Dr. Robyn Silverman Announces Birth of Daughter, Talia

silverman_familyDr. Robyn's daughter Talia

Hello everyone!

It’s been an exciting couple of days!  Many of you know that my husband and I have been matched to adopt our baby girl’s birth parents for 9 months.  Well, February 19th was the day!  Talia Paige Silverman was born on 2/19 at 10:19am weighing 5 pounds, 6 ounces and measuring 16 inches long.

Dr. Robyn holidng baby Talia

We are so grateful to have been there for her birth!  Our Tallie was supposed to be born on Monday, Febrary 24th after 6pm through induction.  However, she didn’t get the memo and decided that earlier was better.  Our birth mom went in for her check up last Tuesday and was already dialated to 3 centimeters– on Wednesday she was told her fluid was down to a 6 and our daughter would be here very soon.  Thursday was the day!  We flew out as soon as we heard that the induction was going to be moved up.  After delays in Atlanta, due to weather, we arrived in Oklahoma at 2am, went to our hotel, took a 55 minute nap, and were off to the hospital for the 6am induction.  Funny, I think our Talia was thinking “induction insmuction”– she was coming anyway.  Our birth mom was already at 4-5 centimeters!

Dr robyn in scrubs

With me, my husband, our birth mom and our birth father all in the delivery room, we felt surrounded by love and gratitude.  What a blessing.  Our birthmom only needed to push 1 1/2 times before Tallie made her way into the world.  After getting cleaned off, weighed and measured, and my husband cut the cord, she was handed to me for our first encounter.  She was beautiful and so small!  I had the honor of being able to introduce Talia to our birthmom, exactly as we all had planned it together, and it was one of the most beautiful and precious moments of my life.  We all felt like family before the birth and we became family after.

After spending a few days in the hospital with our little girl, we’re now settled into an apartment for a few days as the paperwork goes from state to state for approval.  It’s been an amazing few days.  We got together with our birth family for sushi the other night and I’ll be making a turkey dinner for everyone, including some extended family, tomorrow night.  Perhaps you might be surprised by that– but there has been nothing typical about this adoption.  It’s been a pleasure in everyway.

Dr. Robyn and daughter talia

Our birthmom courageously went to court this morning and did the most loving thing for Talia–legal custody is now ours.  She is the bravest, most thoughtful person we know.  It’s been such an honor to have gone on this journey with her.   Through countless text messages, phone calls, emails, and precious conversations, she has been so thoughtful to include me in every part of the pregnancy. I’ll discuss this more in future posts– but know this, adoption can be easy, and lovely, and wonderful in every way if you choose to make it that way, follow the signs, and open your heart.

Talia being held by Jason Silverman

I’m excited to share our unusual and spectacular experience with all of you. I’m even coaching some people through part of the process. In addition, our social worker, our birth mom, and myself are planning to run a teleconference so people can hear about our outstanding experience and how it can be. So contact us if you’re interested so we can send you some information when we plan it.

Please feel free to ask questions.  There are so many unfortunate myths about adoption itself, open adoption in particular, and US adoption to boot.  And while we acknowledge that not everyone has the same experience as we did– my point is, that it’s possible to have it this way– adoption doesn’t have to be a series of mishaps, broken hearts, and years on end of waiting. We are living the reality– and it’s wonderful. We’re proud of our journey and hope it will inspire others out there who are thinking about adoption…and perhaps even open adoption like ours.

The Proud Mommy,

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

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Questions to Ask Your Children about Trust

Family around dinner tableDr. Robyn Silverman

Some parents have asked me for some great conversations they can have at their dinner tables about the Powerful Wordtrust.  It’s a great idea to set aside time to talk about values and listen to what your children have to say.  You can even put some questions on cards and put them in the middle of the table, have each person pick a card, read it, and answer.  Or simply take turns answering the question around the table.

You can take the same principal and do “sentence stems.” This is when you start a sentence and have someone else finish it.  It reveals how your family members think is a fun way.

Here are some examples of “Powerful conversation starters” and “Sentence stems” you can use to talk about trust and honesty.

  1. Is it ever alright to lie? Can you think of a time when you might have to lie? What would the rest of the family think about that?
  2. Is it ever alright to steal? Can you think of a time when you might have to steal? What would the rest of the family think about that?
  3. Who are the people, other than those in your family, who you trust the most? What makes you trust them?
  4. When was the last time that you showed someone that you are a trustworthy person?
  5. If someone breaks trust once, do you think he’ll do it again? Why or why not?
  6. When I make a promise…
  7. When someone tells me a secret…
  8. When someone trusts me I feel…

I’m sure you can think of your own Powerful Conversation Starters and Powerful Sentence Stems that you can bring to your dinner table. Sometimes you might find that you’ll go through many– other times you might find that an involved and interesting conversation comes from one little question.

Try it– and let us know the results!

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

Children’s Books on Trust

trust_bookDr. Robyn Silverman

I’ve recently been asked about ways to bring up the Powerful Word, Trust, in your family.  One way to do that is through Children’s Literature.  With so many books to choose from– and books for all ages, reading is a great way to get kids thinking. Not everything is about computers, right? Ask your librarian to help you choose books that echo the themes you’re learning in your Powerful Words Member School.

Here are just a few children’s books that use trust as a central theme:

Books on Trust

The Berenstain Bears and the Truth, written and illustrated by Stan and Jan Berenstain
This book from the popular Berenstain Bear series teaches your children about the importance of telling the truth. When Brother and Sister Bear accidentally break Mama’s favorite lamp, a little lie grows bigger and bigger until Papa Bear helps them find the words that set everything right again.

The Boy who Cried Wolf, Fable

“A liar will not be believed, even when telling the truth.” There was a Shepherd Boy who tended his sheep at the foot of a mountain near a dark forest. He thought it would be funny to play a trick on the villagers. He rushed down towards the village calling out “Wolf, Wolf,” and the villagers came out to meet him. This pleased the boy so much that a few days after he tried the same trick, and again the villagers came to his help. Shortly after this a Wolf actually did come out from the forest. The boy cried out “Wolf, Wolf,” still louder than before. But this time the villagers, who had been fooled twice before, thought the boy was again lying, and nobody came to his aid.

The Butter Battle Book, by Dr. Seuss. NY: Random House, 1984.
This story presents a ridiculous example of prejudice against people who do things differently. It looks at pride in one’s own beliefs and examines trust, respect and responsibility.

Falling Up – Poems and Drawings, by Shel Silverstein. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1996.
This collection of poems includes several that focus on trust, respect, responsibility, caring, fairness and citizenship.

George and Martha Rise and Shine, by James Marshall. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1976.
This is comprised of Five short stories teach about lying, helping people, joining in, comforting and trusting.

A Light in the Attic – Poems and Drawings, by Shel Silverstein. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1981.
This collection of poems includes several that focus on trust, respect, responsibility, caring, fairness and citizenship.

The Lion and the Mouse- Aesop’s Fable

This fable features the story of a lion who was awakened from sleep by a Mouse running over his face. Rising up angrily, he caught him and was about to kill him, when the Mouse piteously entreated, saying: “If you would only spare my life, I would be sure to repay your kindness.” The Lion laughed and let him go. It happened shortly after this that the Lion was caught in some ropes by the hands of some hunters. The Mouse, recognizing his roar, came gnawed the rope with his teeth, and set him free. The story shows that even someone weaker and smaller can uphold their promises and be trustworthy.

The Real Thief by W. Steig, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

Gawain the goose is really devoted to King Basil the bear and so he takes his job as Chief Guard of the Royal Treasury seriously. When rubies, then gold ducats, and finally the world-famous Kalikak diamond vanish from the treasure house, there is no way to account for the disappearances. Only Gawain and the King have keys! Gawain is falsely accused of stealing the precious commodities until the real thief steps forward with a guilty conscience.

Trust Me, Mom! by Angela McAllister

Today is the day that Ollie will finally be allowed to go to the store all by himself. He can barely contain his excitement, and Collins’s exuberant illustrations show him leaping down the stairs. His mother’s instructions are also very comically rendered, as she dons fake glasses and a mustache when warning him not to talk to anyone. He is quite confident and reassures her with the title phrase, Trust me, Mom. But he doesn’t venture far before he encounters a monster, something his mother didn’t caution him about. After scaring the creature away with a loud roar, Oliver resourcefully deals with a ghost, a witch, a bear, and two aliens before successfully completing his errand. The text has appealing turns of phrase, as when the ghost fades away like a sad puff of breath after Oliver tells it that he doesn’t believe in it.

The Wild Kid by Harry Mazer (1998) Gr. 4-6.

Sammy, a 12-year-old with Down syndrome, doesn’t intend to run away. But he ends up lost in a forest preserve, eventually falling over the hideout of Kevin, a reform-school escapee who has been living in the preserve for months or, perhaps, years. Not willing to have his cover blown, Kevin doesn’t know what to do about Sammy. As the two share fragments of their life stories, Kevin shows Sammy the ropes, and both find their mutual distrust fading. Ignoring Kevin’s scorn, Sammy decides that Kevin should come live with him and be his brother. The 13-day adventure is seen entirely from Sammy’s point of view, and Mazer captures his world, his feelings, and his reactions with convincing surety. Readers will be equally drawn by Kevin’s internal struggle between loneliness and fear of discovery, though he remains a less well defined character. In the end, Kevin makes an anonymous call to police, then fades back into the forest, leaving Sammy with a story that no one really believes, plus the poignant expectation that his “brother” will come soon. Kevin’s sudden disappearance makes a stimulating loose end that may, paradoxically, strengthen readers’ responses to this survival-story-with-a-difference.

Take a look at others! Please add your favorites…

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

Dear Dr. Robyn: My Dad’s in Jail

jail

Dear Dr. Robyn,

My Dad’s in jail because he broke the law and did something really dumb that I don’t even want to talk about. My Mom has to work all the time and she always cries and my little brother seems like he doesn’t want to talk to anyone not even me. He says he wants to see us and to visit him in jail but I don’t know because I’m really mad at him. I don’t trust him anymore. I don’t even know what to do please help. -Izzy

Dear Izzy,

I’m so sorry about what you’re going through. I can tell you are in great pain and it doesn’t seem at all fair. I’m glad you reached out.

When a parent goes to prison, it can feel like the entire family is being punished. You’re now living in a one-parent household with a parent who seems sad, overwhelmed and overworked. You probably are dealing with conflicting feelings. You may miss him and feel like you hate him all at the same time. You love your father but you may be frustrated by what he did, embarrassed that he broke the law, and angry or sad that he’s not at home with you and your family. You might even be thinking that your parent is “a bad person” or that you “don’t even know him anymore.”

First, remember that you don’t have to make any decision right away. You can take some time to sort out your feelings and decide what to do. Write out your feelings in a diary or talk to a friend, relative, mentor, teacher, instructor, doctor or religious confidante. When we talk or write things out, we can come to conclusions. You don’t want to bottle things up.

Second, keep doing the things you love. Spend time with friends. Stay involved with your activities like martial arts, gymnastics, and drama. Surround yourself with people you live and the people who love you. Keeping a routine, as much as you can, and spending time with supportive people who care, can help you cope during this rough time. Second, you can choose to write letters to your parent. This way, you open the lines of communication between you and your parent without seeing him until you’re ready.

Third, you can visit your parent if that is an option. Visits can help you rebuild your relationship, answer the questions you have on your mind, and work out your feelings. While visits can be stressful, they may help you to get on a path of healing.

Fourth, you can look into information and support groups that can help you through this tough time (.e. Rainbows, Family Connection Centers, Crisis Centers, Online Communities ). Talking out your frustrations and concerns with others who are going through a similar situation can make you feel less alone. You may feel like the only one going through this but you’re not–The 2004 prison population report showed that there are approximately 2.26 million people incarcerated in U.S. prisons. That means a lot of families are affected. The support groups may give you the space and support you need. Encourage your family to go as well.

Fifth, remember that keeping the anger and frustration to yourself isn’t helpful to you or anyone else around you. I know that you’ve been part of a Powerful Words member school for a while now and you know that forgiveness, empathy, and anger management are all important for our health.

This may be a tall order, and you will probably never forget what your father did, but perhaps, in time, you can learn to forgive. Continue to reach out. You don’t have to do this alone. In time, and with some support and emotional digging, you’ll know what to do. Listen to your gut and ask for help when you need it.

We’ll be thinking of you.

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

Salma Hayek Breastfeeds Dying Infant: Your Take?

Dr. Robyn Silverman

In partnership with Pampers, actress and humanitarian Salma Hayek has been spending time in Africa on a UNICEF mission to raise awareness for tetanus.  One child dies every three minutes from Tetanus, a preventable disease.

A recent ABC news report followed the actress and reported that Salma stood at a baby’s bedside as she took her last breath, as the 7 day old baby’s young mother, looked on. If the woman had simply been given a vaccine while pregnant, a medication that only costs 7 measly cents, the newborn would still be alive today.

At another clinic, Salma Hayek was so moved at seeing the suffering of a starving baby who was born on the same day as her little girl, Valentina, that she picked up the baby and nursed him.

salma hayek with daughter Valentina

Hayek appeared on last Thursday’s Today Show and talked about it. Kathie  Lee Gifford asked, “You found a child that was starving to death, the mother had no milk – and you nursed that baby?” Hayek nodded and then said, “It’s about women sticking together and we really need to help the children in any way we can.”

As a soon to be mother in 13 short days when we adopt our little girl, I had a visceral reaction to this story.  The idea of baby’s dying of preventable diseases and circumstances makes me feel both sad and frustrated.  We must continue to teach our children the Powerful Words of citizenship, generosity, kindness, empathy and compassion. Reading about some people’s comments about this “contraversial” story, especially those condemning Salma for nursing another woman’s baby, or calling it “disgusting”or “unnatural,”  leads me to wonder just how far away from “natural” we’ve all come.

What are your reactions to this story?If your child asked you about it, what would you say?

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

Dear Dr. Robyn: I think my child’s depressed

depression teenDr. Robyn Silverman

Dear Dr. Robyn,

I’m worried that my daughter is depressed.  She always loved to go to her classes and right now she doesn’t want to do much of anything.  I’ve had her teachers talk to her and she just seems lethargic.  She’s always been one to talk about commitment and other “Powerful Words” like perseverance and goal-setting.  I don’t know what happened. She doesn’t seem happy at all and whenever I ask her about it she tells me she doesn’t know why she’s sad.  What should I do?

–Shawna P, Massachusetts

Dear Shawna,

It might surprise you that the diagnosis of depression has been becoming more frequent among young people. Teen Depression.org states that as many as 1 in 33 children and 1 in 8 teens may have depression. They also are experiencing more and more stress which can lead to feelings of frustration and sadness.

There are two kinds of depression.Depending on what the source of depression is, will help you to determine what to do:

If your child has situational depression, it means that she is sad for a reason. Examples of reasons would be: a fight with her best friend, a bad grade at school, or problems with parents can cause her to feel sad or hurt. These feelings usually go away in minutes, hours, or days.

On the other hand, clinical depression, is when a traumatic event or the chemical makeup of the brain causes prolonged feelings of sadness, worthlessness, irritability, changes in sleep patterns or appetite, or even thoughts of suicide or self-harm. Events that can be a source of depression for your child might be: being a victim of a violent crime or watching one occur, parents divorcing or someone stable in your daughter’s life has left, the death of a family member, or recurring bullying at school.

In other cases, clinical depression seems to have no reason at all—it’s caused by the imbalance of the chemicals that run through your child’s brain. This type of depression is often passed down genetically through families.

Symptoms of depression:

  • Persistent sad or irritable mood
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Significant change in appetite or body weight
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation
  • Loss of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

On of the big problems with clinical depression and preteens or teens is that many adults regard the signs of depression as typical mood swings.  After all, many preteens and teens are moody! Parents might regard the signs as a phase and doctors might not want to prematurely label a child who may simply be going through a developmental stage. But parents are important in the fight against depression. You have to listen to your gut– early diagnosis and treatment of clinical depression are very important to healthy social and emotional development as well as to performance in school and friendship relations.

Continue to encourage your child to go out with friends, get exercise, eat a healthy diet, and do all the things she loves– surround her with positive, supportive people like those she loves at her Powerful Words member school.  Of course, many children need much more so…

If you think your child may be suffering from clinical depression, it’s important to get help for her. Clinical depression doesn’t just “go away.” Talk to your child and be honest with your concerns. You can then take her to a doctor so she can get help.  Her doctor can discuss a course of action and a treatment plan that may include therapy and/or medication.

There is no shame in getting help!

Best regards,

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs


17 Days ‘Til Mommyhood: What to Bring for Baby?

Dr. Robyn's Dog Casey and the crib

OK- Let’s begin the official countdown to Mommyhood.  The induction has been set and us, the adoptive parents, and our fabulous birthparents are all gearing up for the big day: February 23rd.  The induction is scheduled for 6pm– so we anticipate a long night! We couldn’t be more excited. Jason, my husband, will be cutting the cord and we’ll all be in the delivery room together. Yay!

Great friend, Dena, has talked us through what she believes we’ll need for our trip to Oklahoma.  We’ll be there for at least 10 days after the baby is born.  Here’s her list.  Please be sure to add on what you think we’ll need or suggest that we take off something that you don’t think we’ll need.

Here we go:

Feeding Needs

  • 8- 4 ounce Bottles with nippl4es
  • Breast Milk: 28 ounces X 14 days (392)
  • Formula on hand: Ask Pediatrician (Nutramigan Lipil)
  • Sanitizer or sterilizer for bottles (is there a dishwasher?)

Diaper Needs

  • 1 diaper every 2 hours (12 diapers per day X 14 days- newborn size= 168 ) MY GOODNESS!!!
  • wipes—unscented 2 packages
  • Balmex- 1 tube

General Needs

  • Binkies, just in case (both latex (Nuk) and silicone (Avent)
  • Blankets (cuddly—3—laundry?)
  • 1 receiving blanket to send to our dog, Casey, staying with friends
  • Travel grooming kit
  • Kit- medical
  • Gas drops (CVS brand is fine)
  • Colic stuff/stomach
  • Saline Nasal Spray
  • Infant Tylenol
  • Baby Washcloths
  • Travel baby wash

Clothes

  • 2 outfits per day (is there laundry? Yes!)
  • Onesies (under clothes)
  • Socks?
  • Baby hats
  • Bunting
  • Gowns

Toys

  • Musical toy (soothing)

Travel

  • Car seat
  • Base
  • Travel Bassinette
  • Camera
  • Phone
  • Wrap/sling

Katie suggests:

  • Premee hats (the other ones seem to big!)
  • Isomil adv
  • Carter’s socks with rubber
  • Wrap onesies

How about some Powerful Parent advice from all you Powerful Parents out there? What would you add to the list?  What do you wish you had but didn’t? What couldn’t you have done without? Comment below or on FaceBook. (By the way, if you friend me on facebook, please let me know that you are “friending me” through the blog and who you are so I know where you’re coming from!

17 days and counting!

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs