Let’s face it — we’re all working moms, right? We can all agree that whether we spend a portion of our day in an office, classroom, hospital, courtroom or minivan running kids from school to soccer to piano — it’s work. Hard work.
So to clear the air, I think it’s safe to say that we all get the title of working mom. That being said, today, I want to tell you a little about my experience of working outside of the home post-adoption.
Long before I went to college or got a Master’s degree… long, long before I became a speech pathologist treating kids with significant medical needs… I knew that someday, I would adopt. I had a heart for orphan care.
Would I forego that God-sized calling because I happen to be a mom that works outside the home? Nah… I believe that God desires orphans in families even if their moms go to work because life in a family generally always outweighs life in an orphanage.
Early in the adoption process, I didn’t think twice about being a working adoptive mom. I already had two biological girls who were well adjusted kids. My girls spent three days a week at daycare. They loved daycare, their friends at daycare, and the staff. They separated easily from me and knew without a doubt that I would return when I was finished working each afternoon.
In my naïve head I thought that would be the case with our son from China. It wasn’t until I really started educating myself on the inevitable trauma that every orphan endures regardless of how good or bad their in-country care is that I realized we needed to structure our soon-to-be son’s world differently in many ways.
For us, this meant finding an in-home nanny — someone who would be able to meet his needs quickly, follow a strict schedule and routine as much as possible, feed him on demand, give plenty of time when he wasn’t sure about something, and help him establish a strong connection to his home, his books, his bed and his toys.
It sounds so cliché, but I prayed that God would send us a nanny, one who would love our kids and help us keep Ty’s world small at first, while we slowly exposed him to all things America. We live in a small, rural Missouri town so I started searching where I was comfortable — within our church.
I truly believe orphan care is the church’s calling, whether it’s through the actual adoption of a child, providing financially to others who are adopting, or supporting families when they return home. I knew someone would surface ready to serve our little guy in this way.
Fast forward eight months: our nanny who we love and adore is on a much deserved week long trip to the Colorado mountains with her husband, and I am drowning in temper tantrums, dirty floors, and our very own mountain of dirty laundry piling up by the minute.
So, how can a nanny be advantageous during the months and years following adopting? Here’s what our sweet Dianna does. She loves on our kids unconditionally, like her very own grandkids. She helps manage laundry, dishes, vacuuming. If there’s a need around the house she steps up. She rewards the kids for helping out and keeps them busy playing, crafting and learning. Dianna helps get kids from here to there and does everything under the sun to make sure Ty has a good nap.
In the beginning she gave grace to our biological girls for the crazy amounts of change that adoption brings to a household, and she made Ty feel safe and secure, reminding him that “mommies always come back” while I was working. She attended a Connected Child conference and she understands orphan trauma. She’s hard to live up to and she is irreplaceable.
There is no doubt that working outside the home can add a layer of stress. I’ve been there — work all day, pick the kids up, come home, cook supper, clean all night, put the kids to bed. We recognized attachment would take work and we would need more time to play and spend directly with Ty and our girls. Having the house picked up and the laundry finished gives us that time as a family. We truly thank God for the role Dianna plays in our family.
My advice to adoptive families is to consider how keeping your newly adopted child home with a nanny could benefit them as they learn the ropes in their new environment. It’s been huge for our sweet Ty.
Today, Dianna came back from her vacation and Ty laid a hug on her so thick you couldn’t have separated them with the Jaws of Life. He sang and danced all day, he was happy to have his ‘nana’ back, and that makes my heart happy.
– guest post by Katie