When we first started planning The Shy One’s birthday party I was unaware that November is “Adoption Awareness” Month. This month I have become very aware of adoption. I read this post that a friend brought to my attention and since then I haven’t been able to get this line out of my head; “bad things had to happen for adoption to happen.” I think its something I always knew in my head, but it was overshadowed by the happy couples, unable to have their own children, holding babies in their arms. Then a little while later a friend of mine who has adopted a son shared this: “You see adoption starts with loss, and not just a minor ‘hey look, I lost my tooth’ sort of loss, but a mind-bending, heart-wrenching, complete upheaval of everything you know sort of loss.” and since then I have been thinking deep thunks about adoption and all the while planning The Shy One’s Puppy Adoption Party.
I’ll admit it, I stereotype people whose dogs have ended up in shelters. Right away I think of bad people who have abused animals, or parents who couldn’t say no to entitled kids, or irresponsible folk. All those images that pop into your head from the term “rescue” when it comes to pet adoptions. In my new awareness of adoption I began to think of that family who lost their income and could not afford that one more mouth to feed. Or the senior who moved into an assisted living residence that does not accept pets. Or folks who have lost everything, including a pet who just didn’t come home.
There are all kinds of scenarios that lead to adoption and although our party was fun, kids learn through play, and so in a way we were planting seeds about adoption and what an animal’s needs are.
We started off with this basket of pups. Each child got to choose one. They picked a popsicle stick with a number on it, to make the order fair.
Then we decorated dog houses. I found these gems at Michaels for $1.99, (plus a bonus 30% off everything coupon!). I love me a deal. The kids got to decorate them however they wanted with markers and stickers.
Then came time for the supplies a dog would need. We started with the “puppy treats”, a way to put some food into the kids loot bags. Although none of the kids will ask, all of the treats had some meaning. First, hershey kisses for the love a puppy needs and gives, rockets for all their energy, a candy necklace which is kind of like a collar and “dog food” (corn pops and cocoa pebbles and chocolate bone-shaped sugar cookies).
We went on to fill the dog house with other things the puppies would need. A ball for play, a blanket and of course an adoption certificate.
We had the party at our church because we needed some space to do our second activity: a dog agility course. The Hubster pulled this one all together and it was great.
Weaving is a skill all dogs must prove in an agility course:
The trick is to do the whole thing with speed… even up on the balance beam.
Don’t forget to crawl under.
They tested their hand-eye coordination throwing frisbees at targets.
And finally sped through the bouncy castle, because no gym party is complete without the bouncy castle.
We of course had some human treats,
And no decor to speak of as I ran out of time and the space was HUGE. But, on a scale of 1 to 10 The Shy One gave the party 1 million.
The party and “Adoption Awareness” month have both wrapped up, but I know I will still be thinking deep thunks about adoption, of both people and pets.
I am so proud to know people who are doing the work of adoption. As my dear friend says, “The most profound lesson I learned in the adoptive parent training is that we as parents are our child’s loss managers. We are to help them wade through the losses, give voice to the losses, confront the losses, overcome the losses, and not be offended and hurt when all that rage towards the losses is directed at us.”
I am now aware of the sacrifice of bringing healing to our hurting world through adoption and I applaud all those involved in the process. Your strength, courage and long-suffering have humbled me and I thank you.