Monday, March 28, 2011

Adoption 101

Spend time teaching your newly adopted kids. It is all to easy to get caught up in the caretaking aspect, and forget the mommy aspect of knowing what makes your kids tick. What they really enjoy, and what they don't.

You need to spend time becoming their mom which means that you are on the floor figuring out what is going on inside their mind and how to get in there. You deserve to know your child better than their therapist, their teachers, their Doctors or specialists, their paras, and so on.

It will take time, and lots of trial and error... but to really feel like and be "mom" you have to be fully committed, fully involved, fully engaged, and then when your 8 year old daughter with Down syndr, who came home not knowing anything but how to survive, touches her nose in response to your question "Where is your nose?" for the first time you will be over the moon happy! You will KNOW that you are beginning to figure her out and that you are her mom because there just isn't anyone as giddy about it as you are in that moment!


And just for fun, here is a pic of my girls, Riley 18, Quincy 11, Yana 8, and Tavi 5.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

My Heart Hurts....

Boy, Born August 2010

Goog grief, I do not know why they must leave these children left to suffer like this! Maybe they do not feel comfortable enough with their own surgical expertise, but this child needs surgery and a family of his own, and NOW!

From his medical records: hydrocephaly

More photos available, married couples only.

My arms are aching to hold him and bring him the care and help he needs! He is in Eastern Europe. Jesus, please send his family now!

If you are his mama, please visit this link! NATHANIEL

There are no words in me at this moment, only prayer....

Monday, March 21, 2011

It's A Celebration!

My little Yana turned 8 years old yesterday [03/20/2011]. And today is World Down syndrome day! Thank you Jesus for bringing this little one into our lives! Our family is better for her being a part of it!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lets Keep It Real....

Honesty? Bleck... I hate keeping it real on this blog. To many people read it that I probably put up a pretty good front for. Well, actually I guess it is not really a front, it is just a matter of only sharing and showing the good stuff. And the good stuff is real, but so is that hard stuff, and that is what I don't like to share.

But sharing the hard stuff is important. It is important because I have found it is all to easy to feel isolated in the struggles one has with raising kids, let alone raising children adopted from orphanges over seas and those same children with disabilities that make progress even harder, and ever sweeter! [Was that a run on sentence? ;)]

The girls have been home from Bulgaria for 8 months now. Lets start with the GOOD, well the FABULOUS really.

Miss Yana is doing amazingly well! I mean, truly, sincerely, completely, and honestly WELL! She has my heart and I feel like I am almost at 100% of having that genuine "mommy" feeling towards her at all times.

I know we all like to think that in adoption, one that we worked so hard to make happen, and waited so long for, that that "mommy feeling" is immediate and overwhelming and solid. Well, are you sitting down? Because I am here to tell you "that ain't the way it is!".

You see, first it starts with a overwhelmingly tender feeling every time you dream of your little one or look at their picture. Then you meet them, and most times you still have the feeling. Then you have them home and it is one moment at a time... sometimes you love them so much it hurts and sometimes you feel like you are babysitting someone else's kid and truth be told, a really strange and unlikeable kid at that! [And that is just the highly condensed version!] [I will add that this was with the adoption of the 3 that were older. Luke, adopted as an infant, took all of about 5 seconds to win 100% of my heart. That is the blessing of newborn adoption. :)]

Relationships take time. Building good memories to get you through the hard moments and days and weeks takes time. Getting to know someone, knowing them in a way that someone else doesn't takes time. Letting love grow from a choice into a genuine feeling takes time. And to make things harder yet, there is no time line for how much time it takes!

Now back to miss Yana. I love this little girl!! Her smiles make me smile, her joy fills my heart with joy, her achievments no matter how small make me want to shout and do the Arsenio Hall "Wuh, wuh, wuh" with my fist.

I find it amazing that this little girl, who had NO ONE for 7 1/2 years, who attached to no one, who had no communication besides crying when hungry is following her MAMA ALL OVER THE HOUSE. She wants attention and she wants it now! If mama isn't home, then she will find someone... usually her big sister Quincy who is a sucker like me and picks her up all the time! :)

She is getting so strong. She now will slap our hands to play pat-a-cake and other games. No more wimpy, half hearted attempts. She crawls very quickly and does not seem to tire easily. She is learning to be pulled to a standing position by bending her knees! That is huge! I am trying to teach her to bounce, but she doesn't seem to have the knee muscles yet... She will stand for just a couple of seconds, sometimes as much as 10 if she doesn't realize it :). Her personality is jsut growing by leaps and bounds. She makes eye contact, demands engagement, and knows what she wants. She will crawl to her highcghair when hungry. She will search for a specific toy, even remembering sometimes where she last saw it! She is making many letter sounds, and almost has me convinced she says her name. She did not make any sounds beside hissing and spitting and grunting when she came home except randomly on accident it seemed.

Our little girl who had no personality, no opinion, no autonomy is becoming an assertive, engaging, opinionated ball of joy within the safety and love of HER family! She is alive and loving it!!

She has such a long way to go though. She still only eats from a bottle. She needs to learn to walk. Potty training ... well we don't need to discuss what isn't happening do we? ;) The fact is she is doing great, and while occassionally I still get worn out with all the annoying, and sometimes embarrassing orphange behaviors... She is my daughter in my heart and I find her amazing. It seemed like a long road to this point, but looking back it seems to have flown by.


Now for the hard. Little Miss Tavi. I will start by saying things are going well. And maybe if I didn't have the twin process of Yana to compare it to I would even say things are going great!? But I can't say that for sure.

The thing is Tavi was "supposed" to be able to bond better. At least according to all the text books and articles I read. She did have a special caregiver. She was favored by orphanage staff, adored by some. She received better nutrition, was in a good group of kids, and got around very well.

But she is not bonding well. Her emotions are not engaged. Oh she shows happiness readily enough. She even cries sometimes. But not really when she should. If she gets "yelled at" or "in time out" or some other thing that conveys displeasure she appears clueless.... sometimes she will draw into herself a little bit, but not much. If she gets hurt she will occassionally cry, or laugh, or hit herself and laugh... but that is the exception not the norm.

She appears to LOVE everyone. She is so exicted to be picked up by someone new. She does not like coming back to me. I know that some people take this as she loves them to pieces, and I like to see Tavi happy, but I do get irritated to and want to say "You know, she really doesn't care about you at all..."

I CRAVE a sincere emotion from my 5 year old daughter. I CRAVE REAL interaction from her. My heart is longing for her to see me as more than the constant care taker who represent sameness, boring routine, been there done that kind of things. I dont' care if it is extreme dislike, I just want it to be genuine.

She is still living in her shell, and I am constantly brain storming and searching for a trigger to let her break free. She is a sensory addict. She craves tactile input. She loves to be thrown in the air, spun around, wrestled with, snuggled up tight, rocked, carried around like she's riding a pony and so on.

She is obsessed with that stuff so much, from absolutely anyone, that I am developing an aversion to interacting with her like that. How's that for real? :(

It is such a hard thing to figure out. I know the rules of no holding or hugs except from immediate family... but when you can not see, and your eyes are your other senses, esp. touch... what is the answer?

Part of me knows I just need to give it more time. I really hate that word! How many times do we have to "give it more time" in the adoption world?!

She is a brave and independent little girl. She will roam around most new places securely figuring out her environment. But then, if you put her on the potty, or in a chair or on the floor in a way that conveys "break time" she will sit frozen and I am guessing for HOURS! The most I have given it is 45 minutes! I just want to scream at her sometimes to "be normal". But again, I know to "give it time."

Now just let me say, my heart loves her dearly, but the fact is choosing to love her happens still more often than being overcome with that "mommy feeling" towards her. I don't like it, but that is the way things are.

And I am confident that time will work things out. I have been praying about the relationship Tavi and I have often lately. I am confident that God is not only listening, but working things out for the good of my family!

I am her mommy. She has me for life.
I guess you could say she "had me at hello". She will find herself someday. She will have her whole family behind her every step of the way!

Love is growing, it is just still under construction. The paint is still wet. The Lord just isn't finished yet.

Being confident of the outcome can still leave me quite emotionally spent in the process though. So in an effort to encourage others, in an effort to encourage international adoption, in an effort to communicate real struggles I decided to share a bit of my heart.

But even with all my scattered emotions, Tavi John still does amaze me! So here is another piano concert for you all to enjoy! :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

You can't keep him tied down....

Luke is my free spirit. My go getter. My child without an off button. He has been this way since he was born. He has got to move, sitting still just doesn't agree with him.

He turned 5 on February 28th. I really don't know where the time has gone. It seems to have moved as fast as he does.

He is the spoiled little brother of many older siblings. We are all guilty of it. We just couldn't help ourselves. :)

But he is a mighty little boy, and each night he has me pray for him to have good dreams, and to ask God to help him become a mighty man of God who is bold in his love for God.

Watch out world... Luke is coming!