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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Update on Our School Situation

Update on Our School SituationUpdate on Our School Situation

Here is the Update on Our School Situation.  The kids have been in school for 2 weeks.  In those 2 weeks, I have done a whole lot of nothing.  I spot clean the house.  Supper is usually done by about 10 am because I can cook uninterrupted.  I pet the dogs and the cats.  Chip, my outside cat, and I have gotten to be besties.  There have been days I’ve just mindlessly scrolled through the internet.

Lest We Forget

Still did an infusion for Hunter, one day.  Baseball drop-off, pickup, and a game 3 days a week.  A deer through a windshield.  There were a massage and 2 dates with a bestie for lunch/breakfast respectively.  Oh, and naps.  I’ve taken naps.  Homeschooling.  I still have one kid here trying to finish her schoolwork.

Next Week

I have a hair appointment.  Then there is another all-day doctor’s appointment with Hunter.  Again, drop-off, pickup, and another baseball game 3 times a week.  Horse therapy.  A birthday.  And…homeschooling.

Maybe I do still do things.

First 2 Weeks with Daniel and Jude

Daniel is coming into his own.  It takes him a bit more time to do his schoolwork.  He has been dubbed “the smart kid” in his history class.  That title, he has beamed with pride.  He is making friends and eating more than he probably should.  He does love food.  I believe he is finding his way and that brings me joy.

We have discovered that in Jude’s apprehension to wear his hearing aid, he is now okay with it.  Once the student’s asked their 5000 questions, he is now considered bionic.  The obviousness of his skin color has been met with pride. He is wearing his heritage and proud of where he came from.  He is jovial, excited, and thriving.

Then There is Hunter

Hunter tends to express his needs/wants with a great and determined expression.  He now has 2 girlfriends..PA and then the girl with the long pretty hair.  Food has been challenging.  As he has some dietary restrictions, he eats what he can at school, and then I pack food for him.

On the first day of the “strike” system and he gets one for calling a kid “bad.”  Good times.  He has met the nurse with a good amount of blood and scrapes.  Apparently, in the stampede to go outside he got tripped up.  We do homework at night and he is focused.  He is loving it.

Noah Started College

He began this past Tuesday, so as of this posting, he will have been there a full week.  His nerves were shot.  He was so very nervous and anxious.  I think he is finding his footing but he has yet to experience the full-fledged experience of college.  I foresee that it is going to shock him.  He’s got this though.  I know that he is smart and determined.

Alyssa’s School

She has started the first day of her last year of college.   Gracious, she is overwhelmed but gaining traction.  She moved to another apartment and is getting her feet wet in the world of being in a fast-paced last year.  I’m so proud of her.

Grayce Plugging Away

She is still working on finishing her last year of high school.  I was hoping that she would be done by the end of December but I am not sure.  For a fact, according to the state of Kentucky’s requirements, she does have enough to graduate.  I, personally, just have some things I want her to complete.

We have many irons in the fire with what our next step is.  Yet, we just don’t know where to move.  Until I have a clear direction from Jesus…we stand still and do what we have been doing.

Ben and Bug

They are not in school but working hard.  I’m super proud of them both too!  My children bring me such joy.  I’m blessed beyond reason.

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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!

 

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

Meet My People

Meet My People

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

Meet My People


VICTORIA (22):

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

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

Divine Will of God

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

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

To Answer Those Questions

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

That’s what adoption means to me.


ALYSSA (19):

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

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

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

Grayce and Daniel Came Along

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

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

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

But God

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

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

I Try My Best

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

Changes

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

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

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

To All of Our Surprise, We Got Hunter

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

Adoption is Hard

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

One Day

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


NOAH (16):

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

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

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


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Foster to Adopt ~ International ~ Intrafamily Adoption, Guest Blogger

Guest Blogger Big Daddy on Adoption

Guest Blogger Big Daddy on Adoption

Guest Blogger Big Daddy on Adoption

Guest Blogger Big Daddy on Adoption and his thoughts.  After having three biological children, we decided to enter the realm of adoption.  We believed that our quiver wasn’t full so the decision was easy.  What we didn’t realize is that adoption is HARD.  It doesn’t really matter what kind of adoption it is, whether it’s through foster care, international adoption or one of your own relatives, adoption is not for the faint of heart.
Adoption is Rewarding
However, adoption is very rewarding.  To know that you have taken a life into your home, that otherwise was not wanted or was being mistreated, abused, neglected, is an amazing miracle.  God intended for children to be raised by their parents, but circumstances sometimes do not allow that to happen.  That’s why we took the plunge.  To care for the orphans.
Our Wild Ride to Adoption
As for our journey, it has been a wild ride, to say the least.  We have had a lot of good days and plenty of bad ones.  But so far, we have stayed the course.  We have tried to instill Godly values in all of our children while teaching them honesty, integrity, responsibility, and character.  Sometimes we think that we are not making much progress, but truly we believe if we are consistent with the kids, they will turn out fine.  Each child is different. We have had to learn how to parent each child with their different behaviors and personalities.
I guess at first I was resistant to adoption, but after I met the little girl my sister-in-law and her husband adopted from the Philipines, my heart melted.  I saw the love shown and given to her and believed I could do the same.  So we decided to do it.
Our First Experience
Our first experience with fostering to adopt started out pretty good other than the fact that these children were brought to us and we knew nothing about them.  It was hard especially with Shay because she was non-verbal at 2 years old.  She never did warm up to me very much.  Tay, on the other hand, was very happy and always smiling.  Also, they were very sick…we just could not get them well.
Then the day that nearly broke us into the world of fostering/adoption happened.  The kids were suddenly taken away from us by the Cabinet.  We had no idea….one minute we are raising these kids, and the next minute they are gone.  We were told the reason but truly believed the social worker lied about us in a court hearing that we were not present at.  I was furious, and it literally crushed my wife.  To this day, she still has the scars of them being taken from us.  We just had to believe that the Lord had different plans for those sweet children and us.
Never Again?
At that time we told ourselves we would not go through a horrible experience like we just had but decided to give it another go around.  We started fostering Daniel and Grayce in the spring of 2007.  At first, it was really good but we learned quickly how damaged a lot of these children can be who have been in the child services system.  To find out the kids you just took into your home were previously abused is a tough pill to swallow.
Having to raise children in the midst of an investigation of abuse and ensuing court proceedings is not the way it should be.  But the kids were safe, and we did our best to cope with the behaviors stemming from their past.  We finally were able to adopt them about two and a half years later.  Since then, we’ve pretty much run the gamut on ups and downs with them.  Some days are good and some days are bad but in the end, they are loved, and hopefully, they will be able to overcome the terrible start they had in life.
International Adoption
Our next adoption was a foray into international adoption.  My wife had always dreamed of adopting from the county of Ethiopia and after I met my new nephew from Ethiopia, my sister-in-law’s second adopted child, I was ready to go to Africa.  The process was a lot of paperwork and a lot of money.  (Not sure why it costs so much to adopt a child who has no home or no one else wants).  Within a few months, we had a referral and got a picture of our son.  It was amazing how we could love someone so much whom we had never met.
The anticipation was unbearable.  But soon after that, we were able to travel to Africa and meet our son.  It was an experience like none other.  We got to meet our son and spend three or four days with him.  We went to court and were granted the adoption.  The hardest part was leaving him there.  But we were told that it should only be about 8 weeks before we could come back and bring him home.  Little did we know at the time that 8 weeks would turn into 14 months.
Huge Mistake Made by Home Study Agency
A huge mistake was made by our home study agency, and we were told by the US government that we did not make enough money to bring him home.  How ridiculous is that?  It’s a shame that money, or the lack thereof, keeps so many people from adopting children that need good homes.  When we found this out, we desperately tried everything we could to get clearance from USCIS but were flat out denied two months later.  My wife was crushed beyond all belief.  From December 2010 to about November 2011, she was just a shell of a person.
Yes, she lived and breathed, but that was about it.  She was vacant.  And there was nothing I could do about it.  For me, I believed that there was no way God would allow us to travel 7000 miles to meet a boy and tell him he would be our son, then him not ever come home.  Not necessarily for our sake but for his.  He was an innocent child growing up in an orphanage with 50 or 60 other children just like him.  But God made way for us to get our clearance to bring him home and in December 2011, we brought Jude to his forever home.  We were made whole.
Here We Go Again
After we brought Jude home, we thought our quiver was full.  But God had other plans for our family.  In November of 2015, we had an opportunity to take in our great-nephew, Hunter.  His mother, our niece, had been in trouble with the law and was not able to take care of him.  Hunter had been living with a man who believed he was the father.  He had troubles of his own an agreed for us to keep Hunter for a while.  We decided to file for emergency custody of Hunter mainly for his safety at the time.  The man who he was living with turned out not to be the biological father, and we were granted temporary custody of Hunter.
His Biological Mom
His mother got into even more trouble later and was facing a lot of time in prison.  She made a tough yet mature decision to terminate her rights and allow us to adopt Hunter.  I can’t imagine how hard that was for her.  I am very proud of her for sacrificing for her son.  Hunter invigorated our family with joy.  He has so much energy and is very sweet and funny.  However, back in June, he was diagnosed with an extremely rare neurological disorder called Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome.  He has been through a lot already, and it has been really tough on him and us.  But we take it one day at a time and trust in God for healing and comfort.
Adoption is Tough
So to those of you reading this and considering adopting…..do not have preconceived notions of lollipops and rainbows.  Adoption is tough and not for the faint of heart.  But the rewards are unending.  Giving a child a home and stability is a beautiful thing.  Children, whether they know it or not, crave structure, discipline, and a sense of worth.
That’s the beauty of adoption.