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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6 Month School Update

6 Month School Update6 Month School Update

It has been a bit over but here is our 6 Month School Update.  As you may or may not know, I am a former homeschooler.  I homeschooled my children for about 20 years.  Successfully, I have graduated with 4 children.  For my younger 3 kids, I decided to try public school.

Myriad of Reasons

I love homeschooling, for the most part.  It has been a bit harder because I do have 4 special needs children, so it was also not the easiest.  Our decision to put them in school was a quick and swift decision.

I knew when I was done, I would be done.  Honestly, I was just overdone.  My exhaustion level had reached an all-time high.  When you have a child who is medically fragile, life changes.  Our traveling had hit another level and I wasn’t doing anyone any justice by being 1/2 in.  Their education is far too important for me to let it slide by.

Ben and Bug

They are well.  Almost ready to celebrate 2 years of marriage.  They are both working hard and learning so much.  Bug is moving through some things and she has made some brave decisions.  I’m incredibly proud of her.

Peach

She just started the first day of her last semester of college.  **Cue the angels singing.**  I have no idea why it seems she has been in college for 549 years, but it sure has.  She has done well.  There is that excitement mixed in with the “oh crap” mixed in with the thrill of fixing to truly start her “adult” life!  She is also working and loving her dog.  I’m incredibly proud of her.

Gigi

Thankfully, she has finished high school.  Good gracious that was a chore for both of us. She was about 6 mths late in doing so, but she worked 7 days a week to get finished.  A good friend hired her to work and that is going well.  She has MASTERED getting ANY types of stains out of clothes and she is really good with kids.  There is still a lot to figure out, but we are taking one step at a time. I’m incredibly proud of her.

Boo

He has started the last semester of his freshman year of college.  That seems unreal to me.  He is working part-time and helping out at home.  Still, though, uncertain about his major, we have ruled things out and then put things up closer to the front.  He will figure it out.  There is a little female that he has been spending time with…I just can’t talk about that right now.  I’m incredibly proud of him.

Catfish

For a kid with SEVERE dyslexia and FASD…he is rocking school!  He has had great grades and is learning to navigate life.  There have been some social issues that we have had to work through.  Mostly learning who is safe and who isn’t.  How to work around bullies.  Oh, and have there been bullies.  Bullies are not limited to children, ya know.  Adults bully too and we have certainly dealt with that.  I am not well-liked, at the school, by some people but I really do not care.  I’m incredibly proud of him.

Jude

He has excelled, as well.  Academically and with sports.  He is so much fun to watch when he is playing ball.  We have, again, dealt with bullies.  Also, sadly, lots and lots of racism.  Racism now is more underhanded and calculating.  Methodical and intentional.  There isn’t the outward act of separating out things just the subtle undertone.  It has been so sad to see and to deal with.  Again, I’m not well-liked by many.  I really do not care though.  I’m incredibly proud of him.

Kid

He has made great strides in school and in his therapies.  For a little guy, he is in a different therapy 5 days a week.  He has OT, PT, SLP, Vision, and Horse therapy (the best one of them all)!  One major accomplishment is he has learned to spell and write his name.  The thrill is unlike anything I’ve ever had!  Our hardest thing has been treatment monthly, steroids monthly, and keeping him well.  He has had 2 flare-ups since starting school.  One attacked his hands and legs.  The other attacked his hands and his speech.  I’m incredibly proud of him!

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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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Feeling all the Things

Feeling all the Things

Feeling all the Things

Here I am, almost midnight, the eve before 2 of my boys start middle school.  I am Feeling all the Things and then some.  Fear creeps in and then I hear my sister say “Fear is a Liar.”

There is so much I worry about.

Will Jude remember NOT to go through the metal detector?  Then my thoughts swirl to “I cannot believe my children have to walk through a metal detector.”  Will he lose his hearing aid?  What if he doesn’t wear it?  He may fall asleep during class…will he get in trouble?  Did I tell all the teacher’s about his hearing and his sleep problems?  Do I have all the things he will need to get started?  Will he be bullied?  What will he do if he is bullied?

Then there is Daniel

He is not like other kids.  I know that he knows that but others don’t know that.  They don’t know what he struggles with, internally that can manifest in strange ways externally.  What if he can’t handle the class load because his brain works a couple of steps behind the “typical” kid brain.  Will he be made fun of?  What about testing, he doesn’t test well and needs more time.  Will they know that?  He eats a lot.  What if he is still hungry and his brain slows further because he needs an extra protein or water?

Friday

On Friday, I send Hunter for his first day.  I have loved, hovered, protected, fought for, rallied with, held up, spoon-fed, and more for the last 3 years.  The last 2 years we have literally been to hell, knocked on the door, and then fought off demons with a water pistol.

What if he gets sick?  Will that put him back in a wheelchair?  What if he can’t sustain?  Will kids make fun of him and bully him?  What if he shakes so much he can’t do the things that he wants to do?  If he gets lost in the hallway, falls in the toilet, rages, struggles…what then?

Peace or No Peace

The past month, I have had such peace with this decision.  So ready.  Theoretically.  Now that it is here.  I am an anxious ball of stress.  Living on the edge of the mountain and looking down thinking…”It doesn’t seem so far…I’ll just jump.”  I can’t sleep and my mind is going 1000 different places and all at the same time.

Knowing the Right People

I know a lot of people in the system.  From the top dog to the bus drivers and that is all a good thing.  They know my kids and my kids know them.  I know that I am 5 minutes away from Hunter and about 8 away from the boys.  There have been a lot of words spoken over the course of the week but for the life of me, I cannot remember a single conversation.

Homeschooling Has its Own Struggles

It is not all peas and carrots.  I am strict, focused, and on it.  The bar is set very high for my standards whether you are “special needs” or not.  We aim high and do our best to get there by any means necessary.  I feel accomplished in graduating 4 of my 7.  Yet, there is guilt for not “finishing the race.”

That is Satan, whispering in my ear.  I know this, deep down.  Yet, I still turn my head as I hear that voice.  It still penetrates me and makes me question all the things.  I see all these “got it together” homeschooling mamas.  Yet, I know.  I know the struggles.  I’ve lived it for 20 years.  Secret time.  I HATE teaching a kid to read.  I’ve done it with 6 of my 7 but it is not something I enjoy.

I Miss My Lady

If she were here, I would drop the kids off and go to her house.  We would sit at her kitchen table and talk about all the things.  She would tell me that it was going to be fine.  Then, she would line me out on listening to Satan instead of Jesus.  Next, she would tell me the newest and latest sandwich at a particular restaurant and we would go and partake.  Finally, she would make me cry and then nap in her green chair.  I can play this all throughout my mind.

It Will All Be Okay

We will get into the flow.  Pray for the best for Hunter.  Hopefully, he will not get sick and flare-up.  If I cry, that is okay.  I know that at any point, I can change my mind and so can the boys.  My plate has been overfilled for the last 5 yrs due to many many things.  I know that I can take this time to heal, mourn, work on my health, and my passions.

For the last 23+ years, I have wiped butts, noses, educated, loved, kissed boo-boos, and more.  I sort of forgot who I was in the process.  That is okay because I have pretty awesome kids.  Jesus gave me the privilege of borrowing them for a time.  I will continue to treasure each and every new moment.

For Now

Let’s just pray that we will all bloom where we are planted.

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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.

Related Posts:

The Dark Before the Morning

Black and White

 

 

Foster to Adopt ~ International ~ Intrafamily Adoption, Medical Issues

Wonder From the Eyes of the Typical

Wonder From the Eyes of the Typical

Wonder From the Eyes of the Typical

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

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

My Reason

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

The Typical Child

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

Guilt sets in.

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

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

Be Careful Little Eyes What You See

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

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

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

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

Be Careful Little Ears What You Hear

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

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

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

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

James 4:7

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

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

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

 

Life or Something Like It, Medical Issues

Part 3 Welcome Home

Part 3 Welcome Home

 

Part 3 Welcome Home.  My flesh screams and I’m hanging onto the armrests of my airplane seat.  I refuse to move.  This is my anniversary.  This is our planned TRIP.  We are not moving.  I do not want to stay.  Honestly, I would live in France, if I had to, but guess what?  I don’t have to.  We are traveling, that’s it.  No more, no less.  I sit there, stunned. Unable to move or comprehend what all I’m about to see/smell/witness in this country I have never planned to go to.

What I Envision Versus Reality

The door of the plane opens…we grab our luggage that is packed for France….and we get off the plane.  My first thought is the drabness of the airport.  The busyness of it.  I felt like I needed to wash my hands because so many people were touching me.  They were all speaking in different languages.  I found myself watching their mouths move, trying to read lips or get a nugget of information, but I couldn’t.  I couldn’t understand any person or sign.  There was also not a single person who spoke English.  I felt trapped in this foreign country.  There was nowhere, no one to guide me, no vehicle, no home, no food, nothing.

Overstimulated Moment

I picture us grabbing our stuff and trying to find our way out of that blasted, loud, big, busy airport.  There was a moment when I needed air.  Sadly, I was overstimulated by the news and anxious because this was completely out of our control.  Air, I needed to breathe fresh air and take a moment to regroup.  I was thrown into something that was not of my doing.  There were two choices, I could either curl up in a ball and sob or I could find a way through the fear and uncertainty.

Ray of Sunshine

As I processed this news, I felt a ray of sunshine hit my face.  I felt a cool breeze as we walked outside.  In one moment, I opened my eyes and from as far as the east is from the west, there were tulips.  I love tulips.  Honestly, I love the beauty of them, the array of colors, the smells.  Tulips come up every single year without fail.  Far off, in the distance, I saw windmills.  The most gorgeous background, I have ever seen in my life.

Absorbing my Surroundings

As we walk around, absorbing our surroundings, we think about Paris and what we will miss.  The art, the food, the atmosphere……all of our plans, all the cool things we would see….we had to mourn that because we knew, we were “stuck” in Holland.  Don’t get me wrong, Holland is phenomenally gorgeous, it is just where I wanted to be.  I don’t mind a visit, but why must we live there.  We had to mourn not seeing our family, our home, American food, the freedoms we had in America.  There was just a lot to process.

Once our mourning time was done and we settled in to this new life….this new place with all these new sites, new foods, noises, smells.  We began to acclimate to our surroundings and we began to learn about the cultures and the foods.

Holland and Its Beauty

Holland has its own beauty, but it was not what we had originally planned for.  We had to learn to adapt and compensate for the things that we wanted to see in Paris and what we wanted from home.  It wasn’t bad…just different.  It was a change and I’m not one to like change.

I had to learn that I could not “fix” my children…only God could and will do that.  I had to learn to let go of control of what was and begin to love what is.  By mourning, so deeply, the loss of what was going to be a 10-day vacation to Paris, I was losing out on what was surrounding me.

Seeing Things from a Different Perspective

New colors, new foods, new scenery…..I began to love my new home and by loving it, I began to change.  Ironically, I began seeking God more and seeking help for my depression.  Also, I learned that FASD, RAD, Single-Sided Deafness, Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome does not define my children.  Finally, I learned how to love again…I learned how to love my God, my husband, and my children for who they were and not what I “envisioned” them to be.

Be open to change.  Be open to new things.  Stop trying to fix things.  Stop trying to control what you are not meant to control.

Live life and love without abandon.

 

 

Life or Something Like It, Medical Issues

Part 2 Uhm NO

Yesterday, I wrote the FIRST PART to my story…..today, Part 2 Uhm NO continues.

Part 2 Uhm NO

 

Part 2 Uhm NO

Uhm, WHAT??????!!!!!!!!!!!!  Holland?   Uhm, no.  No thank you.   I know nothing and I do not have an itinerary.  Sadly, I do not have a place to stay, I don’t know where to eat, I know nothing.  NOTHING.  I can picture myself asking the stewardess if this is a layover.  How long it will be before we arrive in PARIS, FRANCE.  Then, she says that this is our destination.

Our ticket is one way…..they will be adding our children/pets, onto the plane, over the course of the trip.  This is where we will live out our days until the Lord sees fit to move us somewhere else.  I had planned on staying in France for 10 days, not my life.  I certainly did not plan on LIVING in Holland and what the heck do you mean, you will bring our kids during the flight?????????

When we started creating our family….we had definite plans.

Big Daddy wanted 1 child and I wanted 4.  We compromised on 3.  Our oldest was high strung, motivated, and determined.  She is also super sensitive to bright lights, noises, and does not care for lots of people.  Our second was a pistol.  She was creative, loved animals, told you like it was regardless of if it was appropriate or not.  She has a bit of a lazy streak and wanted things done for her more times than not.  Our third, our only biological son, was an easy baby until he wasn’t.

Noah’s Journey

He was the first to crawl, he babbled, talked, loved eating and then he had his 12 mths shots….life changed.  Maybe that was when we were “packing” to go to Italy.  It was like shades pulled down over his eyes and he stopped talking, he threw lots of fights, he had sensory issues…..it was tough.  Our life was now full of speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.  It was hard.  The Lord guided us and helped us and allowed me to have a great deal of soaked in knowledge….and today, you would never know anything was ever wrong.

So…Victoria, we started planning the trip.  Alyssa, we started saving for the trip.  Then, with Noah, we got on that plane and we headed to Paris, France to see all the things we could see on a 10-day trip.

Then….there was God.

As we were flying, God saw fit to allow 2 more kids to join our crew.  These kids were older, than came from severe trauma physically, mentally, and emotionally…amongst other trauma and He thought it’d be a good idea to have Big Daddy and me to raise them.  It was almost like He threw me into the lion’s den as he did with Daniel.  I was totally unprepared.  Realistically, I thought I could love the FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder), RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder, Behavioral Issues, Dyslexia, Developmental Delays, Food gorging/hoarding/stealing out of them.  Sadly, I wanted to fix them.  Plain and simple.

While I was “trying” to “fix them”…..God showed up again.

This time, it was a brief detour, on our flight, to Ethiopia.  The trip there was ROUGH.  It was full of turbulence and engine problems.  We thought and we were told we would not make it BUT GOD had other plans.  We made it…..instead of a 24 hr flight, it would take us 15 mths to get from where we were (on a plane headed on vacation to Paris) to Ethiopia because He wanted us to add to our dysfunctional crew.  He was another older child and he had malnutrition brain, some behavioral issues, and we came to find out that he was deaf in one ear…not a little bit hearing impaired but deaf.  Again, I could fix this.  I could continue raising all these kids will “fixing” their issues and problems.  I was content, tired, and overwhelmed but content.

But then……..there was God again.

Several years and tears from our first child to our sixth child…..I was sitting on that plane, wishing to be at our destination so I could have some respite and time to breathe.  God decided to be my breath and to breathe for me…He did this in the form of our seventh child….our Zebra.

I thought the stress of trying to fix my FASD, RAD, ADHD, PTSD, Dyslexia, Learning Disabilities, Deafness, Autistic tendencies, Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome, blah blah blah was going to bring me to my knees…..oh, heck no….this little dude came into my life and turned it upside down.  He has taught me so much and he has given me such joy but he also went from a normal little boy to a medically fragile kid in about 4 hrs.  Please hear me say…..I would not change a thing with this little guy.  He brings us such joy and happiness….even in the midst of uncertainty with his health.

Part 3:  Welcome Home.