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Harry Potter, First Day Jitters, and…me?

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Hi Everybody! My name is Betsy and I met the Finks back in college (when Darren was the only Fink). I have been following them and their journey with their precious children through social media, and was really happy to see their vision for this site! I love the idea of using the absolutely fun and exciting tales of Harry Potter as an instrument to facilitate discussion between children and parents, and this page is, in my humble opinion, a fantastic tool for foster/adoptive families to make it “work” with everyone in the household.

So, imagine the honor I felt when Darren asked me to contribute to the Transfiguring Adoption site. I was super excited to start writing, and had floods of ideas. But, as the days went by, and as I started sorting my thoughts, I began to wonder, “why me?” what do I have to contribute that people out there might find useful/helpful? I felt very nervous and afraid (in fact, jittery) that I might not know how to approach these topics. It took me little bit of thought and prayer to think of the answer. I am a parent. I am not the best parent who ever lived, but darn it, I am trying.

But what might also help me lend a hand on this page is the fact that I was surrendered and adopted at a young age (much like Harry, except nobody tried to kill me). I understand the feelings from an adoptive child’s position, and I remember them quite well.

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So, here goes it:
One concept in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone that appealed to me was about how Harry must have felt when he was rescued from Mr. & Mrs. Dursley’s home by Hagrid, and how foreign his “new life” must have been. Perhaps, in a later post, I will discuss Hagrid’s rescue of Harry, but for now, I would like to focus on Harry’s strange new world, and how that relates to the feelings of foster/adoptive children.

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Much like Harry, adoptive/foster children are sometimes “thrown” into a very foreign, different new world, and they have a difficult time handling all of the changes. They feel confused, disoriented, and scared. Not learning how to handle all of these feelings, and not having a proper grasp on the rules of a new home may result in rebellious activities, battles of wills, and general unrest in their new environment. The Finks wrote a very important post on how the first night is the hardest. They gave fantastic tips for helping with this difficult transition, but I feel like this is a very important concept and I wanted to discuss it further.

Harry came from a place where he was neglected, made to feel like he was a burden, and bullied, to a new place where he was cherished and the people (and creatures) around him were invested in not only protecting him from the evils he may face, but in guiding him to learn, grow, and thrive. I can only imagine what was going through young Mr. Potter’s mind when he went shopping for his school supplies and then getting on the train to go to his new school (home).

Discussion Questions:

  1. How do you think Harry felt when he saw Diagon Alley for the first time?
  2. Do you think Harry was worried about all of the people around him talking about him?
  3. When Harry is being fitted for his uniform, he meets a young man who makes him doubt himself and his ability to fit in. Do you ever feel like an outsider? What are some ways you know you are accepted?
  4. If you could buy any magical item from Diagon Alley, what would you get and why?
  5. Have you ever felt the jitters when you tried something new? Would you have gladly leapt through the wall at Platform 9 3/4, or would you enter with caution?
  6. Going to a new school and having a different sort of family than you are used to around you can make you nervous. Who did Harry meet to help him with his transition? Who do you think can help you with your transition?
  7. What is up with all of those weird kinds of candy Hogwarts kids like to eat? Would you try any of them?

So, I made it through my writing jitters, and there you have it, a discussion of our feelings in a new place doing foreign things. I hope you find these questions and my views helpful in your journey. Thanks for reading, and may you be blessed on your journey. The best is yet to come!

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Chapter 11 – I’m nervous. Here’s how to help me – Kids’ Discussion

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Harry Potter Gets Nervous with Game Day Jitters

Wow. We finally got to read about a Quidditch match. I know that the kids in our house either want to be seekers or chasers. I personally would love to try my hand at being a beater.

Our family noticed during this chapter that while Harry was very excited to be picked as a seeker for the Gryffindor team, he was very, VERY nervous about his first game. How do we know this? We saw it in his body language. For example he didn’t want to eat at all before he went to the Quidditch pitch.

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Foster-Adoptive Kids Have the Same Fears

My kids can relate to Harry. They know what it is like to be nervous. They have been nervous going to a new foster home or moving to their adoptive home. They have been nervous joining a new school because our family has had to move across the states. They know what it feels like to be nervous simply when you have to do something new that you have never done before. For example my oldest son was petrified to go into a store and inquire about getting a job application. There is something scary about not knowing how an event is going to turn out.

  • Harry had never played Quidditch before in front of a large crowd of people. What if he wasn’t any good? What if everyone booed him off the field? What if? What if? What if?
  • Harry couldn’t eat his breakfast because he was so nervous. Seamus didn’t help him with all of his talk about Seekers getting hurt during the game.

We all agreed that being extremely nervous about something is a part of life. What do you do to help people when they are nervous?

Hermione tried to get Harry to eat breakfast. Hermione and Ron made a banner to cheer Harry on. In fact the book says that Harry felt braver when he saw the banner.

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5 Ways to Encourage Nervous Kids

My kids had some ideas on how they can be encouraged when they’re nervous:

  1. Tell a person how great they are
  2. Give the nervous person a hug
  3. Talk to the person about their fear
  4. Let the nervous person know that you’re with them and they’re NOT ALONe
  5. Pray for them

Now It’s Your Turn:

  1. How would you help someone who is nervous?
  2. How should someone help you when you’re nervous?

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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

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Chapter 8 – Parent Discussion – A talk about behaviors

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Chapter 8 is the introduction of two polar opposites in Harry Potter’s life – Professor Snape and Hagrid. The differences in moods are so obvious in the chapter that even the youngest of my children noticed the two characters. Professor Snape plays the evil and unfair force in Harry’s school life while Hagrid is Harry’s confidant and friend.

The interesting concept that my family drew from this chapter is that if you go according to appearances, it should be Hagrid who is the frightening character. He is half-giant. He is larger than a normal man with a booming voice. However, it’s the ordinary looking school professor that is causing ill feelings.

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As a foster and adoptive parent, my wife and I see behaviors in this way. What I mean is, sometimes there are positive behaviors that should be suspect and negative behaviors that really aren’t as bad as that might seem once you get to the bottom of things. Here are a few examples:

  1. Just the other day one of my children asked where mom was at, and I responded by saying she was at the grocery store. The child proceeded to ask permission to retrieve an iPad that was in my bedroom. Permission was granted, and the child continued to open my bedroom door and walk in on mom still at home and dressing for her trip to the grocery store. Most people would be so greatly embarrassed that the door would quickly be shut with exclamations of, “I’m so sorry! I forgot to knock!” The actual response was yells of rage at mom. Basically, mom was accused of being in the wrong and not being in the right place since the child had permission to be in the bedroom: a strange and angry response to an accident. After further exploration and discussion, my child confesses that they were scared and when he/she gets that scared, they just start yelling. It makes sense. A child who grew up in an environment of moving from home to home for 7 years and never being in control is striving to get control of an out-of-control situation by demanding/yelling that control be given to him.fink-shocked-parenting-harry-potter-foster-care
  2. One child continuously must be watched because anything that looks tasty might end up in their mouth. On the surface this sounds like a normal case of curiosity. However, most children with normal mental function do understand after being told and sent to the emergency room that one should not try to eat such things as soap, dirt, deodorant, glow stick fluid, other people’s flavored medications, etc. This seems like a behavior that someone with suicidal tendencies would have. At the root problem, though, is the fact that this child did not have food in the biological home. Even though our home has never once run low on food, this child is constantly looking for the next substance to make a meal from in case all food were to magically vanish. The behavior is not then strange but a survival technique.
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  3. One child in our home would walk around in a hunched over fashion and speak in a high pitched voice. This seems a strange behavior that would wear on the back muscles and make your throat scratchy. However, when you discover that this child believes that small and cute children aren’t punished or hurt, everything makes sense. If you can make yourself seem younger than what you are, you might avoid the angry eye of an adult. For this behavior, Margie and I actually spent many weeks forcing the child to stand straight and telling them, “Stand straight, and be proud of who you are.”

As a foster/adoptive parent, I’m sure that you have other interesting behaviors that don’t match up in a situation. Especially when you are dealing with abuse and neglect, there tend to be some interesting behaviors. I think the most difficult part is trying to rewire my own mind.

As a foster/adoptive parent you have to think differently. If a behavior looks like Professor Snape, you must figure out the root of the problem. Here are a few suggestions we have for discovering the root of behaviors but we want to hear from you also:

  • Ask the child what they need – We have found that asking this question sometimes yields surprisingly informative responses.
  • Figure out how the child has lost control – If a child had to care for themselves at a young age, it is going to be very difficult for them to feel like they don’t have control of their life.
  • Research the topic – Dr. Karyn Purvis and her crew are champions at assisting people caring for foster/adoptive children. Check out their website here: empoweredtoconnect.org

Now It’s Your Turn:

  1. What are some strange behaviors you notice in your home?
  2. Do any of these behaviors push your buttons? Why?

Help Others:

We would love for you as always to share you ideas and questions that relate to this chapter. We welcome the advice and hope to hear from you soon.

 

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