Monday, January 5, 2015

Getting our girl back

OK before we begin lets get a few things clear - I am tired of the judgement, the negative comments and the expectation from a few people that adoption is only unicorns and rainbows, because it's NOT.  Adoption is messy business, and if people had written about the difficulties we would have been more prepared when we went to get Cav.  In addition, I don't particularly care what YOU think about how many kids we have - let me ONLY say we can afford our children.   God did NOT call us to adopt because we were perfect, oh no we are the most broken of his people.  However, we answered His call believing He would give us the resources to walk this journey.  I am taking back control of MY blog - If you leave an inappropriate and judgmental comment you will deleted.

I really stopped blogging last year when we had to take this little girl out of school for very poor choices.  We home schooled her, and she became my shadow.  
(I also learned I suck at homeschooling LOL)

With everything we have gone through with Cav, I was shocked we were seeing the same things from her.  The worst part was she had the most loving foster family - to a fault, they didn't prepare her for adoption, and in fact when the SWI called her back they both (Fei and foster mom) both threw such a fit, they returned her until we arrived in China.

When Fei was 5 months home and had enough language she looked at us and said "China momma no come get me?"  For 5 months she looked out the window everyday waiting for the woman she loved, to come get her.  As she got more language, we learned that the foster mom had told her to get in the car and don't cry, that she would come get her shortly.  Oh my heart hurts to hear these events.

And then we made THE biggest mistake of our lives.  See she is our best sleeper and our most mild tempered child - so we put her in the room with Cav.

AND she began acting out worse and worse, and we were at a loss.

And a vicious cycle began until that day last February, when I pulled her from school.

And then I read a FB post that said to NEVER have a RAD kid share a room EVER!

So we changed rooms, and made her the cutest little room out of our library loft.

And summer came and we had some pretty desperate times.  A trip where I should have, could have, would have but didn't.  I began second guessing myself as a parent - 2 kids with major issues - how could I survive this God.  That trip brought me to my knees.  

But we saw glimpses of hope.  

So we made the decision to send her to a much smaller school, where the kids looked more like her and the days were centered around her native language (she didn't remember anymore.)  And we made a pact, if she worked hard, and relearned Mandarin then at 18 we would pay for her to return to China.  (we had always tried to explain that her dwarfism prevented that as an option.)

Almost a year later, I dare say we have our girl back.  
It has been a journey, we have both grown from it.  
We have given her a voice, and a confidence to walk away from those hurting her.  
We have gained her trust that we won't leave her and she can tell us when someone is hurting her.

Although this year has been hard with Cav we learned we were not crazy when we suspected he was victimizing her - telling her over and over how no one loved her.  Talking her into stealing for him, until she lost herself.  

Oh my heart hurts to even write this.  

And I know what you are thinking, but even the teacher at school, who is aware, missed him doing this at school ~ twice.  He is very quiet, almost under his breath, and almost like a hum type mantra.  We missed hearing it with the highest tech monitor in their room.  All we saw were the results.

I SHARE this because others need to know this - I refuse to allow this girls experience go for naught. 

And yes she is an orthodontists dream LOL!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Room Sharing - 3 boys

I have to say the number one hardest thing we have encountered adopting 4 kids in the last few years was trying to figure out bedrooms, clothing storage and sleeping arrangements.

When we were preparing to bring Cav and Fei home - we made her room up in the darling mermaid sea life - and Cav was in the room with Brahm

For that year Cav rotated between the room with Brahm and our bedroom (Cav roamed the halls at night and would either wake everyone up or steal us blind.)

Because of the continued problems with Cav and no one sleeping we tried Fei in with Brahm (he had a bunkbed and a trundle), and Cav by himself in his own room and Tao in our bedroom.

Then the biggest mistake of our lives we put Cav and Fei in a room together (she snores rather loudly and was keeping Brahm and Tao up ugh .  .  .  .  Cav basically spent the entire time brainwashing her to steal for him, and that no one in the family loved her.  I am sad to say it took us about 6 mos to catch on and another almost 18 mos to get her back.  (I hesitate mentioning this but unfortunately his teacher has witnessed him doing the same to some of the children at school who are more needy in spirit.)

We emptied my hubby's loft study (upstairs) put up curtains and made it into a darling room just for her.  It has made a huge difference and I believe we finally have our girl back.

The little boys room had the pottery barn bunks we had found on craigslist.
When Dawson came home we just put him on the unused top bunk.  Although he is small, he weighs a ton, and every time he would turn it would wake Brahm up and eventually Tao - grrr seriously people.

Since Dawson is older and well, used to kids from orphanages we tried him in Cav's room.

Yeah - today we found that Cav stole all of Dawson's Christmas presents and either ate or broke them.

So as I was talking to my hubby about what to do, it dawned on me the bunks were originally made to be separated!!

I had my big kids help me and with a few rearrangements this is what we came up with.  I LOVE it!  and I think - HOPE, PRAY this will be the final arrangement for a bit LOL!

Luckily, our rooms in the house are large, unfortunately the closets are small and the number of bedrooms are few - BUT I have resigned myself that Cav MUST have a room to himself for the mental safety of our other kids.   Luckily, we finally have an appt with someone to help us with him in just about 2 weeks.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Light during the holidays

I think our bio kids are tired - it has been 3 Christmas interrupted with adoption stuff.

They remember the Christmas's we used to have, hoards of presents - every new item imaginable.  Not because we were wealthy but because we spent all year saving up and shopping sales.  We always also adopted a family we gave to - it was our excuse to feel better about our blessings.

Then we traveled over 2 holidays and last year was just a disaster.

So I sat here trying to make it up to them, buying, buying, volunteering, spending.

And then it hit me the other night as we drove through town, sipping our starbucks treat and looking at the lights.  It's the little things, the wonder, the experience, the proof there is still hope in this world.

So we cherished each gasp from our 4 year old as the lights flashed and twinkled.  We paired that with explanations of how it worked for our newly home 12 year old.  Children all through the car shouting look, look here.

Seven children and 16 years of parenting have softened me to a degree.

This old controlling mom would never have caved and not only made gingerbread play dough from scratch BUT ran all over town so they had play dough rollers and tools so they could finally play with it at home!  Our double 12 year olds playing along side the baby - playing and creating, running to show me their newest project.

It's our 16 year old helping at the preschool party - making his own gingerbread cookie.  The gifts may be different but I have to believe that these are the things that he will carry with him as he enters the world.

Going anywhere during the holidays can be crazy but the world seems to slow just a tiny bit as we walk past, people stop to smile at our deeply dimpled joy, our tiny princess and the rest of the clan.  We pray that as they see our children they remember that God uses the broken to do his work.  That He reaches into the farthest corners of the world and brings hope.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Halloween catch up

Not sure if JBF - just between friends - sale is national but man I love that sale!!  Sell old items, barter for an early shopping pass and buy amazing items!!

Besides getting lots of school uniforms for our kiddos attending the Mandarin immersion school - I found all of these except Fei's (well she got a beautiful snow white costume but that didn't meet the theme.)

Heehee Dawson's English teacher pulled me aside a few days before Halloween as he told her we made him a potato LOL!

And Morgan went with all of her friends - who were all princess's.  I just couldn't see spending tons of money and time making a ball gown she would wear once so this was our compromise - Belle before!

Halloween was a crazy day - as our family has gotten bigger, I have had to change how I do things.  

I have backed down to being room mom for only one class. 

 I was super excited to help out my friend whose daughter is in the am class because they were IN CHINA getting their son!!  So two parties for preschool meant missing the harvest fest at the mandarin school but we sent "pumpkin" cups made from butterscotch pudding and green airheads for stems (apparently I didn't get an pics LOL!)

 Tao and Cav's class got mummies made from squeezey apple sauce and were super cute 

We also changed up how we did Halloween - I know horrors.  Our oldest had a football game at 7 pm (2 hours away)  In addition, because we have so many food and begging issues with Cav and Fei we thought having them go to doors beg for food and get candy was … well. . . insane.

So I got them pizza, made them each up a treat basket with candy, bracelets, pencils etc and they got a NEW movie.  Plus kettle corn because our Chinese kids especially LOVE popcorn LOL!

It was a crazy hard decision but ultimately they loved it, we got to go to the game and watch our oldest, and Brahm got to be ball boy for the varsity game!

Tak is #53!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

From Calamity to calm

I know I have been lacking on the blogging front  - severely -
and you know why . . . . because it is actually GOOD!

We found some homeopathic medication for Cav that reduces anxiety, by the end of the summer I was at my wits end with the constant rages.  Imagine your worst 2 year old temper tantrum EVER and then times that by 20 a day.

So I was ready to quit (but since somehow that is not on the mother's list of options) I was trying everything that possibly worked for anyone on my FB groups for really hard kids.  I bought books, I researched treatments, I talked to EMDR specialists.  THen we tried the L-theanine supplements (whole foods)

A week later we experienced our FIRST sunday as a family where we didn't have a fit - NOT one.  My husband looked at me with wide eyes and said "I don't want to mention it BUT I think those meds are working!!"

That was August and 2 months later I think we are finally in a place of being able to enjoy our whole family.

I feel really bad knowing almost all of his issues - to the point others advised he may have high functioning autism - were almost exclusively based upon anxiety.  Hmmm, it makes sense though.

I am NOT saying its unicorns and rainbows but can I tell you the first time he actually cried - a heartfelt normal cry - I bawled.

It's really hard to think he has been here almost 3 years.  In many ways it has flown by - in others it has grown and stretched me in ways I could NEVER have thought possible.  Adoption IS about growth - MINE.

So we moved several of our kids to the mandarin immersion school - we left Cav at the K-12 down the street.  I am not sure I ever mentioned but he developed a lateral lisp learning english so he receives speech therapy.  In addition, because Cav was alingual until we got him at 3.5 years there is an expectation that he will have comprehension issues as school work get harder.  And frankly - his life in China sucked (I am so sorry but there is no other word).  

So he basically is in the elementary school by himself, and I believe not having siblings around all the time has also decreased his stress.

However, as with any child, first grade is hard.  He is actually pretty darn smart in math which we are so excited for him!  However, the independence of 1st grade is causing some issues.  I love his teacher as she is willing to be educated and so she has implemented boundaries for him, encourages adults not to be his only social interaction.

There are many parts that break my heart for him.  We often talk through how to act around the other kids at school.  Thankfully the kids treat him no different (except when appropriate) due to his legs.  We went back to school and they all came running, excited to see him after the summer, and he just blew most of them off.  

Tao is 2 years younger but still higher developmentally than Cav.  It's both good and I am sure hard to have this tiny terror who has all the social skills Cav does not.

On the leg front - we were fortunate to meet the man who designed the tail for Dolphin Tale.  He actually felt Cav could handle a hydraulic knee.  In classic Cav fashion he learned to walk on the thing in about 3 passes of the room.  He also was so responsible and took his legs off before going into the sandbox.  So in September when he couldn't even walk anymore we were at a loss.  A trip to Denver to see our leg man resulted in a blown hydraulic cylinder ugh - really Cav 3 months LOL!  THe unfortunate part is the only tool in the US is broken so they had to send it to Germany.  Luckily they sent us a loaner!!

So continue to pray for this boy of ours.  He is proof that there is definite redemption in adoption but the cost can be so high with some of our kids.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Getting my groove back

Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever... it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.
Aaron Siskind

I saw this quote recently and wondered what happened to me - I never went anywhere without my big camera - I guess as the iPhone camera got better and we had more and more little ones, my big camera slowly made the way of so many other things - showed in a corner.

Then last night I dropped my first born off to fly internationally (without us) for a mission trip - although I am completely at peace with this trip (thank you God!)  ~ but then realized the last photo I would ever have of him is a grainy picture taken with my iPhone.  Although a terrible thought, the utter failure of this thought broke my heart.

So, as my kids were outside playing and I stopped with the thousand mom things we always have to do.  Grabbed my big camera and did something I haven't done in forever - photographed  my kids just to remember a fun day in the sun!!

Black and white are the colors of photography. To me they symbolize the alternatives of hope and despair to which mankind is forever subjected.
    ~ Robert Frank

Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.
   ~ Dorthea Lange

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A change of thought

Growing up I had very little self esteem.

I am an introvert at heart but because of family dynamics was taught how to be an extrovert.

THose tests you take in school - yeah the teachers and professors always look at them with a befuddled look - At over 40 I am a classic case of nature versus nurture.

Sometimes that low self esteem still gripes me hard, and I have to force my self to move forward, to look at the underlying reasons to my reactions, to analyze.

Truthfully, I loved having little kids, because I always felt that holding them created a sort of a shield for me.  The attention drawn to one angelic far and off of my own.

It gave others an instant conversation topic.

(Don't get me wrong, I love babies anyhow, even as a young teen I loved how they curl up, the dimples in their hands and the softness of their spirit.)

Then God started working, in our lives, in our home and in ME!

When Brahm was a toddler, the attention shift began to turn back to me - people looking for answers why this seemingly newborn was walking, sitting etc.

I learned my pat answers and moved on.

Then we added more and more kids - all with visible SN.

AS the looks and comments came more and more, I felt myself drawing in further and further.

Taking less trips outside of our boundaries.

Staying where others knew our family, and didn't comment.

Almost growling at comments when we were out - like a preschooler on a very bad day.

A dear person was out on one of these very bad days, and I watched in amazement as she talked to one of these people who I thought was making fun of our kids - piled onto our double/triple stroller like some traveling circus.

THen the words came - she is amazing, what an inspiration, an absolute joy.

My breath almost caught - had I been so focused on myself that I forgot God's calling?

Had I reverted back to my low self esteem days and saw the smiles not as kindness but of jeers?

Over the past year - I have tried hard to change my thinking.

Our children are a blessing.
People smile because like babies and puppies they speak of JOY!
Of God's work on earth,
of HOPE.