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Chapter 12 – The Mirror of Erised – Parents’ Discussion

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This chapter is entitled The Mirror of Erised, a mirror which Harry encounters while wandering the castle when he was supposed to have been in bed. He looks into the mirror and sees his parents in the reflection. He is captivated and brings his friend Ron back the next night to see the mirror but is perplexed when Ron sees not Harry’s parents, but instead sees himself as Head Boy and Quidditch captain, much coveted positions in the school, holding the House Cup AND Quidditch Cup. He returns a third night and this time is confronted by Dumbledore who clears up the confusion by telling Harry:

  It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts. You, who have never known your family, see them standing around you. Ronald Weasley, who has always been overshadowed by his brothers, sees himself standing alone, the best of all of them.

This chapter also takes place during the Christmas holidays. The school is mostly empty as most of the students have gone to spend the break with their families. The holidays are a time when desires and longings, along with expectations (whether good or bad), are often at the forefront of our minds. The kids’ discussion for this chapter focused on missing biological families. These kiddos are trying to figure out how to enjoy the place where they are and not betray the people they love and long for.

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I miss my dad on holidays, and as my husband and kids never met him, I feel alone in this unless my mom or brother are around. Even then, we spend most of our time in the present, enjoying who we do have, but I know my kiddos feel similar about missing their biological families. Holidays and big days are a big balancing act in our home. We try to make sure we get to see or talk to our own extended families, who are spread around several states at this time, and also that the kids at least get to talk to their moms. We try to do things like sending pictures and such also to other members of their biological families (like grandmas on Mother’s Day), talk occasionally to past foster parents, etc. Then there is trying to stay connected with the kids other siblings, two of whom are adopted into a family in another state with their own relatives and friends.

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Along with balancing all of our complicated relationships, big days tend to come with expectations. In chapter 12, we see kids having expectations for how holidays should be. Draco teases Harry for not having a proper family to go home to. As an adoptive family, this is one area that has been taken care of, but I remember well the holidays while the kids were in foster care. Kids in institutions and foster care don’t know where their holidays will be spent in the years to come and face loneliness and uncertainty. Jasmine especially was always asking questions about the birthdays and holidays to come. I highly recommend you read this blog by another adoptive mom, Jen Hatmaker, in which she explains very well how kiddos from hard places tend to have expectations for big days and then sabotage them. She then discusses ideas for dealing with it: http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2014/12/15/parenting-kiddos-who-sabotage-big-days.

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I, too, tend to always have expectations for how a holiday, vacation, or big day should be. I picture it in my head, and when it inevitably gets sabotaged by a behavior, I find myself struggling. A true perfectionist, I often find myself stuck, staring at the Mirror of Erised which exists in my head and focusing on what I long for life to look like. J.K. Rowling very eloquently addressed this issue in Dumbledore’s words to Harry regarding the mirror:

…this mirror will give us neither knowledge or truth. Men have wasted away before it, entranced by what they have seen, or been driven mad, not knowing if what it shows is real or even possible. …It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.

Discussion Questions:

1) What do you think you’d see if you looked in the Mirror of Erised?

2) Do you find yourself having expectations for the holidays or special events, only to suffer disappointment when they don’t come to pass? What can you do to ensure you have realistic expectations?

3) What contact, if any, do you have with your children’s biological family on big days? How do you balance biological and adoptive family needs, or is it even possible? How can you utilize technology to help?

4) Do you ever find yourself dwelling on dreams and forgetting to live? What do you find helps you to come back to the present?

5) Does anyone in your house sabotage holidays or special events?

Help Others:

Leave your thoughts and advice in the comments section. Your thoughts and questions will undoubtedly help other parents and families.

 

Parents’ Discussions:

Ch. 01 | Ch. 02 | Ch. 03 | Ch. 04 | Ch. 05 | Ch. 06 | Ch. 07 | Ch. 08 | Ch. 09 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12 | Ch. 13 | Ch. 14 | Ch. 15 | Ch. 16 | Ch. 17

Kids’ Discussions:
Ch. 01
| Ch. 02Ch. 03 | Ch. 04 | Ch. 05 | Ch. 06 | Ch. 07 | Ch. 08 | Ch. 09 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12 | Ch. 13 | Ch. 14 | Ch. 15 | Ch. 16 | Ch. 17

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Chapter 12 – It’s a Holiday and I Want My Mommy – Kids Discussion

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Did you enjoy this chapter? Most everyone likes Christmas. Harry seems to have rather enjoyed this holiday at Hogwarts. However, this chapter isn’t only about Christmas. It’s also about Harry’s discovery of the Mirror of Erised and his feelings for the family that he has never seen.

Before we get into my adopted kids’ thoughts about this chapter, I want you to talk/think about a few questions.

  1. Why did Harry enjoy Christmas so much? How do you know he was having fun?
  2. How do you know Harry was having fun?
  3. How was Harry feeling when he found the mirror and saw his family?
  4. If Harry was having so much fun at Christmas, why did he seem so gloomy toward the end of the chapter?

Birthday-hogwarts-adoption-knoxville-tennesseeMy kids could relate with the sweaters that the Weasleys and Harry received as gifts. We don’t give everyone sweaters at Christmas BUT for them the sweaters were a Christmas tradition. We try to have certain traditions around most holidays.

  • New Year’s Eve – We have a small party with close friends to play board games and eat certain snack foods
  • Easter – We always watch a VeggieTales Easter cartoon. My wife creates small chocolates that are placed in a small chocolate basket. We color eggs and have an egg hunt.
  • 4th of July – We have a picnic before seeing fireworks.
  • Thanksgiving – We always make pumpkin juice.
  • Christmas – We always make gingerbread men. We also always have a special time where we set up a nativity and read the Christmas story. We watch a Charlie Brown Christmas Special.
  • Birthdays – We wake the person up with a song we made up and dog pile him/her. We decorate the birthday person’s FACE with icing before having birthday cake.

You might do some of these things in your family too, Why are they special then? These traditions are ways that our family connects and makes memories together. We think that even though not all the Weasleys seemed to enjoy their new sweaters, that they would be upset if they didn’t get one. It’s a tradition, and it helps to make Christmas feel special.

hogsmeade-snowman-harry-potter-adoption-foster-careEven though we have our tradition and spend time with each other connecting, there is still a sad point for all of our kids during any holiday or birthday. If you’re a foster/adopted kid, you probably experience this too. Even though you love your adopted/foster family, at some point when you are with your foster/adopted mom, you begin to think about your biological mom. My kids begin to wonder how it would be if their biological mom was laughing with them, making them a special cake, hugging them after opening presents, and so on. Harry experienced the same sadness. He saw his family in the mirror and wanted so bad for his mom to hold him.

Here are suggestions my kids give for dealing with that sad feeling that comes with missing your biological home:

  • Send your biological parent(s) photos (if possible).
  • Call your biological mom and/or dad on a holiday (if possible).
  • Tell your foster/adopted parent(s) that you need to talk about how sad you feel.
  • Tell your foster/adopted parent(s) that you need a hug because you miss your biological family.
  • Write down all the things you miss about your biological home.
  • Draw a picture of things you remember doing at your biological home.

My kids all agreed that even though holidays are a ton of fun, missing your biological home hurts. It’s not bad to miss your biological home, and it’s good to talk about it. Missing your biological family during holidays is a normal part of an adopted/foster kid’s life, BUT you can get through it well with people who care for you.

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Now It’s Your Turn:

What traditions do you have? Do you have any suggestions for how foster/adopted children can deal with missing their biological families? Be sure to share your thoughts below. Your answers will help other kids and parents too.

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Kids’ Discussions:
Ch. 01
| Ch. 02Ch. 03 | Ch. 04 | Ch. 05 | Ch. 06 | Ch. 07 | Ch. 08 | Ch. 09 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12 | Ch. 13 | Ch. 14 | Ch. 15 | Ch. 16 | Ch. 17

Parents’ Discussions:

Ch. 01 | Ch. 02 | Ch. 03 | Ch. 04 | Ch. 05 | Ch. 06 | Ch. 07 | Ch. 08 | Ch. 09 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12 | Ch. 13 | Ch. 14 | Ch. 15 | Ch. 16 | Ch. 17