Sweetie 3 is Blooming

My goodness! Sweetie 3 is about to turn 18. We attended her college scholarship acceptance ceremony on Friday. It was wonderful!  The folks at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital are just amazing.  She was paired with a group of ladies who will encourage her throughout her college years and follow her until she graduates. 🙂
We sat at a table with them at the luncheon and they were just precious, and VERY excited to participate with Sweetie 3.

When we arrived home, she opened her email and had been granted a second scholarship from another source; The college she has been attending for dual credit! They offered her a full scholarship also!
She will have to turn it down, because she already has one.
WOW…. She applied for 2 and expected nothing. Instead she received 2!  🙂

We went to the Dr. today for a regular check up. I was joking with her that this is the last time I can “force” her to the doctor as she will be an adult soon.   I’m SO glad we went.
We now have a new Dr. appt on Friday to find out about scoliosis treatment.
Life goes on!

A New Phase

We are entering a new phase in life.  Girlies are GROWING UP!  So many unexpected things have taken place in the last 2 years.  We have had our ups and downs…. and that means life is NEVER DULL!

Sweetie 1 has moved in worth her birth mom.  YES…. I just typed that!
This happened last week and I am at peace that Sweetie is in a safe place.  That is a HUGE relief!  Her mama sent me a sweet note today  and I am so thankful that they are getting to know each other once again after nearly 15 years.  When I have permission, I might share more details.

Sweetie 2 and 3 are finishing up school and working at the Local Pizza place.  Sweetie 3 is also finished her college semester.  She is graduating from High School in a few weeks and we will be having a huge BBQ and open house in her honor. 🙂
She ALSO received a FULL SCHOLARSHIP for college next year.
Sweetie 2 is going to start some college classes next year and said she would like to take Dance again!  I would LOVE it if she did!

Sweetie 2 is going to volunteer this summer at a Historical place in the Dallas area and Sweetie 3 is going to volunteer at the hospital and at camp.  Sweetie 2 is GOING to camp for her last time at the end of June.

Sweetie 4 is in a new phase of detention where we are visiting for therapy on a regular basis.  She is working hard, and sometimes does really well, then there are nights like tonight where we leave discouraged feeling like we have made no progress.  I’m sure it will be like this for a long time.

OVERALL… we are all doing really well. Life is full and LILLY BEAN is coming to Texas for some Ya Ya time! 🙂  She is going to be 12!!!!
And she will be starting Jr. High next year.  I can’t believe it! I held her on the day she was born…. I love her so much!

I am so thankful for a wonderful group of ladies that meet together for bible study and prayer.  They are awesome and encouraging.

Soooo, I guess as long as I don’t look at any election results, things are pretty good around here! LOL

An Eventful Week

Wow! What a week!  We had visitation with Sweetie 4,  insurance folks coming around to help with the estimates on our house because of GIANT hail, a scholarship interview for Sweetie 3,
a needle biopsy for me in the bottom of my foot, visiting a sweet friend at Scottish Rite Hospital, as her son graduated from the hospital today, and then family night with our youngest Son.
DUDE!  That was a lot!

Sweetie 3 is a finalist for a scholarship opportunity!  We are so excited for her.  She is finishing up high school this year and we will celebrate with a big BBQ.  And she will have one year of college completed upon high school graduation!

Our sweet friends, we just love them. Their son is in college now and is also from Ukraine.  I love it when we get to visit, as they live in the Houston area and we live in the Dallas area.
So today, I dropped Sweetie 3 off to visit while I went to the doctor with Sweetie 2.
I have had a problem with my foot for more than 6 months but had no time to pay attention to it.  It was time.
I will be having surgery on my foot soon…. I have two small masses in my foot that are most likely benign. We were hoping they were cysts and could be drained, but that didn’t happen, because they weren’t cysts.
The foot numbing experience was rather painful. Sweetie 2 came along with me for moral support.
She sat with her books and when the Dr. started she said, “Oh wow. I’m glad I’m not you!”  LOL

We visited with Sweetie 4 on Wed night and it was a decent visit.
She was back to saying that she only wants us to listen to her and offer no parental input.  She was talking about when she gets out and goes to military school.  I think she is really scared about getting out.  She moved to a new level and we are pleased with that.

Sweetie 1 announced she is wanting to get married.  She wants us to sign a paper giving permission.  We are in the middle of talking with her about this, and could use much prayer!  Lordy!

It has been an evening everybody has looked forward to.  Friday nights are family night and each week a different person gets to choose what to do. Sweetie 2 chose game night, so her brother came over to play Dominion. 🙂
They are still playing and having a great time.

And here I am, foot throbbing and blogging. 🙂
God is Good!

“What Is Your Need?”

We visited with Sweetie 4 last night.  It was a good visit. 🙂
All day, I had been pondering a quote from Dr. Karyn Purvis:
“I have never met a child who can’t come to deep levels of healing, if you understand their need.”

I pondered this for a couple of days and it got me to thinking, “What is her deepest need?”     I need to understand her need!
I WANT to understand her need! I’ve TRIED to understand her need!
So, I decided to ask her.  And I did.

I was trying to imagine the answers she might give.  She has told us many times, “I want to do what I want, when I want, how I want, and I don’t want parents!”
So, that was my own fear of what she might say.

Instead, she was in a rather pondering sort of mood.  I asked her and she seriously thought about it.
And then she said, “You have given me what I need.”  It is just that I didn’t receive it.
She then said, ” But there is another need I DO have!”
“What is it sweetie?”
“Don’t give up on me!  Please, don’t give up on me!”

So here we were sitting there, glass between us, her in orange, us in civilian clothing, talking on a phone, yet connecting in a very deep way.

We won’t give up Sweetie.

From My Heart

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I know that this past year has been so very hard on all of us.  One year ago, we started to free fall into unknown territory….
BUT GOD…. HE KNEW.  He knew when we brought all of our sweeties home.
He doesn’t reveal all of our  life to us before it happens or we just might run and hide!

This past year, though extreme and difficult, and we know MOST people do not have these experiences in their families, has been good.  Can you say that a year has been good, even though it has brought unspeakable sadness and heartache?  YES.
But ONLY in Christ.
HE IS OUR HOPE!

I am grateful, so VERY grateful for the experiences we have had.
WHY?  Because  pain teaches, and pain sharpens.  We are more focused.  We are more determined. We are TOGETHER as a FAMILY!
We have worked hard over the years to help in the adoption community.  We wanted to spread the message that there is HOPE and there is HEALING in regards to adoption issues within families.
We have wanted to share how our girls have adjusted, learned new languages, accepted their past and looked forward to their future.
And we have….. the triumphs AND the tragedies.

And while things have turned in directions unexpected, we are grateful for the girls who are pressing ahead and doing fantastic,
and for the girls who have challenged us in every way imaginable.
It is our desire to take what we have experienced and  learned, and share with you, our readers in order that we can come together and help our children to heal into adulthood.

I want to say without hesitation…..
WE LOVE OUR SWEETIES… ALL FOUR OF THEM.
We are encouraged by recent events with Sweetie 4.  We have GREAT HOPE for her.
We are struggling as we continue to mourn Sweetie 1.  But we are not without hope.
Sweetie’s 2 and 3 are doing fantastic, and soon will be 18 and 17.
They are working hard in school at home and at college.
Sweetie 2 was accepted to a specific Co Op to take Physics next year!
She is excited and nervous about that.

We are so thankful for those who have prayed for us over the years.  We continue to be in the trenches of raising these children to adults.
HEALTHY adults.
We have found that there are seasons of blessing and seasons of rain.
But in the RAIN, there is blessing!
The LORD IS GOOD…. ALWAYS…..
Our hearts hurt and our hearts rejoice.
We HAVE HOPE.
Adoption is not just raising a family.  It is a calling.
That calling DOES NOT CHANGE when things are hard.
IT makes it all the more confirmed.
LOVE NEVER FAILS……
And we will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever,
GIVE UP.  NEVER EVER.  Because God does NOT give up on us!
Oh how I love my sweeties, sweeties in law and our grand sweetie’s too!
LIFE IS FULL!

A Lovely Day!

Sweetie 2 and I headed down to Texas Scottish Rite hospital to pick up her new leg!  She was so excited to get it.  I have to say, these folks are so caring, including    caring about how things look in the eyes of our girls.   Her leg was made contoured and shapely like a real leg and she burst out, “I love it!!!!”  🙂

After we picked up her leg, we had to go to the tire store because of road construction around us.  Nails seem to be prevalent on the road.  Unfortunately, that was abit costly.  We were 1,000 miles OVER our warranty. :/
BUT… while we were waiting, we walked over and had lunch together and just had a wonderful talk about all kinds of things.
Some things on her mind at almost 17 have to do with the future, with not wanting to hurt the feelings of boys, BUT, wanting to have firm boundaries, types of work she likes, and exploring ideas of engineering. “Mom, do you think I’m smart enough for that?”
“On a scale of one to ten, how smart do you think I am?”
I replied, “That depends upon who is at the TEN!  Tesla? Einstein?”
“Trust me, you are smart enough to be an engineer or anything else you choose to do! ”
Then it was off to go “shorts” shopping for summer.
This girl was delighted with everything she tried on.
Easy peasy!   Horray!
What a delight to spend time with my sweetie!

The DEVASTATION of Pornography On This Generation

I went to visit Sweetie 4 tonight.  She was in very good spirits and we had a wonderful talk.  I haven’t seen her so delightful in a very long time, so it was quite refreshing to hear her talk about her art work and how the pod officers believe she should go to the Julliard School of the Arts in NY! 🙂  She is really so very talented!  She said, “No way mom!  I’m not leaving for NY!”  🙂
( I don’t believe Juliard accepts art students anyway… it is more dance, music and theater)

As we talked, it was as if she was very clear headed tonight and able to share things she typically doesn’t talk about.

The subject of Pornography came up, because it had so poisoned her mind, that she didn’t know what the difference was between what a man and a woman do in a loving committed relationship, vs. pornography, which twists and corrupts  something expressed so  beautifully in marriage.
Sadly…. SO VERY SADLY, our daughter was exposed to this when she went to Public School.
She  told me that she had never seen it until then.  She didn’t know anything, and she said the kids at her table all had cell phones and that is what they did at lunch or on the school bus.
The descriptions of what she shared, I cannot share here, but I was in shock at what the children in this generation are being exposed to on a daily basis.  It is SO.STINKING.DESTRUCTIVE!

Sweetie sadly said, “She cannot get it out of her mind.”  Every person she sees is a potential partner and she imagines herself in the worst of ways. 🙁
I am writing this because I was SO NAIVE sending her to school and thinking she would be safe.  We ARE in a “good” school district.
The teachers are committed.  The administrators are committed.
Is it the school’s fault?  I DO understand there is NO WAY they can control what the children do.  There isn’t enough manpower.  But really, can’t they BAN the use of personal devices at schools?
Can’t they scramble the signals so the children cannot have access to this stuff?

Giving a child a cellphone with access to the internet  is like giving a two year old a loaded handgun.  Honestly, I think it might even be more risky.
Cell phones are NOT rights for CHILDREN!
But I see younger and younger children with them.  I have heard people say that their kids will be made fun of if they don’t have them.

Our Sweetie didn’t even have one of her own, but she sure did want one.   Because she was unable to use her computer time wisely and we knew a cell phone would be a problem for her, we didn’t allow one, but it didn’t  seem to keep her from looking at other people’s cell phones.
So not having a cell phone or being monitored on computer is NOT ENOUGH to protect a child who is bent on doing the wrong thing. 🙁
Her innocence was stolen from her.
Our SOCIETY is SICK. After what I was told tonight, I cannot believe the epidemic that has swept the hearts and minds of our children.
They are being exposed to addictive behaviors that HURT their developing HEALTHY sense of sexuality.  It. Is. AWFUL.

I read an article recently by an ex porn star who said she was upset by not getting the respect she felt she deserved in society.  She said she wanted to be seen as a married nurse from Indiana with 3 kids?
She said she had trouble getting jobs because of her former acting career.
She THEN went on to say, “There was nothing wrong with what I did.”  “People act as if I harmed their children or something.”
BINGO!!!!! YOU HAVE HARMED THEIR CHILDREN!
AND THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH IT!
Maybe if stopped saying there was nothing wrong with porn and society is just not up to speed, she’d get some respect.
Wow.  Is she SO BLIND to think that her actions on screen don’t effect our children?  Seriously?
Our sweetie does not understand that a healthy, committed relationship would include a healthy committed sexual life that can bring about children, after all, that IS one of the purposes for sexual relations between a husband and a wife!

Intimate love between a husband and wife is a tender, sweet, giving act.  It isn’t animalistic, selfish, deviant or just seeing what you can make your body parts do!  How CHEAP! HOW SHALLOW!
HOW UNFULFILLING!

We are praying that our sweetie can be renewed in her mind as she learns that human sexuality is healthy, and it is NOT PORN!

Addicted to Trauma? Rejection? Drama?

I wasn’t sure what else to title this.  So, I am wanting to explore some thoughts I had in the middle of the night.
Do you ever just wake up in the middle of the night with “aha” moments and some quiet, clear time to think?
That is what happened to me last night.

I have been pondering the events of the last year in our family, and also the makeup of each of our sweeties, and just sort of comparing notes.
Something STRUCK me and I don’t know if it has been explored carefully by the mental health community.  I’m sure I’m not the first person to ponder it, so if you know of any information regarding this, DO SHARE!

Everybody knows that there is what is called an “addictive” personality.  Folks can be addicted to all sorts of things including, Alcohol, Drugs,Pornography, Sex, Food, Sugar, TV, Video Games, and more.
Some addictions we find socially acceptable, and others not so much, as in Alcohol, Drugs and Porn.
As I was thinking about our girlies who ALL came from extremely difficult backgrounds, two of them came from addicted parents, and two did not.
The two who didn’t are doing fantastic. The two who did, not so much.
Is it possible, that just like with cases of domestic violence, women may not necessarily be suffering from low self esteem as much as an additive problem to emotional or physical abuse?
I know many will say that the REASON they seek emotionally damaging relationships is because of low self esteem.  I’m just exploring the possibility that it may be addition for some and that is why they do not respond to those who encourage them and try to help them in the area of self worth.
IS IT POSSIBLE that kids who have suffered trauma, may become addicted to the drama of the trauma?
I have witnessed personally in my own life at a younger age, and with my girls, the stirring of the pot so to speak during peaceful moments just to get to a point where they can blow up about something or try to cause somebody  else to blow up at them and thus recreate drama.

I have heard Sweetie 4 say many times, “Normal life is boring.”
Meaning, even though there is peace and calm that is something to be thankful for; people may be singing or dancing or playing a game or going boating, or there are endless things to do, it is boring for her, because there is no turmoil or drama!  So the more peaceful the day, the more she would try to create something to sabotage.
In detention she seems to play both sides of the coin regarding drama in the pod she is in.  She complains about it, but there is a sly smile of satisfaction attached to it that we observe when we visit.  She may cry about something happening, but seems to be really “into” the fact that it happened.

It is as if the addictive brain craves that “high” it gets from the chaos.
I have seen that “look” in both of our girl’s eyes when they are doing what I am talking about.  It is a look of power and control, but also a look of being desperately out of control.

If this is an addiction issue, the things we have dealt with are not necessarily  about not feeling loved;  as our two have most certainly responded to unconditional love over the years, and both given and received it.
But there is something in them that draws them away and they begin to try and recreate the atmosphere of trauma, and  the OLD feelings of being rejected and  unloved.  It is like craving a candy bar.
But it is a very negative, unfortunate, dastardly  craving! AND…..It doesn’t work here, because they ARE loved!  They have tried in EVERY way to make that not so.  But it IS so. They both say that they know that we love them, and that they know we are faithful to forgive them. And, it is the very thing that makes them angry.  It is like they hate innocence, or the pureness of childhood joy and are drawn to the dark side of chaos.

So I’m wondering if all those years when I was rocking and encouraging, teaching, lovingly instructing, modeling and trying to create a home of unconditional acceptance and love,  we have actually been dealing with ADDICTION, not low self worth or fear of rejection; or, a combination of both.
As I’m sure there are moments of self loathing, especially AFTER a drama incident, or horrible accusation,  just like the alcoholic probably regrets getting drunk or the drug addict regrets getting high, because there is destruction that occurs and natural consequences of that destruction  are not easy to face.

It is like a light bulb moment here went off and I’m not sure where to go with it.
I do know one thing….. We LOVE our girls and HAVE loved them all along.  One has been home 12 years, the other 5.  It SEEMS that if the issues they face were purely from PTSD or TRAUMA, then healing would be taking root as with our other girls.
I have ALWAYS made the assumption based upon what I have read in from the adoption community over the years, that these behaviors stemmed from fear.  That is, until
both of these girls made similar statements that not only are they NOT afraid, they are happier in more dramatic circumstances, away from us.  Neither of them are depressed.  And I do know depression can look many different ways in young people, but it still LOOKS like a representation of depression!
Addiction to trauma or drama vs. no addiction to trauma or drama, MIGHT,  just might explain why two of them, have responded to that love in every way, even though they have had some of the most horrific neglect and abuse possible yet the other two, who have responded off and on,  are continuing to make choices that are damaging to relationship and family unity; especially family safety, and have spiraled out of control. 🙁
They both live on the “edge” and flirt with dangerous behaviors.

I have written before about children recreating chaos, , because that is what they are used to, and many of those articles are here on this blog.    But after YEARS and YEARS of working through individual  past traumas, it seems there would be change.  And there WAS, for a time.
This post is not about a newly adjusting child who has just come home or the child who is going through the grieving process of loss.  I can totally get those thoughts, and have been there with our other girls too.  And yes, grief can visit in cycles and at different levels;  one cannot discount grief and loss in adoption.
It is however,  about the possibility of  something else going on…..Could it  quite possibly be addiction?

Any thoughts?

The Struggle

When raising wounded children, we do our best to educate ourselves, find new strategies, therapies, psychiatrists, medications and alternative nutritional strategies.  And many times when trying  to navigate a very unknown, limited, and nearly secretive mine field of mental health, we feel blindfolded in a dark room, yet expected to have answers that many times don’t exist.

Both Mike and I are not unfamiliar with mental health issues as we have both had relatives as far back as we can remember with serious mental health diagnosis.  That has proven to be a blessing, as we know that even when doing your best, it isn’t about you, or the next therapy or the next newest and best idea, essential oil or dietary supplement, all of which can be helpful, or not.

We truly struggle through, and it is a struggle wanting to do what is best and not seeing a light at the end of a very dark tunnel.  “Will she ever get better? ”  “Will she be able to navigate in ‘community’?”
“Will she be successful in a family setting?”  “What about marriage and children?”
Folks, you can drive yourself crazy with these thoughts and they are best left to work themselves out in time.
Scripture says that you cannot add 1 day to your life by worrying.
And as my sweet friend JJ pointed out this week as she spent time with me, “Worry is a sin.”
YES, it is .
And I am a sinner.   I worry and I find faith and I worry and I find faith and in all of my flaws, the Heavenly Father lovingly guides me through and says, “Dear daughter, I am here. Settle your heart.”
So at one moment I am at perfect peace, and then  I struggle with being robbed of that peace through worries about the future and things I cannot control.
I am learning; and I am a struggling learner, that I need to look at what is before me that I KNOW and can count on;  My Savior, my family that is intact, friends who DO understand, my church family,
my husband…… and I can rejoice and be so very thankful for each one in my life who points me to TRUTH.

And in my overflow, I can freely love the ones who have so very many needs that I will never be able to fix.  But I know that I KNOW that I can point them to the ONE who can help them truly heal. And I can, in my own  woundedness  lay my struggles  at the foot of the cross.

Resting at the foot of the Cross…..

Blindsided Again…Sort Of

I’m not even sure what to think honestly.  I wrote in the post below about Sweetie calling home saying, “Mommy! I need you!!!”
Then, yesterday happened.

It was visitation time.  Now we have been visiting Sweetie 4 between 3 incarcerations and 2 psychiatric stays, and she has always come to visit.  Not so last night.

When we arrived, the officer told us, “I’m so sorry you traveled so far, she has made it clear she does not want to see you.”
WHAT?
I was thinking, “It’s not personal, it’s trauma!” That has become  my mantra over the last 5 years.  “IT’S NOT PERSONAL, IT’S TRAUMA!
But what does that mean?  Because it sure does “Feel” personal.

As predicted, she was moved to level 3.
There are 4 levels in the detention center, 4 being the lowest.  All the kids start at level 3. Sweetie stayed on Level 3, them moved to level 4, back to 3 then to level 2 where she stayed for 4 weeks.  She is now back to level 3, where she is really more comfortable.
On level 2, that is a step closer to being home, and she is afraid of that. She is afraid of failing, and has expressed that she knows if she comes home she will harm us.
So, I figured it would be a comfort for her to be at level 3, and we would visit as usual.  I guess not.

If I’ve learned to predict anything about Sweetie 4, it is that she is not predictable!
I called our counselor and she recommended the book, “I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me”.  I ordered it a few minutes ago.
It is about navigating  Borderline Personality Disorder.

And so, we march on into the unknown….

It’s Not About The Paper

Have you ever seen that video clip, “It’s not about the nail?”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4EDhdAHrOg

We had one of those moments today. Sweetie 4 and I had a psychiatric appointment today.  It was stressful and full of difficult discussion.

She called tonight, using her birthday gift ( phone calls) and was sobbing on the other end of the line.
“Mama, I need you!” “Mama, I know you are going to be mad at me! HOW MANY families am I going to lose??” etc. etc.
“Calm down sweetie, tell me what is going on.”
“One of the girls went crazy in here and called me names and said something about my scar.”
“Why would that make us mad at you?”
“What did you do?”
“I DON’T want to tell you!” WHAAAAAA~!!
“Sweetie, you obviously want to tell me, because you are calling.” “So tell me already.” “We are not mad at you!”
 
So, she told us that she messed up on a paper at school, and that she purposefully wrote in random answers, so she lost 10 points and COULD lose her level.
NOW… the truth is, It IS NOT ABOUT THE PAPER. 🙂
 

In the psychiatric office, she shared a very VERY scary dream that involved our family. She couldn’t tell if it was real or false, but in sharing the dream her fear was we would reject her.

 

IT’S NOT ABOUT THE PAPER!
She also was sharing how concerned she was about losing another family because she is just that unlovable.
IT’S NOT ABOUT THE PAPER!
AND she was talking about worrying about going to level three from level two.
“But sweetie, you said that you were afraid of being on level two. You are more comfortable at level 3.” “Remember?”
Calm pause comes over her.
“It’s not about the paper sweetie.”
“I know Mom.”
And then our call had 1 minute left.
“What would you like to say for our last minute?”
“I don’t know!”
“I love you Sweetie.”
And then the line went dead. 15 minutes were up.
 

Ten Years….

Ten years ago, we were in Ukraine.  As many of you know, we have a book in the editing process. I wanted to share an excerpt from it here, in honor of Sweetie 3’s 10th anniversary. 🙂
This is a small part of section 3.

VISITING

The first days of visiting were great. We would get up and Andrew would pick us up around 9:00. We would head to the orphanage to visit for about 2 hours.  We would play games and talk with Olga and our translator would translate.  At least she would translate some of what was said.  Sometimes it was frustrating to hear a conversation going back and forth and we would be asking, “What did she say?”
Now, words went back and forth with laughing and talking and the translation might be something like, “Oh, she likes the color yellow.” Or, “Her favorite food is borscht.”

We would go back to our apartment for a few hours and then Andrew would pick us up again. We would go back to the orphanage for another visit.  We would leave around 5:00 p.m and head back to the apartment for dinner and conversation with our translator who was staying with us the first week.
We had so much fun with our translator Olga. She knew so much about the process and Ukrainian History. She took us all over when we weren’t visiting Olga at the orphanage.
She liked us a lot, and began to share funny stories.  The funniest one I can remember was a couple who had come to adopt a child asked who the statue was in the big square in Kharkiv.
She said, “That is Lenin”.  His reply was, “I didn’t know The Beatles were so popular in Eastern Europe!”
I’m still not sure if she missed a funny joke or if he was serious like she thought he was.
Either way, we all laughed heartily.

We loved trying new foods and she was able to take us to a few places to buy common foods to try.  Pelmeni with smitana became a favorite.  I loved baking fresh chicken with garlic and pepper, and baking fish.  We really enjoyed each other’s company.

It was time to visit Olga again in the morning. It was just 3 days before court.  When we arrived, she looked nervous. She wasn’t making eye contact and was visibly shaking.
I thought to myself , “What could have happened to her?”  “They better not be abusing her!”  I noticed the first day we saw her she had finger marks on her arms where she had been grabbed tightly.
We asked or translator if we could take her for a walk outside and then we could talk to her.
She asked permission and it was granted.  We walked over to a different part of the orphanage grounds and put Olga in a swing.
The translator asked her, “What is happening, why are you upset and scared?”
She asked, “Do you promise you will not tell the workers  I told you?
“Of course!”
Olga spoke quietly that she had been told that Kristina was really dead. She had been told she was dead a long time ago and had been so sad about her friend’s death for a long time.
When she saw the pictures that Kristina was alive, she was happy.  But she also knew that we were not the people that came to get Kristina. She remembered them, and we were different people.
She said that the workers told her that we were only there to adopt her and then take her back to the U.S to have her killed and sell her body parts.

We were horrified.

We spoke with her and went through the photo album with her telling her that Kristina was certainly NOT dead and very much looking forward to seeing her again.  We told her that she was so smart to remember the other family, and explained to her that they decided not to keep Kristina, but we didn’t know why.  We explained all we could, and told her we understood her fear, but we were NOT going to kill her or sell her body parts.

The attorney was going to meet with her the next morning, and she was going to have to give approval for being adopted.  She was almost eight years old, and had a say in what happened to her.

The next morning after talking to the attorney, she agree to be adopted by us.
What a brave, brave girl.

Court

It was court day and we were really excited to get to court. We had been told by the NAC, that if we didn’t make it to court before they shut down again, they would send us home with no child.  I tried not to think about it, but counted down the days to court, praying that they would not close down.

When we went into the courthouse, we met another American couple from New York that was adopting a 10 year old boy that they had hosted the year before.  They had a two year old and she was also pregnant with another baby.  They had court just before ours.  Before they left and we went in, we agreed to contact each other when we all made it back to Kyiv.

It was our turn to go into court.  There were three witnesses, the prosecutor, our translator and the judge.  The judges cell phone rang and he had a conversation with his wife about a picnic they were planning for the next day.
When he got finished, he apologized for the interruption explaining that he was getting ready to go on vacation.
I was thinking, “I am so glad we made it to court before he left for vacation!”

He had Mike stand up and asked him his name, address, and what kind of work he did. He asked him if he could take care of Olga and if he wanted to adopt her.
Mike answered all of his questions with a straight face. He was so good at not smiling profusely! I was jealous.
I had been working on not smiling, and seemed to be succeeding.
He asked me to stand up, and then he asked my name, and address.
I answered, and then he asked if I could care for Olga’s needs, and if I wanted to adopt her.
Pictures were being passed around to the witnesses and somebody asked the judge if he wanted to see them.  He said he had already seen most of them through emails and reports.
Apparently, every time I wrote to the embassy and sent them pictures of the girls, they forwarded those pictures to the judge. He already knew us in many ways, before court.

After answering yes, to his last question, he said he had one more question.
“Is it hard having so many children?”
He had a smile on his face.
Smiling back, I said, “It is fun. I love having a big family.”

That was it.  We went out of the room and waited in the hall. They called us back a few minutes later and approved the adoption of Olga.  We were so happy, but did our best to not smile.
The judge said, “Aren’t you happy?”
We both said, “Yes, very happy!”
“Well, why aren’t you smiling?”

“We can smile now? Ok!”
And we smiled…. the judge chuckled.

We all said “Dos vadana.”  And court was over.
We had a new daughter!
WE HAD A NEW DAUGHTER!

The Ten Day Wait

After court, we had to wait ten days according to the law before we could take Olga from the orphanage.  The director however let us take her to our apartment every day for 9 hours.
We took her all around town and to the zoo and square. We took her into stores and bought her the coveted “mushroom potato chips”.   We had so much fun, with her and she looked at all the clothes we brought for her.  She carefully looked at each item of clothing and pondered in her heart what was happening, taking in each moment.

Our translator had left us alone after court and went back to Kyiv to see her boyfriend. She said she was confident we would be fine. We were brave and not afraid to explore. I think she had more confidence in us than we had in ourselves.  However, we really did cherish the time alone with Olga.

Every day like clockwork Andrew would pick us up and every day drop us off.  One day, he brought his beautiful teenaged daughter with him in the evening. He took us to a larger store and she went into the store with us and translated everything for us.  She wanted to practice her English, and she was quite good!
Emancipation day finally came.   It was time to go and get our daughter.  We had her outfit picked out.  She had a soft blue sailor dress with leggings and a french beret.  She was adorable.
We presented our gifts to all of the workers and gave toys to the two groups in her building.
After pictures, we left.  If she could have run, she would have.  We got her into the van and all the children lined the fence saying “Paca! Paca!”

Olga had a family. Us.

We headed back to the apartment but on the way back, Andrew stopped at a bakery and purchased several pastries to celebrate. What a sweet man.
He was now Andrushka!

When we got back to the apartment, we relaxed a little bit and had a nice meal. Olga thought that it must be Christmas because she had never tasted such good food.
She watched me cook and was shocked that she had a mama who could cook!

That night, before bedtime, we decided to let Olga get her first bath.  It was literally her FIRST BATH.
We took her clothes off and when we were getting ready to remove her braces she started to cry. She must have been terrified, poor dear.
She had on the same stockings and underwear from the orphanage They didn’t make us remove them, because of her braces.
We waited a few minutes and showed her the bath water.  She felt it, and then we pointed to her braces.  She let us take them off.
When we got to the stockings and underwear, there was a bigger problem. Her stockings were actually STUCK to sores on her legs and feet.
We decided to put her into the bath with them on, and then literally soak them off.

She had little tears when we put her into the bath, and then, this look of “Ahhhh!” came over her face and she couldn’t stop smiling.
I think she LOVED her first bath.

We were shocked at how damaged her feet and lower legs were. She was covered in deep, deep sores and numerous scars from surgeries.
I thought about how Sarah went through her surgery and I was right there, and how our son Tim went through his surgeries and I was right there with him.
Who was there for Olga? Who comforted her when she cried out in pain?
Who?

Trying to fathom the depth of aloneness in the world is hard. Orphans are completely alone.
There is no family.  Nobody.

But this little one was no longer alone. She was no longer an orphan.  And she just had  her very first bath.
Who says that by adopting an older child you will miss all their “firsts”?
There were plenty of “firsts” that we did not miss.

By the time Olga was ready for bed, she was a clean little girl!  I also cleaned her ears while she said, “Papa!” Like, make her stop already!

Back To Kyiv

We had all of our paperwork ready to go back to Kyiv.  We told the lady who rented her apartment to us good bye.  We went to the local store where we bought our food and told the lady who wouldn’t smile, good bye.
She actually smiled and said, “Bye-Bye”.
I still don’t know if she was smiling to be nice, or if it was because we were finally leaving and she didn’t have to listen to me butcher Russian anymore.

Uncle Dima took us to the train station and together with our translator and Olga, we headed back to Kyiv.  There were still a few more things to do in Kyiv.  We had an appointment at the American Medical Center and an American Embassy Appointment.

It was Thursday and we had until Tuesday before our appointments started.  We were supposed to leave on Tuesday, but there was no way we were going to make that date and needed to change our flights.

We headed over to the large building where the  Internet Cafe’ was located.  It was near Independence Square. We needed to update our family on our adventure  and check emails.  The bottom part of the building was a bank and then the upstairs was the Internet Cafe’.  Since Olga was in a wheelchair, and there was no elevator, we left her wheelchair down stairs and then carried her upstairs.
There is no way a person can get around Ukraine in a wheelchair.  Handicapped access doesn’t really exist in any usable way.  We had been carrying that wheel chair down to the metro and back up the other side, and carrying up steps to get into stores and down steps to get out of stores.  It was very sweet of the orphanage director to let us take the chair to Kyiv. When we were ready to leave, our translator would take it back to him.

We were in the cafe’ and had just sat down to the computer when Olga said the one word we all understood!  Toilet!  She had this look on her face like, she really had to go bad!
I took her over to the bathroom and unfortunately, it was a hole in the floor.
Now, she doesn’t really bend at the hip, and she doesn’t bend her legs. She had  braces that went up to her upper thigh and I was holding her.
How could we figure this out?
I tried holding her over the hole, but her braces were getting in the way. She let out another more urgent “Toilet!”  And I did what I had to do.
I got her dressed and gave her a reassuring look like I knew what I was doing!
We dashed down the stairs of the Internet Cafe’ to head to the McDonalds that is about a football field away.  I was walking as fast as I could and her voice was more urgent!
“Toilet!”
“Da! Toilet!”
We ran up the stairs of the McDonalds and then down the flight of stairs to the bathroom only to find a locked door and the words in English. You have to purchase something to use the bathroom. So we ran up the stairs and the manager must have seen the frazzled and desperate look on my face as Olga once again said, “Toilet!”
The manager motioned for me and we ran back down the stairs.
She entered a code and I thanked her profusely.  “Spaciba! Spaciba!”

The bathroom was FULL of beautiful young ladies all trying to get near the mirror.  They saw us and it was like the waters of the Red Sea parting! There was the wonderful, American style, white, throne of relief!  The Toilet!

I hurriedly got her undressed so she could sit on the toilet and then I turned around.
“Tinkle, tinkle, tink….”
That was it!  That was IT?
I looked at her and thought, “Surely you can produce more than that!”
“Toilet?”
“Nyet”…. she was finished.

I was exhausted.
We cleaned up, washed our hands and went back up that flight of stairs.
We sat down on the steps outside, as I couldn’t get my breath very well. I was feeling dizzy and faint.  We waited about fifteen minutes and then I carried her back to the Internet Cafe’.
We climbed that last flight of stairs and went over to meet Mike who was completely oblivious to my toilet ordeal.
He said, “Where’d you go?”
“To the toilet at McDonalds.”
“Oh, don’t they have one here?”

Never mind.

Where We Are For Now: Reflections

As I have been reading some of my own words in my past blogs, there is a stinging reality that takes place. My experience in parenting all of our kids has been written about over the years, and the facts are there. The good, the bad and the ugly, yet it has been mostly good.
This past year has been one of the most difficult and painful experiences we have ever had. We have been taken to worlds unknown! Yet, as I go back and read, there is so much MORE good.

One of the aha moments we had recently, while preparing for a counseling session with Sweetie, (last weekend in fact) was that, the better we did, the more we understood, the harder we tried, including applying all the training we have learned over the years; Sweetie rose to the occasion to deflect and defeat the love that was shown to her.

This has not been a reflection of our parenting, but of her brokenness.
We have soul searched, gone back over hours and hours of video, recorded in our home, audio recorded in our home, and hours of writing things down…. and we have found that for SOME children, functioning within a family setting is not what is best for them. It certainly is not what is best for the family.
I think she is an EXTREME case. We are her 4th set of parents. She has been with us 5 years and had a period of time where she actually did well. Many of those times are documented on this very blog!

There are no perfect parents and there are no perfect paradigms in parenting kids from hard places. I just want to encourage those of you who are in the thick of fighting for your children’s security, and healing, that even if they do not respond, it does not reflect upon your efforts, it tells us that trauma, neglect, and child abuse is JUST. THAT. DAMAGING.

Our children will grow into adults, and at some point, they will either take the tools we have offered and begin to use them, or they will continue the cycle of despair. That is not up to us, but up to them.

Sweetie 4 can be  lovable and sweet, and then there is that other side that is cold, and  unreachable at this point.
She has announced to us and her counselor that she does not want a family and is requesting a different type of placement. She has said it off and on when dysregulated. This time, it was calm and factual.
At the same time she said, “It isn’t you mom. It isn’t.” “I want to have a close relationship with you, going out to lunch, having dinner, laughing and talking.” (these are things we have always done in between her bouts of rage and anger)
Superficial, is close for her, and possibly all she is capable of at this point.  
She LOVES that part of being in a family. But she cannot handle simple family life.
So, as she continues in intensive therapy, including family therapy, we are continuing to soul search what our next step is as parents that will help HER SUCCEED. Our goal, is to help her be the best person she can be.
If that TRULY means that she might be more successful in an orphanage type setting, which I don’t understand, but I don’t have to ; then, that may be the direction we will need to look into.
She has been able to successfully say in counseling that she is afraid of hurting us and she know she will if she comes home. She doesn’t want to!
That is good!
Obviously she is not a typical kiddo. We have 8 kiddos. She has been more work than the other 7 put together. LOL
But you know what? I wouldn’t change a thing. We will not reject her. We will not stop loving her. I look forward to the day when she has an “aha” moment of her own, and sees clearly she has been loved.

I was just reading down thread a ways: Understanding the Window of Tolerance. It made me happy to remember how things were for awhile. 🙂

Making Connection Through Art

b and rubyThis is a beautiful photo of our little grand daughter and her mama, our daughter in law.
Sweetie 4 received this photo in a card at the detention center, and two hours later, had produced this:
becca and ruby
I love how she did so well making a photo filled with connection and tenderness.  It is in her.  It really is!  And we have hope!

Visiting and Singing and Things….

Tonight, Mike and I visited Sweetie 4.  She is doing really well.
She was talking about all the things she got to do during her childhood at home. Apparently they talked about this in group therapy today, and she was thinking about how much fun she had while she was home.
She was expressing thankfulness that we let her be a kid and play.
She told us that she shared one of her favorite things, and something she missed the most was being rocked in the rocking chair.
She shared in her group, “You might think it is weird, but I loved it and my mom sang to me the “Masterpiece” song.  And I know that if I were there, she would do it right now!”
She is correct. I would. 🙂
So in the detention visitation room, we put our hands to the glass
and I sang “Masterpiece” to her once again as little tears filled her eyes.  Oh how I love this girl. 🙂

Masterpiece
Before you had a name, or opened up your eyes, or anyone could recognize your face.  You were being formed, so delicate in size, secluded in God’s safe and hidden place. And with your little tiny hands, and little tiny feet and little eyes, that shimmer like a breeze. He breathed in you a song, and to make it all complete, He brought this masterpiece into the world.

And you are a masterpiece, a new creation He has formed. And you’re as soft and fresh as a snowy winter morn, and I’m so glad that God has given you to me… Little lamb from God. You are a masterpiece.

And now you’re growing up, your life’s a miracle, every time I look at you I stand in awe. Because I see in you, a reflection of HIM, and you’ll always be my little lamb from God. And as your life goes on each day, How I pray that you will see just how much, your life has meant to me! And I’m so proud of you, what else is there to say?
Just be the masterpiece He created you to be!

Because you are a masterpiece, a new creation he has formed. And you’re as soft and fresh as a snowy winter morn. And I’m so glad that God has given you to me! Little lamb from God…..
YOU are a masterpiece!

Sweetie 3 is a Driver!

Sweetie 3 is officially a licensed driver!
I’m so happy for her!
She has over come so much in her life, and just continues to press forward; no looking back!
She is driving without accommodations to the car even though she is a double amputee.  After I asked her about being able to feel the pedals, she said, “Mom, you wear shoes and many people wear high heels!”  True.
So, here’s to a new driver in the family! 🙂
Way to go!!!!

Ski Trip….

Sweetie’s 2 and 3 are headed to the Texas Scottish Rite Ski Trip once again!
I am so excited for them!
One uses 2 skis and the other snow boards.
But what they both do?
The serve, they love, they have fun and they represent the Lord and our family to others.
What precious gifts they are!
I am so THANKFUL for Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children for giving them this opportunity once again!
What a blessing!

What Is A Mistake?

Warning!  This is a rant.

For the last several years, I have heard grown adults who have made horrible decisions, PURPOSEFUL decisions, when caught, say, “I made a mistake.”
It bothered me then, and it is REALLY bothering me now, because it has made its way into counseling offices, detention centers and courtrooms.

Let’s be real.  A MISTAKE is something unintentional.  A MISTAKE is when you make an error in your check book. A mistake is when you buy a shirt to match a pair of pants and when you get home the colors clash so it has to be returned.  A mistake is rather benign and innocent in nature.  It is NOT intentional.

When a person makes a very poor choice, or decision, or acts in a manner that is plain evil; folks, THAT IS NOT A MISTAKE! That is an intentional act.  It may not be the best idea, or a good decision, but a MISTAKE it is NOT!

To rob a bank and hold people hostage for hours, is NOT a mistake and to call it such diminishes the true weight of what the person has done.
There is no real healing in owning up to a “mistake”.
That is NOT truly facing poor choices and it takes the full weight of responsibility off of the offender and leaves the offended with some weightless excuse that has no valid meaning.

Lying is NOT a mistake.  Stealing is NOT a mistake.  It may be a very regrettable act, especially if one gets caught, but a mistake? NO!

As parents and counselors we need to be very careful NOT to be drawn into the societal pitfall of not taking responsibility for one’s actions, and therefore enabling the offender who makes terrible decisions to continue to do so as they do not face the reality that their actions were very, VERY wrong.
We must face the FACTS as a society that we are ALL capable of great wrong and to diminish our wrong doing to a simple “mistake”
is a slap in the face for those we offend.
True sorrow faces up to the facts that we have wronged somebody and that we are truly sorry.

If after leaving us bloodied  beaten and battered after a 6 hour rampage, you say, “I made a mistake”, my reply might be, “Dude! That was SOME MISTAKE!” “Let’s try again!”
But if you were to say, ” I don’t know why I did what I did, it was a terrible thing to do, a very poor decision, and I am so very sorry.”
We can talk.

So, thank you for hearing my Rant which is targeted at every Dallas Cowboy or sports figure who screams mistake after intentionally harming somebody,  and every counselor or person who is supposed to be helping, and to those who would diminish SIN, to a mistake.

The next time you make an unintentional error in your checkbook, don’t beat yourself up over it. THAT FOLKS,  IS A MISTAKE. 🙂

“To Be Continued”

dont give up
Many of you know that for the last year and a half, we have had a very difficult time with Sweetie 4 and more recently with Sweetie 1.
Struggles in life will happen.  As a dear friend said, “If it’s your turn to have tribulation, then tribulate!” 🙂

We have been soul searching our hearts over these two sweet hearts.   We love them dearly, but also realize that we are not miracle workers.   We have done our best, and we rest in that,  but the  pain of seeing  children destroying themselves  is so very difficult. to bear.
There is nothing you can do to stop it, if it is bound to happen.
No amount of love, can hold back the wave of trauma that comes crashing in if the child is determined to go their own way, only trusting in their brokenness , being blinded by a not fully developed brain that says, “I can do it my way!”
With Sweetie 1, I’m not convinced that her actions are necessarily because of early trauma, as much as it was because of plain ole’ sin.
As we have pondered especially the last few weeks, we have uncovered some insight that has brought light on  some of the reason that Sweetie 4 was going the direction she was.
There were some warning signs with Sweetie 1, but we were so wrapped up in trying to deal with Sweetie 4, we missed some.

I do not believe it would have changed anything, but possibly caused what happened to happen much sooner.

The GOOD NEWS is, these girls are still teenagers. They are so very young and we pray that they will not make any further life altering decisions.  Time and experience will hopefully cause them to ponder what they are doing, and choose love.
It appears that Sweetie 4 is already moving in that direction and we are SO THANKFUL for the wonderful program she is in.
Sweetie 1 however, even though she is young,  is almost an adult.  We are praying for her, that the Lord will direct her heart towards true repentance and that she will place her brokenness firmly in the hands of her Savior.

Our other sweeties are a blessing to us.  They have ministered to their sisters and to each other, and even to us in more ways than I can count.
ALL of them are a form of blessing.  Sometimes blessings come with rain, and the blessings that come with rain are deeply entrenched on our hearts, changing us in ways that could not have happened had there not been rain. 🙂

In all of this, I have been told that the editing of my book is finally complete.  I thought about that.  I finished writing it  a year and a half ago and all the girls were a huge part of it.  I could not figure out why it would take SO LONG to edit a simple book, but we rested and said, “It will come when it comes.”  And now here it is!
I now need to decide if I add to it,  start on book  two of four books, shelve it, or something else.

I’m leaning towards adding a…. “To Be Continued”…….
And that is true, whether it is a first or a last book, life is as always,
“to be continued….”

Punishment Vs. Natural Consequences

I have been thinking a lot lately about the difference between “Punishment” and “Natural Consequences”.

There are Natural Consequences to the things we do that are unavoidable. But punishment is disconnected.
Having NO consequences is different than having NO punishment.
Natural consequences for our actions are a part of real life.
That may seem like “splitting hairs” but it really isn’t.  The differences are huge.

Punishment is “punitive” it is meant to PUNISH for a wrong doing.
It is not  a natural result of an action, but a disconnected or manufactured action.
For instance, “You were late coming home, so I am taking away your video game time.”  OR “You have to stay in your room”.
There is no connection between the action and the sentence imposed.
That is a punishment.
A NATURAL consequence is quite different.
“You are late coming home, therefore, you cannot go out  tomorrow”.  That is NATURAL consequence of being late.
It connects the action with the consequence.
It makes sense.
Another example might be, if using the computer you go to an inappropriate site, you lose your computer time for a couple of days or you may have to have mom and dad apply a pass code so that you cannot use the computer without supervision.
It is a direct result of misusing the computer.
It is also meant to instruct in the proper way to behave.

If you lie, you might not be believed. That is a NATURAL consequence of lying.  A punishment would be “Because you lied you have to go to your room.”
Once again, for a child with FASD, that would make NO SENSE…. but they CAN connect not being believed if they lie.

If a child refuses to  eat a meal because his favorite item is not being served, the natural consequence of not eating is you will be hungry.
That lesson gets learned very quickly.  🙂

After the consequence is felt, or during the time the consequence is felt,  discussion can happen.  No matter the situation, talking can take place which leads to instruction.
“Do you understand why we are not believing what you have said?”
“If you are not honest, we cannot trust what you say to be true!”
“We want to trust what you say! Encourage! Be positive!
“Let’s practice telling the truth.”  Work on some role play with truth telling.   Talk about honesty and ways to be more honest, or MOST honest.
A fun game could be…. Give a scenario of somebody having to confess something they had done.
Somebody could “lie”, somebody could be “somewhat honest”,”somebody could be more honest”, and somebody could be “MOST HONEST”!  And then discuss what is best, how you feel about being MOST honest  and why.

Role play, even for teens is very important.  You can enact, or reenact scenarios to help them understand and improve on life skills, like telling the truth and being responsible.

For a teen who is less likely to participate in active role play, you can try to talk during a board game like Chess, checkers or backgammon.
Find a way to relax being together, but also a back door way to bring in instruction.  “You were really great playing this game! It is so fun to play when everybody is honest and doesn’t cheat, don’t you think?”

Having NO consequences at all, is not real and can be detrimental for adult life.
If you don’t pay your taxes, there is a direct penalty.  If you speed, you get a ticket or possibly lose your right to drive if you are a minor. If you are late to work, you may be fired.  If you don’t pay your electric bill, they may cut off your electricity.  Those are all natural consequences based upon an action.  As adults, if you do not pay your electric bill, they do not call you and say you have to go to your room, or take away your video games, nor do they say, “It’s ok, just pay it next time.  The result is directly related to your action. NO pay, NO electricity!

Natural consequences are a necessity for teaching life lessons.
Do not be afraid to use natural consequences for teaching lessons with your children.
They are a real part of life.

Great Visit

We had a really great visit with Sweetie 4 tonight, after meeting with her counselor.  She is starting to work hard in the program she is in and we are so thankful for the hard work going on behind the scenes.
Sweetie 4 is a very likable girl!  She can truly be so funny and sweet, and tonight we saw our real girl.
She was able to share some things with us that she had been wanting to share for a long time, and she did it with respect!

YEA SWEETIE!!!!!

We are rooting for her!!!!!

Riding The Tidal Wave of Pain

The last two weeks have been utterly devastating in more ways than I can count.  Our precious little family has been tossed and turned by  waves of pain unimaginable.

As I write this, I am comforted and reminded of the fact that we cannot live our children’s lives for them.  We cannot force their healing, but only watch their journey and offer help and guidance to reach out to the true Healer of our battered souls.

I am reminded that our children’s journeys are not over when they do horrendous things.  There IS a plan greater than all of us, and this period of time is a time woven with a special thread in that life tapestry.  It is a STRONG thread that binds us together in love and hope.  I picture that thread being Red, as all is covered in that loving Fountain of Christ’s blood shed on the cross for sin.  Even sin that is seemingly unforgivable.

How can we not forgive, when we have been forgiven so much?

Our Sweetie 1, is no longer with us.  We are crushed. But we are not without hope.  And here is where I am reminded once again, and I believe fervently, that the path to true healing is so individual. There is no one size fits all remedy for trauma, as each child is different, and each child will bring with them into the family, wounds, personality traits, little sin natures, and excess baggage, that will present themselves at different times.
I remember being very challenged with Sweetie 1 coming home. She was our first girl. She was so adorable and so full of drama and trauma.
How in the WORLD can a child born so recently have SO MUCH TRAUMA?  But she did.
Through 12 years of raising and loving her, she seemingly responded very well.
But there was a dark life, behind all that.  And it has been drawn out into the light.  Darkness doesn’t like light.
But Light LOVES and WAITS.
We were blind sided by what happened, but we are not blind any more.  We have our eyes wide open, and in God’s great mercy, we can now move forward, waiting for our Prodigal to return.  She may not return in the same way as before, it may be later, and will most likely not be in our home, but we pray for that healing to happen.

LOVE lets go. We cannot control our children or what they do, especially at 17.
We can guide and we can pray. Oh how we can pray!
And the end is not written yet. We know that at some point, things will change. We know she has a life to live and that she will ALWAYS know that she was greatly loved and cherished.

Today, as I was sitting here getting ready to write, we got a very sweet letter from Sweetie 4.  We have had despair with Sweetie 4, but we are seeing a glimmer of light.
I pray that we see that light with Sweetie 1.

We are resting in Christ’s love and the precious people he has sent into our lives to minister to us right now.

1 Peter 4:12-13
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may  also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed.”

 

Merry Christmas!

We are having a really nice Christmas Season.  Of course we miss our Sweetie 4 being away from us, but we have been able to visit her, and we took her favorite foods to her yesterday so she could enjoy them with her pod mates.  The detention center does a really good job of remembering that our children are STILL Children!
And they made the day special for them.

Tonight when we go to visit her, we will have some questions about how her day went and we will be able to share how ours went too. 🙂

The other Sweeties all had a wonderful time at home, and one of them had a special friend over for the day as her parents had to work.

In this special Season, we wish all of you a Very Merry Christmas and celebrate “God With Us”, the Incarnate one, the Holy One, our Savior, Christ the Lord.

Processing The Weekend

This week was wonderful and sad.  It was full of joy and full of heartache.  Isn’t that just like real life?  We don’t all live in fairy tale land where everything is perfectly wrapped up each and every holiday with a nice little ribbon.  We live real. 🙂  And REAL is what matters in life.

The great things about the week:
1. Uncle Bob came.  We LOVE our Uncle Bob. He has been a steady in  our lives and the lives of our boys  since Mike and I married, and in the girls lives since they came home.  He is a LOVING and KIND uncle who has invested in them and they ALL adore him.

2.  We had Sweetie 1’s boyfriend’s family over for Thanksgiving. We all had a wonderful time!  Our son and daughter in law and 4 of our grand children came for Thanksgiving dinner.
Our youngest grandson Felix somehow managed to find my personal Christmas present while taking a nap in my room and managed to empty an entire bottle of lavender essential oil in my room.  LOL
Oh the aroma!
I love toddlers!

3.  The meal was fantastic, if I don’t say so myself. 🙂  I am a stuffing lover and the stuffing turned out great.  That makes me happy.

4.  Sweetie 2 and 3 and my daughter in law and I slipped away to a Starbucks on Thursday night and had a great conversation.

5.  On Friday, we went over to our son’s house and all the guys were there that live in Texas, with 10 of our grand children.  It was a wild and happening place!  Sweetie 2 cleaned up on the game of Hearts. 🙂

6.  I talked with our grand daughter Lillian from NM.  And then I talked with our son too.  I love all of them so much.  I miss them, but honestly, I’m glad they live in NM… It is a GREAT place and it gives me reason to go back to NM!   I loved it when we lived there.

7.  Sweetie 1 turned 17 and was a great sport that her birthday landed on Black Friday. 🙂  We did our traditional celebration, (see post below) and she had a good birthday. 🙂

8.  My daughters’ in law made GF desserts!!!!  Whoa baby!
I didn’t have to say, “No, I can’t have that. ”  🙂

9.  We decorated for Christmas and watched the traditional
“Miracle On 34th Street”  with Natalie Wood and Maureen O’Hara.
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10.  I was able to take the Sweeties to movie while I visited Sweetie 4 at the detention center.  It was perfect.  I dropped them off a little early, drove to see her, and by the time I got back, it was time to pick them up. 🙂

And now to process the not so great stuff:

1.  This is the first year we have had a Thanksgiving where I didn’t call my mom.  She passed away in August.  I honestly have not had a real chance to grieve, as things have been so intense and difficult, anytime I showed any emotion, Sweetie 4 would get angry.  I tried so save my emotions for bath time where I could have privacy.

2.  My sister in law is back in the hospital and the news is not good. 🙁
She has been battling breast cancer for 18 years. It has been a long and courageous fight.  But the cancer has returned with a vengeance into her brain. 🙁  She spent Thanksgiving in the hospital surrounded by her family.  Our hearts are with her.

3.  Our dear sister in the Lord passed away last week from Leukemia
and we hurt for her children, dear friends of ours. We rejoice that her life was WELL LIVED and that she is with her Lord and Savior.

4.  I visited Sweetie 4 at the detention center on Monday and let her know that I would not be able to visit on Thanksgiving day. (a special visitation time was available between 1 and 3)  The detention center has a HUGE celebration with community leaders.  I just didn’t feel it would be right to drive an hour away, during which our other girls were at home, and arrange family time around detention time.
It is so surreal, having to think about these things. But the truth is, that she got herself into detention. She is not remorseful, and it is a situation she has created.  I think it would be wrong to make the other children work around the detention schedule.  They need to come first. They have committed no crimes and NEED our attention too.
So, I visited on Monday and told her I would not be able to visit on Thursday.  She said she didn’t know why I would visit anyway! She doesn’t want us to visit her.
I got a call on Friday night that she was placed on “moderate” suicide watch for “cutting”.  I don’t know what she used to cut, or scratch herself, but apparently she was covered.
I was told that she had a wonderful time at Thanksgiving, was smiling and happy and dancing.  But on Friday, she was not happy.
I went to visit on Saturday and she was angry.  She came to see me but once again asked, “Why are you here? I don’t think you should come to see me.”
I told her, ” You cannot tell me that I can’t come to see you.  You can refuse to see me when I come, but I WILL come, because I love you.”
She asked, “Why?”
WHY? Why do I love my own daughter?  She is the daughter that God placed in our family. We have poured our lives into her for nearly 5 years.  She is beautiful, and can be sweet and kind. She is a great artist, and she can be funny.  She is smart and has a future ahead of her if she will grasp it!
I told her, “You are my daughter, I choose to love you!”
“You are WORTH LOVING!”
She grimaced.
Not a lot of eye contact was made. She was rough in her speech and told me of some issues she was having and how she didn’t want to participate in the program she has been blessed with.
I asked her about her cutting and she refused to show me her cuts.
She said she was going to get off of suicide watch so she could have coke and candy. (They were allowed this this weekend)
As we talked, the time passed quickly, and I realized that the center gave us an extra FORTY minutes past what we are typically allowed.
(They are really wonderful people)
I told her that I had to go because I had to pick her sisters up from the movie. She said, “You hang up first.”  I said, “No!” “We’ll hang up together and I counted to 3 and we both hung up our phones at the same time. ”  I saw a smile come across her face.  🙂

I left the detention center trying to hold it together.  I don’t even know how to process where she is emotionally.  She is doing her best to reject us.  So much was said, so much I can’t even process.
I’m hoping that she is going to get through this and come out the other side, more mature, and ready to deal with life, however long that takes, and that eventually she will be able to safely be with us once again.
It is a hope.
Her bio sister wrote to her and she didn’t appreciate the letter very much. 🙁  We worked so hard to get them together, and she is so very willing right now to just throw relationships away.  She must be so angry and ashamed.
Trauma is a cruel ruler and a poor leader.

One thing we do know and rest in;
we love her and we have done all we can and will continue to do all we can, but the outcome will be up to her.
We cannot force her to do well, participate in the program or make wise choices. Those things are up to her.
She knows she is loved.  It is the brave thing to forgive those in our past and love those in our present.
Someday, I pray she is brave, and  sees how every much she has been loved.
I hope that day comes and it isn’t too late for her to share that love with those who truly love her.
Living a life of regrets would be so very sad.

We want to live our lives without regret!
We hope she follows the same path.

So, how are we doing?  We are honestly doing well!
The Sweeties have endured much as well as us and we are all processing what has happened.  We are close as a family and will continue to pray together and choose to love Sweetie 4.
There is much forgiveness, but that does NOT mean that we blindly accept violent behaviors into our home.
We MUST be safe and keep our other sweetie’s safe. We have this year to make some decisions on sweetie’s placement depending upon how she does in detention.
It is a path we never expected to walk, but one we are walking!
And we are walking it in faith and trust in the ONE who knows all things!

And Another One Turns 17

Sweetie one has followed Sweetie three and turned 17!!!
Do you know what that means???  In the next year, we will have two adults in our home!  Wow!  How did that happen so fast?

She had a wonderful Birthday today spending time with friends and family, baking a cake, and having Pizza and a Movie for tonight.

This particular sweetie has always struggled with Holidays and her Birthday, but she has blown us all away and had a great day yesterday and today.  So happy for her!

Happy Birthday Sweetie!!!!

Adoption Education and Parenting Support

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