February, 2010     Volume 6, Number 2
During the family building journey or in the midst of family stress, people often need to be reminded to take care of themselves. In fact most IAC Center clients are dealing with complex emotions and often absorbed in problem-solving.  With this in mind, we are suggesting that you
give yourself a Valentine Gift this year.
You may have given a Valentine card or gift to a special someone or to several people you love, so why not also gift one to yourself too?  I can think of at least 5 Great Reasons to Give Yourself a Valentine Gift this year:
  1. You are on a difficult family building journey and need a reminder to take care of yourself; or to do something that lifts your spirits even if briefly. Getting or staying in good emotional shape for when you finally bring your baby home is important for both you and your child.  By taking care of yourself, you create a happier home for your new child to come into.
  2. Your kids have required a lot of attention; or you have been worrying about them and helping them with their issues. Take a breather and refresh yourself. A happy parent is a better parent. Don't forget about refueling yourself.
  3. You are a nurturer or caretaker personality; or as one of my clients puts it, you have a "provider complex" and can never stop thinking of ways to take care of and provide for the needs of other people. Take some time to give to yourself too.
  4. You are having a case of the "everyone else but me's." Everyone else has a baby, has an upcoming adoption situation or is pregnant, has the number of kids you wish you had, or has kids with less issues. This kind of generalizing is one quick and sure way to depress your self.  Get out of this downward spiral with some kind of pick-me-up Valentine gift to yourself.
  5. You have been too busy to spend time on being happy. Your time is filled with working, managing family and other relationships; in a routine, doing chores or whatever. Or you have fallen into a pattern where you keep super busy as a way of avoiding your woes.  If either scenario is the case, take a time out and put "being happy" on your to-do list now!
10 Quick Tips on How-to Give Yourself a Valentine Gift this Year!
  1. Think small and easy. Stop to smell the roses. This could be a bubble bath, chocolate, wine, lingering at a meal with someone you enjoy, taking time to read a book (see book reviews below), building a snow man instead of finishing some work, or simply being in the present moment and savoring it.
  2. Commit to "working on" happiness as a goal.  Pick a tool from the Happiness Project Toolbox. These tools help you set goals, keep resolutions, articulate your values, and pull together material that inspires you. These tools remind you that happiness is a goal.  If you are in medical treatment or waiting to adopt, your primary focus is usually on "getting a baby."  IAC Center recommends shifting your focus from getting the baby to becoming a parent for a lifetime.  Family building through medical treatment or adoption is typically stressful and draining. Why not put some energy toward staying or getting into better emotional shape for the parenting to come. Adding these "happiness" tools during your journey may help you to broaden your goal-oriented get a baby a.s.a.p. focus to include preparing for parenting for a lifetime. This toolbox was created by Gretchen Rubin, author of the book The Happiness Project, an account of the year she spent testing the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific research, and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. (Harper, January 2010) The online Happiness Project Toolbox grew out of her discovery that certain tools she'd developed were especially helpful in boosting her happiness. She created this site to make these tools easily available to everyone.
  3. Develop a new coping skill to help you in your family building journey or family life. See Resilience Tips for Your Family Building Journey
  4. Make people connections. - Research indicates that nothing builds resilience more than having connections to other people. Spend some time with friends & family or join a support group - The IAC Center has coordinated, Support Groups for: Pre-Adoptive Parents, Adoptive Parents, Adopted Children and TeensInfertility and Professional Support in NYC and at multiple NJ locations .  Contact info@iaccenter.com for more information.
  5. Prioritize Laughter - whatever it takes! Start with a smile and go from there.
  6. Enjoy a favorite food - I would select Cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery Inc and suggest just about every recipe in any of Sheila Lukins cookbooks.  Her newest is: Ten: All the Foods We Love and 10 Perfect Recipes for Each. From comfort food to something special I promise you, Sheila can do no wrong
  7. Express your creativity: Art, music, writing, dance, building something, etc. If you find yourself blocked, The Artist's Way program will help you to unblock and to find all kinds of joy in your life.
  8. Do something new.  Step outside of your box. Kids do this more than adults and often find new activities or ideas they love. Try a different sport or exercise class; go to a museum, a show or some place that intrigues you.  See the brand new component that we added to the W.I.S.E. Up! For parents and children ages 6 to 11 - February 21, 2010 in Colt's Neck and March 7, 2010 in NYC listed with workshops below.
  9. Learn something new - Classes and workshops can be found everywhere.  Check out IAC Center Winter and Spring Workshop highlights below, look in local colleges, online, etc.
  10. Define your own Valentine gift to yourself, and if you would like to share it with others on the family building and family life journeys, please email me your suggestions at JMantellMSW@iaccenter.com so I can share your tips with them.   
Winter & Spring Workshop Highlights
  • W.I.S.E. Up! For parents and children ages 6 to 11 - February 21, 2010 in Colt's Neck and March 7, 2010 in NYC - Kids and parents can fill their toolboxes with skills to deal with uncomfortable moments and inappropriate questions related to adoption and/or transracial families.
  • NEW - In addition to training on the W.I.S.E. Up! Skills we have added a new component to this program in response to current research on teasing and bullying. The newest research shows that the most effective way to stop bullying is through peer intervention.  We will try to help your children understand the importance of intervening in the teasing and bullying processes and to begin to learn the skills necessary to becoming a true "Ally" as opposed to being a "Bystander." Being an adoption triad member often means being an educator, and this is one way that kids can do that.
  • Parenting the Older Adopted Child - March 20, 2010 in Montclair, NJ- 5 CE credits for social workers. Essential training for anyone considering, parenting or working professionally with families adopting children ages 2 years and older.
  • Family Stories: Creating and Parenting Children through Adoption and Donor Origins - May 1, 2010 in Montclair, NJ - 6 CE credits for social workers. Learn about talking with kids about their stories at the different ages and stages of development; and dealing with some personal, social and medical issues adoptive and donor origin families' face. Keynote is a current perspective on the interaction of nature and nurture; and speakers include Joni Mantell, LCSW Judy Kottick, LCSW Dr. Jane Aronson and Dr. Sangita Jindal
  • Baby Care for Adoptive Parents - April 10, 2010 in Pennington, NJ and May 15, 2010 in NYC.
  • Domestic Adoption: Communicating with Birthparents - May 15, 2010 Pennington
  • - Pennington once a month on a Saturday if you want to have fun with this project.
To sign up Contact: info@iaccenter.com, call 609-737-8750 or use the links provided here for full workshops descriptions and registration. See IAC Center Calendar for: Other workshops, Group with Openings and FYI Special Events.
Book Reviews
Ultimately, happiness is a state of mind. Cultivate it. Make time for happiness.  Keep in mind the glass can be seen as half full. Today this urban transplant shoveled tons of snow. And I kept reminding myself "this is good, shoveling snow burns calories!"  Yes, the mind is a powerful tool! 
We are here for you at all points along the way in your journey,  
IAC Center Director
Counseling offers a non-biased overview of family building options to facilitate individuals and couples in making timely decisions that are mindful of long term implications. Using a life-long short-term counseling model, counseling is available throughout the adoption life cycle for all adoption triad members.