Foster to Adopt ~ International ~ Intrafamily Adoption

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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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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Today is my Birthday

Today is my Birthday

Today is my Birthday

Today is my Birthday. I am a blessed woman.  If you wanna be humbled, ask those you love to give you 5 things (kind things) about you.  Here is what my crew had to say about me.  I must say, I cackled at a couple of these.  Ah, to see me through my family’s eyes.  I never knew.  Here is to year 47 in all its glory!

Big Daddy:

  • Trustworthy
  • Honest
  • Loving
  • Compassionate
  • Loyal

Bug:

  • Loving
  • Protector
  • Takes no BS
  • Always there when I need you
  • Best mom ever

Benjamin:

  • Blunt
  • Resourceful
  • Devout
  • Compassionate
  • Driven

Peach:

  • Wise
  • Compassionate
  • Good Cook
  • Loving
  • Stubborn

Gigi:

  • Outgoing
  • Luminary
  • Spunky
  • Kind
  • Loving

Boo:

  • Loving
  • Caring
  • Kind
  • Trusting
  • Amazing

D:

  • Loving
  • Caring
  • Faithful
  • Joyful
  • Kind
  • Smart

Jude:

  • Loving
  • Caring
  • Knowledgeable
  • Kind
  • Respectful

Hunter:

  • Very Happy
  • So Famous
  • Sing Pretty Well
  • Funny
  • You Watch Movies with Me

Ending My Day

My family decided that they would cook me dinner tonight!  Yay me!  We had steak and baked potatoes.  There was very little whining by Big Daddy or Ben.  That, right there, is quite a win in my book!  I wrangled Bug for one game and Boo for another game and we played Euchre.  Forgot to mention on Tuesday night, that Peach took me out to dinner.  Sadly, she had to work today but last night was fun!

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Faith Journey, Foster to Adopt ~ International ~ Intrafamily Adoption

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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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!

 

Large Family Happenings

A Little Cheesy Maybe but Then Again Maybe Not

A Little Cheesy Maybe but Then Again Maybe NotA Little Cheesy Maybe but Then Again Maybe Not.  I sit here, pondering the last year.  It began with my dad having quadruple bypass surgery, the middle was the diagnosis of the life-altering disease of my youngest, the end was the death of my Lady.  There were many things sprinkled in between.  There were HUGE life changes in my oldest.  HUGE life lessons for 2 of my kids.  22 weeks of military school.  FASD/Puberty explosion with one kid.  Surgery and learning how to hear out of both ears.  Surgery for me.  Overtime for Big Daddy.  2 Boys involved with 2 girls.  An engagement.  An intention of engagement.  Driver’s license. HUGE family dynamics shift within my family.  And a partridge in a pear tree.

Highest of Highs to the Lowest of Lows

This year, I have seen the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.  What has been constant has been my faith in Jesus, the unending love of my husband, my children, and my family.  There are days when it is hard to breathe.  Then, there are days when the hours are long and the patience is short.  Also, there are also days of laughter and learning.

So.  Many.  Emotions

I have so many emotions that are running through me.  Tonight will be the last Christmas that all my 7 children will be under one roof (before any hairy-legged guys impose).  Next year, I will have a new son in law and our dynamics will change.  The next year, I could have another new son in law and the dynamics will change again.  My heart is humbled that I can wake up with all my babies…..all lined up in a row.  OMS will not steal our joy, this holiday season, though it has tried.  It has been tough on my little one.  His schedule has been all messed up.  He is so symptomatic.  He is emotional…..but he is alive.

My In-Laws

As I was at my mother-in-law, we ate, we laughed, and then my sister in law and I sat and talked.  Like talked.  I realize what a cool chick she is and how lucky I am to have her in my life.  We are as opposite as opposite can be but I find comfort in her eyes.  We chatted while my mother-in-law, Big Daddy, and the kid’s frosted cookies.  It was all easy.  It was so nice.  I am so blessed.

Seeing my Seester

This past Friday, my sister and her family were in town.  She wasn’t going to be able to be at “Christmas” when mom was having her time, but she came early and Kim, Shane, and I brought our crew to play.  We ordered pizza.  Ate desserts.  We laughed.  Learned about where we come from and remembered our times as kids.  Our parents shared some stories and some love about their childhoods.  All while we were “adulting”, the kids were playing cards, football, and just hanging out.  It was sheer bliss.  We even got in a couple of games of Scrabble.

My Oak.  My Mama.

We had the BEST time.  Since the year before last, when daddy had his stroke and then this year when he had his quadruple bypass surgery….we have seen a strength in our mama that I knew was there but I haven’t seen in a while.  She was the picture of grace, even in the chaos, during all of this.  Also, she is a faithful prayer warrior.  Funny enough, she keeps it all in her little black book (God forbid anyone finds the said book).

Also, she loves her children and her grandchildren.  Her heart rejoices with our successes and she is there with wisdom when we are struggling.  There have been multiple times, this year, even with all that had gone on that she has helped me a the drop of a hat.  Whether it is watching my kids, taking one to an appointment or spending the night with me in Louisville because I needed help.  My kids adore her.  My husband adores her.  We all love her okra and fried chicken.  She makes my heart smile.

Daddy

Daddy…..he is my strength and my hero.  His sly grin warms my heart.  Sadly, he has me wrapped around his little finger.  Also, he loves my dog.  He is full of wisdom and his love for my mama and Jesus………only people that KNOW my family truly know what a Saul to Paul he is.  Honestly, I can’t even.  Simply stated I love him.

Tera

I have always been super close with my sister, Tera.  Well, not in our middle school/high school years but our early years and our adult years.  She’s a little over 2 years older than I am.  We each have a boatload of kids and our kids are stacked at about the same age, so one of us is usually in the throes of what the other is fixing to walk through.  We have always leaned on each other, regardless of where she lives.  She will hit me square between the eyes with Truth.  I will hit her right back.

Luckily, when she is down, I am up and when I am down, she is up.  We are very similar.  I always say what I say regardless and Tera thinks what I say but she never lets it escape her mouth….well, not never LOL.  We are in constant contact with each other because that has been how we’ve been since I got married, I think….almost 24 or 25 years.  I am dunno LOL.  She is my person.  She knows it all…I mean, all about me.  She’s a keeper 🙂

Kim

My other sister, Kim, is 6 yrs older than me.  She was more of a mother figure when I was younger.  My mom went back to school to finish her education and then go on to get her Master’s in teaching….cause she is awesome like that…..so, Kim kind of filled in the gaps when Daddy was sleeping/working and mom was at school.  We never were close, because I did not view her as a sister.  She was more of an authority.  As the years went by, as much as we loved each other, we didn’t always like each other.

I made decisions she didn’t like and she made decisions that I didn’t like and we are the type of people that will tell each other we didn’t like it and then we’d stuff our feelings and ignore it.  That went super well for a long time.  I think we tried.  We did not love each other…it was just different.  We are 2 different people with two different opinions.

God Answers Prayers

A few years ago, I had run by her office to say hi.  I was there with my 6th child and I thought…well, we are here….she is right down the hall.  I’d be remiss if I did not go by and say hello.  That is what a good sister would do and I really did enjoy chatting with her.  She was genuinely happy to see us.  We were happy to see her, but you see, we didn’t know each other.  Conversation swirled around our kids and what they were doing and then it was done.  For some reason, that day, I decided to ask her on a lunch date for the next week.  She shocked me by saying yes.  I mean, I was shocked.  When the time came, she had to cancel for work reasons.

I thought the subject would not be reopened until she said, “I can do it the next day at this time.”  I agreed and we both showed up.  From that point on, we were dedicated to meeting each other once a month (sometimes more) for lunch.  We dove deep into our childhood, our teenage years, our early adult years, raising kids, raising husbands, and everything in between.  She finally looked at me like I was an adult, on the same playing field as she was on.  We learned so much about each other.  Our thought processes matched.  Our fierceness of family was evident.  She had turned from my caregiver to someone I didn’t know, to someone I loved, to my confidante.  To my best friend.  She became my safety.  My idea bouncer offer.  Also, she was the person I call to cry.  I know she will listen, share wisdom, and pray over whatever is going on.

My Sisters:  My Tribe

I am blessed that all 3 of us sisters are incredibly close.  The Lord allotted that year to pull our heads out of our tails.  He chose to knock the preconceived blinders off of our eyes so we could see each other clearly.  He gave me my heart’s desire because, for years, I would ask my other sister why Kim doesn’t like me.  What I had done wrong.  How could I have a good relationship with her? The Lord was sweet and he heard my prayers and He kept us dedicated to each other for a full year.  Life got in the way with kids, adoption, Hunter’s illness, daddy’s illness….so we have not had lunch in a while, but we text/talk to each other several times a week.

Our lunches will start back up in January because we have both missed it terribly.  I love the adult time and just laughing while we try to solve the world’s problems LOL.  I look forward to our date so very much.  He chose to restore our relationship for a reason.  From the beginning of time, He knew that Kim’s daughter, Paige, would give birth to 3 babies.  Also, He knew that 2 of those babies would be raised by my sister.  Amazingly enough, the last baby would be raised by me.  I see it as He was preparing the fields of our relationship with rain….once our fields were ready, He was ready to move.  And move He did.  Our goal for 2018 is to get back to our monthly lunches.  We *need* that time away from the kids so we can talk about the kids 🙂

God is so good.

Through circumstances I will not write out, the Lord moved in such a big way, that I still sit with my mouth wide open in awe of His greatness.  He has taught me contentment.  I can love my brother, but not have the close relationship that I want with him.  I thought it was what it was….but it wasn’t.  I’m not saying that all is magically healed, but what I am saying is that this past Thanksgiving and especially this past Christmas…there is something different.  On Friday, when all of us kids hung out at mom and dad’s, he hugged me…like he initiated a hug with me, out of the blue.  My body hugged him back and my mind was jumping up and down screaming OH MY GOSH!!!!!  WHAT DO I DO?????????? DO I SAY SOMETHING OR JUST BE NONCHALANT????????????  I was, of course, nonchalant…cause that’s my jam.  Then, I called mom and commented on it.  Next, I told my husband.  Finally, I told my children.  I looked like an idiot LOL  I savored that brief moment.

My Moment.  My Miracle.

Then…came Christmas…good jeez……….He sat in the kitchen.  In our house, the men usually sit in the dining room.  They talk man stuff.  The kids eat in the kitchen or playroom.  Finally, the ladies mess and gob wherever there is a place.  He sat in the kitchen and helped my little one eat because he was so symptomatic with his Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome (OMS).

I noticed that he was gentle, kind, and he got the job done.  It may be my imagination but I believe Hunter even ate off of his plate LOL.  As I sat at the other table, just watching them. My knee jerk was to just flat outcry like a baby.  He has never done that and I just can’t even handle the emotions.  Shane talked to each of my kids.  He made my son a necklace that he has yet to take off.  We call it the “Uncle Shane says do not lie anymore necklace or they will have a chat” necklace.  Side note that D thinks Uncle Shane hung the moon and the stars.  My brother played with them, loved them, and he did the research for me to help my sick child.

Mind=Blown

Then, he comforted me.  Finally, he hugged me….again…more than once.  We laughed.  As cheesy as this sounds, it was like my very own little personal miracle.  I have had such a tough year and I’m preparing for my rainbow…I think the Lord just saw my need….realized that my heart was content with the way things were….but decided I needed an extra miracle.  Every time I think about it, I cry.  I’m pathetic.  I know.  I am still content but I see a piece of his heart-melting towards me and I feel that little girl’s “please brother love me and let’s be friends” heart come back to life.  He is currently figuring out a design to help us in securing a grant to make our bathroom wheelchair accessible.  I can’t even.

Rounding It Out

As tired as I am and as ready as I am for this year to be over…I look back and I realize that my dad is alive.  He is well.  My mom is faithful and my sisters are my rocks.  Then, there is my brother who freaking hugged me.  He also loved me and my kids.  Amazingly enough, my son is alive.  Most of my children are well.  My marriage is good.  Sadly, (for me) my Lady celebrated her first Christmas with “her hero” and Jesus.  My God is faithful in remembering my prayers.  I pray this is a beginning with my brother and me.  If it is….. praise to the King.  If it isn’t…..I had a moment and I still praise the King.

God Remembers the Prayers of His People

Still, I have a picture of him with Hunter.  Honestly, I would show it but he does not like his picture to be out and about.  Just know…….it is frame-worthy.  I may not put it here, but guarantee it will be on my mantle.  Regardless, I will do that because I want Hunter (and all my kids) to know that he loves them.  Also, I want to remember one of the best Christmas gifts I could ever even dream up.

2018.  I am ready for you.  I am channeling awesomeness.  There will be valleys, but I believe that this year, God is going to take my mountain (so many things make up my mountain) from the Atlantic and He is going to crush it in the Pacific.

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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 Mouth of Babes

Out of the Mouth of Babes

Out of the Mouth of Babes

This is completely out of the mouth of babes.  Please meet Grayce (16), Daniel (13), and Jude (11)…Grayce and Daniel were 6 and 2 1/2 when they moved in with us.  We adopted them from the foster care system.  Jude, we adopted at 4 and brought him home at 5 from Ethiopia.  Hunter (3) is actually my great-nephew.

 

Grayce (RAD, PTSD, ADD, PMDD, FASD, and realizing her AWESOMENESS)

I think adoption is a neat thing.  It gives kids hope.  I moved in with my adoptive parents at the age of 6 and was legally adopted at the age of 9.  Adoption can also be a scary thing, mainly for the kid.  They may be used to a particular environment then suddenly they are in a new place with new people.

When I was adopted, it was scary at first.  Even though I wasn’t with my biological mother, I was with another family that I was used to being around.  There is no telling how long it will take a kid to adapt.  I guess it depends on all that the kid has been through.

There are some Positive Things

But there are some positive things about adoption you get a family that wants you, who cares for you.  After all, they CHOSE YOU out of tons of kids.  You get all of your basic needs met and maybe some wants too.

The past may be hard to forget, but we can choose to make our future a better one.  If I hadn’t been adopted, I would really be struggling.  Living with a mom who didn’t really care what I did and would let me do anything I desired.  I could be addicted to drugs and alcohol at a young age or pregnant like my birth mom.  But luckily someone saw that I could be something more than what I had grown up to be an adopted me.  They saw more in me than I did.  And I can never repay them for it.

Adoption is a gift from God.  Romans 8:15 says “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery, to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!”

Adoption can save lives.

 


Daniel (ADD, PTSD, RAD, FASD, Dyslexia, Low Functioning, Brain Damage, Developmental Delays, and AWESOME)

Dear readers, I’m going to tell you about my life.  As a boy do not remember much of the past but if I was not adopted my mother could not take care of my need and health.  I was always sick until my new mother and father got me and adopted me.  I got a new mother who cared for me and a new father and brothers and sisters who loved me with every breath they had and taught me new things and how to love God.  And though they love me more, the other family that did mean things to me and I’ve learned to forgive them but they still loved me the only way they could, and I loved them sure the life was rough and hard, but I had a new chapter to start.

 


Jude (Developmental Delays, Single-Sided Deafness, and always knew his tendency towards AWESOME)

I remember giving the people in Ethiopia candy.  We would sit down in the living room and watch them make coffee.   I was adopted when I was five years old.  That was when I met my new family.  Now, I have three brothers and three sisters,  a mom and a dad.  In Ethiopia, I have a mom, two brothers, and three sisters.

If I were never adopted, I wouldn’t have experienced playing and sports.  Also,  making new friends or seeing new places.  I like it here.  I can experience new things.  Like how my brothers taught me new things.  They also taught me how to play other games.  As well as, how they helped me with stuff.  I remember not liking the airplane’s water.  There was also the time I remember puking in the van.

 


Hunter (Developmental Delays, Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome, and never knew he wasn’t AWESOME)

Me:  Hunter, did you know you were adopted?

Hunter:  Uh-huh

Me:  What is your mama’s name?

Hunter:  I don’t know.

Me:  Do you love being adopted?

Hunter:  Yes.

Me:  Who sends you letters in the mail?

Hunter:  Mama Paige.

Me:   Who are your brothers and sisters?

Hunter:  Karen, Bro-man

**Karen is our cat and Bro-man is Jude….he also has Victoria, Alyssa, Grayce, and Kaleigh.  Brothers are Noah, Daniel, Jude, and Jack**

Me:  Where do Kaleigh and Jackie live?

Hunter: In my room.

Me:  Do you love MaMaw so much?

Hunter:  Yes.

Me:  What about PaPaw?

Hunter:  Yes

Me:  Anything else you want to say?

Hunter:  I am wearing Superman underwear.

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A Day in the Life

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A Day in the Life of my family.  There are just some things a person cannot make up.  I adore my large family.

This is just a small snippet of some of the conversations that go on, in my house.

Conversation with Boo

Boo:  Mom, are you okay?

Me:  I’m fine.

Boo:  Well your face doesn’t look fine…wanna hug?


Conversation with Little Man

Little Man walking by and me noticing a HUGE bald spot on the back of his head.

Me:  Why is there a big bald spot on your head?

LM:  There was a scab and it was so itchy so I itched it off.

Me:  **Looking closely.**  Son, if this were a scab, why does it smell fruity and why is it all over your head?

LM:  I wanted a piece of gum before bed last night, it must have fallen out of my mouth.


Conversation with Big Daddy

After a couple of hours of Big Daddy “schooling” with the kids, I come downstairs.

I find papers everywhere.

One kid doing her work.

One kid helping LM does his work because Big Daddy can’t “handle” working with the little boys.

Big Daddy looking at me and saying “Catfish only got 2 pages done in his book…after 2 hours.  That’s it.  Just 2 pages.”

Me:  **thinking to myself…boy I hope you are more appreciative of what I do all day**


Bathroom Reading

I walked into the bathroom and I found the book “Grammar Composition” poised at the base of the toilet.  Light reading for the budding authors of the house LOL

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Little Man

Little ManLittle Man

Yesterday, Little Man made a bad choice.  He chose to be a typical 7 yr old and tattle on his older brother.  His brother was in trouble for disobeying and was sent to take a nap. However, Little Man informed me that Catfish was not taking a nap.  Instead, he was in his room playing.  Catfish is asleep.

Me:  Did you tattle on Catfish to get him in trouble?

LM:  No.

Me:  Are you telling me the truth?

LM:  No.

Me:  Did you tattle on Catfish to get him in trouble?

LM:  Yes.

Me:  You need to go upstairs (to my bedroom) and wait to be disciplined for choosing to be dishonest with me.\

**Sadly, we both head upstairs**

LM:  Do you forgive me?

Me:  Yes.  But there are natural consequences to the choice of lying.

LM:  Does God still love me.

Me:  Yes

**I make him lay down and take a nap, as well**

After a 2 hour nap, he comes downstairs.

Me:  Did you sleep?

LM:  yes…Uhm…mommy….your bed is SO soft.  Do you think, someday, I could get a bed that soft too? I like your bed.

Me:  Yes, son….someday.

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