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Why Parents Benefit When They Lend A Hand

Much of what you know and believe about the world comes from a very specialized set of experiences. Your wisdom relies on the people you know, the challenges you've faced and the wins you've successfully accomplished.

You don't know what I know. And I certainly don't know what you know.

That's why we share. It's why we blog. It's why we post on Facebook and pin on Pinterest and tweet on Twitter. It's why we shut off all of these platforms and seek out real-life experiences with others.

Unless you believe everyone in your world is purely a self-promoter, you understand the value of relationship and hearing from other people. That's true even if their experiences don't line up with your own.

For all parents, being part of the community means having a support network. The network affirms what you already know: Your role in your child's life is important, but you can't control everything. And that's OK.

Just be available in case other f…
Recent posts

Five Adoption Barriers You Can Overcome

A couple years ago, as I returned home from a business trip visiting farms in Wisconsin, I masterfully multi-tasked by driving and talking on the phone. I bet you've tried it before, too. It's a particularly sensible practice on a two-lane highway that feeds into a busy airport.

It's even smarter when you are distracted by the topic of the conversation, which in this case happened to be: Are you sure you're ready to adopt a baby? Julie wasn't posing the question. Our adoption agency was to blame.

"How dare they!" you might be thinking. "An upstanding and principled family such as the House of Birt must never be brought low by a double-crossing adoption agency. Why, I'd give them my own child if the state would allow it. And if I didn't need them to care for me in my infirm years!"

Well, dear friend, I have to challenge you -- and I'll do so politely because you said so many nice things about my family -- because this is actually you…

Three Reasons You Should Keep Hustling When You're Dog Tired

I'm working on a big project that represents both a personal milestone and what I hope will be a tremendous help to parents seeking to build their families. Shh ... don't tell anyone just yet. I'll share more details soon!

In the meantime, the process of putting in extra hours early in the morning and late at night got me to thinking: What does it take for worn out parents to get ahead on the things that matter to them?

From my own personal experience, it requires at least three daily personal reminders. Equip yourself with these tools and you'll command your destiny:

You have gifts. Too often, we resign ourselves to second-class status because it takes copious energy and fight to bust it day in and day out. We just don't have it in us. Or so we think. But I'd remind you of Paul's instructions to the young preacher Timothy: "Do not neglect the gift you have" (I Timothy 4:14, ESV). Each of us has unique talents and gifts to give the world. Our child…

The No. 1 Most Glaring Hidden Truth About Millennial Parents

There is a secret I have been keeping from you. I attribute it to the lot my parents cast by placing me squarely into the millennial generation. (Well, old millennial, anyway. Some days, when my kids push my buttons, ancient.)

Do you want to know what it is?

I don't have any more of a clue how to parent than you did when you were my age. I'm simply making it up as I go along, relying on the best book I've found to provide my children with a moral framework and a lot of friends and family who successfully raised young people before me.

Sure, parenting in the 21st century presents plenty of challenges. You can see and hear an abundance of bad stuff at every turn. The technology and privilege of American life provide unlimited access to all kinds of vices.

But despite the fact that common sense isn't common, as one of my friends likes to say, there are still plenty of parents earnestly trying to do right by their children. They are raising them to be other-centric, hard-w…

Adopting? Be Persistent

One boy broke into tears after a stray basketball bonked him in the head. A girl hung her head and slumped her shoulders after repeatedly aiming for the basket and failing to land a shot.

Such was the last session of a five-day youth basketball camp Micah attended this week. I worked through lunch and took a break early afternoon to watch the final day. Micah really wanted to show off his skills. He was the first youngster to rush to the center of the court and sit down at the coach's request. He hustled through all of the exercises -- dribbling forward and backward, carefully navigating around tiny fluorescent hubcaps, sprinting across the court.

I couldn't help but admire his persistence. Granted, he's my oldest son and I beamed when I saw how he respected and honored his coach by listening and following instructions. But beyond that, Micah and all of his teammates impressed on me the value of youthful energy and stick-to-it spirit. Sure, some of them cried and needing …

Don't Forget About Your Mamaw...

...because Mamaw never forgets about you. It's incredible to me that to this very day, Mamaw (aka my grandma, aka my mom's mom) still sends me handwritten letters. It isn't once in a blue moon. It's a good twice or more per month.

She has been doing this as long as I can remember, certainly since college began 14 years ago and probably earlier. Mamaw fights through arthritis and shaky hands, and she is extremely self-aware in her letters, apologetic for words that don't look quite right or the fact it has taken two or three days to piece together enough content sufficient to place in the mail. She is unafraid to admit loneliness after the passing of my grandfather this past November.

I love how she observes the world. A city girl who spent most of her life in the country, Mamaw is acutely aware of how the weather changes from day to day and shares as rain turns to ice turns eventually to mud puddles.

She is deeply empathetic. Her letters are filled with musings ab…

July 11: A Day Of Joy And Of Sorrow

Editor's note: My wife, Julie, surprised me this week with this guest post she wrote -- equal parts beautiful and heartbreaking --  to commemorate the anniversary of our embryo transfer. I should say her embryo transfer because she carried our amazing little girl for nine months. Thank you, sweetheart, for memorializing three precious lives and our experience. You are amazing. -Nate

Exactly one year ago today, after many shots, pills and privacy probing doctor’s appointments, we had finally arrived at embryo transfer day. I was so nervous on this day and hormonal! We had planned to have the embryologist thaw out two of the three embryos we had adopted for transfer. After I had gotten changed in the prep room into a hospital gown for the transfer, our coordinator brought us back a photo of the embryo that was ready to transfer. I remember looking at Nate in awe at the little ball of cells that would become a baby. Then the questions started forming in mind: What about the other one…