Hi, I'm Becky. Please Keep Listening.

When people ask me what I do, I often have a tough time answering the question. Not because I can’t explain it, but because it’s kind of a mouthful. My canned response is, “I’m a family coach, which means I do in-home, trauma-informed behavior management with families that have adopted.” But as soon as I get to “trauma-informed” people usually tune out because it’s relatively unfamiliar and most people don’t identify with it.

So in an effort to keep people engaged in my work, I’ll add something like, “Kids who have been adopted have been through unthinkably hard stuff, hence the need for adoption, but just because they’ve been adopted and they’re now in a home that’s safe and happy, doesn’t mean all the stuff they experienced goes away magically.  I help families work together to heal from trauma so everybody feels safe and has a good quality of life.”

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While this doesn’t help my verbose-job-description-problem, it does sometimes offer up an opportunity for the person to relate.  And if they do, it’s usually because they know someone who has adopted, and that someone has had a difficult time.

That sad reality is why I have a job.  

It’s unfortunate that one of the most common reasons people know anything about adoption is because they know a story of someone’s struggle. Adoption starts from a place of brokenness, so it makes perfect sense that the road to “happy family” will be challenging.  But that road is why my job exists.

Stand Up Eight is here to say, “Hey, we know what you’re doing is hard, and it might be that way for awhile, but we’ll walk alongside you and help everybody heal. Together.”

My dream is that one day I’ll tell people what I do and instead of responding with a story of their friend who adopted two kids and how they’ve struggled ever since, they’ll respond with a story of someone they know who has adopted two kids and how people have helped them thrive as family.

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But there are a few things that hinder this dream from becoming a reality. First, if you’re reading this and you are part of an adoptive family, I’m here to beg you to ask for help, seek counsel, call on people.  Even if it’s not from Stand Up Eight. The biggest disservice you can do for yourself and your kids is by keeping your struggles to yourself. Instead, tell the people you trust the hard parts about adoption and ask for help when you need it - and even when you may not. You aren’t alone in this, and you shouldn’t feel like you need to go at it on your own.

Secondly, YOU. Anyone and everyone reading this, I’m talking to you. The way we can change stories of adoption from struggle to hope is awareness. Make yourself aware of the needs of adoptive families, and familiarize yourself with useful tools! Know a family who has adopted? Check in with them, talk to them about how things are going, and if they’re struggling, tell them about who we are and the hope Stand Up Eight offers.  

We all have the power to be an influential person in someone’s life, but we need the boldness to speak up. It could radically change a life.

(Almost) Everything You Need to Know about Being a Parent in 25 Words or Less

Full disclosure:  I’m not a parent - at least not in any official capacity - and I’m as shocked as you are about the whole thing.  Who on God’s Green Earth would dedicate her life to help parents help their kids, although not a parent herself?

Hi, the name’s Jen.  I’m the childless lady who’s devoted my entire career - and life - to families.

I’ve walked alongside countless kids and parents...almost a decade as a private and public school teacher, who often spent more hours a day with my class than their parents got to, and almost a decade as a social worker, who is usually in homes with families more than their own relatives and friends.  

It’s with those years of experience (and a few other things) that I’ve cultivated a unique perspective about some of the ins and outs of parenting. So, although not a mother, I’ve made it my personal mission to help moms (and dads) everywhere to parent well.

Therefore, in an attempt to give you a quick-reference guide on your road to Parent of the Year, review the tips below (from Circle of Security International).  And then memorize them.  And then repeat them.

Your kids will thank you.

Wait, no…if you know a thing or two about kids, you know they’re not great at thanking us for all the good we do.

I’ll make you a deal. If you try the following suggestions, I’ll thank you.

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Always be bigger, stronger, wiser, and kind.  Be a protector.  On this here earth, every species other than humans runs away at any sign of danger.  People are the only ones who run to a primary caregiver for safety.  Kids need you to (act like you) have it all under control. And to be nice about it.

Whenever possible, follow your child’s needs.  Be selfless.  It’s not about you. Understanding your child’s needs, especially the ones that aren’t being met, and then doing what you can to meet those needs will transform both of you.  It’s not about you.

Whenever necessary, take charge.  Be the leader.  Adults have a great responsibility to guide children through life because kids need benevolent, gracious leaders – whether they know they do or not.  Being the one in charge helps children feel secure.

Of course, there are at least one million complexities to parenting, but I can say without any doubt that making those 17 words a mantra of sorts will impact you and your child.  

Now, go!  You can do it!  Happier, more satisfying parenting awaits you.  The childless lady believes in you.

There Are No Strangers Here

There are no strangers here; only friends you haven't yet met. – William Butler Yeats

The Irish poet, W.B. Yates, has a perspective we like around here at Stand Up Eight.  What a charming way to look at others – albeit sometimes difficult to imagine – and as a start-up nonprofit, we’ve taken it to heart.

At Stand Up Eight, we’ve been fortunate enough to make lots of friends who have made it possible for us to tirelessly support adoptive families over the last year.  And we couldn’t be happier about it.  

But, as blessed as we’ve been by our friends, we’re always on the lookout for more people who care about what we care about.  One of the ongoing needs we have is warm-hearted people who can help us fulfill our mission to help children not only heal from their abuse and neglect, but thrive in spite of it.  Without people, without friends, our work is impossible.

So, between now and February, we’re doing everything we can to meet new friends, and then celebrate our friendships – young and old – at our first-ever event on February 6, 2018, that we’ve aptly named our February Friendraiser.  Its whole purpose is to love on our friends and meet new ones, all while showing the impact our friendships have made for adoptive families.  

We hope to pack the house full of our friends and the friends we have yet to meet! Please join us!

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When: Tuesday, February 6, 2018, 6:00p-8:30p

Where: The Roosevelt Room on West 5th in Austin

What: A night-on-the-town to 1) meet other Stand Up Eight supporters, 2) hear more about the impact Stand Up Eight is making, 3) enjoy complimentary appetizers and drinks, 4) buy chances to win swanky prizes, and 5) shop with our talented friends, Waterloo Style and Weather & Story, who will be there showin’ their stuff.  There’s even talk about a potential Plinko situation!  AND, we’ll debut our new video, thanks to One Story Productions.

We hope to see you there!

 

As If by Magic

In case you missed it, Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. And it’s happening this Tuesday (11/28)!

Ever been a part of a big day o’ giving?  I have, and I’m here to tell you, it has a knack for making even the most cynical of us feel good about presto-chango-instantly impacting the world around us.

As someone who’s at the heart of a nonprofit, a global day to give is music to my ears.  For Becky and me (the whole of Stand Up Eight), we love jumping into the trenches with families at almost no cost to them, and the contributions from others is how we are able to make it happen.  

So many wonderfully wonderful people have stepped up to donate their time and resources to our program, and as a nonprofit, we’re at the mercy of everyone’s generosity. Giving Tuesday is a way to point everyone’s focus toward keeping those generosity waters flowing -- and for that, we are grateful (and really, really excited)!

So what’s my point?  We need your help.  Gifts from others not only make it possible for us to walk alongside adoptive families in their homes and schools to help children heal from the abuse and neglect they’ve survived, but it also allows us to provide the resources they need, and to better plan Stand Up Eight’s future.  

For instance, did you know that snuggling under a blanket that weighs only five pounds helps some of our kiddos make it through the day without feeling afraid?  It feels a little like magic, but it works because the brain is able to think better when its needs are met, and a weighted blanket helps.

The bad news is that a seemingly simple thing like a five-pound blanket costs a not-so-simple $70 or more, but the good news is that we’re able to provide it because of our donors.  

The best news?  Kids feel safer and happier -- which is what they deserve -- because of a magical blanket that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to cuddle.

Days like Giving Tuesday feel like magic, too -- for you and for the nonprofits you support.  This Giving Tuesday, why not commit to giving your time, your talents, or your finances to help a nonprofit doing life-changing work?  As if by magic, even the smallest thing for you can make the biggest impact for someone else.

If you’re able, we’d love for you to head on over to our donate tab and give what feels good. We, and countless families in need, thank you!

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The Difference Between "Your Home" and "You're Home"

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I’mma grammar geek.  Always have been.  And as such, I’ve noticed one of the lessons that continues to elude 10-year-olds and well-educated professionals alike is the difference between “your” and “you’re.”  But it’s simple really – one shows possession (Jen, your husband is Tom Brady), and one is the contraction of “you are” (Jen, you are/you’re Tom Brady’s wife). 

With that English lesson out of the way, let’s take it a more meaningful step further.  People often ask me why I founded Stand Up Eight.  The answer is always the same: it’s because of the difference between “your home” and “you’re home.”

Your home is where you hang your hat and put your feet up at night, and while there is value and power in that sense of ownership, there’s no greater feeling than the sense of belonging when you’re home, among your family, where you’re protected, where you belong. 

Here’s why that’s at the heart of what we do at Stand Up Eight.

1.     The world is a sticky-tricky place for our kids with trauma history.  Many of the coolest chapters in the book of life are lost on them, and instead, they live in the disturbing pages that their young minds weren’t made to comprehend.  Their stories tell of people who were supposed to protect them and couldn’t, and so, one of the many lessons they’ve learned is that home is scary and unsafe.

2.     To make it more difficult, when a child is placed with a safe family, everything that surrounds him is unknown.  New sights, new smells, new feelings, new experiences.  It can be overwhelming for even the most well-adjusted of us.  And included in that long ol’ list of newness is a new home filled with new people.  Understanding how to fit in - especially with the lessons he’s already learned - is frightening and stressful to say the least.

3.     To complicate things further (are you seeing a pattern?), when a child has been harmed by her relationships, the way to heal from that kind of trauma is through relationships – the healthy and appropriate kind.  The kind where she’s enjoyed and valued rather than demoralized and manipulated.  The kind that requires redundant creativity, forgiving structure, devotion on top of commitment, and giant heaps of unconditional love, to name just a few.  Sound easy?  Nope.  Many adoptive parents need a hand with those most days.

With that in mind, the motivation behind everything we do at Stand Up Eight is to help kids feel the difference between “your home” and “you’re home” – the difference between having a home that is safe and feeling safe in a home. 

Stand Up Eight was created to meet the deepest needs of abused and neglected children – to belong, to attach, and to feel safe...to feel that they are home.