Foster to Adopt ~ International ~ Intrafamily Adoption

A Different Type of Adoption

A Different Type of Adoption

A Different Type of Adoption

Intrafamily adoption means that allows a family member to adopt a child.  Honestly, this is a A Different Type of Adoption for my husband and I.  It certainly was not on our radar 5 years ago.  I mean, not even the tiniest blip.

Bart was “done” adopting children.  We had 6 and 3 of those children are special needs.  We were both at our capacity.  It is hard raising children from hard places, especially when they are older child adoptions.  Most of the time, these children remember specific things and that is stuff that we have to work through.

Add onto that, the physical needs, emotional, mental, and medical…it is hard.  With international adoption, there is not after care.  You just do it and find your own resources.  With adopting from the foster care system there is SUPPOSED to be after care, but let’s be honest.  There isn’t any.  Again, we are left up to our own devices and even those are few and far between.

Never Say “Content”

I distinctly remember that afternoon, in October.  My prayer time is usually reserved for breath prayers, using the bathroom, taking a shower, or driving.  I choose to take the time when I can be fully present with the Lord.

My heart had been aching to expand our family for so long.  We had had 3 failed adoptions, through different means and for different reasons.  I was still mourning those losses yet still feeling incomplete.  That day, however, I sat on the toilet and said “Lord, I am finally content with my family.”  I thanked Him for each specific child.  Their strengths, their joys, their personality, and the difficult parts.  I praised Him for taking away that desire so I can be fully present with my 6 children.

The next day.  The.  Next.  Day.  My world began to spin a little faster.  An incident occurred and my sister needed me ASAP.  She was out of town, my parents were not available and I was the next in line.  I needed no details.  She called.  I went, simple as that.

How It Unfolded

We got to the location and I saw my great niece and nephew, so young with my daddy.  Their father was with the authorities and their mom (my niece…my sister’s oldest child) was not there.  I grabbed what I could grab of their clothes and toys.  Then, I loaded that up, along with them and we headed to Bob Evans.

They were in “freeze” mode, wild, dirty, and unsure.  I wanted to make sure their little tummies were full.  Once I got home, I washed every article of clothing and all their toys to get the smell off of them.  Sweet K was full of questions, yet still parenting J.  I told her that I had them both and that I would take care of them until Mamaw and Papaw came back to town.

That was the next day and still I questioned nothing just offered my support, some resources, love, and prayers.  That night, Bart and I began talking about our whirlwind weekend and what the kids’ future could look like.  Where was my niece?  Was she okay?  What happened?  Answers trickled in slowly, but we never pressed the issue because that is not our job.

What About Hunter?

Yet, our mind went to our other great nephew.  Where was he?  Was he safe?  Fed?  Hungry?  Cold?  Scared?  We talked to my sister.  She told us where he was and that it was not an environment that he needed to be in but she simply could not add more to her plate right at this moment.  She had to get things settled with her grandchildren and find her daughter.

Through Prayer

B and I talked and prayed a lot.  It was such a no-brainer.  We wanted him.  For now or forever.  Whichever it would be.  We wanted to be a safe haven for him, while my sister worked through the trauma of the other 2 and again, her daughter.

I called her and gently presented her with the idea.  She was silent.  Then she quietly said that the person who had him would never agree.  I told her to let me worry about that.  Since certain tests were not done and my niece was no where to be found, it was the only logical thing we could do.  This person could not fight us.

Difficult Decisions

We never wanted to take this person out of his life forever.  Visitations.  Phone calls.  We encouraged that because as difficult as the situation was, this person loved Hunter with all that he had.  We both respected that.

It wasn’t without a lot of tears of the person and his other children.  That was a hard night.  Hunter was 2.5 years old and a firecracker.  He had never had structure in his little life.  Those fat cheeks and wild curls.  So independent and fierce.

He didn’t know us other than what he saw at family functions.  I’m sure on some level he was terrified to stay with strangers.  My kids scooped him up and played with him for hours.  We fed him and he ate like a man-sized portion.  Something he still does to this day.  We gave him a long bath and let him play and then attempted to get him to sleep.  That has always been a struggle.  Again, he ran the previous roost.

Getting to the Point

To my point of this adoption, we still have a relationship with my niece.  She writes letters and occassionally calls or does a video visit.  Historically, Hunter has not responded well to anything.  So with that being said, I save all his letters in his baby book.  I want him to know that his birthmom loves him, though she made bad choices, that did not stop her from loving him.

With phone calls, I talk to her and give her updates.  She doesn’t call often and we have not had a video visit in a long time.  I don’t think Hunter understands that he is “technically” our great nephew and adopted.  Adoption is so talked about, I don’t think he understands what it means.

How I Explain Things

How I have always explained it to him is that he was born in Mama Paige’s belly but grew in my heart.  That she loves him, but wasn’t able to care for him so she allowed us to care for him.  Today, we are having our first video visit in almost a year.  I am anxious because I don’t know how he is going to react.

He has spent more time with my sister (his mamaw) and his bio brother and sister.  They are educating him on all the things Mama Paige LOL.  That isn’t a bad thing but Hunter is 7 and he is beginning to ask A LOT Of questions.  It’s like it is finally registering in his little brain.

A New Bridge to Cross

Then we have the whole crossing the bridge of when she gets out.  My prayer is that she can maintain, be a part of everyone’s life and be involved.  Reality is that that may not happen.  God is a miracle worker and I choose to believe that she will continue on the right path and that she does not become institutionalized in her mind.

What is that going to look like when she comes home?  Family functions, holidays, her expectations, my expectations, Hunter’s feelings…there is just so much that swirls in my mind.  Ironically, he will be 12 when she comes home.  I share my children’s COMPLETE story with them by the age of about 12.  The good, bad, and ugly.  We share pictures, documents, answer questions, and give phone numbers to those I have established a relationship (aka parents if it is safe, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.) with.

God’s timing is always perfect.  In an ideal world, she will be with me when we sit down and talk to him.  He will not play us against each other to “get what he wants” as he enters those teenage years.  She will be whole and healthy.

My Prayers

Ya know, projecting good thoughts and not fears.  Adoption is so beautiful.  Yet, we are walking into the darkest period of a child’s life.  Whether they are newborn or older.  We are walking in with joy and a pen light shining light into a pitch black hole of trauma.  Adoptive parents need to respect that trauma and work with it throughout the years.  Please do not hide anything because the child will find out, one day.  Honesty, even if it takes your skin off.

Prayers are appreciated for our visit this evening. We are letting Hunter dictate how long he speaks to her and what is said.

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Our Story of Falling in Love and Adoption

Our Story of Falling in Love and Adoption

Our Story of Falling in Love and Adoption

My husband and I met in the spring of 1993. We quickly fell for each other. I remember walking into the game room, where we both worked, one evening before school started. There were people lined up at the counter and I saw this man….in these faded blue jeans….with this butt…that made my heart pitter-patter. He was tall and eyes that were the color of the sky. He had a hat on, so I did not know what color his hair was and I noticed his bottom lip all stuck out because he was chewing tobacco. I fell in love and I did not even know his name. Swoon………….

The Kid Question

At any rate, that is the year we met. We were engaged by the fall of that same year and married in June 1994. When we were talking about our life, I asked him how many children he wanted. He stated that he wanted one, maybe two. I stated that I wanted four. I also told him of my desire to adopt and he was NOT for that, at all. He felt he could not love a child he did not see grow in me. I decided that I would let God deal with him on that and I was going to stay out of it.

Life Now

Fast forward 22 years later and we did not have one, two, or four kids. We were blessed with 6 children. We have three children who were born “under the heart” and 3 children who were adopted. We have adopted from our local foster care system and to add the icing of the cake of our family, we adopted from Africa. All of our children were “older” child adoptions. The Lord changed his heart in a mighty way.

Contentment

There was a day, back in October 2015, that I was in the bathroom and I was thinking to myself (and yes, I do speak to myself….and I answer myself). The prayer that was lifted up, that day, was one of thanksgiving. My heart has always yearned for my children, but we could not have anymore biologically, we could not from our local foster care system because our home was deemed “full”, and we could not adopt internationally because of finances.

We had had two, separate, opportunities to adopt privately, but the birthmothers made other choices and now those babies are with Jesus. There was nothing more to do. My quiver was full. We had 6 kids. Our oldest was in college, our second was finishing up her high school year, sprinkle in there some behaviorally challenged kids, and a hearing-impaired kid…oh, and homeschooling them all…and our life was complete.

God Laughs

While I was in that bathroom, that day, I uttered these words “Lord, I finally am content. I’m content with myself, my life, my family size, thank you for finally giving me that peace about being finished bringing children into our home.” I can imagine God, upon His heavenly throne, chuckling at my “contentment.” He was fixing to throw me a curveball the size of Montana. Almost immediately after my revelation, the phone rang. It was my oldest sister, Kim.

I was surprised at her phone call on a Saturday morning and instead of saying hello, I asked her what was wrong. She was panicked and straightforward. She and her husband, Joseph, were out of town and there was an emergency with two of her grandchildren. Her request was for me to get to where they are and keep them until she and Joseph came home.

Well, she did not have to ask me twice. My husband and I loaded up our kids and we drove separately, as to have enough room for everyone. We got to where the children were and there they stood, amongst complete chaos and sadness.

Damage Control

I plastered on my “it is going to be okay” face and I whisked them off to Bob Evans to eat. They were filthy and incredibly hungry. We made our way to the bathroom and I cleaned up their precious little faces. We sat to eat and boy did they eat. The rest of the weekend was much like my very own three-ring circus. There was some damage control, lots of hugs and kisses, snacks, movies, rocking, and soothing their weary little souls.

We made it to church without any incident on that Sunday. My sister came back into town that afternoon to pick up the beauties. Their world was fixing to shake and they needed that solid foundation of my sister and Joseph. Oh, do they love those kids…gracious.

Carnage

After they left, I looked around at the carnage of the house. There were toys strung from here to high heaven. Clothes, barbies, shoes, Polly pockets, animals, trains….anything and everything we could find made an appearance and it was spread all throughout my living room.

There were half-eaten sandwiches, purses, stickers galore. I plopped down on the couch with a sense of accomplishment. We all survived. I was pleased I could help in this hard time, but I was so glad that my sister took over.

At It Again

Again, contentment. Again, pleased with feelings of peace. Again, God laughed. Again, He rocked our world. Only a few weeks later, our family…..remember…Bart wanted one or two and I wanted four? Remember how we ended up with three biological kids….and then five….and then six…and then done?

Remember?

Well, we added our seventh child, 21 months (let that soak in…I had not had a toddler in 9 years and I am over 40, people!) sashayed into our home. He had beautiful curls, with these green eyes. He was nonverbal and loud. Holy moly he was loud. We took in my sister’s other grandson…her youngest grandbaby.

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How to Heal a Fractured Family

How to Heal a Fractured Family

How to Heal a Fractured Family

How to Heal a Fractured Family.  The short, simple answer is trust in Jesus.  Yet, sometimes, that is hard for me.  Our family has been fractured for a long time.  There have been cracks here and there, but this year, it is different.  I’m not going to lie, it has been a struggle since about 2014, but even before then due to some extenuating circumstances.  I don’t want to discourage anyone from adoption, but there is so much more I know now than I did almost 14 years ago.

What You Need to Know

When people are in the process of adopting a child or children, it is an exciting thing.  We do all the things that are required.  Background checks, money in the bank, fundraisers, fingerprints (if international), and so on.  We work hard on those dossiers.  Our homes are spotless for our home study.  We eagerly anticipate our referral or a picture.  There are so many support groups where we get on and talk about our discouragement of NOT getting a referral quick enough.

What We DON’T Realize

Is that we are, quite literally, waiting for a family to fail in some way.  If it is foster care, we are waiting for a family to abuse, neglect, or hurt, a child or children so they will be placed in the system. Then we jump through all the hoops for the next 17 out of 23 mths and wait for the termination of parental rights.

Or, if it is a newborn, we are waiting for a sweet birth mom to make the most difficult decision of her life.  For her life to be altered…forever…by choosing the blessing of adoption.  If international, we are waiting for a birth parent who may be dying, or the child is starving, or some other tragedy that places them in an orphanage.

When you are adopting a family member’s child, you are waiting for drugs, alcohol, abuse, neglect, or abandonment to happen.  There are other circumstances, as well, but that was my circumstance for my son.  You start looking at YOUR sister and think…she is my son’s aunt?  Grandmother?  Both?

The Dark Side

We are walking into the blackest chapter of our children’s lives.  Our greatest joy and what we worked so hard for, comes at our children’s greatest loss.  Whether they are an infant or an older child, that loss will forever be embedded in their brain and heart.  They are the only ones who have heard their mother’s heartbeat from the inside out and your heart is just not the same.

My heart literally aches because, in a perfect world, my kids would still be with their birth families.  Succeeding, thriving, living, loving…yet because of certain things, they are not there…they are with me.  I am grateful.  Indebted.  Forever changed because they grew in my heart and not under it!

Yet…they will always wonder what it would have been like to have been raised by their birth parents or in their birth country.  Try explaining all of the things when they are older.  It’s super fun aka traumatic.

Getting It Straight

I do not regret any of my children.  None of them.  They are my joy and I’m so thankful to God that He wove my family together in such a beautiful and intricate way.

But

Trauma is a bitch.  Plain and simple.  It is a straight-up bitch.  Talk to ANY adoptive parents and they will tell you the same thing.  Trauma can come in all shapes and sizes.  It can come with a list of diagnoses…then there is “traumaversary”  That leads to sabotage of all good things, behavior issues, confabulations, deceit, manipulation, and so much more.

My Family is No Different

We have, and continue to have, all of the above things and the “so much more” times a million.  What started as one child exhibiting out of control behaviors due to FASD, PTSD, RAD, blah blah blah trickled down to other children.  Another child exhibiting similar, yet different behaviors. Then, a third child going above and beyond.  Lastly, the fourth child struggles with anxiety and more.

It has wreaked havoc on my person, my husband, other children, even my pets will lose hair when life is escalated in my home.  This usually occurs November-March and then in July-October…which as I look at that typed out, it is from October-July.  That gives us 2 mths trauma-free.

All the Things We Have Tried

We have done the things.  Doctors, specialists, therapists, counselors, pastors, family, medication, routines, no routines, homeschool, private, public…All.  The.  Things.  One child, nothing has worked for that child.  Another child, we hope is in the process of healing.  The third child is amped up right now.  The fourth child, we just deal with it day by day.

I am exhausted.  My husband is exhausted.  Honestly, even the kids are exhausted. Mix all this crap in with a pandemic and being in this house and you have Funville.  My underwear drawer no longer holds underwear.  It is stocked FULL of candy.  I wake up, in the morning, with a bag of snickers under my arm and wrappers everywhere.

There is a newfound love of Limeade Slushes.  My teeth are going to rot out of my head.  I have become a human GPS because I take LONG drives on roads I have never heard of.  My favorite past time is driving to my neighbors and seeing if their pig is in the front yard.  I cry…a lot.

Falling Apart

Sadly, I feel like my family is falling apart.  That Scripture of satan lurking around the corner to devour my family, it is happening!  Honestly, at warp speed.  I have so many words and so much has happened that my fingers will not move as fast as my brain.

Praying that this pandemic ends.  I am praying for healing for my medically fragile children.  Salvation for two of my kids.  Wisdom with all of them.  Healthy delivery for one (gonna be a granny!)  A healthy relationship for two kids.  School to open for one.  One to come home safely.  Another to stop making REALLY poor and dangerous choices.

I want my family to heal.  To be whole.  For God to intervene and DO SOMETHING.  Honestly, I am just ready for Jesus to come riding down on His white horse and take us all home.  Home…where there is no sadness, no darkness, and no pain.  Just glory.

God is Bigger

I just have to trust in that…right?  Right.  Yes, trust.  The hardest thing for me to do is trust Him with my family.  Maybe that, alone, needs to be my prayer.  Lord, let me trust in You that You have plans to prosper and not harm my family.  Help me to realize that You and only You, can heal the fractures.

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Hunter is 6!!!!!!

Hunter is 6!!!!!!

Hunter is 6!!!!!!

I simply cannot believe that my baby is 6.  For real!  Hunter is 6!!!!!!

I was looking back on my Facebook memories and this memory came up:

“February 12, 2013, at 1:53 PM · My uterus is hurting…..Lord, help me be content in all things and where You move or want me…I will move and go.”

Who knew, a day later, my niece would give birth to her third child and my seventh child. Who knew that 21 months after his birth, he would officially be mine.

Amazing how God prepares you for things that are not on your radar. I’m so thankful that Paige gave him life and then gave him to me to raise 21 mths later.

God is good.”

Amazing Me Daily

He inspires me every day.  Overcomer.  Warrior.  Tough as nails.  This is the baby that was not wanted, in the beginning.  Also, this is the baby that had his life turned upside down when he got sick.  This is also the baby that a doctor told me that he would “succumb” to his condition.

 

He runs.  Never stops moving.  Honestly, never stops talking.  He can now feed himself.  His brain is always learning something new.  He went from 3 letter sounds in one week to learn 19 sounds in another week.

This child is BRILLIANT.

I am so thankful that the Lord put that desire in my heart 1 day before this baby was born.  Also, I am incredibly thankful that my niece was able to raise him for the first few months of his life.  Then, I’m really thankful that he was safe during a period of his life.  God is so good.  I would not change raising this baby for all the coke and cheese in the world!  He has my heart and then some!

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Dear Amygdala

Dear Amygdala

Dear Amygdala

Dear Amygdala,

You are not my friend, my Dear Amygdala.  The emotions that you project are not welcome.

It has come to my attention that satan is using and abusing you.  He is controlling you.  In doing so, he is taking past trauma that is inside of you, from a past life and family.

He is taking all that anger and those memories and making someone project that trauma into the present and onto a person’s new family.

I am onto you and your sneaky ways.  Bite me.

God is BIGGER.

Insincerely Yours,

Brandi

For Inquiring Minds

The Amygdala is the “fear center” of the brain.  It is your primitive brain that begins development when a person is conceived.  The Amygdala holds all your memories from conception to 3 years (the implicit memories).

It is a butthole.

The amygdala is an almond-shaped set of neurons that can be found deep in the brain’s medial temporal lobe. Shown to play a key role in the processing of emotions, the amygdala forms part of the limbic system.

Hard Conversations

There have been some hard conversations this past week.  Truths that have been unspoken and revelations that have been eye-opening.  Such clarity and peace with those revelations.  Yet, uncertainty as to what to do with them.

It’s a long-winding road we are walking.

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Psalm 54 & Proverbs 23

Psalm 54 & Proverbs 23

Psalm 54 & Proverbs 23

Psalm 54 & Proverbs 23 are pretty straightforward.  There are some sections, amongst these verses that I will address.   so I will just let them speak for themselves!  Quite often, in Proverbs, you will see verses related to disciplining children.

I would like to note that not all kids are the same.  First, there are kids who are biological and come from a “normal” home.  Then, there are kids from homes where divorce has occurred.  Next, you have kids that are, sadly, in foster care or orphanages.  Lastly, there are kids that are adopted.  I’m sure there are more groups.  Well, now that I think of it, there are many other groups.  Like a lot of other groups because my mind is now swirling and twirling.

Let’s just put it this way, take each kid and each situation on a case by case basis.  Do not “blanket” parent or discipline your children because no two children are the same.  I feel like that made sense in my head but rereading this, I’m confusing myself.

Psalm 54

Come with great power, O God, and rescue me!
    Defend me with your might.
Listen to my prayer, O God.
    Pay attention to my plea.
For strangers are attacking me;
    violent people are trying to kill me.
    They care nothing for God. 

But God is my helper.
    The Lord keeps me alive!
May the evil plans of my enemies be turned against them.
    Do as you promised and put an end to them.

I will sacrifice a voluntary offering to you;
    I will praise your name, O Lord,
    for it is good.
For you have rescued me from my troubles
    and helped me to triumph over my enemies.

Thoughts

God is my Protector, Defender, and Rock on which I stand.  Honestly, whom shall I fear?

Proverbs 23

1While dining with a ruler,
    pay attention to what is put before you.
If you are a big eater,
    put a knife to your throat;
don’t desire all the delicacies,
    for he might be trying to trick you.

Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich.
    Be wise enough to know when to quit.
In the blink of an eye wealth disappears,
    for it will sprout wings
    and fly away like an eagle.

Thoughts

Verse 5 needs to be embedded in my heart.  I don’t want an abundance of money.  That isn’t something that I desire.  However, I do want to be able to not worry.  For instance, I know that we have enough to pay our bills.  Then, we save what we can to get out of debt.  However, there are things that I feel we *need.*  Then, I realize that we don’t necessarily *need* it, it is more of a want.  In the end, God provides for all those needs.  When it aligns with His will, maybe just maybe, He will give us the desires of our hearts.

Section 2

Don’t eat with people who are stingy;
    don’t desire their delicacies.
They are always thinking about how much it costs.
    “Eat and drink,” they say, but they don’t mean it.
You will throw up what little you’ve eaten,
    and your compliments will be wasted.

Don’t waste your breath on fools,
    for they will despise the wisest advice.

10 Don’t cheat your neighbor by moving the ancient boundary markers;
    don’t take the land of defenseless orphans.

Section 3

11 For their Redeemer is strong;
    he himself will bring their charges against you.

12 Commit yourself to instruction;
    listen carefully to words of knowledge.

13 Don’t fail to discipline your children.
    The rod of punishment won’t kill them.
14 Physical discipline
    may well save them from death.

15 My child, if your heart is wise,
    my own heart will rejoice!
16 Everything in me will celebrate
    when you speak what is right.

Thoughts

Don’t fail to discipline your children.  This phrase is also used, quite often, in the book of Proverbs.  Bart and I have never shied away from disciplining our children.  Yet, each child has required something a little bit differently.  We thought we were so smart in doing things equally amongst our children.  Then, we were blessed with kids from hard places.  Wow, that changes everything.

Section 4

17 Don’t envy sinners,
    but always continue to fear the Lord.
18 You will be rewarded for this;
    your hope will not be disappointed.

19 My child, listen and be wise:
    Keep your heart on the right course.

20 Do not carouse with drunkards
    or feast with gluttons,
21 for they are on their way to poverty,
    and too much sleep clothes them in rags.

22 Listen to your father, who gave you life,
    and don’t despise your mother when she is old.
23 Get the truth and never sell it;
    also get wisdom, discipline, and good judgment.
24 The father of godly children has cause for joy.
    What a pleasure to have children who are wise.
25 So give your father and mother joy!
    May she who gave you birth be happy.

26 O my son, give me your heart.
    May your eyes take delight in following my ways.

Section 5

27 A prostitute is a dangerous trap;
    a promiscuous woman is as dangerous as falling into a narrow well.
28 She hides and waits like a robber,
    eager to make more men unfaithful.

29 Who has anguish? {Who} has sorrow?
    Who is always fighting? {Who} is always complaining?
    Who has unnecessary bruises? {Who} has bloodshot eyes?
30 It is the one who spends long hours in the taverns,
    trying out new drinks.
31 Don’t gaze at the wine, seeing how red it is,
    how it sparkles in the cup, how smoothly it goes down.
32 For in the end it bites like a poisonous snake;
    it stings like a viper.
33 You will see hallucinations,
    and you will say crazy things.
34 You will stagger like a sailor tossed at sea,
    clinging to a swaying mast.
35 And you will say, “They hit me, but I didn’t feel it.
    I didn’t even know it when they beat me up.
When will I wake up
    so I can look for another drink?”

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Harsh Reality of Raising Kids with FASD

Harsh Reality of Raising Kids with FASD

Harsh Reality of Raising Kids with FASD

This is a tough post to write but so many thoughts on the Harsh Reality of Raising Kids with FASD are twirling through my head.  Also, both of these kids have Reactive Attachment Disorder.  Again, in FASD and RAD, they are on opposite ends of the spectrum.  It has been almost 13 years since 2 of our adoptions.  We met these children in the spur of the moment.

In the Beginning

One was bouncy, wild-eyed, busy, and inquisitive.  The other was withdrawn, quiet, and shy.  One could not keep their hands to themselves and was very affectionate to everyone.  The other was content standing behind the social worker’s leg.  One wanted to touch all the things, eat all the things, and do all the things.  The other wanted to lay in my bed and watch a movie…without speaking or being touched.

Their Early Lives

2 children, from the same mom, living in the same environment, removed for the same reason.  Trauma.  PTSD.  Abuse.  Neglect.  Alcohol.  Drugs.  All the bad things that you can imagine done to 2 unassuming children who didn’t ask to be born.  Yet, here we are.

What a birth mom, 2 birth dads, and a set of grandparents placed upon these children, our family is dealing with.  There are days when it is too much.  Lately, it has been too much.  I’m so tired.  My other kids are tired.  Big Daddy is tired.

All the Things

Now, I know what you are thinking.  Is she in therapy?  What about under a doctor’s care?  Have you tried medication?  Food?  Yes.  This child has been in therapy for many years.  Yes.  I have made sure this child is under a doctor and psychiatrists care.  Yes.  This child has taken a multitude of medications, been off them, back on them, supplements, etc.  Yes.  We have worked on food.  Had this child in church.  Counseled.  Loved.  Supported.  Advocated.  All the things.

My Feelings

I simply do not know what to do.  One thing I do know is that I feel defeated, broken-hearted, angry, confused, and a lot of other emotions.  My other kids are on edge all the time.  We have lost friendships, churches, and sacrificed many things for this child.  What more can we do?  What am I missing?

Beginning till Now

One child started out on target, advanced is even a word I would use.  As time has gone on, this child never has moved past that of a 5-10-year-old.  It’s like the mind has stopped yet flows between those ages.

The other child started out developmentally delayed.  Learning disabilities, even school was a struggle.  Everything was just hard and slow.  Very immature for this child’s age.  Now, as this child gets older, this child seems to slowly be catching up.  I see progress in some areas, maintaining in some areas, and then the area of memory is still a struggle.  Still, there is progress in one and worsening in the other.

Help

All suggestions need to be kind.  As well as, prayer.  Prayer is REALLY something that we all welcome.  I will not tolerate anything negative said about my parenting style of my children.

Related Posts:

Confabulation

Part 1

Welcome Home

What a Ride

 

Foster to Adopt ~ International ~ Intrafamily Adoption, Medical Issues

Wonder From the Eyes of the Typical

Wonder From the Eyes of the Typical

Wonder From the Eyes of the Typical

Wonder From the Eyes of the Typical kid has inched its way into my brain.  I use the words “typical” and “atypical” in very loose terms.  For example, I may say my “typical” child did this, or that meaning my biological child.  Now, I do not want to hear that I’m pitting my biological kids against my adopted children because that is crap.  I love them all the same.

In my world, there are no “typical” kids or people.  We are all a bit screwy from time to time.  That is what makes the world an interesting place to live.  Not being all alike, it gives places flavor and personality.

My Reason

My reason for using that terminology is because of the movie “Wonder” that I watched last night.  You can find a Christian review on this film at Plugged in Online to learn more about the different content of this movie.

They used the word “typical” in the film while referencing their oldest daughter, Via.  Their youngest son, Auggie, was born with a deformity.  He, too, was a biological child.  For the most part, I enjoyed this movie, though it hurt my heart.

My Thoughts

This movie did not depict the strain that raising a medically fragile child can have on a marriage.  The ‘parents’ seemed to get along great and there didn’t seem to be underlying anger/hurt/resentment towards one another.

That, right there, is why this is a movie and not real life.

Raising children with special needs, whether that is mental, physical, life-altering, terminal, etc. has a great deal of strain on any couple.  This is whether they are married, co-parenting, etc.  It is difficult.  I know why people do not stay married.  The all-consuming nature of special needs children is just that, all-consuming.

The Typical Child

What I feel they were pretty spot-on with is the feeling of the older daughter.  The child in the shadows.  The child you just let skate on and upward with because they know not to make waves.  These children have learned to problem solve, maintain, stay calm on the outside when their insides are screaming.

Guilt sets in.

Watching this movie had me thinking about my ‘typical’ kids and what all they have seen/heard throughout the years.  The pain is unbearable at the thought that I have swooshed them under the rug because I was busy putting out fires of my ‘atypical’ kids.

My kids’ needs range from minor to major things.  We have dealt with everything from Dyslexia to Mild Mental Deficit.  Splash in Reactive Attachment Disorder, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Deafness, and Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome. You will have my kids in a nutshell.

Be Careful Little Eyes What You See

My kids have seen SO much over the years.  I’m so blessed that they are so aware of God and follow (mostly) in His forgiving ways.  To think back, it makes me shudder to remember the looks on their faces when the violence would ensue.

I can still hear the still, small voices saying “mama stop” when I had had enough.  The fear that would splash across their faces when one child would rage for hours on end.  This child destroyed anything and anybody in the path of the tornado rage that was bearing down on us.

My kids didn’t have anyone over, it was not safe at times.  They saw me cry more times than I can count.  I have learned, over the years, to be mindful of catching my emotions before they run amuck.

Did I lose track of them, in those years?  Was there too long of a delay before I had had my belly full?  Did my other children go unnoticed because of the acts/behaviors of one or two kids?

Be Careful Little Ears What You Hear

The things my kids have heard are horrible.  The threats, the evil that has been spewed out, the anger that flows like lava…they have heard it all.  One day, in the midst of a storm (figurative not literal), I noticed my son.  God love him, he was corraling the other children to the back of the house.

What I realized, that day, was that he was moving them to safety.  He wanted to protect their little eyes and their little ears from all that was going down.  It was at that moment that I took control back.

No more was I going to let Satan rule my house.  I was done, oh so done.  Everything that I was “taught” to do by the so-called foster care rules, my church, my family, friends, other caregivers, therapists, and doctors…nothing worked.

It was time that I saw the other little faces and I put a stop to the insanity that had ruled my home, mind, and heart for too long.  I began to stop seeking approval from those that did not have my family’s best interest in mind.  There were no more doctors, medications, therapists…I was done.

James 4:7

Submit to God.  Resist the devil.  He will flee.”  James 4:7  This was the verse that I would chant while the world raged around me.  We made tough decisions in regards to one of our children.  A decision that I tried to back out of, but my family and my physician said it was for the best.  Tough decisions are the hardest ones to make, but also are necessary for survival, sometimes.

Reflecting on our past 12 years is not all a bad thing.  I have to be mindful to capture the thoughts that are not of God and put them in the place they should be in.  He knew, from the beginning of time, the children that I would have and He has made perfect provisions for each of them.  I’m so thankful that He has guarded the hearts of our typical and our atypical kids from remembering everything.

Hang tough, fellow mamas in the trenches…God has our backs!

 

Foster to Adopt ~ International ~ Intrafamily Adoption, Large Family Happenings

Meet My People

Meet My People

I would like for my readers to Meet My People.  Our family began with Big Daddy and me….then entered Victoria, then Alyssa, and lastly Noah.  Our story wasn’t finished, though……here is where you can read how adoption changed the lives of my people.  The good, the bad, the ugly, and how Jesus is at the center…..continuing to write our stories.

Meet My People


VICTORIA (22):

When you walk into a room with 7 kids, you tend to get all the strange looks.  As well as, the stranger comments/questions: “Are they all real?!”, “Your poor mother.”, “I wish I had the strength to do that.”. And my mom would just smile and approach those comments/questions the only way she knew how.

The thing is, the “strength” of these people wish they had is not human strength. You don’t go into adoption on your own power and your own resources. I remember so many times that my mom would just be mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained. It is taxing on everyone in the family, but the rewards are being reaped.

Divine Will of God

If it weren’t for the divine will of God, we would not have 4 beautiful, talented, amazing kids that no one wanted to give a chance. What some people fail to remember, is that God gave us a chance. A chance to follow Him and once we decide to do that, He will bless you in ways you cannot even imagine.

Believe me, it isn’t like frolicking in the field of roses all the time. It also means hurt, heartache, and exhaustion. But, if it weren’t for adoption, these kids wouldn’t have the same chance as I did. A chance to be loved, a chance to be a kid, a chance to be someone in this world. And my family wouldn’t have had the opportunity to grow and become stronger.

To Answer Those Questions

Yes, they are all “real.” They may not be directly related to me, but they are as real as any biological sibling. The connection we have is a deeper one, a connection between the soul and the heart. My mother is not poor but blessed. She may spend every waking moment being drained, but she is incredibly blessed.  She will tell you that all day and all night. And no, that strength you are referring to is not something you possess. It’s the strength of God that put us all together and sees us through every twist and turn.

That’s what adoption means to me.


ALYSSA (19):

November is Adoption Month, and my mom has asked me to write about my experience being a biological child and growing up with several siblings that were not biologically related to me.

The very first thing I remember as a young child was when my mom and dad brought home Tay and Shay. I loved those sweet babies, and I treated them like family. Shay was particularly attached to me, she even bit my brother when he was being a turd to me which I thought was hilarious. Tay was just as sweet as could be, he had the cutest laugh, and he loved to play and cuddle.

Then I remember my mom was really upset one day and then the kids were gone. I was confused because I didn’t know where they went. That knowledge didn’t come until I was much older. I missed them so much, but I knew not to ask questions about it until my mom healed from that tragic time.

Grayce and Daniel Came Along

Grayce was 6 and Daniel was 2 ½, and I was thrilled to have another sister to play with since Victoria always had her nose in a book (sorry V, I love you though!). So I do not remember the exact day they got adopted, but I do remember how hard it was to raise them both, especially for my mom. Grayce always had some sort of behavior issues. Daniel could hardly talk.

When we moved to the new house, I had to share a room with Grayce while Victoria got her own room.  It was hard for me. As I was going through my “rebellious phase,” I began to notice things. Grayce would take on my characteristics. I was her role model, and she did everything I did.

For most of the time we had her, to be honest, I didn’t like her. I was always mad at her because she still lied to me or stole my stuff without telling me, I didn’t like inviting over friends because she would always try to wedge herself into our conversations and make them think she was a perfect angel. I know that seems selfish, but it was right at that time. We always fought and most times I really just wanted to live out in the extra room in the garage just to get away from her.

But God

But then I re-dedicated my life to Jesus, and I forgave Grayce, although it was tough I still did it. Grayce has had a lot of trouble these past few years, and it got to the point where I was in a bawling heap because I tried to show her grace and she could not seem to change her ways and act normal. I thought it was all my fault and I was a terrible sister because she looks up to me and I tried to be the best person I could be for her so maybe she might change her ways. But she didn’t.

That is what is so hard about adoption. It is a hard and beautiful mess, but we have to learn to be patient and love that child because we do not know what they went through before they came to us. We have to be Jesus with skin on no matter how hard it might be at times. It was incredibly difficult for me to forgive and forget, but with God’s help, anything is possible.

I Try My Best

So I try to be the best role model I can be for her, and I always tell myself that her whole situation is not my fault and that I am doing the best I can to be the best sister to her since she never really had an excellent sister figure. So, after we got Grayce and Daniel, I was much older, and my mom approached me by saying she wanted to adopt from Africa. I was so excited when I saw Jude’s picture! He was the cutest baby with adorable baby cheeks, and I couldn’t wait to meet him, but it was so incredibly hard to get him home because we did not have the finances.

Changes

I had to be put in middle school because Victoria could not watch all the kids and my mom had to get a job, and my dad worked as well. I did not particularly like being put in middle school because I do not do very well in social environments but I went anyway to help out my parents.

My mom and dad were always tired, and something still managed to come up and give us trouble. I remember we set up a vendor at Tater Day to try and raise money to get him home, it took us the longest time to finally get him to America. My Mom was jumping up and down, and she was screaming and crying to get in the van and go tell dad that he was coming home. We were all so excited!

When he finally did arrive, he did not know very much English. He was very shy and adorable. He did have some issues with his anger and frustration because he could not communicate very well with us. Although, he did not have as hard of a time adjusting as the other kids did.

To All of Our Surprise, We Got Hunter

Hunter was still very much a baby.  I was a lot older.  Honestly, I knew his situation he was in. I did not think we would adopt him until it actually happened. He had almost no verbal skills, acted like a dog, didn’t know how to play, and had absolutely no social skills.  I remember being so angry with how he was raised and treated.  Seriously, no baby should ever have to go through with what he went through. But then God comforted me and told me that as long as Hunter was safe, everything would turn outright, and it did. The “dad” fought for custody but we won, and I was thrilled. We adopted him a short time later, and he is a precious child. I love him with all my heart.

Adoption is Hard

There are not only the financial and governmental part of it but the adjusting for the parents.  The kids themselves are so hard. I’m not saying adoption is all rainbows and sunshine, but it’s not all dark and gloom either. It’s important to find the balance within it all and roll with the punches that come against you. Seeing my mom and dad fight for my siblings has shown me that, with love, with God, they can do anything.

One Day

One day, when I am married, I hope to adopt children as well. Everyone deserves a chance at being loved.  They also deserve to have a family.  I want to share that love and the love of God with every child I meet. I hope this sheds some light on what adoption is like.  Also, how it is such a beautiful mess. Every child deserves to be loved.  Please consider and pray about taking in a child and adopting.  It is hard, but it is an unforgettable journey that God takes you on.


NOAH (16):

To me, adoption meant more fun and more brothers and sisters.  I don’t remember much about Tay and Shay, but I do remember Shay biting me and it hurt.  When Daniel and Grayce came to our old house, I thought it would be a lot of fun having them.

When Jude came home, he didn’t speak any English, I stayed up all night because he couldn’t sleep.  He also attacked Daniel because of something.  Then he started learning English and was actually enjoyable.  Sometimes he can be a pain in the butt but he’s family, and I don’t leave family behind.

Hunter didn’t speak when he came home.  He had mats in his hair and his hair was long.  When we got tubes in his ears he started talking immediately.  He started walking and has been adorable since.  When he was adopted, mom started crying.  It was a great day when he came home.


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Out of the Mouths of Babes

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Foster to Adopt ~ International ~ Intrafamily Adoption, Large Family Happenings

Content a 7 Letter Word

Content a 7 Letter Word

Content a 7 Letter Word

There is a word, I do not like so well.  Content a 7 Letter Word.  On October 14, 2015…..I remember sitting on the pot (yes, my revelations come in the bathroom) and contemplating life.  I have always yearned to have more children.  Big Daddy and I took that matter into our own hands and chose to “get him fixed” when Noah was about 2 maybe 3….at the time, he was 14.  I was looking up at a picture that my kids had made.  Each one had done their handprint in yellow and decorated it.  My frame was full….literally and figuratively.  We even traded in our suburban that, easily, fit 9 people for a smaller minivan.  Yep.  My life was complete.  Change is good with Content a 7 Letter Word.  Next up:  Grandchildren.
Been There, Done That with Adoption Avenues
Ethiopia was closing.  Foster system…..yep…..did that.  We couldn’t really afford any other type of adoption, so I just sat there, praising God for the children that I have and I uttered the words “Lord, I choose to be content.  I am content.  My kids are getting bigger.  I have more freedoms.  Life is good, and I’m thankful.”  I am thinking He was sitting on His heavenly throne, eating popcorn, and laughing hysterically at me.
The very next day.
THE.  VERY.  NEXT.  DAY.  Bart was home, and it was the tail end of fall break.  I was on cloud nine.  I felt like a thousand elephants had jumped off my chest and I was excited about letting go of a dream and moving forward.  In moving forward, we decided to throw caution to the wind and take 5 of our 6 kids to the movie.  Our oldest daughter was working.
Surprising our Kids with a Movie and Lunch
We were all getting dressed and almost out the door when the phone rang.  Normally, since most of us were in the van, I would ignore the phone and go on…I didn’t for some reason (or a God reason), and I looked at the caller ID, and it was my oldest sister.  A little mini back story about my sister and me.  We come from a very close-knit family, and when one of us is hurt or threatened, we surround that person and become a barrier of protection and love.
Yet…my sister and I were never really close.  She is close to my oldest brother, and I’m was super close to my sister 2 yrs older than me.  K is 6 yrs older, and my brother is 10 yrs older.  We loved each other….that has always held true, but that was about it.
A Little Backstory
About a year before this event, I had an appt with my number 6 child.  That trip took me close to where my sister worked.  I ran by there to say hi.  Also to get an update on her kids/grandkids.  Lastly, I wanted to give her an update on my family.  I suggested that we go to lunch together.  To get to know each other and to figure out who we are, as adults.  To my surprise, she said yes.
Faithfully, for a year, we met for lunch once a month.  It came to be a time that we both loved, and we didn’t want to miss it.  We started calling each other….texting each other….having jokes…solving the world’s problems.  I would now consider her one of my best friends.  My sisters are my strength, and they hold me up with love, consistency, prayers, devotion, honesty, and fussing at me when I need it.  When we told our other sister what all had transpired between us, she just cried.  She said that is what she had been praying about for years.
Always Answer Your Phone
So when I saw her name, I picked up the phone.  I knew she and her husband were out of town, so my first line was “what is wrong.”  I heard the panic in her voice…..she kept saying “can you go and get the babies.  Go and get them.  Mom is out of town.  I’m out of town.  Daddy is with them but can you get them.”  Uhm…..YES, I can.  We all loaded up and headed to town and when we pulled up tears and chaos surrounded us.  I will not go into detail because first, I do not have my sister’s permission….second, it is her and the babies’ stories….not mine to share.
Adding 2 Kids for the Weekend
We kept the babies that weekend (by babies they were 5 and 2), and she picked them up on Sunday.  I remember thinking “God, I have helped the least of these…may You bless them and protect them during this journey they are walking on.”  Then, I went to bed cause I was tired LOL.  I have not had a little one here since Daniel, and he was 2 1/2 when he moved in.  Jude was 5 when he came home.  To thrust me into little people’s clothes and diapers…..no thank you…I am good LOL.
Oops, We Missed One
Fast forward just a little bit to November 2015.  See….K and J had a little brother, Hunter.  He was living with, whom we thought was his father, but in reality, he was not.  His mom, my niece, was living in the streets wheeling and dealing and drugging.  Broke our hearts.  My heart broke for this little dude.  I knew my sister and her husband were working full time and had a toddler and a 5 yr old who are both dealing with PTSD and severe trauma from their beginnings.  Could she take on a baby who was 21 mths old?  Yep….would she go bald and run down the road naked screaming at the top of her lungs?  Yep.
Yielding
I talked to Big Daddy, my kids.  Also, I spoke to my other sister and my mama.  Then, and only then, did I talked to Kim.  One of the rawest, difficult, blessed events that have occurred between us.  We cried.  She agreed.  Niece agreed.  Judge agreed.
What On Earth Am I Thinking
So here I am, just turning 43 yrs old.  One out of the house, one almost in college, one in high school, one in middle school, two in grade school, and a baby…..a baby who wasn’t rocked that often.  My life consisted of standing in the baby aisle crying because I didn’t know what he needed.  Sippy cups.  Diapers.  Baby toys.  Diaper bags.  Smooshed up foods.  Car seats.  My van didn’t accommodate everyone.  Oh.  My.  Stars.  What have I freaking done!  I have a BABY!
So Much More to this Inter-Family Adoption
There is SO much more to this story.  Sadly, there is still so much fighting and many days in court.  There have been many tears.  So many “thank yous” from my sister and her husband.  Also, so much therapy and so many hospitals stay.  So.  Very.  Much.  You can read, from my sister’s perspective here on her blog Mom By Proxy….and God’s Grace.  We “officially” adopted him right before Christmas, last year.

 

Through It All…His Eyes Were On You

Through it all…..God knew what He was doing since before He created the Earth.  He knew how my family would be shaped.  That my relationship with my sister would be healed.  Also, He knew that I would be in my 40s still raising babies.

Straight Up Joy

This boy……..this baby………he has bound my crew together.  He has changed one of my daughters.  My little dude has his biggest brother wrapped around his little finger.  He is loved so deeply and completely.  His laugh, smile, and “I love you, mom.”  The fact that he says “daddy you are my favorite.”  Also, “Mamaw is my girlfriend.”  His imagination, drive, and determination are to behold.

He is my joy, the calm in the storm.  That little dude is my baby and he melts me.  Am I finished with babies?  I don’t know.  Grandkids are in my future…one day….but so may a little one who needs a family.  We shall see what God wants.  Till then, I will NEVER utter the phrase again “Lord, I am content.”  I will never use Content a 7 Letter Word again.