All Things 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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Sadness in America and the Celebration of New Year in Ethiopia

Sadness in America and the Celebration of New Year in Ethiopia

Today, September 11, 2020, is a hard, yet beautiful day.  There is Sadness in America and yet the Celebration of New Year in Ethiopia.  When you are raising a son, from this beautiful country, you want to celebrate their traditions. This helps him understand and honor his culture.  Yet, as an American, this day is extremely difficult.  The difficulty is due to the attacks on our country.

September 11 attacks - Wikipedia

Sadness in America

Four commercial jets were hijacked. American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into Tower One (the north tower) of the WTC at 8:50 AM.  United Airlines Flight 175 then crashed into Tower Two at 9:04 AM.  American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon.  United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The fourth jet was to target the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Instead, the plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.  Amazingly, the passengers on the flight fought against the hijackers to regain control of the plane.

The Collapse

Tower Two of the World Trade Center collapsed at about 10:00 AM. At 10:30 AM, Tower One also collapsed.  The attacks resulted in the deaths of 2,977 people.  The victims included 246 passengers and crew on the four planes.  Sadly, 2,606 in New York City, both in the towers and on the ground.  Also, 125 individuals at the Pentagon.  Men, women, and children from more than 90 countries died in these attacks.

Terrorist Death

The 19 terrorist hijackers also died in the attacks. The hijackers were Islamic terrorists from Saudi Arabia.  Furthermore, several other Arab nations reportedly backed financially.  Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network did this.

In 2004, Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attacks. Al-Qaeda and bin Laden cited U.S. support of Israel, the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, and sanctions against Iraq as reasons for the attacks.

Ethiopian New Year's Day - US

The Celebration of the New Year

As a harbinger of the New Year (Enkutatash), a song called ‘Abebayehosh‘ is performed by groups of Ethiopian girls. You could be at home in your PJs, sipping on some coffee, or maybe taking a stroll.  Then, a group of girls might approach you beating their drums, clapping, and singing the traditional song.

 

Ethiopia celebrates New Year 7 years behind the Gregorian calendar

The Ethiopian Calendar is seven to eight years behind the Gregorian calendar. Interestingly, Ethiopia’s New Year (Enkutatash) means the “gift of jewels”.

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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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Enkutatash Celebration

Enkutatash Celebration

Enkutatash Celebration

It seems every year, New Year sneaks up on me!  I’m totally unprepared!  So, for this Enkutatash Celebration of 2012, I’m pretty stoked that I have popcorn.  Tomorrow, I have to go to Paducah to horse therapy.  I am hoping and praying that our local Starbucks has some Ethiopian coffee.

Memories

Though Jude does not remember his country, much to my sadness, we do!  Granted, we only spent a little less than 2 weeks there, but the stamp is on our hearts.  I can close my eyes and smell the popcorn cooking at the ceremony!  The smell of the coffee beans roasting!  The coffee…the cane sugar…the sights, and rituals.  I love it!

Our Hopes

We hope and pray for this coming up year to be amazing for these beautiful people.  His mom, brothers, and sisters…still in the country.  You are never far from our hearts and our prayers.  We are doing our best to make sure our boy has a deep love and respect for the traditions of this place.

One Day

We will go back.  I will see my son reunited with his birth family.  The opportunity to hug her neck is something that I desire so deeply.  I can put on my little dress I bought there, wear the scarves my sweet friend Betty gave me before we pulled away.  Maybe, just maybe…a bird will poop on us!  That’s good luck, ya know!

Melkam Addis Amet

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Psalm 30 & Proverbs 30

Psalm 30 & Proverbs 30

Psalm 30 & Proverbs 30

Here are my thoughts on the verses Psalm 30 & Proverbs 30.  Today, I had to grab my little Bible and read while I was waiting to pick up the kids.  It has been an emotionally charged day.

A friend went to be with the Lord.  Such a bright light in a dark world.  This woman is the parent I want to be.  She never said anything other than praises for her son.  When his name was mentioned she would say “Oh, he is WONDERFUL.”

Frannie…you were loved, a bright light, and an inspiration to others.  She will be missed.

Psalm 30

A psalm of David. A song for the dedication of the Temple.

I will exalt you, Lord, for you rescued me.
    You refused to let my enemies triumph over me.
Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
    and you restored my health.
You brought me up from the grave, O Lord.
    You kept me from falling into the pit of death.

Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones!

    Praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
    but his favor lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may last through the night,
    but joy comes with the morning.

When I was prosperous, I said,
    “Nothing can stop me now!”

Memories

Verse 6 sticks in my throat.  I remember coming home from Ethiopia in October 2010.  Jet lag was a thing man….  Was.  A.  Thing.  We were scheduling our flight in December 2010 to go and pick him up.  The first trip was to formally adopt him in ET.  Then, the second trip was to bring him home.

A few days after we returned home, I went to the mailbox.  I’m not even sure we had completely unpacked.  The letter I got sent me to my knees in the driveway.  It was the first, of three, denial letters.

The US was denying us our son.  We were not going to be able to travel and our adoption was futile.  People told us that we should just forget about him. Take the money as a loss.  He would never remember us.  It was over.  The US said no.  They would not change their minds about anything.

Transitions and Changes

We refused to give up.  Though my depression sat on my chest with the heaviness of a herd of elephants, we were not going to leave our son there.  I put the kids in school.  Then, I got a full-time job.  We hired an immigration attorney, the best in the US.  All the paperwork was done…again.  We got a new home study agency.  Our plan, if nothing else worked, was for me to move to ET for 2 years with our kids.  After that, he would be a US citizen and we would come home.  Big Daddy would send us money.

During This Time

We prayed.  I watched God move.  The days I would drive 45 minutes to work, I would hear the song that talks about verse 6.  It is always darkest before the dawn and JOY comes in the morning.  Therefore, I would weep the whole way there.

But God.  He saw my plight.  My heart was broken.  He was the only one we turned to.  But God.  Jude came home in December 2011.  Right before Christmas.  One day, I’ll write about it.  Sadly, 8 years later, it is still too fresh.

Weeping may come in the night, but JOY comes in the morning.

Section 2

Your favor, O Lord, made me as secure as a mountain.
    Then you turned away from me, and I was shattered.

I cried out to you, O Lord.
    I begged the Lord for mercy, saying,
“What will you gain if I die,
    if I sink into the grave?
Can my dust praise you?
    Can it tell of your faithfulness?
10 Hear me, Lord, and have mercy on me.
    Help me, O Lord.”

11 You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
12 that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!

Thoughts

^^^^^Those verses…that is my journey with Jude.  Every single verse.  I felt He turned away from me.  My depression overtook me.  I cried while I slept and breathed.  In short, I wanted to die.  He heard me.  Mercy was bestowed.  My mourning turned into dancing.  I will forever sing His praises.^^^^^

Proverbs 30

The Sayings of Agur

1 The sayings of Agur son of Jakeh contain this message.  I am weary, O God; I am weary and worn out, O God.

I am too stupid to be human, and I lack common sense.
I have not mastered human wisdom, nor do I know the Holy One.

Who but God goes up to heaven and comes back down?  (And) Who holds the wind in his fists?  Who wraps up the oceans in his cloak?  (And) Who has created the whole wide world?  What is his name—and his son’s name? Tell me if you know!

Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.

Thoughts

I love these verses.  Interestingly enough, here Agur says that he is tired.  Worn out.  Stupid.  Sadly, lacking common sense.  No wisdom.  To begin with, how many times have I felt like that (ie today)?  It was very clear that I am not God.  He is the only one who has gone to heaven and back to Earth.  How mighty he is to hold the wind in his fists? Wraps that ocean in a cloak…I can’t even wrap my mind around that.

Section 2

Do not add to his words, or he may rebuke you and expose you as a liar.

O God, I beg two favors from you; let me have them before I die.
First, help me never to tell a lie.  Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.
For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?”  And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.

10 Never slander a worker to the employer, or the person will curse you, and you will pay for it.

Thoughts

Verse 8 screaming all of the YES LORD, YES!  To summarize, just keep me honest.  Just give me enough to satisfy my needs.  Help me distinguish between needs and wants.  Let me always praise Your Name!

Section 3

11 Some people curse their father and do not thank their mother.
12 They are pure in their own eyes, but they are filthy and unwashed.
13 They look proudly around, casting disdainful glances.
14 They have teeth like swords and fangs like knives.  (And) They devour the poor from the earth and the needy from among humanity.

15 The leech has two suckers that cry out, “More, more!” There are three things that are never satisfied—no, four that never say, “Enough!”:

16 the grave, the barren womb, the thirsty desert, the blazing fire.

Thoughts

Verses 11-14 need to be blazed all over my house.  The issues that I face with a couple of my kids is exhausting.  Then, I think of Frannie.  Above all, her love for her Sam was one that I just want a fraction of.  I know I love my kids.  However, the way she loves him…it is in a different realm. God can make a change.  These kids can thank their mother and their father!  They will see the plank in their eyes instead of focusing on the speck in others.

Section 4

17 The eye that mocks a father and despises a mother’s instructions will be plucked out by ravens of the valley and eaten by vultures.

18 There are three things that amaze me—no, four things that I don’t understand:
19 how an eagle glides through the sky, how a snake slithers on a rock, how a ship navigates the ocean, how a man loves a woman.

20 An adulterous woman consumes a man, then wipes her mouth and says, “What’s wrong with that?”

Section 5

21 There are three things that make the earth tremble—no, four it cannot endure:
22 a slave who becomes a king, an overbearing fool who prospers,
23 a bitter woman who finally gets a husband, a servant girl who supplants her mistress.

24 There are four things on earth that are small but unusually wise:
25 Ants—they aren’t strong, but they store up food all summer.
26 Hyraxes—they aren’t powerful, but they make their homes among the rocks.
27 Locusts—they have no king, but they march in formation.
28 Lizards—they are easy to catch, but they are found even in kings’ palaces.

Thoughts

Honestly, this is pretty straightforward but also thought-provoking.  For instance, ants, though small are strong.  Hyraxes make their home high on rocks that most animals cannot get up.  Then, there are the locusts who march.  Finally, the lizards are quick and quiet.  Maybe these are attributes that I need.

I need to be strong to not only talk about my faith but walk it out.  Have the Lord place me in that Strong Tower and high up on the rocks.  By the way, I march to the beat of Jesus.  Be swift in all that I do and don’t brag.

Section 6

29 There are three things that walk with stately stride—no, four that strut about:
30 the lion, king of animals, who won’t turn aside for anything,
31 the strutting rooster, the male goat, a king as he leads his army.

32 If you have been a fool by being proud or plotting evil, cover your mouth in shame.

33 As the beating of cream yields butter and striking the nose causes bleeding, so stirring up anger causes quarrels.

Thoughts

Back to the lion and having it roar inside me!

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Falling Down the Rabbit Hole

Falling Down the Rabbit Hole

Here I am, sorting through the 58,882 pictures and the 1300 videos and it happened.  I began Falling Down the Rabbit Hole of memories.  Frankly, I am an emotional wreck!

The Basics

I mean there are the annual Christmas pictures, birthday pictures, and such.  Those pictures are fun to look at.  To see the kids’ faces change over the years.  The laughter and joy on their little faces.  These are fun.

The Rest

Then, there are the ones that make me choke back the tears.  I sat and looked through the pictures of two of our children, Shay and Tay.  We had them for a short time, but our goal was adoption.

The social worker was evil.  Just pure evil.  I know a lot of social workers and the ones that I know are hardcore and good.  They want the best for these children in tough places.  I am blessed to know them.

This one, however, was not one of the good ones.  She convinced the judge that I’m an unfit mother.  This was all done because she wanted to adopt these children.  Vile human.  I struggle with forgiveness.

Ethiopia

Looking at the pictures from Ethiopia makes me feel so many feels.  The referral picture of Jude.  I remember where I was when I saw his little face the first time.  The pictures of our first trip.  So full of joy and promise and excitement.

Then the trial…15 mths of fighting for our son.  Seeing other people’s pictures of my son.  I’m so thankful for them and for thinking of us during this time.  Yet, it reminds me of the darkness that fell over me.  The uncertainty.  Pain.

Joy That Comes in the Morning

Then, there is the joy of seeing him again.  The look on his face.  Him, in all white, with these beautiful wildflowers he had picked.  The “mommies” all walking with him.  I remember the joy on their faces of us *finally* coming.  Also, the sadness, as he was a staple at the transition house.

Granny’s House

Then there was the year that granny died.  Wow.  Gut punch.  I didn’t realize I took so many pictures of her house.  Yet, there they all were.  Memories of such joyous times with her and a twinge of sadness of other things.

Hunter Before

The pictures and videos of Hunter blowing into our lives.  He was like a whirlwind that blew new life into our family.  His presence created so much healing within my family and my extended family.

As we should all know with adoption…with great joy comes great loss.  He has experienced so much loss in his little life.  His biological father, whom he will never know.  His biological siblings from his father’s side.  The loss of his biological mom to drugs and prison.  Also, the loss of the only “father” that he knew and his kids.  The loss of his health.

Bigger Picture

The thing I have to look at is how far he has come.  Yes, he will never know his bio dad.  On the flip side, Big Daddy is a phenomenal daddy to him.  They have a wonderful bond.  The only “father” he knew, from his past, has made some epically poor choices and is in a bad state of being right now.  He is not safe.  His biological mom is my niece and oh how I love her.  I’m doing everything I can to keep her in his life.  We can only do so much, right now, since she is in prison.  However, once she is out…that is when the rubber meets the road.

For Now

I will absorb it all.  Take it all in stride.  Be thankful for the memories that were made and the lessons that were learned.  I can see God’s hand and the crimson thread He has woven throughout my life in pictures.

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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.

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All About Single-Sided Deafness

All About Single-Sided Deafness

All About Single-Sided Deafness

Here is the info All About Single-Sided Deafness.  According to Healthy Hearing, Single-Sided Deafness is “Living in the head shadow of singlesided deafness. …Singlesided deafness (SSD) is a condition in which a person has lost hearing in one ear, while he or she may have anywhere from normal hearing to profound hearing loss in the other.”

A Small Familiarity

This is something that I have grown up with but never really understood.  As you talk about it more, you find out that more people have hearing loss or are completely deaf in one ear.  They have just learned to deal with it, over the course of their lives.  Keep on reading from my “blonde” moment in regards to my small familiarity.

Bringing Jude Home

We met Jude when he was 4.  In our adoption journey, we flew to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and met this delicious child.  It was love at first sight.  There was, of course, a huge language barrier.  He spoke his native language, Wolayita.  Also, he was learning Amharic (the native language of most of Ethiopia).  As an added bonus, this teacher was teaching the kids in English.

We were in such a fog of all the information overload we were experiencing that we didn’t notice much else. He was a typical 4 yr old child.  Busy, opinionated, hungry, loving, affectionate…full of smiles.

Fast Forward 2 Years Later

It was his 6th birthday.  Per tradition, my mom called to sing to him.  He flew upstairs to talk to Jojo.  I put the phone up to his right ear.  He looked at me and he said: “I no hear in that ear.”  I must have just looked like I swallowed a bug because my mouth was open and I suddenly could not comprehend his broken English.

He moved the phone to his left ear and smiled as she sang to him. I took the phone back and told my mom what he had said.  We discussed it for a minute and she told me that I needed to do more investigation.  She asked if I remembered her surgery with her ear.  I did remember, but I never knew what it was, so she explained it all to me again.

Our Conversation

Me:  What do you mean you cannot hear in that ear?

Jude:  I can’t hear out of that ear.

Me:  But what do you mean?  Could you hear in Ethiopia?

Jude:  I no hear in Et-opia.

Me:  I don’t understand what you are saying.

Jude:  *Put both of his hands on my cheeks and brought my face closer to his face and he spoke REALLY slowly.* Mom.  I.  No.  Hear.  In.  That.  Ear.

Then he nonchalantly walked away.

Over the Course of the Day

I would sneak up on him and try to whisper in his ear to catch his “deafness”.  Clearly, I had no idea what SSD was.  I started making phone calls.  We ended up getting a hearing test done with my friend Susan Brown at Murray State.

She confirmed that he was hearing impaired but we needed a referral to see the extent to that.  We took her results, gave them to our pediatrician (who said his ears were perfectly healthy and fine).  I insisted on a referral to Dr. Shawn Jones and they did that for me, though they didn’t think it was necessary.

Seeing Dr. Jones

We had introduced Jude to the Indiana Jones movies.  He was obsessed.  He had the bag, hat, and whip to prove his devotion to this character.  As I tried to explain to him where we were going and what the dr was going to do, I failed to mention the *name* of the dr.  When we walked into the clinic, I told him that we were going to see Dr. Jones soon.

His eyes were wide and his mouth dropped.  He looked at me and said:  “Dr. Jones?!”  Me: “Yep, you are seeing Dr. Jones today.”  Jude: “As in Indian Jones??!!”  Me:  “Uhm, no.  As in. Dr. Shawn Jones.”  He was deflated.

Our Appointment

Now, Dr. Jones and I have gone way back.  He has done tube surgeries on a couple of kids and taken my tonsils out.  We know each other.  He is a believer, his wife is a homeschooler and he loves to challenge and relate to each kid/person that walks into his clinic.

We giggled over the mistaken identity moment that Jude had a few moments earlier.  Then, I went on to talk about his medical history (we pretty much knew nothing).  I told him what Susan had said.  Also, the pediatrician thought he was fine and it was more of a selective hearing loss (aka, he is a kid).

What We Learned

We learned that you can be deaf from your outer ear to your inner ear OR from your inner ear to your brain.  It is not quite as common to be deaf from your outer ear to your inner.  When he looked into his ear, he found that everything was as it should be.  There was nothing missing, all bones were intact…so that is all good.

He sent us to Kelli, who did another hearing test.  This time, she covered her mouth as she spoke to him.  That was the key.  He could read lips perfectly!  That is why the pediatrician thought he was fine.  He had become an expert at it.

The Results Were In

When all the tests were done, we discovered that he is NOT slightly or even moderately deaf in that right ear.  He is completely, profoundly deaf from the outer ear to brain.  Although, mechanically, everything is fine…he is sonic boom type of deaf.  Deaf deaf.  They were so surprised that his speech was so good.  That at one point, he was trilingual.  He had learned to compensate so well that he surprised everyone.

We Had Choices

First, we could just leave it alone and let it be.  Second, we could get cross hearing aids to magnify the sound in the good ear.  Third, we could be the first in our region to get a magnetic BAHA hearing aid.

The cross hearing aids did not work at all.  It is designed to have 2 hearing aids.  The one in the bad ear takes the noises and slings them to the hearing aid in the good ear.  Once there, it magnifies it and makes things louder.  Yep, that didn’t work at all.  Plus, they could not get wet.  Also, he couldn’t get sweat on them.  He was in sports, so he never wore them.  When he did, it just irritated him.

The BAHA hearing aid can be better explained by the company that we used, Sophono.  There is the snap on hearing aid, which most people get.  The magnetic one was newer when we started this process.  This device helped take out the maintenance of the abutment device.

What We Decided

We were just going to leave it alone, but as he got older, we noticed more things.  His deafness started becoming more noticeable (or maybe we were more aware).  He was still unfamiliar with life in the states, so he would often dart wherever and whenever.  He was in a walled area in Ethiopia, so he had freedom without fear there.  Here, he could very easily get hit by a car.  He would often run across the street to get a ball or see a dog.

In the end, after trying the first 2 less invasive options, we chose to do the BAHA.  He can wear it in the rain and he can sweat!  It is rechargeable, so that takes the need out of constantly buying batteries.  He can do it all on his own, which is a vast difference from the cros hearing aides.

As He Gets Older

His magnetic will never need changing/replacing.  He cannot have MRIs or go through medal detectors.  His hearing aid does not need to be replaced unless broken.  We get yearly maintenance on it.

He picks and chooses when he wears it.  I don’t push it.  We have learned he does not like wearing it while he eats (he apparently chews too loudly).  Also, during worship time at church (too loud).  I let him dictate when he wears it and when he doesn’t.  Now, when school starts, he will have to wear it.

Alright, Alright…Here is My Moment

This is the conversation that Dr. Jones and I had while discussing Jude’s medical history.

Me:  Can SSD be hereditary?

Dr. J:  Sometimes, why do you ask?

Me:  My mom was born without a bone in her ear.  She was deaf on one side.  There was some surgery that she got where they put a metal plate in her ear.  It bounces sound off and now she can hear.  I remember when she got it.  She was sleeping in her room with the door shut.  The rest of us were in the kitchen eating sandwiches.  She came flying in the kitchen, crying, telling us to stop chewing so loudly.  Could Jude be missing that same bone?

Dr. J (and his nurse):  **Staring at me like I had a third eyeball.**

Me:  If Jude is missing that bone, can he pass that onto his kids?  Is this a generational thing.

**Crickets chirping**

After a moment of silence and Dr. J continuing to let me babble on…

Dr. J: “Brandi, is your mom black?”

Me:  Uhm, no…you have met her, she is a short, fiery redhead, why?

Dr. J:  Brandi, your son is black.

Me:  Yep, I know that.

**Moment to let me absorb his question and my answer.**

Dr. J:  **Bursts out laughing, as does his nurse.**

Me:  **Realizing what I just asked.**  Oh, well, I feel stupid.

Dr. J:  At least you don’t distinguish between your bio and adopted kids.  To answer your question, I don’t think your American mom’s ear has anything to do with your Ethiopian son’s hearing loss.

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Miracle on November 17, 2011

Miracle on November 17, 2011

HE IS COMING HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Miracle on November 17, 2011

Here is my Miracle on November 17, 2011. Praise be to God.  We are so thankful that our eyes are opening, our hearts are willing, and our minds are preparing for adopting an older child.  What a journey we are fixing to embark on in the coming days.
Yesterday, I got a call at 9:15 am, and it was immigration.  The officer said that she received our addendum, the mother’s birth letter (blessings and prayers for her), and PART of my income verification, but not the one part that they need.  Ugh.  I told her I was on it.  Next, I called and was blessed to speak with the same person I’d been talking to for the last few days.  It was then that I explained, again, the situation, she transferred me to her supervisor and her supervisor was on it like white on rice.  It was sent.
Finally, I got another call from immigration stating that the documents that were in hand were too faded to read.  In addition, the officer asked if we had the originals.  Sadly, we did not have the documentation in its original format.  I told her that I was on it.  At that point, I called my agency, Sheila called her right-hand person (Angela)…and Angela began to work her magic.  She made all the documents bright and shiny, rescanned them, and got them sent to immigration.

Final Confirmation

I called immigration to confirm that everything was sent and I actually spoke to my officer (which is not so easy a task).  She has been WONDERFUL with our case and our family.  I asked her if everything was received and she said: “yes, your packet is done.”  I just kind of sat there and said: “what packet, I don’t understand.”  She stated that it was our APPROVAL packet and that we were approved.
I just sat there, then I balled…it was loud and really really ugly.  All I could say was THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.  She was pretty pitiful too.  She kept saying “Oh, Brandi, please don’t cry….please don’t cry, your son is coming home, please don’t cry.”  I couldn’t get out any more words other than “must go to my husband.”

Telling Big Daddy and my Children

I wanted to be so coy about the whole thing and attempt not to let the girls know till I told Big Daddy first. Well, that plan went out the window.  I stood at the top of the stairs…screaming for them.  They blew up the stairs asking what was wrong.  Finally, I screamed WE ARE APPROVED…there was lots of yelling, crying, praising Jesus, and hugging going on.
My next thought was  “he needs undies and socks…we have none.”  It is amazing what can go through a person’s mind.  The children put clothes on because we were going to daddy.  That drive took FOREVER.  We finally got there (no coat and flip-flops for one girl; no socks or teeth brushed for another girl, and I looked like I had been run over by a train).  I got into HR and asked to see Big Daddy.
The girl behind the desk said “this must be an emergency…you look really upset” LOL.  She even escorted me to a conference room.  Big Daddy walked in…I told him…it was beautiful.  We have a tentative flight schedule, tentative keep the kids’ schedule, and Big Daddy bought my boy some undies and socks 😉

Theme Verse

Yesterday’s verse of the day was Phil 1:6 “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  This verse has filtered throughout the last 13 mths.
It was first told to me by a precious lady, in my Wednesday group.  She would say over and over that what God brought me to…He will be faithful to bring me through.  The night before our approval…another wonderful friend sent me an email stating the same thing.  Before approval, I went to post something, and that was my verse.  I knew yesterday would be the day for a miracle.

God Changing Me

In the end, God has changed me…He has begun the healing in our family.  As well as, He has revealed that shortcuts are not His will.  Also, that I need to be patient and wait on Him rather than try and control the situation.  God has revealed to me that all things come together for His good.  He is good.
God is good….now off to pack.
Blessings.

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