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Tips on Using Cloth Diapers

Tips on Using Cloth Diapers

Earlier branded as messy and extremely inconvenient to use, thanks to innovations that have taken place, cloth diapers that are available today are not only convenient but also economical and healthier for babies. This variety is also environment-friendly unlike disposables. According to a recent estimate, almost 3.4 million tons of diapers end up in landfills every year.

While earlier cloth nappies could be tedious and actually add to the parents’ stress, today advancements have allowed for better varieties and, therefore, you find options that are snug fits and also waterproof. There are also options available that allow the baby’s body to breathe, preventing diaper rash and others that come with Velcro fasteners that make the entire process of changing the baby easy. Add to all these pros, the variety of patterns and colors that they are available in, and you will definitely question the logic behind using disposables when compared to nappies made of cloth.

Usage

If you have made the decision to side with the protagonist of this article, then you will want to know how to make your baby wear them. Let’s take a look.

  • Most varieties that are available in the market today are pre-folded, which makes it much easier to work with them.
  • Take a diaper and place it on the bed vertically. While doing so, ensure that the middle section which is the thickest is right at the center.
  • Next, you will need to fold the thinner sides that are on the left and the right to meet the middle section.
  • Remove the soiled diaper that your baby is wearing and place him or her on the diaper that you have placed. The top edge of the diaper should be at the same height as the navel of the baby. If your baby is small in size fold the top of the front of the diaper for boys and the top of the back for girls.
  • Now pull the side of the diapers towards the front of the diaper. Ensure you do this from around the back of your baby. Now secure the diaper with a convenient fastener.
  • Once you have tied the diaper around your kid, you can cover it with a diaper cover.
  • Though traditionally made from vinyl, today there are diaper covers available which are made from wool or even fleece.

Be careful with the fasteners you use. Many parents use safety pins but be careful while using these as it may hurt the baby. An option that is safer is using a fastener like the one Snappi manufactures. An alternative that many parents use is the easy tear tape that is available in most drug stores. The thicker variety of these tapes is very easy to use and lasts longer, especially if you use a long strip. In case you are using nappies that come with Velcro or snap fasteners, then these instructions would be redundant as they just snap into place. One thing to remember is to always have everything you need around the changing table. Keep wipes, powder, diaper covers, and anything else you need at hand.

Making your baby wear cloth nappies is extremely easy and after a while you will be able to perform the task blindfolded. Well almost! If the thought of the laundry pile is keeping you from using them, then there are companies that provide services of picking up dirty diapers and delivering clean ones. While the cloth option remains our first pick, it may be a good idea to have some disposable diapers at hand always. These may come in handy at the most inopportune of times, especially when you are traveling.

Ways to Play with a Newborn

Ways to Play with a Newborn

download-19Have you ever wondered how infants learn? Well, most parents will tell you how they constantly spoke to and played with their child during the initial years. Studies have proven that playing is one of the best ways to promote overall development in babies. They learn to move, communicate, and understand the things around them when they play different games. As a parent, it is important that you learn to play with a newborn so that you can help him develop his latent skills and abilities.

Playing with Babies

After the first one month, when the baby spends most of his time seeming drowsy and sleeping, he will slowly start seeming more awake and will also start responding to stimuli. Infants tend to be more receptive after the first month and this is the perfect time to start playing with your kid. While playing with your newborn child, it is important to understand when the child is receptive to you and when it would be right to allow the baby to rest. Quiet and alert babies are more receptive and responsive than babies who are awake, active and overstimulated. Playing with your baby is one way to start his learning process and help him in his overall development. With time your child will become more receptive to your touch, your sound, and your appearance. There are many different games that you can play with your newborn to stimulate him. Given below is a list of many different games that you can play with your child.

  • Above your child’s crib, hang a mobile with colorful extensions. You could also choose mobiles that have songs fed in. These could help in both visual and auditory development for your child.
  • Most infants are very receptive to sounds. In fact, several studies have been conducted on the benefits of music for babies. Pick CDs with soothing music or sing to your baby while swaying him. This can have a soothing effect on your kid.
  • All of us are familiar with the game of peekaboo. This is a great game to play with your child. Hide your face behind your hands and then show your baby your face again. Soon your baby will start responding when you show him your face.
  • If your baby is old enough to crawl, then place him at a distance from you and get him to crawl to you or to the sound of his favorite rattle. This is a great way of improving his skills at direction and also helping him develop his motor skills.
  • Give your babies different safe toys and objects to play with. Help him identify and explore things by touching them. This is a great way of making them more aware of their surroundings.
  • If you want to make your baby laugh with you or fascinate your infant, then try to make funny faces at your baby. Roll your eyes, stick out your tongue, wink, or just smile at your baby and see how amused he will look. In fact, he may also try to imitate you.

Other than this, ensure that you talk with your baby. This way you will make your child familiar with your voice. If he responds, then stop talking, listen to the baby, and then start talking again. This ensures that the baby knows that you are responding to him. Any toy that you use for the baby should be simple and easy to play with. Pick out toys in bright primary colors and exciting patterns. You could also choose to pick out options from the many educational toys for babies that are available in the market. Alternate the toys that your baby plays with every week so that he has new toys to be fascinated by. For a new parent, learning to play with a newborn can be both a frightening and exciting experience. There is always the worry that your child is not responding the way he should. Remember that no two babies respond in the same manner as every child grows at his own pace. As a parent, you need to remember that an infant’s attention span does not last for more than two minutes. If your baby seems agitated or overactive, then maybe it is time for him to rest. Playing with your newborn can be a lot of fun and it is something that you as a parent will always enjoy.

How to Choose High Chair for Your Baby

How to Choose High Chair for Your Baby

download-18A high chair is necessary for your baby once she is ready for solid food. The best thing about a high chair is that you can easily strap your baby in it and feed her properly. These chairs are helpful not only while feeding, but also if you are planning to start teaching your baby to identify shapes and textures.

Your baby will be spending a lot of time in this chair. So, choosing the right high chair is of utmost importance. Buzzle understands every mother’s concern towards the safety and comfort of her baby, and therefore, has compiled all the useful tips on how to choose the best high chair for your little bundle of joy.

High Chair Selection Pointers

The Types
Knowing and understanding the types of high chairs available in the market is very important. It makes the selection process much easier. Depending on your needs and space constraints, make your purchase. The types of high chairs available are:
Basic metal- or plastic-frame high chairs are very simple to look at, as they are just molded plastic chairs with the option of seat belts, trays, wheels, and cushioning. They are not heavy on the pocket and are light in weight, but are not very safe or comfortable for your baby.

Full-featured high chairs are equipped with features like wheels to roll the chair from place to place, cushioned seats with safety belts, detachable trays, height adjustments, and reclining options. They are on the expensive side due to all the features that they provide.

Portable and hook-on high chairs are those that are not freestanding, and can be hooked on to the table. They can be moved and stored easily, and they do not take too much of space. The best part about this type of high chair is that it can be attached to a regular chair, and it costs less than a regular high chair.
Wooden high chairs look awesome, but are full of drawbacks. They are expensive, heavy, uncomfortable for your baby as the seat is too deep, the footrest is too low, and it is not very safe. These chairs are difficult to clean because they are made of wood and also because these chairs have too many crevices where crumbs can get lodged easily. This factor makes it a bad choice for babies.

Safety

After you know and understand the types, safety is the next important concern. Make sure to buy a high chair that has the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) approval stamp on it. Apart from the JPMA stamp, look for safety features as mentioned below.
◆ Look out for blunt edges, points, and projections so that your baby does not sustain any injury, while in the chair.

◆ Opt for a chair with a sturdy construction and good stable balance so that your baby does not tip over or fall.

◆ The legs of the baby chair should spread wider than all the other parts of the chair.

◆ There should be no gaps, traps, or crevices, where your baby’s fingers and food might get stuck.
◆ The chair should not have small parts that can be a choking hazard for your baby.

◆ A secure locking mechanism should be present to keep the baby in place, the chair from collapsing, and operable only for parents.

◆ Wheels with a ‘lock and hold’ feature are the best.

◆ Go in for an adjustable 5-point harness that goes over the baby’s shoulders, between the legs, and around the waist to prevent her from slipping out or standing up, while in the chair.
◆ Choosing a chair with a crotch restraint is also very important.

◆ The back and side of the chair should not have very large gaps.

◆ The high chair should be devoid of pinch points to avoid your baby’s limbs from getting injured. This point also directly benefits parents, as even they might get their fingers pinched while adjusting or folding the chair.

◆ The chairs should be made of non-toxic material. Even the paints and glue used in the chair should be made from the same.

Other Features
After you check all the safety features thoroughly, you should also think about other features that you would like to have for your baby’s chair. Things like size of the tray, ease of cleaning, adjustability, storage, comfort, and cost are also very important factors in determining your purchase.

Tray and Cleaning

Look for a chair that has an easily removable and adjustable tray. Also, the tray should be big and void of concavities and angular ridges. Choose a tray that has a high, curved rim. Selecting a tray that does not have any indentations for cup holders, or an angular rim is for the purpose of easy cleaning. The tray should easily fit in the dishwasher or sink, and should have a dishwasher-safe cover. Apart from the tray, even the chair, seat, harness, and legs should not have too many areas that are hard to clean. The seat and harness should be detachable, and you should be able to wash them in a washing machine.

Adjustments and Storage

The height of the high chair and the tray placement should be adjustable. A sturdy locking facility should be present in every adjustment. Another factor that should be taken into consideration is that the high chair should be easily convertible into a booster seat, or a small kid-sized chair so that you can use it for your baby up to the age of about 5 years. Easy to fold and keep away when not in use is a point that many new parents make. If you are new to parenthood, you should choose a chair that folds easily, which you can either keep against the wall, or one that can stand independently. Also, make sure that the tray won’t be a problem for you when you plan to fold the chair. Many parents complain that they have to keep detaching the tray whenever they fold the chair, and it gets a tad inconvenient. So, choose a chair whose tray can be folded with the chair without the added hassle of removing and attaching it all the time.

Comfort and Cost

Comfort is a factor that should never be ignored. Your baby needs to be comfortable in her seat. Therefore, choose one that has enough padding to provide comfort for your little one, but still not be too difficult a task for you to clean. Like all nursery furniture varieties, the prices of even high chairs can skyrocket. Hence, choose a chair that fits your budget and needs. If you see a model that has everything you need, but makes you extend your budget a little more, think about it because your child will be making use of it till she is at least 5 years old, plus the chair has to be safe. Compromises should never be made on a child’s safety and comfort.
At the end of the day, select a high chair that is safe, comfortable, and fits your budget. Take a look at many designs and styles of high chairs, and after thorough study, make your purchase.

Best Parenting Tips For 21st Century Parents

Best Parenting Tips For 21st Century Parents

images-4The rise in modernity has brought drastic changes in everything around us. Thus, the parenting tips and mantras that worked for our parents years ago might need some modifications to work for 21st century parents. The parenting methodology for the upbringing of present generation children merges the core values of the past with the present.

For e.g. Parents might feel that the child is too engrossed in modern day technology such as Computers and internet, however there is a need to understand that they are an important education tool. Thus give your child the accessibility and rights to the modern day amenities with proper guidance.

Accept your child- The first step towards positive parenting is acceptance. Parents need to be open to your child’s thoughts and decisions. The things that were big deal during our growing up years might not be the same now. Acceptance will build up trust and intern develops a sense of security in a child. Thus, if a child demands do not bluntly say no because he is your child and he is young. Give it a thought and if it’s no big deal, accept it.

Communicate freely- Parents need to understand the generation gap with the child. Hence it is important to communicate and share each other’s thoughts, views and perceptions. This will not only develop a sense of understanding but will give freshness to your mind. It’s necessary to achieve a common consensus where the past values meet 21st century thoughts. As children are our future, it’s necessary for adults to understand and correct them whenever required.

Give Freedom- The time has gone when children were not allowed to go out or visit a friend’s place, it’s necessary to give freedom to the child for his holistic growth and development. Let your child grow in enough space to turn into a responsible adult.

Guide as a friend- While its necessary to give freedom and accessibility, there is an utmost need for the right guidance as well. Parents need to develop a sense of distinction between right and wrong within a child from an early age. Do not act like watch guards but be aware of your child’s activities. Also learn to say no in an assertive manner, don’t be rude but firm.

Induce modern values in your child by bringing modernity in your parenting. A child needs to grow keeping in mind the present era and the trends accompanying it. This will grow him into a healthy adult in future.

 

Babysitting Tips and Tricks

Babysitting Tips and Tricks

Babysitting includes a lot of responsibility, especially with hyperactive kids. Some ideas that can help manage its different related aspects are as under:

Making Cooking Fun

It’s best to arrive early before the parents leave, so that you get the proper details about the baby and the households. Depending on the time you are required to babysit, you may be called upon to do a number of jobs for the child or children. If you happen to be taking care of them during mealtimes, or if anyone feels hungry while you are in control, it would not be a bad idea to cook up something for them. If these are school-going children, you could make this a play activity; use their help in kitchen, and take their feedback on what they enjoy at the snacking time. However, make sure that you do not allow them to handle hot pans or liquids, and that they are dressed in proper clothes. It is better to not have them in loose fitting or easily inflammable clothes. Always make sure that the handles of the pans are turned inwards on the burner, so that there is no danger of anything being knocked over. Knives, choppers, and other such materials should not be used as far as possible during cooking with children. An elder person, or an adult should operate the microwave, as well as the gas burners. Cords of appliances should also be tucked away, preferably out of sight and reach.

Feeding the Right Way

Once the cooking is in place, feeding is the next activity you have to be careful about. Kids need to be fed, even school-going ones. For toddlers, cut the food into bite-sized pieces and put them in a plate, with a spoon handy. However, some children like to try eating with their hands, so let them. Remember, you are not required to make a gourmet meal, so no creamy, messy stuff. Keep the food dry and healthy to avoid unnecessary messes. Don’t let very young children eat small things by themselves; things like candy pops, popcorn, or even grapes can cause them to choke and panic. This could really mean trouble. So, be careful. When feeding an infant, be prepared for messy throw-ups; almost one in five children eat largely by throwing up half their food. Use a bib, keep a large mound of napkins handy, and then, have fun. Feeding babies can be a sweet experience for the babysitters.

However, it is a good idea to have a visit with the family, to see the way the child is used to being fed. After that, be prepared before you fix up the child for feeding. Keep the required equipment, cups, bibs, plates, napkins, and everything else ready before you start.

In case a bottle is needed for juice, etc., make sure that you take proper instructions on bottle preparation from the parents before you start. Also, be clear on the quantity of formula the baby is supposed to be given. There should be no change in the feeding routine. Make sure that you ask about the temperature of the bottle or formula beforehand. Do not panic, and stay calm. It’s indeed not rocket science; the baby can sense your panic. If you are relaxed and enjoying feeding the baby, she will enjoy eating, too.

If you have no prior experience in feeding babies, it will be wise to attend a feeding session with the child to learn how exactly the baby has to be held and treated. Some kids enjoy listening to good music while being fed; some need to be cuddled. What is imperative is that the baby has to be held up on the shoulder and burped after the feed, or be ready for more gas and vomiting, even irritating colic.

For slightly older preschoolers, solid foods are good, but some may like it mashed. In any case, cut it into bite-sized pieces. But, at all ages, be ready for a mess at feeding times.

Personal Care

Of course, as a babysitter, you will require to help the children with toilet needs in absence of the parents. In case of toddlers, you should be able to change the diapers and clean up. For small preschoolers, this may be toilet training time. So ask, when they want to go, and then take them to the pot. They may need your help; provide it. As for any other cleaning, there should be no need to bathe the child or children unless you are specifically instructed to. If you are, ask about bath time rituals the child is used to. What temperature water, favorite toys, and favorite post-bath snack he/she prefers… everything.

Playing Tips

While playing with kids, take care about the toys being used. Their size, their material, and also, the game should be child friendly. Stuffed animals are on their way out of a child’s closet in most families because of the various hazards of having fake fur, nylon, and polyester allergies, and even loose eye-buttons. So, try to follow the family tradition in toys. Similarly, toys with sharp edges and electronic toys should also be avoided. Battery-operated toys can be used, provided that the child is under supervision. This list should also include toys with cords or long strings.

Playing outdoors should also be a supervised activity. Make sure that the children keep a safe distance from rapidly moving swings, and at all times, ensure that the child is of the correct age for that particular activity or swing. In case it is a toddler, be careful of which swings he or she can enjoy.

A good babysitter can plan good games in the outdoors on the lines of a planned picnic, too. Pretend games for school-going children, physical activity games, and even pointing the great outdoors, all ensure a useful time sending exercise, even while outdoors.

Sleeptime

It is essential that the babysitter learn in advance about the child’s sleeptime essentials, the favorite activity for calming, favorite toy, and even the favorite book or story. The child will feel relaxed with familiar activities, especially if she is not the one who feels asleep with exhaustion.

To make a young child sleep, use the routine things with the assurance that when he/she wakes up, Mom and Dad will be home for him/her. In case of a toddler, you will be required to have a calming routine; usually, a soft song, or lullaby, or just holding on the chest and patting the bottom rhythmically can serve the purpose. It helps calm the child, relax, and make her feel secure. Sleep follows soon after.

Babysitting Flyer Ideas for You

Babysitting Flyer Ideas for You

Babysitting is a great way to earn some extra money. And if you’ve decided to give it a shot, you’ll need to advertise for it. How else will people know about your services? One of the best ways to get the message across is to prepare some uniquely designed babysitting flyers. Nothing catches one’s attention like flyers. So if you want to do that and don’t know how to, I’ll say just read the following article for all the answers.

The Basics

It is important to remember that a babysitting flyer template has to include all the information that you want the people whom you are targeting, to know. Include the following things on your flyer.

Name
Your name is the most important thing on the flyer. Make sure it is bold and clearly visible even from a distance. Never let the design of the flyer overshadow your name.

Contact
This includes all the essential information regarding your phone number, email address, or any other contact number. You do not need to give your local address. But make sure that your phone numbers are clearly mentioned. Also, write what is the best time for them to contact you. A good idea for you is to make several separate chits that you can attach to the end of your flyer, so that people can simply tear of that bit and take it with them.

Characteristics
Mention your positive attributes like patience, punctual, loves kids, friendly, responsible, experienced etc.

Days and Time Availability
Make sure to mention the timings that you are willing to work for, and especially the days. Many parents would want sitters on weekends, so if you’re offering that service it would really be of a great help for many.

Courses and References
This is a very important factor to talk about when it comes to your flyer. Do not forget to mention the related courses like first aid or babysitting courses that you’ve done. So also, make sure that you mention the babysitting experience you have had. And get references from all these jobs, but only state them if they ask for it.

Payment
The form of charges you will administer and what will be your babysitting rates will also have to be mentioned. Will it be hourly, or based on days? Will you charge more for weekends and how much more will you charge per child, plus an additional child.

Creative Ideas

How to make babysitting flyers? Here are a few ideas that you can use to design your own babysitting flyer. Make sure to make maximum impact. You can also include the varied activities that you will be taking up, or when you talk to them personally, you can mention it then.

Cartoon Characters
Nothing catches a child’s or a parent’s attention like a popular character from the cartoons. Design your flyer around this character and include all this information.

Attractive Wordings
Get their attention by penning down some very catchy phrases or styles of writing like ‘Want to enjoy a night out dancing with your husband but don’t know what to do about baby Thomas? It’s Emma to the rescue!’ This will immediately get their attention.

Develop a Story
This can get a little difficult but if you have a creative bent of a mind-go ahead and show it. Make up characters, putting yourself as the superhero babysitter or the like. Make sure that this does not take away from your name and other essentials.

Comic Strip
If you are good at drawing or can get someone to do it for you, draw up a panel that shows distressed parents in the first box, then your entry and by the end of the strip the parents having some time to themselves while you take care of the kid.

Examples

If It’s Babysitting You Want, It’s Babysitting You’ve Got!

I’m Marcy Jillian
(This should be in a font that is larger than the other text so that it gets highlighted)

I’m available on the number _______ (insert number here) and _______. Call me anytime from 4:00 to 7:00.

I charge $5 per hour and 1 dollar more for every additional child.

I’m available every weekday and weekend night.

I have done ________ course and have a first aid certificate from _________. I’m fun loving, responsible, patient, and I love children.

I have been babysitting for 3 years now and have handled kids from the age group 6 months to 11 years.

I also have references that I can provide for. Contact me personally for the same.

Babysitting flyers are an essential ingredient for generating business. Once you have this done, the rest depends on how far and wide you can get those flyers out. So get to it soon and earn those extra bucks fast.

Tips on Preparing Yourself for Child Custody Hearing

Tips on Preparing Yourself for Child Custody Hearing

If you are preparing yourself for a child custody hearing (generally contested because a couple could not come to a mutual, out-of-court agreement), you are mostly aware of the impact that the outcome will have on you and your child. You are probably scared, angry, embittered, depressed or on the verge of a nervous breakdown with all the worry over the verdict a judge will give. The first important thing for you to do, before you learn to prepare yourself for a child custody hearing, is to calm yourself. Nothing worthwhile can be achieved when you are in a heightened emotional state. You have held yourself together so far, hang on for a little longer and set aside your emotional outburst for a time after the custody hearing.

Once you have rid yourself of personal baggage, put your logical and rational mind to work. Think about your child with a clear and unclouded mindset. What would be in the best interest of your child? It is easy to get carried away by feelings and come to the conclusion that because your spouse failed to be a good partner, he/she would fail to be a good parent. As far as possible, look at the situation from your child’s point of view. Then, based on what you think is best for your child.

Things to Know Before a Hearing

As any experienced single parent would know, to win a custody battle is no less than winning an actual battle and just like a general has to have a strategy in place, a personalized ‘child custody strategy’ is a must. The worst thing that can happen in a child custody is overlooking a deserving parent as an unfit parent. More often than not, the reason for this lies in poor planning of the better parent. To avoid this from happening to you, here are a few things you must know.

  • The judge, or any other person in the court, does not know you. They might know about you based on the case file, but not who you really are.
  • Your advocate is a representative, not a projection of you. Trust him/her but don’t leave everything to him/her.
  • Courts no longer grant custody to a mother automatically. They decide the custody rights based on what is in the best interest of the child.
  • Study your state laws on child custody thoroughly.
  • Research on previous cases similar to yours.

Preparation for a Hearing

Self-evaluation
Honesty is indeed the best policy in a child custody hearing. As it is, your opponent in court is going to put you through a microscope. Instead of waiting for an outsider to reopen your wounds or use your weak spots as ammunition, you might as well do it yourself. While doing this, don’t limit your evaluation to just the parenting skills. The judge is going to focus on your parenting skills and see you as an individual. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What traits in my personality are commendable?
  • Which of my personality traits leave room for change?
  • What are all the parenting skills I possess?
  • What wrong choices or decisions have I made in the past?
  • Which parts of parenting am I weak at?
  • Which of my personality traits or parenting skills did my ex claim to be wrong?
  • What all can I provide my child with?
  • What will my child be deprived of, if he/she lives with me?

Your ex (and his/her attorney) is going to pinpoint even the slightest failings on your part. While it is impossible to be perfect (we are humans and humans fail), it is possible (and advisable) to use our failings as steps to go higher. Dress up your closet of skeletons with what you have learned and how it has, and will, positively affect your life. Also, the accusations of your ex may not seem worth your time, but being prepared with a reasonable explanation to them will make your case stronger and at least lower the confidence of your opponent. What you must not do is defend your wrongs. Accept them and show how you have effectively dealt with them.

Know Your Enemy
Now move on to the part you will probably do with ease: evaluate your ex. The tricky twist here is that you have to be honest. Simply put, view the actions of your ex as an outsider would. Being impartial in your views will give you a better idea about the strong and weak points of your ex. Besides, if you are objective in your assessment, the arguments you base on them will be objective too. The judge, and your ex (along with his/her advocate), will not be able to charge you with vindictive behavior. You will come across as someone who is more focused on the future of his/her child and not someone who is bent on getting back at an ex. Questions that will help you do this are similar to the ones listed above, but with a slight variation.

  • Which personality traits of your ex are good?
    (Which of your personality traits compensate for these?)
  • What are the questionable personality traits of your ex?
    (Does he/she have issues or traits, like anger management, that would put your child at risk?)
  • What past choices of your ex reflect negatively on him/her?
    (It can be anything that is detrimental to the well-being of your child.)
  • What good parenting skills does your ex possess?
    (Do you have these skills or are there any other extra skills that you possess?)
  • What are his/her shortcomings as a parent?
    (Include instances of child abuse or neglect, if any. Do not gloat.)
  • What can your ex give your child?
    (Are these things essential for your child? If yes, can you give them to your child?)
  • What will your child be deprived of, if he/she stays with your ex?
    (Include lack of time because of busy schedule or extended business tours, residence that is at a considerable distance from the school, friends and other activities the child is attached to.)

Again, focus on the custody issues that are related to your child in some way. Don’t accuse your ex of wronging you if that action had no direct impact on your child. For instance, if your ex had an affair, mention that only if your child discovered it in a way he/she shouldn’t have chanced upon it. You can use the current partner of your ex only if his/her relationship with your child will have an adverse or undesirable effect. Bear in mind that this is a child custody hearing, not a divorce proceeding. So don’t compete or try to ‘measure up’ to your ex – you are to evaluate, not judge your ex or even yourself. Highlight the significant issues only, as having a few but important points is of more value than a huge list of inconsequential issues.

Document Evidence
For all the points you list on your behalf, and the ones that you wish to use against your ex, evidence is essential. Support all your arguments with evidence because no one is going to take your word as true and infallible, especially in a family court. It might seem a hypocrite kind of thing to prove that you love your kids or you might not want to do anything with your ex anymore, but you will have to do this for the simple reason that the court (or the judge) cannot see a person’s heart or know his/her entire life in a few court hearings. Things that you can use as evidence are:

  • Proof of personal and financial stability which includes a secure job, a good house and if applicable, a steady partner
  • Photographs or videos that show the quality time you have spent with kids
  • Witnesses and official documents that prove you were involved in the educational and medical care of your child
  • Police records or medical reports against your ex, if any
  • Witnesses and evidence of abusive or dangerous behavior of your ex
  • Written documentation of instances when your ex missed child visitation or child support
  • Proof that the child’s schedule will not be disturbed, if he/she comes to live with you like details of school and extracurricular activities

One thing to know when you go for a hearing for the first time is that, even if you have given the most relevant evidences in your file, present yourself in the court as though the judge presiding over your child custody case has not read a word of it. As for witnesses, they can be doctors, teachers, neighbors or friends who have seen and can vouch for your interaction with your child. In case of your friends and family, a judge is inclined to believe that they will support you at all costs, so choose wisely. For those witnesses that you are not sure will present themselves for the hearing, you can request a subpoena (a court order to present a person) to be issued.

Child Custody Representative
You may choose to represent yourself per se, but it is best to choose a good, recommended and experienced advocate if you are not familiar with court proceedings. In case you want to go, study your case all the more objectively. Go for a session or two of consultation with an experienced advocate. Get your evidence and other custody related documents verified by an appropriate third person. You can take someone along as a support on the day of the hearing. If you choose to hire an advocate, then you need to do include the following things:

  • Choose someone referred to you than a stranger. Take the advice and opinion of those who have gone through successful custody battles before.
  • Interview a prospective advocate just as you would interview a prospective employee.
  • Ask him/her to give you references (a good advocate should be able to give them easily).
  • Question him/her on her strategy and plan of action. An advocate is as good as his/her preparation.
  • Different advocates have different communication methods. So, be sure to know when and how you will be contacted.
  • Do not hesitate to question your lawyer – you are going to put yourself and your child in his/her hands.
  • Give an honest appraisal of yourself, your ex, your child and the entire case at all times, in all things.
  • Spend enough time in discussing the strategy and overall proceedings of your case.
  • Tell your advocate to get information on the strategy of the advocate representing your ex, and the presiding judge, based on his/her previous cases.

Your advocate can sympathize or empathize with you, but in the end, he/she is there just to follow the courtroom rules on your behalf and can only do what you allow him/her to. Provide all the information, no matter how big or small, to enable your advocate in making effective defensive and offensive arguments before the judge in the family court. Being truthful and open with yourself and your advocate will help you in tackling your fears, which in turn will boost your confidence because, you will know there is nothing more for you to face or hide.

What to Do During a Hearing

✔ Following the courtroom etiquette goes a long way in impressing a judge.
✔ Be on your guard at all times and take any suggestion only after a thorough background search.
✔ Review all the documents relevant to the case till you know them inside out.
✔ Present witnesses from the medical, educational or law enforcement fields as far as possible.
✔ It is very beneficial if your child is involved in any social activity with you (like regular visits to friends or family).
✔ Diligently obey the orders of a court ruling.
✔ Have a mock questioning of witnesses along with your advocate, before the hearing.

What Not to Do During a Hearing

✖ Do not use your child to gain information about your ex – you will harm your child more than you will benefit your case.
✖ Do not bring your child to the custody hearing until you are ordered to do so.
✖ Do not bribe or manipulate your child for any reason, in any way.
✖ Do not get your partner or a new spouse to the court unless your advocate asks you to.
✖ Do not argue in the court – stating your point firmly is enough.
✖ Do not spring surprises at, or argue with your lawyer during the hearing.
✖ Do not give any wrong emotional response to any question directed at you.

Even if you are fighting a custody battle with your ex, remember that he/she is related to the child just the way you are. Do your best for what you know is best for your child and this sometimes requires you to be a little considerate to your ex (even when you could gladly banish him/her to exile). Be aware of the child custody rights that the court grants to the mother and the father of a child. Lastly, whatever may be the outcome of the hearing, be graceful even if it’s not in your favor.

Finding Reasons for Adopting a Child

Finding Reasons for Adopting a Child

In recent years there has been an alarming rise in the number of children in foster care homes. This sad observation can be countered to a considerable extent by encouraging couples to adopt. A positive point worth mentioning is there has been a noteworthy increase in the number of child adoptions in the past few years; people are now more willing to give home to a child, with a selfless intention. You should adopt only if you are ready to take all the necessary efforts for the child, and are capable of providing the expected to the child. The following paragraphs cover the points that discuss the reasons people take to adoption.

Reasons to Adopt a Child

It is the desire of every married couple to have children and experience the joy of raising them together. But in some cases, there can be issues that might prevent the couple from having children. But if you really want the love of a child, and also want to help someone, a good decision would be to adopt a child. The points listed below are the common reasons for child adoption.

  • Fertility problems, trouble in conceiving due to a late marriage are problems that might hinder begetting. For this reason many couples adopt a child.
  • Increased focus on work is making people marry late and this, to a certain extent, affects the ability to conceive. It is quite common to see couples who marry late, adopt a child.
  • Married couples also prefer adopting a child if either partner has problems in conceiving. There are also some medical conditions that can mar the ability of the person to give birth.
  • A couple suffering from genetic diseases can prefer child adoption than opting for a biological kid. The reason being – genetic diseases can be passed to kids from parents.
  • It is not uncommon to see married couples adopting a child even if their biological clock is ticking. This generally has selfless reasons, as in this case the reason is providing a homely atmosphere, along with love and care to the child.
  • There is nothing better than raising a child and then see him/her as a grownup after some years. It will give you a sense of responsibility along with a feel-good feeling.
  • Adoption of older children is observed in married couples who do not want to go through the phase of raising kids, as it might hinder their career and family life.
  • Couples, who have one biological kid might prefer adopting another.
  • Labor can be quite painful for women and can also have serious complications in some cases, so to counter it some couples take to adoption, just for a painless experience of having a child.

There are many other good reasons that people adopt a child. Sometimes, it is the sheer love for children that makes singles adopt children. Economically rich families also adopt children to give them the love and care of a family. A couple can adopt the child of their relative who for some reason, is failing to take care of that child. For someone adopting, the reason is making a difference in the world, it can be control of population, or protecting the children in foster care homes from the harshness of the world. It is often the case that children in foster care homes fall victims to drug abuse and other crimes. By adopting you are making a difference in the kid’s life. There are couples who adopt children from developing countries. It is a painful fact that child abandonment is more prevalent is developing and underdeveloped countries. And so, adoption is definitely a positive development, and a sign of altruism. Anyone can adopt a child, although there are certain rules are regulations that govern the process, the thumb rule is – the concerned persons should be capable of taking responsibility of the child and should ensure his/her future.

More than anything else, look at the adoption process through an emotional perspective. By adopting a child you are offering him/her a helping hand and making his/her life better to a huge extent. And he/she is also giving you something in return; the super feeling of being mom/dad. So adopt a child, without expecting anything in return and shower all your love on the child. I say it again, do not adopt if you are not sure about your decision and feel that you cannot give the child what he /she deserves from you. And what the child deserves? Well, he/she deserves the unconditional love and affection of parents, and a secure future, from you…

The Requirements to Become an Adoption Agent

The Requirements to Become an Adoption Agent

To start with, an adoption agent is the core link between the adoptive parents, the biological parents and the adoption agency or institution. It can be rightly said, that a child’s future depends a lot on the skills of an adoption agent. If you are looking out for a career in child welfare, then there is nothing better than applying to be an adoption agent.

Adoption Agent: Eligibility Criterion

Essential Qualifications
An ideal candidate for the post of adoption agent is expected to have a two years full-time master’s degree in Social work (MSW) or a law degree. Ideally, an additional qualification in international adoption laws and psychology is a must. After successful completion of your degree or master’s degree, you might be expected to work in a state-owned adoption institute for a minimum of 3000 hours before you qualify to officially work as an adoption agent. These are some of the basic and standard qualifications expected of an adoption agent. However, there might be slight state-wise variations in the expected formal credentials to apply for this post.

Training and Licensing
You need to possess a sufficient training, licenses and certifications from the state where you wish to work. This training can be acquired by working with some adoption institutions such as:

  • Private agency with placement programs
  • Private agency with a domestic infant placement program
  • Private agency with an international placement program
  • Public child welfare agency

A certification to this effect can be obtained from the National Board for Certified Counselors.

Background Check
The adoption agency usually conducts a background check for the adoption agent by scanning through the police records. An agent can be officially appointed only on receipt of a clean chit from the police.

Adoption Agent: Job Expectations

Counseling
An adoption agent, being a link between the birth parents and adoptive parents, has to handle a lot of emotions. He or she needs to be gentle, alert, open-minded and patient. At the same time, he or she needs to be completely honest about certain facts with either sets of parents or relatives. One of the core responsibility of an adoption agent is to help the birth mother or birth parents erase the guilt of giving up a child for adoption or foster care. Similarly, the experience of separation from a child at birth can be very traumatic for a birth mother. It is the agent’s responsibility to counsel her.

Hold Home Study
The adoption agent is expected to hold a home study visit wherein there are some mandatory procedures. The agent is expected to talk to all members of the family individually and in groups about the entire adoption process. This is what makes up the pre-adoption home study:

  • There are a set of documents that need to be filled and signed by the adoptive parents as well as the adoption agent. These documents form the basis of an adoption application.
  • During a home study, the adoption agent is expected to judge if the family is really suitable to adopt a child.
  • The adoption agent has to inform the family about the pros and cons of adoption, so as to prepare them for the actual adoption.
  • The agent has to inspect the actual home environment, run a check of criminal records on prospective adoptive parents and create a home study report. This home study report is handed over to the adoption panel for their review.

Pre-adoption Training
The adoption agent is expected to hold a pre-adoption training for the prospective adoptive parents before the actual adoption takes place. These training usually involves details on child care, case studies on how to inform the child about his adoption, etc.

Expected Salary
An adoption agent can expect an average salary ranging anywhere between $80,000 to $94,000 annually. These salaries may vary from state to state.

One needs to keep in mind that this job is not a field that offers a fat paycheck. Being an adoption agent is a satisfying job that makes you an angel of hope for the child, the adoptive parents as well the birth parents. Since you happen to be the main mediator during the adoption process, you are likely to be contact by the adopted child or his birth parents if they seek for a parent and child reunion. So, if you want to do something for the greater good without any materialistic temptation, then go for it!

Tips to Say to an Adopted Child

Tips to Say to an Adopted Child

Adopted children often feel like a second choice of the adoptive parents who could not have a child, and hence, resorted to adoption as a last option.
Adoption has worked for centuries, and will continue to work in the future. However, dealing with an adopted child may become difficult at times. This is because, we as human beings, tend to say certain things spontaneously, but these spontaneous words may not be appropriate in certain situations. As a result, conflicts may arise, which sometimes end up in broken relationships.

Being an adoptive parent, you cannot afford to be spontaneous in what you say, as it may have a devastating effect not only on the child’s mind, but also on the entire family. Understand that an adopted child does not sit the entire day contemplating about his adoption. Although it is a fact of his life, it is not the only important thing to talk about. Hence, it is better to avoid bringing up some sensitive topics while having a conversation with the child.

Please Note: To maintain the consistency of the article, the child has been referred to as a male.
What Not to Say to an Adopted Child

► You’re Special (because you are adopted)

Ideally, an adopted child should be treated as a normal child, in the sense that he should never be given different (special) treatment than others. Also, saying that he is special and unique may not be appreciated by the child, because he wants to be like other children and should always be treated as one amongst them.

► You Are Lucky

What is so lucky about being an adopted kid? Is the child lucky because his parents gave him up? Is he lucky because he does not have any clue about his biological parents, and if he will ever find them? These are the things one must think about before calling an adopted kid, lucky. Actually it’s the parents who feel they are lucky because they have adopted a kid, not to give him an opportunity for a better life, but because they are able to make a family like others.

► You Don’t Look Like Your Family (are you adopted?)

It is really the height of insensitivity to ask a child this question. The child may be already going through mental stress, and making such a statement will only aggravate the emotional distress. Moreover, the child’s past is his own story, which need not be shared with everyone, and hence, one should not focus on such unimportant things.

► Your Mother Loved You So Much; Hence, She Gave You Away.

This is the most confusing statement for the child. If you give a second thought to this statement, you will also realize its vagueness. And when you, as an adult, cannot understand the meaning of this statement, then how will that little one comprehend and respond to it?
Moreover, the child’s innocent mind will think that his mother loved him a lot, and hence, gave him away. Now, his adoptive mother also loves him, so will she too give him away?

Other things that you should never mention in front of an adopted kid include:

➼ You shouldn’t be angry or sad.
➼ It does not matter.
➼ You should be grateful to your adoptive parents.
➼ Forget your past, and get on with life.
➼ Why do you need to find your parents?
➼ You were chosen.

For adoptive parents, it is important to decide whether you want your child to know about his past or not. If you decide to tell him his past, learn the correct way to do that, and if you don’t want to reveal the truth to him, avoid saying a few things which may shatter his life. Also, never use the word ‘real’ for addressing the child’s biological parents, because there is nothing like real and unreal when it comes to parenting.