goal is to get the child permanently housed by someone they’re already familiar with. If a relative or former foster parent isn’t available attempts can even be made for a teacher, coach or another type of mentor to step up and care for the minor.

Flaws In The System

Ideally this is a great system but it has many flaws. Almost 10% of minors in foster care have had to stay more than 5 years before they’ve been placed anywhere, whether temporary or permanent. Nearly half of all children in foster care have chronic medical problems, including psychological issues, that have gone untreated. 8% have serious mental issues. To compound the matter, estimates of nearly half of all children in the system have suffered physical abuse, sexual abuse, mental abuse and even torture while at the hands of a foster parent.

Mindy’s Mission

Our goal is to teach underserved children radical autonomy. In situations such as the ones outlined here, radical autonomy would look like emancipation. Emancipation of minors is “a legal mechanism by which a child before attaining the age of majority is freed from control by their parents or guardians, and the parents or guardians are freed from any and all responsibility toward the child.” It’s not easily granted and laws around it vary from state to state. Often a child has to be at least 15 to be considered because they need to be able to prove they can provide for themselves and make mature decisions.

Do you have any experience with foster care or adoption ? We’d love to hear from you ! Please message us to share your story: MindysPlanet@gmail.com

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Sibling Rivalry

If you have one child or you have brothers and/or sisters you’re probably well away of sibling rivalry even if you’re not familiar with the term. According to Mott Children, “Sibling rivalry is the jealousy, competition and fighting between brothers and sisters.” So why does this even happen ? 

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Photo by Ketut Subiyanto

The Theory

Check out one theory, “Try to see it from your kids’ perspective…your oldest child was once the sole focus of your attention. His requests were answered with haste and he didn’t have to share his time or toys with anyone.

Then, his sister came along—a stranger to him, for all intents and purposes—and now mommy is slower to pour his milk because she’s feeding baby, and he has to wait for daddy to finish changing baby’s diaper before they can play with Legos together.

As the kiddos get older, they vie for the same toys and as younger sister becomes more independent, she gets tired of being bossed around by big brother.

To put it another way, how would you feel if your spouse brought home someone else and expected the two of you to get along? Because young children aren’t able to express these frustrations verbally, they do so by misbehaving—refusing to share, hitting, pushing, yelling, etc.”

Diffusing Sibling Rivalry

What can you do about the tension ? One way is to schedule dates with your children individually. When I was growing up there was four of us kids. So my mom would designate one Saturday a month to each of us and take us out to do something special. That way we didn’t fight for her attention as much bc we knew we had guaranteed one on one time.

One other way to help, that may seem counterintuitive, is to stay out of their fights. Any time you step in they perceive it as you taking sides which just exasperates any underlying jealousy. If you give them time they will often resolve the conflict by themselves.

Let’s talk about it. What’s your experience with sibling rivalry ? Do your kids get along ? Let us know in the comments. 

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Children and Mental Health

Mental illness in children can be super hard to identify since the symptoms are often different than they are in adults. However, because of this, the children often go untreated whereas they would have benefited greatly. These children often then go on to grow into adults with severe mental issues, at a point when they’re harder to treat. So understanding the warning signs of mental illness in children can only help you. First things first, what is a mental illness ?

man standing in front of mirror
Photo by Evelyn Chong

What Is A Mental Illness ?

Mental health in general is defined as “the overall wellness of how you think, regulate your feelings and behave.” So when you have a mental illness (sometimes called a mental health disorder) it means that the way you think, the way you feel and how you behave has been disrupted so much that it’s causing distress and affecting your ability to function.

With children, mental illnesses are generally defined as “delays or disruptions in developing age-appropriate thinking, behaviors, social skills or regulation of emotions.”

Barriers To Treatment

It can be difficult to decipher if your child is acting out, if they have a mental illness or just a healthy delay because children develop differently in different environments and they often do not yet know how to verbalize exactly what they’re thinking, feeling or seeing. Additionally, symptoms often correlate with the child’s age so it can be hard to pinpoint if a behavior is a new stage or truly an issue.

There are also often a lot of concerns from parent surrounding the stigma of a child receiving mental health care. They may worry that the additional help means that they’ve failed as a parent or that their child will be viewed as an ‘other’ if people know that they have to receive treatment. It’s important to understand that early treatment in a child’s life who is suffering from a mental illness will make the difference in them being a fully functioning adult vs a dysfunctional adult.

What Are The Warning Signs ?

There are several different mental illnesses that a child could end up getting diagnosed with but many of the warning signs are the same. Which diagnosis they receive would depend on a symptoms severity, its frequency and the child’s age. These warning signs or symptoms include: 

  • Feeling sad for more than two weeks
  • Withdrawing from or trying to completely avoid social interactions
  • Talking about or actually intentionally hurting themselves
  • Being fascinated with death and/or suicide
  • Angry outbursts or extreme irritability
  • Seeming out of control
  • Drastic changes in mood or personality
  • Sudden changes in eating habits
  • Rapid weight loss or gain
  • Persistent headaches or bellyaches
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Changes in academic performance 
  • Avoiding or missing school

Now that you know the warning signs, what should you do if you recognize them ?

As mentioned above, it can be difficult to tell if many of these warning signs are part of the motions of childhood or if there’s something really wrong. Kids of all ages often test the limits with different caregivers to see where boundaries lie so it’s important not to make a judgement too soon based off how your child acts when they’re around you. 

Talk to your child’s teacher, close friends, relatives and really anyone that they spend time with to see if any of them have noticed any changes. Then speak with your child’s pediatrician. They’ll be able to tell you from a professional standpoint and with more personalization as someone who has watched your child’s growth whether or not you should take your child to see a mental health professional.

Getting Your Mental Illness Diagnosed

It’s important to note that your child’s pediatrician cannot diagnose your child with a mental health disorder. Their job is to guide you to someone who can. Medical professionals who can diagnose your child include psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers and psychiatric nurses. Their evaluation process may include:

  • A complete medical exam
  • Medical history 
  • History of physical and emotional trauma
  • Family history of both mental and physical health
  • Review of symptoms and parental concerns
  • A timeline of your child’s developmental progress
  • Academic history 
  • An interview with the child’s primary care givers
  • Direct conversations with or observations of the child
  • Paper or electronic questionnaires for the child and their caregiver alike

Getting a diagnose can really take some time since children have trouble understanding and verbalizing how they feel. This can cause the medical professional to change their diagnosis over time as they gain more insight as the child learns to express themself more accurately.

Receiving Treatment

After spending time with mental health professionals and speaking to the people in your children’s life you may end up with one of these diagnoses:

You will be recommended psychotherapy and/or medication.  Psychotherapy with children often includes tons of play time and gentle questioning. During sessions your child should learn how to talk about their thoughts and feelings, what they should do about them and how to cope when ill thoughts and feelings arise.

How Can You Help Outside Of Treatment ?

Often times your child’s progress in treatment will depend on you following up with techniques they’ve learned in treatment while at home. Take time to learn about the illness and how it affects them. Seek ways in which you can make your child feel special, encourage them to relax and engage in fun. Praise your child’s strength and ability and work with their school to secure necessary support as well.

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Conduct Disorder

One of the reasons children sometimes don’t get the care they need is because they have a condition that their caregiver isn’t knowledgeable about or aware of. Conduct disorder (CD) is one of the conditions that most of us aren’t too familiar with !

What Is Conduct Disorder ?

It’s characterized by “callous disregard for and aggression toward others, from pushing, hitting and bitting in early childhood to bullying, cruelty and violence in adolescence,” and only plagues about 4% of the population. CD often morphs into antisocial personality disorder in adulthood if it’s not treated early. CD can sometimes look like “boys being boys” or “girls being sassy” so it’s important to understand the difference between your child testing limits or just not playing nice and your child needing a psychological evaluation.

diverse girls playing in bedroom
Photo by Gabby K on Pexels.com

From The DSM-5

According to the DSM-5 (the diagnostic manual for mental health professionals), to be diagnosed with conduct disorder, the child has to exhibit at least four of these behaviors:

  1. Aggressive behavior towards others and animals
  2. Frequent physical fights with others
  3. Use of a weapon to harm others
  4. Deliberate physical cruelty to others
  5. Deliberate physical cruelty to animals
  6. Involvement in confrontational economic order crime (such as stealing/robbing)
  7. Has perpetrated a forcible sex act on another 
  8. Property destruction by arson
  9. Property destruction by any other means
  10. Has engaged in non-confrontational economic order crime- e.g., breaking and entering
  11. Has engaged in non-confrontational retail theft, e.g., shoplifting
  12. Disregards parental curfews prior to age 13
  13. Has run away from home at least twice
  14. Has been truant before age 13

The Diagnosis

Your child can receive a CD diagnosis as early as age 3. More boys are diagnoses than girls. There are a lot of different risk factors for your child to develop this disorder. See here what it says in the Therapedia:

“The DSM-5 indicates that risk factors for Conduct Disorder are under controlled temperament, low verbal IQ, parental rejection and neglect, other forms of child maltreatment, including sexual abuse, and inconsistent parenting…Parental overindulgence has also been increasingly identified as a risk factor due to the development of a sense of entitlement, lack of concern for others, self absorption unrealistic expectations, and frustration when these expectations are not delivered (Fogarty, 2009).”

Next Steps

So if you have a child with conduct disorder or who you believe may have conduct order what should you do ? First things first, caring for a child with CD can be extremely mentally taxing.

If you’re feeling too overwhelmed or even suicidal you can immediately text ‘HELP’ to 741741 to speak with a crisis counselor. Tweet

Treatment for CD consists of different types of therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy will teach them how to better solve problems, how to communicate openly and accurately and how to cope with stress. It trains them not to resort to violence or other types of animosity when they’re confronted with an issue.

With one of the major risk factors being familial dysfunction family therapy is also an excellent treatment option. The entire system has to be healthy for each individual to have a chance at optimal health.

Medication isn’t typically an option as so many children “grow out” of this disorder. However, if the underlying cause is due to a comorbidity, such as adhd, then medication would be appropriate.

Do you have any experience with conduct disorder ? Would you like more information about disorders ? Let us know in the comments !

Nutrition For Kids

Nutrition can be tricky. So you want your child to eat healthily but you have no idea what EXACTLY that means. We totally get it. Healthy seems fairly relative and there is so much conflicting information on the interwebs.

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Photo by Amina Filkins on Pexels.com

Nutrition In Food Groups

Nutrition for kids isn’t very different from nutrition for adults. We all really need the same nutrients, our little chickens just need different amounts of it.

Protein

Fret not if you’re a herbivore ! Protein doesn’t have to come from meat or animal products. You can load up on protein by consuming beans, peas and a variety of nuts and seeds. If you do eat meat, opt for lean means, poultry, eggs and seafood. Soy products are also an option for protein but Mindy’s doctor said it’s a super no when she was littler. Again, lots of conflicting information is available but you can’t go wrong sticking to anything unprocessed.

Fruits

Encourage your children to eat a variety of fresh fruit and avoid subbing it for juice. Even 100% fruit juice isn’t really the best because fruit full of sugar without the fiber included from the fruit itself is no better than candy. Fresh squeezed juice made at home is the best option, if you insist on fruit juice, but it must be consumed immediately before it settles and transforms into nothing but sugar. Dried fruits are an option too ! One of our favorite snacks is dried pineapple with cacao nibs and cashews.

Vegetables

Veggies can be fresh, canned, dried or frozen and they’re still all good ! Always opt for fresh when possible. The closer the veggie is to the way it was picked from the ground, the more nutrient packed it is. If you opt for canned be sure to check that sodium on the back. Salt is a preservative but too much of it will affect your child’s blood pressure negatively.

Grains And Dairy

These two categories are super debatable now. I won’t get into conspiracy theories or anything crazy but doctors only promote milk because they always have promoted milk for healthy children. There’s no real nutritional value to unless it’s enriched. But guess what it’s enriched with usually ? Vitamins from plants. So just eat plants. BUT, dairy is definitely super delicious (cheese pizza omg and nachos with queso). Just give it in moderation.

Grains are carbs, always opt for complex carbs like quinoa and wholegrain breads. Refined grains and simple carbs like white pastas, bread and rice actually break down into sugars. Avoiding those is highly recommended !

Portion Sizes Of Nutrition

Now that we know what should be on our plates. next week we’ll talk about portion sizes ! Subscribe to the blog right meow so that you don’t miss it.

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