Friday, December 02, 2016

Child-Centered Tips for Co-Parents to Avoid the Naughty List this Holiday Season

The holidays can be tough for families experiencing separation. We’re all human and conflict happens despite our best intentions. Keep these tips in mind to create a great holiday experience for the children so that they remember this special time with fondness.

1.  Be nice and flexible with the holiday schedule.

The custody order specifies holiday arrangements, but be sure to talk about it so that there are no surprises. If you know your holiday plans with the kids are going to be different this year, then talk about it well in advance because nobody likes last minute holiday changes If your co-parent wants to deviate from the schedule this year, don’t be naughty and say no without consideration. Think of the children and consider agreeing to the change if it’s in their best interest - the more flexible you are the more it gets reciprocated.

2.  Be nice by offering to coordinate gifts.

As we all know, children love gifts and even more so now that they're celebrating two separate Christmases. Some coparents choose to split the list of gifts, and by doing so establish expectations and share the cost. Don’t be naughty and disparage your co-parent if they don’t want to do it, just try to remain positive and focus your energy on enjoying the holidays your way.

3. Be nice by sharing your children’s excitement. 

If the other parent gives a gift that you don’t approve of or is more expensive than yours, don’t be naughty and criticize the other parent. Share in your child’s excitement that they just got a great gift! They’re happy about the gift, not who gave it to them. Likewise, if they are excited about the gift that you gave them, don’t be naughty and demand that they leave the gift at YOUR house. Accommodate your child if they want to take your gift to the other parent’s house.

I know the above can be difficult when you're experiencing such strong emotions but applying the these tips will go a long way in helping your children adapt to having two homes and enjoy this special time of year with you and the other parent.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Jennifer Cochran-Green publishes Children's Book about Adoption

Jennifer Cochran-Green has released an updated version of her children's book, Will You Be My Forever Family?  The book is a storybook about adoption in which the Princess, a baby in utero, dreams about the family waiting for her on the outside and the lovely voice who comforts her and tells her all about the world. Jennifer hopes that the book will inspire adoptive parents to talk about adoption and the child's birth family with their children.  Jennifer wrote the book in 2014 and published it on Amazon Kindle in 2015 where the original ebook version is still available for purchase. You can purchase the new edition print version on Bookemon or directly from Jennifer by emailing her to request a copy. The cost is $10.80.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Is Adoption Right for You?

November is the time for Thanksgiving and is also National Adoption Awareness Month.  This month many courts across the nation will host Adoption Days to finalize adoptions of children placed into forever homes through foster care. And, Texas is the second largest adoption state in the country- over 11,000 children are adopted in Texas each year!

Many couples pursue adoption for many different reasons.  Some turn to adoption after battling infertility or health issues, others feel called to expand their family through adoption. But, is adoption right for you?  The following questions may help you answer that question.

1) What kind of adoption is best for your situation? Foster, international, private, adoption agency? Each type of adoption has its own unique challenges and benefits so do a lot of homework - read materials, interview agencies, and talk with other families you know who have adopted a child.

2) Does race or gender matter to you?  Children from all backgrounds and ethnicity
are placed for adoption so be prepared to answer that question honestly.

3) Can you afford to adopt? Review your financials so that you know what you can and cannot afford. Check with your employer to see if they offer any adoption benefits as well as maternity/paternity leave. The IRS has historically offered an adoption credit which helps recoup the out of pocket costs of adoption. Talk to your CPA to see if you qualify. There are also other ways to get an adoption funded through grants, loans, and sometimes even crowd funding.

4) Are you really prepared for it? Adoption is not a one-time transaction, it is a lifelong journey. Open adoption is now the norm which means the birth parents will be choosing YOU to parent their child and they may want to have post-adoption contact. Plus, research shows that open adoption is best for the adopted child as well.

As with making any important decision, adoption requires a lot of self-reflection and study. Most adoptive parents will tell you the joy and blessing of a child in their family is worth the challenges inherent in adoption.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Divorce is Scary.. but it doesn't have to be

Everyone shudders at the mention of the word “divorce”.  It’s the stuff nightmares are made of, especially for those of who have invested a lot of years and sacrifice into a marriage, and perhaps raised children together. We all know and love the infamous scene in War of the Roses when Kathleen Turner in a monster truck squares off against Michael Douglas on the front lawn of their house. Divorce doesn’t have to be that way. It can be amicable if both utilize the discipline to look at the bigger picture. 

When divorces are adversarial, usually the only ones that benefit are the lawyers. An amicable divorce requires a mindset that focuses on the big picture - getting divorced with the least amount of collateral damage.  Yes, there is give-and-take, but it affords a bigger bank account, and helps keep co-parenting relationships intact. It is a willingness to put aside your differences and prioritize your peace of mind and your children’s best interests above your own needs for payback. 

An amicable divorce is not easy, but the burden can be eased if you seek the assistance of professionals who can help keep you remove emotion from decision making and maintain focus on the bigger picture:
  • Hire an experienced attorney who handles family law matters exclusively.  This is critical for those who have minor children as well as property. Cases involving children are never simple. You need a lawyer who is a skilled negotiator who can lay out a plan and prepare you for the road ahead.
  • Gather as much financial information as you can and consult with a financial advisor to help you plan for separating your finances and prepare you for settlement negotiations
  • Seek individual therapy immediately so that you and your counselor can work out a plan to keep you focused on a divorce with the least amount of collateral damage or impact to your children.
The above professionals will not solve all the problems inherent in a divorce matter but they can keep down the costs of litigation and help you look forward.