We got back yesterday evening from Forever Families Camp and I am glad to report we had another wonderful time. Last year was great and we looked forward to this year with much anticipation and we were not disappointed. We now look forward to next year with even more anticipation.
Shyanne, DW and I all had a wonderful time. We all learned a little bit, we played a little bit, and reconnected with some friends we had made last year. We also made some new friends this year. You know I have not yet met a person who adopted a child that I didn't care for. Those of you who adopt children are special people and I really enjoy being with any and all of you.
The camp setting is absolutely wonderful. They had it at "Cedar Lake Camp" which is a camp run by the New Jersey Y. There are tennis courts, basketball courts, fields, cabins, a beautiful little lake with jet-skis, a huge ice berg, a water trampoline with a big swing and a huge slide to slide down into the lake as well. They also have canoes and kayaks, Arts and crafts and Archery, Ropes Courses and Pita Making Shy and I went out in a canoe twice this weekend. She made pita bread and ate it all up, and she made a few crafts for us to bring home. (DW and I also made some crafts)
This is a camp for Jewish Families that have adoptive children, and there are two parts to the camp which is what makes it so enjoyable for us.The first part and some may argue the most important part is that we get to spend a weekend together with the focus being on the family, and only on the family. That is great. We don't spend every minute with each other, but every minute, we are focused on the family. That is nice. The second part of the camp is what we can learn about different aspects of adoption and dealing with adoption issues, not only for the kids, but also for the parents. It is an opportunity to learn, and to relearn what we may have forgotten. So one of the things I knew but had the opportunity to relearn just from listening to everyone talk at the different "workshops" was that absolutely no two stories are alike. Now I already knew that from this blog and talking with other foster parents and adoptive parents before, but it is always good to be reminded of it. What that means is that when you are looking for information or advice on a particular situation or issue, you really need to talk with and get information from a lot of different people. Everyone may have a little bit of their story that matches yours and by asking a lot of different people with their part of the matching story you can then put them together.
This is only accomplished if you really pay attention and listen. While I know part of these workshops is to offer your own story so that others can gain information from yours, it is good to really just sit back and listen. REALLY LISTEN. I don't mean the kind of listening you do while thinking about other things, or drifting off. I don't mean the type of listening where you "listen to reply" I mean the real kind of listening. The kind where you are totally focused on what is being said and paying close attention to all facets of what is being said, and not concentrating on what your reply may be until after the person is done speaking. That is the kind of listening that really gets you the best information and allows you to learn the most.
So I listened a lot. I heard about a family that is having the same kinds of problems with the legal system that we had. I hear about people who have adopted from other countries. people who have adopted multiple children from more than one country. People who have been reunited with birth parents and people who are concerned about their children reuniting with their birth parents. I think my next blog entry will have to do with that. There is always the things that people say and the things that people don't say. By listening closely you can hear them both.
For now though, let me just close with the fact that we all had a wonderful time and we are all looking forward to going back next year. There were over 100 people there this year and I think that is considerably more than last year. I expect next year will be even bigger again. Deb Schwartz who runs things is a truly wonderful person who does a magnificent job getting things set up. If you are interested for next June, she can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org,