Friday, September 30, 2016

the post i didn't want to write

i never thought i would write a post like this.

but this process is about transparency and realness.
the messy and the beautiful.

we had to release our sparrow.
those words are a dagger to the heart.

she deserves a family who could race to her, no hurdles in the way.
a family who wouldn't have to have her file on a "virtual hold" while they scrapped together the funds.
a family who didn't have to move slow while their other kiddos got healthy.
a family who didn't have to plan surgeries for their other kiddos around potential travel dates.
a family who didn't have to plan to travel and bring her home and her surgeries around siblings' surgeries.

this process has been like a not-so-fun "funhouse":
wrong turns due to trick mirrors, dead end hallways, trap doors...

we had to finally fall back to our knees and just sob before it was too late, before we delayed her true forever-family from coming to her any sooner.
"her true forever-family".  it's like acid burning my fingertips to write that.

without breaching the right to a private life of our Ls (luke and lucy), and oversharing, we arrived at the decision with our agency that we just cannot bring her home to our family. the money that was in our fsp with reece's rainbow we have chosen another family to receive it. the money raised in the fundraisers we did will be sent to our agency to give to the next family who commits to her.

she didn't know we were coming for her (and that is one saving and peaceful grace in this--that she won't know the disappointment of a family having to stop process).
for that, we are thankful.

someone else is preparing a nest for you sweet sparrow.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

on the third day...

today is lucy's third day of homeschooling, and we are both loving it.

i am so thankful for the opportunity to be able to do this with her: thankful that she's so eager to learn, thankful providence had me major in special education 17 years ago (even though i only taught in a grade school for two years (the rest of my life has been spent in early childhood education)), thankful the husband has a job that supports us so that my days can be spent attending to the Ls' needs. i honestly don't know what we would do if i HAD to work; between doctor's appointments and school meetings, and now it serving lucy best to homeschool her...He truly does work all things together for the good of us.

we took a filed trip to a local nursery since we are learning about photosynthesis. we saw carnivorous plants. awesome!  

map skills. latitude and longitude. she's a future ship captain. :) 

always a smile. her joy overflows. 

there really is nothing new movement-wise on the "brining home Sparrow front".  our home study is finished and there is one background check we are waiting on (this one from out of state takes 30 days).  once the home study is finished an approved by our agency we can send in our i800a application.
     the i800a application is what approves US to adopt a child (the united states government does this)

after we receive that back it is the final piece of our dossier (collection of paperwork) (there is a "page" you can click on at the top which breaks down all these acronyms); we get it notarized, certified, and authenticated, and then send all the documents to the chinese embassy, then to china (DTC) where it will be logged into the system (LID) and await approval (LOA/LSC).

fundraising stands with us trying to sell furniture in our house we don't use, ebay-ing items, and planning another yard sale.

also, i'm an Usborne book rep now, so all the commission from books ordered through my business site we can put toward brining Sparrow home.  (side note: the Usborne site is down from August 31st until September 1st (night) for a major upgrade/change).

i'm supra excited about this because childhood literacy and instilling the love of books in children is one of my passions.




Tuesday, August 30, 2016

on a positive note

sheesh, i read through some of my most recent blogs, what downers.


there are indeed rainbow and sunshine days.

there are family dinner nights where we share and talk and laugh and new inside jokes are born.

there are spelling tests with 100s on them hung on our refrigerator.

there are stick figure pictures framed and hung in our hallway.

there are bedtime prayers together.

there are nighttime traditions we've made.

there are meaningful hugs.

there are successful family trips.

each child has rummaged through their room to find something to sell to help bring their sister Sparrow home.

each child opens and shares their vulnerability with us.

each child is eager to learn sign language to communicate with Sparrow.

each child prays for the kids still waiting on families in China.

each child has hopes and dreams for the future.

each child is finally a child now, snubbing their nose at pot roast because they can. and requesting a bowl of cereal for dinner in it's place.

yesterday was lucy's first day of homeschooling and it's going to be a great thing for both of us.
she's so excited to learn and try.  she's the most committed student i've known (before i was a mother i was a teacher), and the pride she has when she nails a concept uplifts me. she has fierce determination, a fighting will, and more perseverance than a snail trying to reach the ark.

y'all. older child adoption is hard, but it's worth it. you can do it.
it's not always rainbows and sunshine, but when the sun does shine, it shines brilliantly, and when the rainbow appears, it is a balm to hearts. it's worth it. it magnifies the relationship we have with Christ. we are not the ones who hurt our children, but we desperately want to love them through the scars. Christ is not the one who led us to poor choices and shame, but He desperately wants to love us back to a place of healing.

it grafts in hope. it grafts streams of love, pain, and triumph together and they flow becoming one beautiful and strong river.

it may not be the river everyone is meant to sail down, but it can be done. and it can be done with joy.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." --John 14:27

Monday, August 22, 2016

HOPE is a 4-letter word, and the truth about "rescue" and life after...

i'm going to try to protect my kids story as much as possible, but also be open about the misconception that their "rescue" and "real life" begins after family day (some refer to it as gothcha day....quiet honestly, i hate the cutesy words that describe an event related to the magnitude of trauma these kids have experienced.)

***not all descriptions in here are regarding the Ls lives before coming home, but they most certainly describe common experiences among orphaned children...***

their lives have been wrought from in utero neglect, abandonment, after-birth neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and so on; they also have been wrought through manipulation of caregivers, nannies, foster parents, manipulation by other children in the orphanages, and their learned  survival mechanisms of manipulation.

"family day" ...."gotcha day" is not a cute experience.
strangers who becomes "mom" and "dad" scooping them up, taking their hand, and riding back to a hotel room does NOTHING to erase the years of abuse.  it does nothing to erase the years of a malformed self-image--an identity that tells them they are a three-headed monster, it does nothing to magically instill a sense of trust, security, and family in them. most kids are working in a primitive survival mode brain at this time. honestly, this is why many parents see behavior from their children that mimic growling, spitting, crawling across the floor (talking 8 yrs + kids here...), they pull out their hair, your hair, they claw at their skin and your skin. they grab handfuls of food, any food--all food they see and shove it in their mouth like chipmunks. introduction to new situations paralyzes them...literally, they can diassoctiate, part of the "fight, flight, or freeze" responses. i've seen older children bodies go stiff as a board, and carried back like a 2x4.  their brains are not rewired at the moment a white american smiles at them and says "i'm mommy!".

hope is a 4 letter word, along with the others we try to avoid saying.
it brings the same shame, anger, fear, resentment, rage, frustration, helplessness, and so on that the other 4 letter words bring--or were inspired by those events to be said.

to tie adoption up with a bow and a pat on the back screams that scalding hot baths, taunts of "you no wanted!", punishments of no food, punishments of food shoved down their throats to the point of choking, fists landing across the face, broken bones hidden, scars from inflicted burns can all be forgotten and just "gotten over" by a new address and name.

i need you all, who are not adoptive families, to really really really understand what is needed. we don't need or want to hear how great we are. we aren't.
we get frustrated, we get overwhelmed, and then feel awful because we know our child's history. we don't need you to recommend we read books like "the strong willed child".  our child is not strong willed. their wills were broken. they have no will. they are in survival mode. 
we don't need to hear "it's okay, all kids do that". no. no. no. no. no. no. guess what--NO!!!! freaking NO!
saying "don't worry about it because all kids do it" is the same as saying that a victim of abuse is just being promiscuous because she enjoys being a "slut" and looking past the fact that being raped as a 6,7,8,9,10,11, and 12 year old taught her that was her value, and that is how she will survive.

we need you to take our hand and say "i'm here, let me listen. vent to me. how can i support you?"
give us a kleenex when we look tired, because tears are not far behind.
do not remind us of our children's past. we are aware of it. being reminded of their past when we are already struggling just reaffirms to us that we are failing them.
simply say "i'm so sorry. i'm so sorry."

don't say our adoption inspired you to do mission trips. and then simply come back and post pictures smiling with impoverished children. ask us how you can make a difference. poverty tourism isn't it.

don't tell us about "that documentary" you saw.
don't tell us about that 2nd cousin you have who had a friend that adopted some kids from somewhere in asia, and they are doing great now.

basically just listen. just be there. be here.  love us. love our family. just listen.

Friday, August 19, 2016

why i will gladly buy 70 glue sticks and 200 pencils...

this isn't adoption related, per se, but it does attest to the preciousness of each child, despite their circumstance, geography, home-life, and ability to give back (or their parent's ability to give back). 

there are a lot of complaints, blogs, facebook posts, and articles written about the absurdity of classroom supply list: parents bemoaning the list of 70 glue sticks, the infinity amount of pencils, enough kleenex boxes to wipe every elephant in india's nose, and enough hand sanitizer to disinfect chernobyl. 

i don't have issue with it. i will gladly buy those with a smile on my face and tell my children what a wonderful thing it is to be able to provide extra for their classroom. (and no we don't easily have the extra money, we will make sacrifices to do it). 

i will tell them how hard their teachers work, how they are not paid as they deserve, and how the simple act of buying kleenexes relieves a need for their classroom. 

i will tell them what an honor it is to be able to buy extra pencils for the friend in their class who doesn't have any.
***side note: i wonder how many people who have shared this little poem above also complain about having to buy extra pencils. 

i've seen complaints: "there are churches that provide backpacks full of supplies, why don't they just go there? too lazy? not my fault". 
-but, here's the thing. that attitude punishes no one except the child--the student in need. maybe the struggling mother feels like she doesn't deserve a backpack for her child from a church. maybe she's angry with the church (rightfully so with some of these "i'm not buying that" attitudes") and would rather hope she finds the money eventually, maybe they really just don't care--BUT that doesn't mean the child doesn't care. they have no choice in the matter. that doesn't mean the teachers don't stress over their students who never have a pencil, paper, or glue sticks. 

why do we sing our teacher's praises but let our pride consume us and deter us from buying simple extra things like pencils, paper, and glue sticks; knowing full well if we don't, the responsibility will come back on the teacher. 

with a smile on my face and joy beating from my heart, i will buy all the pencils, glue sticks, and kleenex boxes (and forego starbucks for two days) and tell my children, who are students too, what a joy it is to be able to give these extras to their teacher. i will tell them what value each child in their classroom has, what value THEY have, and how sometimes a simple act of buying an extra box of pencils can attest and reaffirm another's value. 

i will tell my children that these bags we carry out that are 10x what i needed as a student represent something bigger--it represents us carrying each other's burdens, it represents us doing a little thing to make a big proclamation to another child, another teacher that WE CARE. 

it's not about if "we should have to", it's about if we see the value--the value in those children, those students whose parents can't or won't, those teachers to come alongside and lift the burden. 

in life, it's not about us. it's not supposed to be. <3

Friday, August 12, 2016

stuck in the middle

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard." --isaiah 58: 6-8

there's a lot of blogs out there: blogs which are brutally honest about motherhood, blogs which are brutally honest about the conditions of orphanages in other countries, blogs which are (humorously) brutally honest about family life. each person who chooses to open their lives, and/or their family's lives has a choice to's why we made ours to share the way we do:

when you have older children who came from "hard places"  (video at bottom of page) it's especially important to remain cognizant of their right to privacy, their right to "their own story", their right to choose how to reveal themselves--to whom and to what extent, and therefore filter what you write about as their parent.  i do share, and if it's especially difficult subject/topic, i try to keep the identity of which child private, and/or address it from my and the hubs' point of view--how we are battling through it AS a family.

these children--OUR children have so little privacy, and no control over their lives before they arrived in our homes, we must give them back the control which was taken from them. we must help them find dignity restored, and that looks like filtering what is shared about them. especially in the case where their classmates and their classmates parents can begin to read these stories. none of us would feel comfortable walking into our place of employment and having everyone in the building knowing the details of our deepest struggles--the same honor and respect need be applied to our children.

on the other hand, we must advocate. we must do all we can to share the needs of the children left behind. the children who still wait. we must make sure it is abundantly clear those places are NO place for them to remain a day longer. that often means painting a vivid picture of reality.

this reality is:
ramshackle buildings, broken bones which go unreported, drunk caregivers, drunk caregivers with heavy fists, lies which are spewed from the mouths of those entrusted to care for these precious lives (lies which tell them they were abandoned because they have no worth, lies which tell them even if they do come home to a forever family in america it is not permanent, and they must continue to earn it), beatings delivered because they didn't finish their meals, beatings delivered because they didn't finish their meal fast enough; realities that in some orphanages 12 year olds look like 2 year olds because of pure neglect. starvation deaths abound. sexual assaults are the norm. they learn survival skills--survival skills which are self injurious behaviors (for stimulation), survival skills of seduction, survival skills of "doing anything to please", survival skills of rage or be raged at, and so on. this is reality in ALL countries involved in international adoption.  as an advocate, it is horrid to watch a child over the years wither away from neglect when you KNOW they would THRIVE in a loving home with a loving mommy and daddy.

we, as parents and advocates, become "stuck in the middle" because we desperately want to see children come into families, restoration occur, healing make new, God unite, bus we also want to respect our children's stories, their privacy, their honor, their first opportunity to keep private what they want private.

there is a reece's rainbow box on the side of the page (not the donation box for our sweetie at the top, but further down), and i implore you, visit the site, look at the children, pray over them, choose one and advocate--share, share, share their "page". their mama is out there. it may be a "friend of a friend of a friend of a friend" of someone who shares your post, but they are out there! God's promise is to set the lonely in families. God is always true, Romans 3:4 assures us though we fail, His faithfulness remans, even if we are made liars, God is true.

so while we are working to bring our sweet sparrow home, i will also be committed to finding a family for: "Wendell" (his advocacy name). he is in the same country as sparrow, and i would love to answer any questions you have about adopting from there! don't let special needs scare you--you can do it! you can! vision-smision! look at his light! his spirit!

photo shoot while we wait at his doctor's office! (lots of ways to entertain ourselves)

we are all pretty stoked for school to start back! (first day of school starbucks cocoa in hand for the kiddos!)

introduction to brownie batter goodness! 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

the story: and sweetie makes 3

the hubs and i had both said "we're done" adopting. we clawed our way to this point:
fighting battles with the kiddos--battles they were and are way too young to be expected to fight themselves. we shed many tears of desperation and we shed tears of joy, we pounded our fist in anger at what their souls endured before coming home and we pounded our fist in triumph as they emerged through valleys and forrest to find healing.

we threw around the idea of a biological, and i was already eyeing cute tula carrier, cloth diapers, reading up on vaccine schedules, not circumcising, and nursing. the Ls asked us quiet often if we were going to have a "belly baby".  we told our parents that we were starting to try for a biological, and a few friends. i even bought one of those handy-dandy ovulation test kits.
(side note: fertility has never been an issue for us, we just both knew we wanted to adopt to build our family; we talked about adopting on our first date even!)

we are planners, and were planning our lives: us, the 2 Ls, and any biological that may come along. it involved the hubs retiring at a certain age and us exploring after that; exploring is one of our favorite things to do together (besides eat, yummm).

then, i (mama) saw a picture--a picture of a girl who i knew God wanted to make my daughter. a girl i knew was going to be lucy's sister; i knew they would be painting their nails together, making bracelets together, and sharing their love of art together. a sweet girl i knew would be the perfect spunky-yet-laid-back sister for luke.

it seemed so very loud and obvious to me. but not to the hubs.

he was dead-set against it. "NO."
and he wasn't budging.

i grieved, hard.
i mourned for days.
someone was not hearing form God accurately, but we were both convinced our instincts were right on.

i was texting a fellow mom friend who also built her family bigger through adoption about her experience. for her family's most recent adoption, her husband was also initially not on board, and while she was offering encouragement, my husband began asking me about sweetie's diagnoses: "what does XXX mean?" "what is YYY?".
was he really considering this now?!!!

i had already requested her file "just in case", and was moved to tears when i saw we shared the same birthday.

since i am a stay at home mom now, and our income is less than it was when we brought the Ls home last year, we really had to make sure this was "doable" for us.
the hubs had said "its all going to have to line up perfectly for it to work out". and, wow, did it!

she is in the city/province in her country that means we will have no in-country travel, she had an older child grant available through the most amazing reece's rainbow...she even had an agency grant as well! God had already began laying the ground work!

y'all, God lined up so much of this, so perfectly, for us to play a role in this redemption.
the Ls are so very excited, they pray for her every night and ask when we are bringing her home (several times a day :)).

we're all learning sign language to prepare for her coming home, and one of the biggest heart blessings is seeing the Ls so excited to do this for her, to learn sign language so they can communicate with her. talk about a weeping-with-joy-mama-heart!

we'll be able to share her precious picture soon, and set up a fundraiser account soon, as we need to raise 10K to be able to have all needs and fees met, but God provided so beautifully last time, we are actually excited to have the Ls home and see Him provide to bring their sister home.

we've been crafting and finding items to ebay, and oh, the joy on their precious faces when i tell them we made money toward bringing their sister home!

we can't wait to share this journey with you all, and the sweet pictures we have of her!

in the meantime, i've set up a t-shirt fundraiser--nothing to do with adoption or love (unless you count the love of tacos!)  here (because it seems like an appropriate shirt for this time of year too :))
tacos for president t-shirt fundraser! 

and here's a few pictures of the kiddos and me showing how photogenic we are :)

and this one, because she's always the cutest! <3