Wednesday, January 11, 2017

MN Kind

I recently had a conversation with two people who are non-natives to our small Minnesota town.  One has lived here for a number of years and the other moved here in the last year or so.  In the course of our exchange, the concept of "Minnesota Nice" came up.  While they both acknowledged experiencing firsthand or witnessing this trait in action, the more recent transplant was appalled at how people could be so nice to one's face, only to speak ill of them when they turned their back.  Being from the East Coast where people generally do not mince words, it was an eye-opener for him to see such blatant betrayal.  

I've always considered "MN Nice" a positive term that conveys the warm, friendly spirit of our citizens; how we come together to support one another, bring meals to those who would benefit from them, politely interact with one another, etc. A quick google search of "Minnesota Nice definition" gave me the Wikipedia definition of the term -

 "Minnesota nice is the stereotypical behavior of people born and raised in Minnesota 
to be courteous, reserved, and mild-mannered"

- followed by a website dedicated to "Surviving and Thriving in Minnesota Nice".  The website, founded by a MN native and a 16 year MN resident from New Jersey even made a little video to elaborate on the definition of MN Nice. 

I have to say, that although my initial response was to get defensive, 
I found it to be somewhat accurate of the residents of my state. 
And even worse, myself!  

What it boils down to for me is that to be MN Nice is to be disingenuous.  Fake.  

And there is no worse adjective I can think of with than that!  

Another quick google search on "difference between kind and nice" brought me to this article. An over-simplified paraphrase of the authors sentiments are that a nice person is "externally motivated" and acts nice to win the approval of others, where a kind person is "internally motivated" and acts out of the goodness of his or her heart. 

Most of the people I know well and am close to don't fit this new MN Nice definition.  

So let's redefine it!  

Heck let's rename it!  

Instead of being MN Nice, let's all choose to be MN Kind.  

Let's be genuine in our interactions.  
Don't ask someone how they are or how their holiday was if you aren't interested in the answer.  

Lets skip past the pleasantries and small talk, and dig deeper.

Let's mean what we say, and say what we mean.

Let's choose to be the person that people confide in, not the person that people run to for the latest gossip.

Let's help people for the sake of helping them, not for the credit or recognition.

Let's stop bottling up everything and biting our tongues. 
This doesn't mean you are entitled to swing to the opposite end of the pendulum. 
Just be honest, and share your thoughts and feelings in a real and respectful way.

Let's be Kind, not Nice.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Best Christmas

This past Christmas was my favorite one to date!  Having four kiddos, age 7 and under, was the greatest contributing factor.  If you find yourself to be a bit of a Scrooge around the holidays, I highly recommend finding a niece or nephew or child of a friend to celebrate with, because their enthusiasm and excitement is contagious! The best part for me this year was seeing their reaction to the news that we were adding another babe to our brood.  We have talked about adoption for years and they have witnessed the adoption of their three cousins, so the concept is not foreign to them. However, seeing the look of realization on their faces as Natalie read the poem we wrote to share the news was priceless.

"We hope you enjoyed all your presents.
We picked them out special for you.
To play with, create with, or wear,
With so many new things, you'll have so much to do!

We have one more gift to give you
We saved the BEST one for last.
We're going to adopt a baby!
It might take awhile, or happen fast.

So prepare to be a big sister again,
Or a big brother if you are named Teddy.
We'll soon have another family member
So we hope that you are ready!!"

When she got to the line "We're going to adopt a baby", Teddy's face lit up and a smile spread across it as he asked "Are we really going to!?"  They were so excited and asked so many questions about the baby.  "Will it be a boy or a girl!?" "Will it be a brand new baby like cousin Leni, or a big baby like cousin Jakey?" And the most pressing question of all, "When will the baby be here?" 

The waiting period of an adoption is not unlike a pregnancy.  Today we received confirmation that our adoption application had been processed and we had been approved to begin the Home Study process.  The bold letters stating our application was accepted was like looking at the two pink lines on a pregnancy test.  You had a pretty good hunch that you were expecting, but now it's confirmed! 

The next step of the process will be the Home Study. This will entail a day-long orientation in February, paperwork, background checks, reference checks, more paperwork, a home visit, more paperwork, two more visits at the agency, a psych evaluation, and even more paperwork! The time frame quoted on this was 2-8 months, depending on how quickly you complete your paperwork.

Once the Home Study is completed and approved, we will be added to the waiting list.  Our agency typically tries to match expectant mothers to adoptive families in their 8th month of pregnancy. So if the expectant mother appears to be a good match to us, we will have the option of showing her our photo book, as will the other families on the waiting list.  Ultimately the expectant mother is the one who determines with whom her child is placed, and therefore the wait time on this portion of the process is difficult to quantify. The agency worded it "Couples have been waiting anywhere from 3 months to approximately 3 years or so for a placement. The average wait is currently about one year."

So the wait is like a pregnancy, but instead of 9 months, we are looking at anywhere from 7 1/2 months to 4 years! Haha! Thank goodness it isn't a pregnancy, I can't imagine 4 years of that!! For whatever reason, I am hopeful it will be closer to the 7 1/2 month figure and picture a baby in my arms next Christmas so we can top the awesome Christmas we had this year!  There's no harm in being optimistic, right!?

I've decided to share this journey because A) I can use all the support I can get! And more importantly, B) I am hoping that by sharing our story, others who have considered adoption will dig a little deeper and take the plunge!

This piece of wall art in my living room says it best: