Listening To Trauma

I am so thankful for our Mom Dad and Me books.  They have been vital, especially for Sweetie 4 as she continues to process and work through understanding relationships.

We have been having such wonderful days and nights, connecting and just functioning as a family.
That is always a time to be on the look out, because just as wonderful as those easy and happy times are, there is trauma lurking in the background wanting to rob her of her joy and security.

A straw man was built.  It was not real.  The feeling of, “You love everybody else more than me.”  The thoughts of “I don’t really belong”, surfaced today.

It is so sad when it surfaces.  It breaks my heart.  Yet, at the same time, I see it as another opportunity to show her unconditional love, and  make a deeper impact into her precious life.

I was reading today an article by Michael Monroe.  It was so appropriate!  I would like to share the link here.

Today, as I sat with Sweetie 4 and talked about how our train had derailed, I asked her, “How can we get our train back on the tracks!”
She correctly realized that it starts with reconnecting in relationship and making things right.
We wrote in our Mom Dad and Me books.  In her book she drew a heart that was colored in just a little and the color represented “trust”.
She was letting us know that she was feeling fragile, and her trust was wavering because of those feelings.
My drawing placed a large cup around the heart, and then there was a pitcher pouring into the cup with the letters , L.O.V.E.
And my caption was, “Let  us help to fill your love cup.”
And our train got back on the track.

What is the Hardest Thing About Adoption?

Originally written October 2012

People often ask, “What is the hardest thing about adoption?”

Honestly I find adoption to be such a joy.  But there are hard times. VERY HARD.

We are in a great place right now. It seems that all of our girls are feeling safe and secure, and Miss Sweetie 4 has turned another huge corner.  She has been a joy to be around, and has received instruction and correction so well!  I almost forgot last week that she will sometimes resort back to old behaviors,  and was caught off guard.  But I went right into theraputic parenting mode and things moved very quickly to resolution and joy.

When we went to “The Voice of the Martyr’s Conference” on Saturday, I was a little worried about how she would do.  They talk about difficult things there and are very open about it.  She did great. She also attended the teen conference with her sisters and participated in reading in a small group about another country!  I was proud of all the girls for participating. 🙂

We have had many hard times over the years in working each of the girls through the adjustment phase, and helping them to heal.  Tears have been shed, there have been frustrations and sorrows,  but pre-planning, discussion to stay focused , role play and working hard to remember that it isn’t personal, it’s trauma, helps us to stay the course.

At the conference, Gracia Burhnam was asked what the hardest thing about being a hostage was. She said very clearly, “being faced with myself!”

I could completely IDENTIFY with that statement!  I have never been a hostage, and pray I will never be…. but  difficult , stressful situations bring out the ugliness that indwells us; our sin nature. It is still so very much alive, and we struggle to put sin to death.

So with that in mind:

I have found the VERY HARDEST thing about adoption is having to face my OWN shortcomings and MY OWN ugliness.  The hardest thing about adoption is looking inside and seeing that I have a lot of changes to make and am still dealing with the same ole’ sin that I once thought had been conquered.  Silly me… the boys had just grown up! LOL

Hidden sin, doesn’t hide when you are under stress.  It rears it’s ugly head and comes out for all to see.

THAT is the hardest thing.  AND IT IS THE VERY BEST THING…. because it brings about CHANGE! REAL CHANGE! Just as we want our children to trust us and rest in our love; GOD wants us to TRUST HIM and rest in HIS LOVE!

Our God is FAITHFUL!  He carries us when we are weak and teaches us to depend upon Him in the hardest of times.  Choosing to LOVE with the kind of agape’ love that God has for us, is a path that leads to healing, love, joy, peace and patience, kindness, goodness,  gentleness, faithfulness,  self control…. THESE are the fruits that become evident in our lives when we yield ourselves over to HIS WILL, to LOVE the little ones He has placed in our care.

God knew that we needed Sweetie 4 just as much as she needed us. 🙂

What  beauty is unfolding in each of us!  I am honored to be a part of it. 🙂

Challenges

There are many challenges that we face when bringing a new child into our home.  As the grieving process begins, it can look very much like anger, resentment, stubbornness, disobedience and more.
A wise parent will recognize it for what it is;  grief and fear.

There is a world of difference in how simple willfulness is handled verses grief.
That is why it is so important, as adoptive parents, to know and understand the difference!
And if you are unsure…. ERR on the side of MERCY and GRACE!

The child who is grieving and adjusting, must be given a voice.  They must be heard!
How they feel and how they perceive their family life is crucial for understanding how to help them through.

Our children need to know that they have value and that they are precious to us.

If your child has come from a trauma background…. do they KNOW how precious they are to you?  Ask them!  And TELL THEM they are precious!

They need to hear it over and over and over again!

Connect before you correct!    And then, correction must come with healing words of love
and instruction.

Connecting

Sweetie 4 has been seeking out connection with us in new ways.  She loves for us to rub her back and pretend that it is raining.  She prefers a hard, steady, quiet rain. 🙂

We used to read to the girls every night before bed.  Then, they started wanting to listen to music or story cd’s, and we stopped.

Last week she asked, “How come you don’t read stories to us anymore?”  I answered, “Because you all chose music and cd’s instead.”
The wheels were apparently turning. 🙂
Tonight, she asked, “Mama, will you read Anne of Green Gables to me before bed each night?”
Of course I will!
Sweetie’s 1 and 4 joined on our bed for the first chapter. 🙂
There are new pathways to sweetie 4’s heart being formed each day.  I can see it happening and I am so very excited about it. 🙂

She IS HOME! 🙂  And that is something to truly celebrate!

When Do Overs Become Natural

Originally written in August 2013

 

Last week, we started back to school for 2 hours each day, to continue to catch up.  Miss Sweetie 4 has done well with her schedule!

Summer time is very much non scheduled around here, but I do see a need for a skeleton schedule just to make things work better!

Something though that I have noticed is how well the girls are using their time.  They are being creative and not being lazy.

And it seems that this is a time for lessons learned to sink in too.  Just like play helps solidify things learned educationally, it must also be working for things learned emotionally!

I have seen some drastic improvements recently in a certain somebody’s attitude when she needs redirection!

Twice this week, she caught herself with a less than stellar attitude, turned it around herself, and came to get a hug and apologize!

WOW! This is huge!

So, today when I was on my treadmill, I called her to come to my room.  She came, I’m sure expecting me to give her a new chore to do…. but instead she was praised for doing so well.

“Sweetie, I want you to know how much I appreciate that you turned your attitude around and apologized! That really means a lot to mama!”

She was beaming!  I managed to give her a hug while walking 3.7 miles per hour, and didn’t fall down! 🙂

I also overheard her telling one of the sisters, “When you point there are three fingers pointing right back at you!” LOL  Yes, she is listening!

I think her do overs are becoming a very good habit! 🙂

Do-Overs With Teenagers

We have raised teenagers before, and we are raising teenagers once again.  Last time, it was with 4 sons, this time, with 4 daughters. 🙂

I wish we knew THEN, what we know NOW.   I think we would have had much more to draw from, even though at that time, we were doing our best.

For our daughters, they get parents who have gone through many books and loads of training. 🙂  BUT…. our daughters have come from very different backgrounds, and we are THANKFUL for that training. Without it, we would have been lost!  And sometimes we fall back on the old familiar!

I want to describe for you today what a “do over” looked like for 2 of our sweeties yesterday.

Sweetie 4 is NOT a morning person to say the least, but on Fridays, morning comes much earlier due to co-op, and then even earlier on the last Friday of each month because Sweetie 3 volunteers down town on that day and we have to take her there before we go to  Co-Op.  That means leaving the house by 6:15 a.m.
This last Friday was “That Friday”.  🙂
I was so proud of her for getting up, but what I forgot to do was plan out breakfast ahead of time, and lunches ahead of time.   So she had the questions:
1. What you like for breakfast?
2. What should I pack for your lunch?

Even after all that training, I make big mistakes.  🙂  This kind of question in the a.m. can bring out a stress reaction in our sweetie.
So of course, her reaction was, “I’m not eating”.
Now we know that she needs to have breakfast and lunch, and snacks on a regular basis, but her response was, “I don’t want anything mom!”

So what does mom do?

“Of course you have to eat! You need protein!”
To which she said, “I’m NOT eating!”

This was an opportunity for me to ask her to try again.  First off it was spoken with a raised tone, and not in a respectful way.
So, I responded, “Whoa sweetie, let’s try your answer again!”
“I’m sorry I threw so many questions to you all at one time.”
“So let me start over, and you can start over, this time with respect.”

Since we need to eat before we leave, because we all need protein, would you like scrambled eggs for breakfast, or healthy toast?

Her response was, “I’m not eating!”

“Sweetie, let’s try again.”
“Let me see your eyes.”
“You have two choices…. scrambled eggs, or healthy toast”, which would you like to eat?
“Healthy toast mom.”
“Good choice!”
and a high five.

We went on to pack lunch and get everything done in a respectful way.
Mom needs to remember to plan better!  And responding to Sweetie 4’s dysregulation right away helped her to change her tone quickly.

Fast forward to the afternoon:
Sweetie 1 came home from school rather stressed.  She is struggling in Alegbra.
Her first reaction to a question of “how did your test go” was defensive.
Things degenerated to her being snotty.
So, after rocking for  little bit, we tried to have a talk.  She was still not ready for a real talk, as she was ashamed she is not doing well.  I expressed that I could totally understand her frustration, as I did terrible my first time in Algebra.
This time, instead of just talking, we got out the “Mom Dad and Me” books and I wrote in that book how we love her and know she is trying, but we need to find a way to work even harder to succeed.  We want her to do well!
The Mom Dad and Me book served as a buffer so she could explain how she was feeling, and express herself.  This works really well with older kids who can write.

She actually did a “do over” in writing! 🙂
And then, we reconnected after with her verbally saying, “I’m really sorry mom, I was taking my frustration about math on you. It isn’t your fault.

I see these as successes!  Both moved in the right direction, towards success!

Hunger

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Many of our children have experienced HUNGER.  In fact, all 4 of our sweeties at some point experienced hunger, due to pure neglect.
Sweetie 4 has only been home just 2 and a half years.  During that time we have made sure that she has had ample food.  She is free to eat healthy foods whenever she needs them, and we make sure that she has plenty of “comfort foods” as well as nutritional meals several times a day.

Yet, today, she was asking about what was going to happen tomorrow.
“Do I need to bring food with me?”
She is going to her sister in law’s house while we have an appt.
“Are you SURE she is going to feed me?”
These are the questions of a child who has been deprived of her basic needs.
These are the questions of NEGLECT.
It breaks my heart to hear her fear.
But I am SO GLAD she is ASKING with her words, instead of “acting out” in her fear.

Tomorrow will be a key part to her healing.  She will find out, that her sister in law loves her enough to feed her!
She will know that her needs will be met.  And we will also send a few snacks with her. 🙂

Do You Go Into Your Child’s World?

Do You Go Into Your Child’s World?
originally written  December 2012

One of the best ways to understand a child, is to go into their world of imagination and experience and look at things from their perspective.
If we don’t see things how they perceive or view them, we will have difficulty trying to draw them out into a more accurate picture of reality.  Once you have gone into THEIR WORLD, YOU CAN PULL THEM OUT INTO A MORE HEALTHY PLACE….  A place of Innocence and Imagination!
It happens slowly for many children who are very, very hurt.
Connecting with them can be as simple as studying what their favorite subject is and then doing something together.  It could be taking them to the dog pound to pet and walk dogs, because they are worried about the “dogs” who have no owners.
This might give you a clue about something else they are too afraid to tell you about; being worried about children who have no parents.
After a light hearted time of walking dogs or petting them over asking about how they got there, you can then take opportunity on the way home, or while eating ice cream or going for a walk to transfer those feelings to caring about humans, and how many children do not have parents.

“I am so glad that you are a part of family now!  I am so glad you don’t have to be alone anymore!”

And then, you can help them pray for the children that we are all haunted by; left behind in orphanages and alone.

I remember working so hard to try and get into Sweetie one’s world.  She had imaginary friends, “Holly and Sister Nothing.”  I remember one of the first times it happened, she had been home just weeks and we were in the van.  She didn’t like the radio station so we turned it off.  I have learned that Sweetie one MUCH PREFERS calm and quiet to busy noise, and that is ok.
But I decided to turn it into a game for her.
“Well, what do you want to listen to?  And I pretended to turn the radio on and started singing.
She wanted it turned down, so I told her to turn it down.  She caught on, and turned my volume down, then up then down…. and then she switched channels.  We had so much fun being silly and switching channels and volume, I think I even tried my hand at Spanish.  She let her guarded little heart down and her childhood innocence and joy popped out.
That defining time gave me hope that there was a little child in there wanting to pop out and be vulnerable once again!

Don’t forget in all the craziness of parenting children who have trauma backgrounds to remember, they are children, and children love to imagine and play.  If they have forgotten how, or never learned, one of the best things you can do is teach them to play.

But when you teach them, gently introduce parameters. “Oh sweetie, we only speak nicely to our dollies.  We wouldn’t want anybody to say something like that to us! So we shouldn’t say it to our dollie. ”
Watching and listening is vital to catch windows into their little hearts, but do not let their hearts go unchecked.
If they are pretending, do not allow them to pretend to be a bad guy. “Good guys only! You live in a good guy zone!”
Don’t allow them to pretend to shoot a person EVER, and NEVER EVER in a video game!
“We only pretend to shoot at targets like tin cans.”
If they are playing with blocks and only know how to throw them; they may only throw them because they don’t know what to do with them!  Instead, teach them to build, stack, make a truck or create a house.
“What would you like your house to look like?”

FINGER PAINTS are GREAT for kids to use eyes and hands and design things. If you mess up, you just smear it over and start again!
We have parented all of our children in this way.

One thing that has brought  me such joy over the years has been watching my children play.
Each of our girls had to learn how to play and use their imaginations.  We started with games like Sweetie one and I did, and then gave them dollies and blocks.   We kept their toys basic and simple, and made sure they would cause them to have to use their imaginations.
I remember Sweetie one  had no idea how to take care of a baby doll. 🙁  She carried it by the foot and looked at me like “What do I do with this?”
That was my opportunity to play with her and teach her to play.
“What is your baby’s name?”  “Oh, I think she is hungry, can you feed her?”  “Watch her head, she is very tender and tiny!”  “I think she might be cold!” “Your baby is crying, you need to go and pick her up, we mustn’t let babies cry!”
And then we would PLAY together.  She picked up on playing pretty quickly.
Our newest daughter, Sweetie four,  who came home at 11, also did not know how to play.  I honestly believe she had been so traumatized, she forgot how.
Her sisters and I were able to draw her into a world of imaginary play and that healing play has been vital for her.
She was finally allowed to be a little girl.  She didn’t know who she was when she came. She was lost in a sea of grief, tragedy and confusion.
When she first came home, she was talking about vampires and music groups.
She had been told she was too old for the very first Easter Egg Hunt she had ever seen and was not allowed to participate.
We made SURE she had an Easter Egg Hunt, and let her know that even Mom likes finding Easter Eggs.

She makes everybody laugh with her play now. She is VERY GOOD at creating and being in the “Olden Days”, her favorite period of time.
“Hey, let’s pretend we are sisters and that we home school and we live in the country!”  LOL
But then, she adds, and everybody has to do school by oil lamp, or wear long dresses and get the eggs. She and Sweetie two  have made paper monies and they buy and sell at a market they created on the front porch.
All of them make movies now, and write scripts for them.  Sweetie two   has been working on a HUGE mystery for when her friends come over. They all have clues with ribbons tied around them for a big interactive game.
It is so important for our children, who have missed much of childhood to have the opportunity to BE CHILDREN before they enter the next stage of life.
It is a vital part of healing.
If the idea of Playing with your child exhausts you…. think of it as cheap therapy. 🙂  Eventually, once they learn to play, you can be more of an observer, and they wind up playing with each other.  And then you get to joyously sit back and watch the magic of childhood.

This is one of Mike’s favorite scenes from Martian Child.
Martian Child: You’re My Satellite

Heart-Rending…..

Today, I babysat my grandsons…… This is my youngest grand son.  Grand-Sweetie 11,  is 5 months old.IMG_0783 IMG_0771
I had him in his “front loader”….”back breaker”. 🙂
It is a carrier for babies.  Oh how I loved these things. When his daddy was a baby, he loved it. It was called a “Snugli”.
This little guy loves it too!
I couldn’t get a really smily picture, because of the angle, but I can tell you, he was engaged and smiling and cooing and looking deep and intently into my eyes.
I thought as I was walking with him…. Oh how WONDERFUL sweet grandson  that you are being raised by a mommy and daddy that love and adore you.

There has never been a moment in your sweet little life that you have not been cherished and adored!
When you cry, somebody is there! When you smile, somebody believes you are PRECIOUS!
And I know you will always know that you are precious!

Then, my heart pains for my sweet girls who did NOT have this basic level of love in their lives until they were much older.   Oh how it hurts to think that they must have cried and cried and nobody came.  NOBODY.
They were left soiled and wet and upset…. and then they stopped crying. 🙁

Here is a post from my personal blog when our grandson’s older brother was born. He is now 6.

RANDOM THOUGHTS


I was looking at some pictures of our new little grand-sweetie . Look at how he is engaging his mom at 3 weeks old! His mommy and daddy are his delight. He trusts them fully. He does not doubt that his mommy and daddy will take care of his every need. When he cries, they are there to comfort him. When he is hungry, they are there to feed him. When he is cold they keep him warm. He is cuddled and loved by them and he adores them.

Now, I think our our own dear little girlies. Left in beds. When they cried, nobody came, so they ceased crying. When they were hungry, nobody fed them, so they found other ways to satisfy their most basic needs. When they were cold, they shivered. When they wanted to talk to somebody, there was nobody, so they cooed to themselves, they comforted themselves, they rocked themselves.

To think, that every moment of every day for Sam’s first 5 weeks of life now, he has been cared for; I couldn’t imagine his needs not being met, even for 5 weeks. That would be terrible!
But, I know, our own dd’s needs were not met for YEARS. How can we fathom Years of neglect?
We nearly can’t. Our hearts would break.

What amazes me even more is that they are all blossoming into lovely young ladies, full of love and compassion for each other, for their own mommy and daddy, and for others outside of their immediate family.
I am amazed at their capacity to forgive, move on, grow and explore their new world. It IS a new world for them. To see little babies being cared for the way they never were, has got to bring a tinge of pain to them. After we see the babies, they ask if we can rock them. We do.
I cannot make up for their loss. I cannot change their loss. What I CAN do, is grieve for them, with them, and guide them to maturity. I cannot pretend that they were never neglected or that it hasn’t effected them in some way. It has profound impact. My prayer is that they will use it as a tool of understanding that most will never know, and not an implement of destruction to continue the cycle of neglect. I have a sneaking suspicion, that they will use it as a tool for the positive.

Thanks for hearing my heart break for them.
Now I will turn around and smile at them, and continue to love them.
They always have a way of mending my heart.

Uncovering The Fear Of Rejection

Our sweetie 4  has been home for two and a half years and has experienced tremendous personal healing.  There is however an area where she still has a great amount of fear.
She fears rejection, and therefore is very guarded when it comes to outside relationships.

The funny thing is, she is quite friendly and likeable!  When she lets her guard down and forgets her shame, she is right out there with everybody else, mingling, engaging , laughing and having a good time!
Then she remembers and she will say things like, “I don’t really have friends; just acquaintances.  This means “I am not obligated to invest in another person, and I don’t have to worry about them investing in me.”

This a.m. during our morning devotions, we were reading:

Colossians 3:12-17

English Standard Version (ESV)

1Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

As we began to discuss what it looks like to put on love, she announced, “But I don’t really like people very much, they can be mean.”
The night before she had attended our churches youth meeting with her daddy who was teaching.  He said she stayed up near the front close to where he was teaching.
When it was over, she participated with the other kids, even though he knew it was hard for her.  She was really trying.
Daddy asked her, “Was somebody mean to you last night?”
“No”, she answered.
We asked Sweetie 4, is it scary to make friends?
She had her head down and shook it yes.  Daddy put his hand to her chin and gently said, “Let me so those beautiful eyes”.  She looked up and he was able to talk directly to her fearful heart.
It is hard when we have been rejected isn’t it?  Another nod.
Are you afraid you are going to be rejected again?  Another nod.
It was then that we realized she was sitting up close near where he was teaching, to stay connected to him, because she was actually scared.
(Fear doesn’t always look like fear.  It can come out in many different ways, including anger, violence, solemness, and in this case, staying very close to daddy)

Daddy talked a little longer with her about  how wonderful it is to have people in our lives that we can call friends.  Sometimes friends DO hurt us, and we forgive them. Sometimes we hurt our friends, and they forgive us.
Sweetie 4 has had crushing experiences with trust in her past.  And we remind ourselves often that just 2/13ths of her life has been without chaos.  That means that 11/13ths was full of chaos, rejection and loss.

But God has designed us to have loving relationships with people not because we are perfect, or they are perfect, but because He is perfect.  And we can love each other in Christ, sharing and singing and encouraging each other!  Not everybody is going to reject us.  Some will.  And it is a sad thing.  But we can truly depend upon our heavenly Father to NEVER EVER reject us or give up on us!

Our sweetie listened to her daddy intently, more so than ever before in the last two and a half years.  She prayed that God would help her to not be afraid of making real friends.

This morning, Sweetie 4 stretched out those beautiful butterfly wings of healing . And just like a baby after developing new skills, gets exhausted, she  went into a very, deep and peaceful sleep.
We didn’t want to wake her. We just watched her as she slept.
(something all parents love to do) 🙂

Tomorrow she will be going to Co-Op and she is talking about it with an excited tone.
Tomorrow she will fly.

Helping Older Kid’s Achieve, When They Are Emotionally Younger

Helping Older Kid’s Achieve, When They Are Emotionally Younger

 originally written April 2012

I remember when the boys were little, I had charts for them where they would get stars for completing a responsibility or for good behavior.   They would look at the picture chart and be able to understand what they were supposed to do.  It was VERY helpful for me, because that way I wasn’t having to say, “brush your teeth” or “comb your hair” or “pick up toys”…etc.

It is more complicated with children who have  trauma, or are diagnosed with RAD or PTSD.  And it is way more complicated when they are so very young is some areas and older in other areas.
Trying to be sensitive to emotional needs, respecting their age, yet needing them to brush teeth is tricky ground to walk upon. 🙂

The immature child gives up on things very easily when they become frustrated. The mature child will push through a difficulty and learn from it.  Our goal is to bring the immature to maturity, without overwhelming.

We have baby chickens now.  Sweeties 2 and 4 are sharing the responsibility of keeping the babies, fed, warm and clean.  There is responsibility involved each day, but it is not hard.  It just consumes a bit of time and effort.  They did a pretty good job the first week. The second week went by well, but we are into the 3rd week we ran into a problem.
One of the baby chicks died due to getting wet and cold. 🙁    There needs to be GREAT CARE taken to not get the area wet when putting in water.  I was showing both girls how to make sure no water would effect the bedding. One listened, one got angry.  And then and Miss Sweetie 4 decided she was “quitting chickens”!

“No, maam. You may not ‘quit chickens’. Those babies depend upon you for their lives! Mama does not give up on her children and you cannot give up on your babies!” 🙂 This was the same day that she was having trouble getting dressed, hair combed and putting dirty clothing in the laundry.  She was overwhelmed….. WHY?  Because that day, she was really struggling, and was more 3 years old than 12.  I was treating her as a 12 year old.  She was giving me clues that I was ignoring, such as baby talk….. duh…. I need to pay better attention!

I went in and talked to Mike about it, and we both agreed.  Three it is! 🙂 So, I did exactly what I would do with a 3 year old.  I switched things over to make her feel less overwhelmed.  I helped her along and explained things to her like I would have if she was 3.

Guess what?  The anger disappeared, she was willing to try to do things differently and she mourned the loss of the baby chick.  She had a little funeral for it with Sweetie 2. 🙂

I decided to make a small chart for her with some simple responsibilities and a box to check next to them.  Oh the giddiness of being able to check that box!

For a few days now, she checks off each item required. (these are things that have ALWAYS been required, but many times I have had to walk her through each one verbally )

1. Brush tangles out of hair (not just brush hair, but all tangles)
2. Eat breakfast
3. Get dressed
4. Put dirty clothes in laundry ( not in closet or under bed)
5. Brush and floss teeth  (with toothpaste)
6. feed chickens   (carefully)

So, even though many 12 year olds would probably balk at a “chart” as being babyish.  Miss Sweetie 4 LOVES the chart.  She has been happy to follow it and check it off.
And she is back to loving taking care of the chickens.

I have not assigned a “reward” with this chart. It is a simple guide for her. I think a reward would backfire.  For our little boys, after 100 stars on their chart, they would get a little prize.  For her, we have a new chart each day and the simple check mark is suitable.

It is amazing how such a simple thing can make such a big difference.  One of the biggest things for me, is that I don’t feel like I am hovering over making each thing get done.  She goes to her chart and sees what is next and just does it.  We are going on 4 days now, and it is working well!

The Conditioning Of The Heart

The Conditioning of the Heart

 originally written December 2010

My heart just aches for children who suffer.  Sometimes it is just too much to think about and so I distract myself….. but it always comes back to the fogotten, the outcast, the downcast, the unwanted, abused, the neglected……

As parents, especially those of us living in Countries where we have what we need, where we have healthy families, where we have access to food and water and heat and shelter and clothing…. we think in our simple minds that providing these things will just magically transform a child from outcast to accepted.

But we forget, that many of our children are “systematically rejected” and it begins from day 1 on planet earth.  They take onto their hearts the pattern that they are unworthy, unlovable, unwanted and not even worthy to “eat” with the ones who are.

As I read Keri’s blog post today, my heart just sunk as she wrote that the children from the orphanage go to the same school as the children in families.  But the orphaned children are not allowed to go into the lunch room. The school does not feed them because there are no funds to pay for their lunches. They have to wait in the hallways, while the children from non orphaned families get to eat and chat and enjoy a hot lunch. When they return to the orphanage after 3:00, they can get food.  And most likely, it isn’t what the other kids got to eat. 🙁

What do you think this does to a child?  I remember when we were in Ukraine, the children did not go to school at the local school, but were schooled in the orphanage.  The only problem is, many of the teachers do not teach. The children do not get a real education and are sometimes left to just sit.
Our translator knew a boy who was brilliant. She gave him a history text book so that he could study and the teacher actually took it away from him!  The translator brought him another one to replace it and put his name in it.  She didn’t know if they let him keep it or not.

So, then, here we come to the rescue! Our kids hear, “I love you! I want you! You are valuable!  And they don’t believe it. Not only do they NOT believe it, they refuse it! It is too foreign to them. And sometimes they set out to PROVE that it isn’t true.  Their reality is and has been their entire life that they have no value, no voice, no love.

When they begin to experience for the first time the loving touch of a mother or father, it scares them to death.  They secretly like it, but they are terrified of it at the same time.  It is like climbing to the top of a pole and jumping off.  It means taking your heart once again and making it vulnerable once again.
And taking the chance, that once again, their heart will be crushed to pieces, and they fear that if it is, they just might curl up and die.  It is a very fearful, terrifying thing. And so as families we begin to get frustrated with this and take them to get “fixed”…. the truth is, nothing is wrong with them. They are reacting NORMALLY to something that is ABNORMAL.  The big problem is, their NORMAL is the ABNORMAL and Their ABNORMAL SHOULD be the NORMAL…. so the long process begins to change their minds.
Many families who adopt, don’t understand all these dynamics. After all, they just have so much to share and to give. They are just wanting to have a family, or just wanting to parent more children, or to help a child without a home.  And every time they try, their efforts are thwarted and rejected and they feel hurt.
HOW the healthy family responds to this, can make every difference in the world, for the outcome of these precious children.

In the same way you would not expect a person who was repeatedly and systematically raped to just “get over it” and enjoy life now that everything is wonderful….. you cannot expect a child who has had their heart repeatedly violated to do the same.  It is a long, untangling process.

ALSO, in the same way you would not expect a rape victim to have to be forced to talk about their experience over and over and recall every detail and tell how they felt,  we should NEVER, EVER push our children into forced sessions of recalling every detail, how they felt, discussing all their hurts and wounds, so they can learn to fit into our society.

I feel so strongly about this!

They will talk when they are ready. They will share when they feel safe.  Repeatedly violating their heart will not help but hinder attachment.  They must be respected, and their privacy must be respected.
The very best counselor is a mother or father that is intune with their child.  The next best counselor is the one who counsels mom and dad and gives THEM ideas on how to help their child.
But even with all of that, you cannot force healing.  You can be the guiding light, that lights the pathway to a healthy and loving life, but you cannot force it.
TRUE LOVE HOPES….. and NEVER EVER EVER EVER gives up.  True love is patient and kind.
True LOVE is a verb, an action, a continuous wave that will eventually break into the heart and wash it over with such a purity, that it cannot be resisted any longer.

(photo from scene in Martian Child)

I know a very healthy person who had a very traumatic past. She was unable to share it with anybody until nearly her adulthood. It was too scary.  She couldn’t imagine being forced to do such a thing and said that it would have made her VERY angry to have been forced.  But, as she was loved unconditionally, and her relationships began to solidify, she could see that she had some things she NEEDED to get off of her chest, and she chose a trusted friend.  That friend  wisely helped her and kept her confidence.  Her total healing was an amazing thing to witness. And today, she is a whole person. These things cannot be rushed.  They will happen when the right time comes.
Because TRUE LOVE, NEVER FAILS…. and that means Never, EVER EVER EVER EVER.

And then, there is the sealing glue to all of life. The Lord.  HE is the healer of our hearts. He is the true lover of our souls. His plan of forgiveness in spite of great difficulty brings us to a place where HE changes and transforms us from the inside out.
Oh how I pray that these children who sit in the halls of a school that rejects their very existence will someday have that heart washing joy overcome them, and that they will know, TRULY KNOW, whether they are adopted or not, whether they leave their surroundings or not, that they are valued and loved by a Heavenly Father who knows their hurts and will Right EVERY Wrong, on a great and wonderful day that is to come.

Parenting Ahead

Parenting AHEAD

 (originally written  February 2012

(Both of my angels were adopted because of disruption)

I posted earlier about Children not being adults here.  I wanted to follow up with a few thoughts on Parental Leadership.
Our children, especially our children who have come home at older ages, have no understanding of leadership, or their need for parents.  Yes, they all want them, but they really do not know what they are. I love the Wendy description  of what a mother is:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFWc6ZwxXXI
For the child who has never had that tender hand, the whisper that bids you goodnight, the very thing they desire, can really frighten them.
Our children need our true leadership, through tender and gentle words of wisdom.  Do we catch ourselves instead yelling in the other room, “NO MORE TALKING! I MEAN IT!”   I did that once and one of the girls said back, “Anybody got a peanut?”  LOL…
I was not taking leadership on that night. Instead, I was being lazy.

Leadership does not mean being a controlling dictator, it means leading by example, and parenting AHEAD of the children so they can follow, NOT following behind, and complaining loudly the whole way as you can clean up the destruction from the path they made.

Tenderly guiding BEFORE the fact leads to SUCCESS!  “Before we do our kitchen chore, I want you to know what is expected. ” Stick TO THAT expectation!  Don’t make it too far out of reach, as in a goal they cannot keep, like I want the kitchen spick and span in 30 minutes and they are 5 years old.  Always aim for them to succeed!
Start with simple….
“I need you to fill this bag with all the kitchen trash!”  THEN. “Can you gather the silverware and put it in the sink for me?”  THANK YOU!  If you see them shrink back, then, tenderly helping… “Here, let me help you with that.” If they are not ready, take them to the rocking chair and soothe them, then talk about what you are going to do when they are calm, and then try again. We had to do this with Sweetie 1 and Sweetie 4 many times.  And sing a song while you do it; it calms little nerves. 🙂

DO NOT GIVE UP until you are successful!
I do believe thinking back on it, the first time Miss Sweetie 4 had kitchen duty, it took several trips to the rocking chair, several times of me having to show her how to load the dishwasher and several little fits on her part before she finally listened. It seemed like  hours! But, she succeeded and the fits didn’t reoccur.
She learned that mama was consistent and that she was safe.  When we finished, I praised her efforts and then we rocked.

During that calm rocking time I discipled her.  I gently reminded her that all that stalling and whining and melt down time, resulted in her not having  the time she needed to play….(this is a natural consequence) Making  sure she understood,  she was also reassured that we were confident she would do MUCH better next time.  She agreed.  She also apologized and I forgave her. (This is not done in a condemning or critical tone, but a soft engaging tone of love)

When you go into the store, engage them in helping putting the cans in the cart. Get them to help you find the right products from your list if they are older. Or even organize the basket by food groups.  The next time, engage them in helping pick out the cereal of choice, giving them a voice, but make the behavior requirements the same.  Double engagement really helps to distract.  If you keep them busy, they forget about disobeying.  Stay 3 steps ahead.    If you see them headed for meltdown, divert, abort the mission.  Some things can be done at a later time! This way, you are not reacting but being 3 steps ahead!  When you get into the car, PRAISE THEIR EFFORTS ANYWAY (the ones they made)
Parenting AHEAD, will help keep you from full blown issues both at home and out in public.

( For those of you with children who will recoil at praise, or will reject it and try to prove they don’t deserve it,  Praise them ANYWAY!  PLAN ON FALLOUT.. and be prepared for the rocking chair.)

It won’t be long before it is normal to behave properly with little setbacks.   When those setbacks occur. DO NOT fall back on lazy parenting styles of warning, accusation, anger, parental tantrums etc.   ( the very things we accuse them of) LOL

  Reassure your child that they can be successful next time.This will make your child feel SECURE.
They will know that you are not wavering in their chaos, but you are the rock they need to depend upon. There is nothing more scary to a traumatized child,  than a parent who is out of control.
But staying even keeled and tenderly leading them will help them begin to see that you have faith that THEY CAN HEAL, and that you are proud of their efforts, no matter how tiny the step.  Our hurt children NEED TO KNOW that we have even a smidge of FAITH IN THEM, so they can learn to trust us. If they think we view them as hopelessly flawed, hopelessly hurt and that they just need to be fixed, this will do nothing but cause them self doubt, shame and continual grief.

Speaking TRUTH into our kids is parenting ahead.   “I know you are kind” instead of “you are mean”, “I know you are honest” instead of you are a liar, “I know you are respectful” instead of you are disrespectful, even if you have to say, “Deep down in your heart, I KNOW this to be true!” or “Inside you there is an HONEST girl just waiting to come out!” These are words of truth and HOPE, and just like in the orphanages, where all the kids long and HOPE for a mother and father; they can cling to the HOPE that someday they will be whole and honest and loving and kind and respectful and  secure.
Parenting Ahead, GIVES them that hope.  And it gives US that hope too. 🙂

Children Are Not Little Adults

Children are NOT Little Adults

(originally written  February 2012
 

Thank you Mike for helping to write this. 🙂

Children are NOT little Adults. They do not think like adults.  They do not reason like adults. And many times, I think WE adults, interpret their behaviors and actions, as if we were dealing with other adults.
Children do not fully comprehend the ramifications of the things they say or do at any given time. They just DON’T think that far ahead!
Children live life in the moment.  Some are more spontaneous than others, and may do things that surprise us, or cause us personal pain.

  Love believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things….

If a child is having difficult behaviors, it is important to know that they are not doing this against US.  And many times, they honestly do not know the WHY of their behavior. It just is.
If we look at everything through the lens  of them trying to control us or get at us then how in the WORLD will healing take place; ESPECIALLY if they pick up on our  own underlying feelings of anger and suppressed rage?.
I was listening to Eric Guy, who travels with Heather Forbes and participates in her advanced Training, as well as having his own training camps.  In one of his videos, he talked about  a child who can pick up on a parents emotional state.  He was sooooo RIGHT….
If a parent  is controlling themselves on the Outside, but inside burning with concealed anger and rage, the child picks up on this very easily. And thus, the cycle continues. They will react to the parents underlying anger.

I remember 2 of our boys climbing on the school roof as children.  When I found out, it was during prayer time, when one of them thanked the Lord that they made it up and back down safely!  LOL
It never dawned upon me that my boys were anything but curious.  I wonder, had they been adopted, would their actions have been determined to be manipulative? Surely they knew better! During the childhoods of my sons, we had our variety pack of issues to deal with, as all parents do…. but if they had been adopted, would their parents have seen their behaviors differently? Would they have interpreted everything through the lens of manipulation?

I distinctly remember my oldest son trying to pull a fast one during nap time.  “Mama, THANK YOU for taking good care of me. You are a good mama!”  I said, why thank you sweetie!  He then said, “Can I get up now?”  My answer was, “No…. since I am such a good mama, I need to make sure you get your rest!”
BUSTED….He was definitely trying to pull one over on mom…. but I didn’t see it as a deep seeded problem with eternal ramifications.  I saw it as a little boy who didn’t want a nap, and was trying to get out of it.
Honestly, it was never given a second thought.   The only thing I really thought was that he was a rather clever fellow at 5.  Had he been adopted, would somebody have seen his antics of some sort of deep seeded manipulation?

When our 3rd son had a really hard time with potty training,  he was not trying to control me.  But oh, there were those who thought so. They couldn’t have been MORE WRONG! I am SO GLAD WE  DID NOT LISTEN TO THEM!  It could have been disastrous, and caused him and our relationship permanent harm.
When one of our daughters peed her bed and then changed into clean clothes and hid her wet ones,  it was NOT her trying to control me. But OH there were those who thought she was!   And you know what?  EVEN IF SHE WAS, she couldn’t, because my only reaction was, “Oh so sorry you peed, let’s get a bath, so you can smell all pretty again.”  And with the clothing? “We don’t want stinky clothes, can you help me take these to the laundry?” The peeing stopped after several months. The hiding was not manipulation, it was shame.
Did it stop because she matured more?  Or did it stop because she didn’t get a rise out of me?  Some would say the latter. I CHOOSE TO BELIEVE the first choice. She matured in her security and love and realized she had no need for shame anymore.

I remember as a child, about 8 or 9 years old, things were difficult.   I began to wet at school during about a 2 week period.  There it was, suddenly upon me! I couldn’t catch it at all. And I was humiliated!  My teacher, never scolded me. Unfortunately, I had to remain in wet clothing all day.  I am soooo GLAD they did not call my home. Had they asked me, I would not have understood what to say.  You know why? I was a CHILD reacting to stress.  I understand NOW, exactly what was going on.  But back then, as a child, all I knew was that I couldn’t get to the bathroom.  What if somebody decided that I was trying to be controlling or manipulative or trying to get attention?  It would have been devastating.  It has taken all these years for me to even be able to share this… and here I am sharing it publically. :/

The word manipulation has such a negative connotation. It is associated with no conscience, or a person who is sociopathic.    These things cannot be concluded about children who have not fully developed in personality; especially hurt children.  I would argue they have never had opportunity to develop. Many of them continue to live with basic survival skills, not family life  skills, and it is sad that they are labeled before they even begin to heal.

And then that label colors everything they do. Every SINGLE thing!  They are judged. They can’t do right if they tried, because it would be deemed “manipulation”.  If they say they are sorry… manipulation.  If they are kind… manipulation.  If they don’t know the answer, manipulation. If they are nice to others, manipulation.  If they are quiet… manipulation…. How frustrating!

Our kids who have come to us after trauma, are  hurt, and we cannot “hurry them along” for our own convenience and schedule.  Just because we think they should be farther along in healing than they are, does not give us permission to accuse them of manipulation.
When we come to Christ, and are new baby believers, He does not bludgeon us with our sin all at once!
We are forgiven and clean, but oh those habits that stay! Slowly and carefully, the Holy Spirit works on our hearts and we begin to blossom and grow spiritually.  Changes take place gently and over time, and sometimes the Lord reveals things to us years later….. that it is time to change something new.  If we were to see ourselves and our true natures all at once, the burden would crush us.
Sometimes, I think that is what we try to do to our children, with the best of intentions. But we crush them.

 
I remember when Sweetie 1 was first home, it took years for some of her old behaviors to go away. YEARS.    Today, 8 years later, she is a happy, healthy teenager.
 I DO NOT BELIEVE IN FAKE IT UNTIL YOU MAKE IT…..
Kids KNOW fake!
I BELIEVE IN “LOVE IS A CHOICE, A VERB, AN ACTION”, And THAT can make a HUGE difference.   Choosing to LOVE somebody unconditionally is VERY REAL.

I know that one time, I was hurt by something one of the girls did. I did not say anything , as I knew it wasn’t against ME, but at the same time, I was upset, and  I held back.  I was silent.  Oh BOY!  Did this child ever pick up on that. She KNEW I was upset and it knocked her off kilter. She instantly began to act out as soon as she knew that I was not fully in tune with her. 
WHY?  Because she could not handle the thought of possibly not being loved. She could not handle that I might be angry with her.  She could not handle the thought of rejection.  Even though I had not rejected her, or that I wasn’t really angry with her, or that I stopped loving her…. my hurt, spoke volumes that were interpreted through a wounded spirit. It was too much for her little fragile heart to handle. I immediately admitted to her how I felt and we had a talk…I asked her forgiveness, and she asked mine,  and then, between the two of us, things were MUCH better.

PARENTS! There is NO ROOM for SELF, or taking offense, when it comes to our children.  God did NOT hold back on Us!  While Christ was DYING on the Cross, He said to the Father, “Forgive them for they know not what they do!”

Yes, we are not God, we are HUMAN… BUT we have Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, to depend upon when we fail.  He gives us strength and guidance and Unconditional Love to walk the path , walk the walk and help our children to heal.

I am in NO WAY suggesting that we just tolerate unacceptable behaviors. Disciplining (discipling) our children to obey, be respectful, and live a happy and healthy life is our responsibility as parents.    We can unconditionally love our children, and also let them know their behaviors are wrong. Timing is EVERYTHING.   Talking to them about ways to succeed and not accusing them of manipulation, thereby putting them on the defense, is so very important in being successful.
It is so important not to assume the worst, but hope the best.

And it is SO important to remember that our children are CHILDREN and need to be loved and understood as CHILDREN.
I came across a verse this morning during family devotions. It was in Exodus chapter 34. In verse 6, the Lord passed before Moses and declared, “The Lord, the Lord , a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and ABOUNDING in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and children’s children to the thirds and fourth generation.

Yes, our God is merciful and FULL of love and forgiveness…. and we should be the same. 🙂

Some of our children have come from families where sin has reigned rampant for generations, and our children have suffered the results of that unrepentant sin.  But I am so happy to say, that Jesus Christ is the almighty CHAIN BREAKER…. He is in the business of putting lives back together, healing the broken hearted and setting the sinner free.
There is scripture in the New Testament that says “It is your kindness that leads us to repentance Oh Lord.”
Our kindness to our children, will lead them to listen and turn from what they are doing in time, breaking the chains of bad habits, and fear, so they can live lives to the fullest.

Mom Dad And Me Books Parts 1 and 2

Mom, Dad and Me Books

originally written in 2011

The other day I was thinking about what an important job it is to communicate with my girls.  Sometimes they don’t ask things, because they don’t want somebody else to hear their question, or they are too shy.
I remember longing to talk with somebody when I was a young teen. There is such a need at that age to connect, to feel like you aren’t alone, to be reassured!  I was such a gawkly, awkward kid at this age. I wasn’t a beautiful girl…. I was taller than all the boys, skinny, and insecure. I had thoughts that were deep and grown up, and thoughts that were rather childish….

All weekend I was trying to figure out another avenue to communicate.  We take the girls out alone  1 time each month, and that is really fun! Sometimes they go alone to the grocery store, and that is fun too….but sometimes they need more.
So, I came up with a Diary of sorts. It is a 3 way diary between Mom, Dad and each of our girls.
I purchased them each a theme book, on sale for 40 cents! (score!)

The idea is that they will write an entry each day. It doesn’t have to be a question; maybe a compliment or a complaint. It could even be a poem or a serious pondering.  And then, mom and dad will write something back.

I am really looking forward to them communicating freely with both of us.  They already do for the most part, but I can tell there are times they want to say something and hold back.  I hope this will be an avenue to help them get around their shyness or awkwardness.

Today, each of my girls thoughtfully wrote something in their book, and placed them on my desk to read for later.
It is so precious to see their words. It was clear on the very first day that this is going to be a GOOD thing! 🙂
And now, I need to go and ponder one of the questions! LOL

Mom Dad and Me Books: Updated

originally written in March 2012

We have consistently used our books at least on a weekly basis, sometimes daily.  It is funny how you can get into a routine and each of our girls is different how they use them.
We have talked about delicate girl things, or we have even told jokes to each other.  But the great thing is, everybody is using them, and everybody seems to like them. 🙂

If you haven’t tried something like this, I encourage you to  do it.  Writing encouraging words to your children can never be wrong. They can even go back and read your kind words again and again.
If they are sad, and not ready to talk, sometimes they are ready to write.  If they are embarrassed, they will write, if they are happy, they will write.

Spelling does not matter in these books and it is not corrected.    If things become dormant, all it takes is mom or dad writing a word of encouragement, and the writing begins once again.

If anybody started to use the idea, how has it gone?  Has it made a difference?

FEAR and RELATIONSHIP

Fear and Relationship

( originally written November 2012)

For those of you who have children who came to you with MULTIPLE, OVERSTUFFED Trauma bags, I pray this post can bring you hope.

I have written much over the years about Trauma and FEAR and how our children, because of literally living day in and day out in a state of trauma,  their brains have learned to interpret trauma as normal every day life, and a life that is not full of trauma,  as something to be TERRIBLY feared.
The truth is that FEAR is their familiar, and in a strange way, something they embrace.  Why? Because they know nothing different, and they are too afraid of the change.

So, if you are living with a child who’s behaviors are over the top FEAR…. which can come out in many ways, INCLUDING: defiance, control, anger, frustration, hyperactive behaviors, hypervigilance, withdrawl, disassociation, depression, anxiety, PTSD, RAD, etc.  there is an answer.
There IS healing, but it will take a HUGE commitment to learning how to reach them AND it will take TIME.

Just as much as our kids need to change behaviors, WE DO TOO!.   I wrote a post earlier about “When We Need to Change“, this is a part 2 for that post. 🙂

I think that the very hardest things for we parents to get, is that when what LOOKS LIKE outright rebellion and defiance are staring us in the face, what we are REALLY facing is a STRONG reaction to FEAR. 
Many MANY times our kids may not recognize it themselves, because THEY don’t know anything BUT fear.  It is, and has been a HUGE part of their lives. It is that strong survival instinct that has become their accomplice in life.  I won’t call it their friend, but it is certainly their familiar companion.
I use the word accomplice, because an accomplice is NOT a good person to be with.  FEAR, CAN be a healthy thing in appropriate situations, but for our children who have suffered so much, it is an accomplice for them, an albatross about their necks, holding them in a prison of torment and despair, refusing to let them go.

We have some of the BRAVEST of children. 🙂   I say this very seriously.  It is a BRAVE and STRONG child that learns to overcome.  And it does NOT happen overnight.  IN FACT, it cannot happen, until our children take the plunge of TRUSTING us.  That bridge of trust is a FEARFUL bridge to cross.  Imagine yourself walking over  a shaky bridge with  pieces missing, over a burning hot fire down below, where one misstep will cost you your very life.  Imagine that you are so terrified that just trying to make that step forward is so daunting, that every fiber of your being holds back.
That is what it is like for some of our children.

Now, imagine yourself, as a parent on the other side of that bridge.  Are you the parent holding your hands out, encouraging your child to come and trust you with warmness and acceptance?  Or are you the parent who is standing on the other side saying, “Why Don’t You Just Get Over Here?  What Is Wrong With You?  Hasn’t It Been Long Enough? Why Don’t You TRUST US???”

Our children will not get there on their own.  They NEED us to disarm that fear mechanism and take the plunge of trust.  But WE MUST be that instrument they can TRUST!

This brings me to the Amygdala.  This is the part of the brain that processes emotion.  There is no logic here, just interpretation of data with emotion.  There is no reasoning here.  And for kids with TRAUMA backgrounds, it is MESSED up! It takes over and causes the thinking part of the brain to not be able to reason.  It interprets the unknown with fear and our children will go into a fight or flight mode, or they will regress into themselves and shut us out.
Our children’s brains became wired this way in order to survive.  It took time for this connection to take place…..circumventing the reasoning part of the brain,  but the GOOD NEWS IS, IT CAN BE CHANGED! It is NOT a forever thing, if we can learn to reach our children.

I received a letter from a reader not too long ago who’s new son had severe RAD.  She said nobody in their state would even take him for fostering,  and now, just 6 months later, he is connecting to them.  She was SOOO HAPPY! And I am thrilled for her. 🙂

Miss Sweetie 4,  is another one who continues to make huge steps of progress in adjustment and trust.
I too have learned myself, to REMEMBER what I am truly dealing with, if FEAR shows itself.
It is awesome to see how quickly something can be resolved that would have taken HOURS or days just over a year ago!

Our children all were functioning in FEAR mode when we first brought them home, and FEAR IS NOT LOGICAL! That is why LOGIC does not work.  There is no reasoning in fear.  FEAR is a raw emotion, not based upon logic.
I believe one of the reasons that I understand how paralyzing fear is, is that as a child, I was TERRIBLY fearful.
I was so full of fear, (much of which nobody knew, because I chose not to share it) that it was paralyzing. I was the child who withdrew and shut down.  I turned my fear of a person, into an unreasonable fear of the dark, and being alone. It  carried into my adult life until 2 of my boys were already born.   I had to learn to identify why it was there, and conquer it!  It was HARD!

I know there are those that do not believe that defiance  or control is a fear mechanism.  They don’t believe that a child who is disrespectful is fearful.  I cannot do anything about that but I DO know that as a child I felt RAGE and DEFIANCE.  I didn’t act out on it, but it was there, brewing.
I almost feel like the child who actually expresses how they feel, is a little healthier and stronger!

I continue to write about our very real experiences with TRAUMA and how we have been able to help our children overcome, in hopes that it may be of help to somebody out there who is really struggling.  In the process of understanding my own children,  I personally have been able to unpack many more of my own personal traumas of the past, and lay them to rest. 🙂

Now back to the amygdala.  Did you know that it can be REWIRED to CALM down and not over react!  It CAN!  A  long time ago I used the term “rebooting”, but a counselor friend of mine said, rebooting gives the idea of something happening right away, like flipping a switch.  He said “rewiring”, is more like it.  That gives the concept of time.  Because it DOES take time.

We REWIRE the amygdala and give our children something new to hang onto.  Instead of FEAR, we offer them TRUST.  We offer them TRUE LOVE, which is an action on our part.  And the result of this rewiring, will be a mutual, REASONING,trusting, relationship. The defiance and rebellion will begin to disappear and a true relationship based upon mutual respect and affection will begin to take shape.

RELATIONSHIP is of UTMOST importance.  If you have no relationship, you will have no trust.
It must be NURTURED and PROTECTED….  Things that destroy relationships with our children, OR PREVENT THEM FROM FORMING IN THE FIRST PLACE are judgmentalism, harshness, unfair treatment, being controlling, anger, condemnation, shortness, over reacting,  bitterness, self pity, non acceptance.  Parents, these behaviors need to be FAR from us.  Yes, I’m talking about US, not our children.   HOW will they learn to trust us or WANT to trust us, if we give them nothing to hold onto for safety.

ACTIONS THAT BUILD RELATIONSHIP AND TRUST ARE:
Love, understanding, patience, kindness, gentleness, acceptance, Peacefulness, honesty, affection, laughter, humor, conversation, LISTENING, taking interest….

I am so glad that when we come to Christ, He accepts us with open arms of Love.  There is no condemnation for those in Christ.   I cannot imagine that GOD would save the sinner and then turn around and condemn him when he fails.  Instead, he love us, patiently guides us and corrects us in full acceptance with GREAT mercy and GRACE….. and yes, it is UNDESERVED.

God calls us onto a journey in our lives and causes us to grow in our Spirits over time.  He doesn’t expect a baby in Christ to suddenly stand before a pulpit and parse verbs in Hebrew and Greek!
Sometimes, I think that however is how we treat our newly adopted children.
They have NO IDEA what a family is, how it operates, how to interpret all the rules and nuances that each family has, let alone understand in many cases the new language they have had to learn!
And if there is continued tension, there is also no relationship.
We need to remove the LOG from our own eye before we try to remove the speck from our children’s eye so that a true relationship can begin!

We need to be a rope of SAFETY in our OWN behavior,  so they can DARE to TRUST.  By   going over and over and over and over again the process of offering LOVE and TRUST and NOT a reason to fear, …. Through that repeat process, the brain will be rewired.
And that is SO SATISFYING! It makes me just so excited!  Especially when I get encouraging  letters of success. 🙂

Baby steps….. in the beginning and then….. a wonderful bouquet of wonder!
Our children are complex blossoms waiting to be discovered.

An Object Lesson on Unkind Words

An Object Lesson on Unkind Words

(originally written in December 2011)

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This a.m.  two of the girlies were doing their lessons close to the wood stove to keep warm.  They were playing “old fashioned”….
I over heard one say to the other…. “I think Sister 2 did it!”  Sister 2 overheard it, and said, “I did what?”  And then there was silence.  UGH

Of course Sister 2 was a bit upset being accused of something she didn’t even know about.  To get school back on track I asked what was going on.  It turns out, it was some silly thing about a necklace that had nothing to do with Sister 2.
I had read about an object lesson on gossip and bullying earlier this a.m. and thought! Ah HA! What a perfect time to use it!

So I had each of my girls get a piece of paper out.  They were to wad it up and stomp on  it and get it as wadded and stomped on as possible.  Then I had them unwrinkle the paper.  I told them that this represents another person’s heart, and when we say things about them, or use unkind words towards them and hurt their feelings, it causes damage to the other person.
So they had to apologize to the paper for wadding it up, and I, (the voice of the paper) forgave them….:)

And then, I said, “But look! The paper is still all wrinkly, even though it has forgiven you!  And this is why we must be VERY Careful with our words… Somebody will forgive, but the scars and wounds of unkindness can linger in our hearts for the rest of our lives!

And as soon as the object lesson was over…. one little girl went over to Sweetie 2 and said very sincerely, ” I’m really sorry! Will you forgive me?”  And she did. 🙂

Issues With the Older Adopted Child

Issues With The Older Adopted Child

(originally written in October 2011)

There is much going on in the news about adoption, about older adopted children, about the possibilities of RAD, (Reactive Attachment Disorder) PTSD ,(Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and FAS. (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) The questions have been asked, if  those children can have successful adoptions.

I would like to explain what I  believe happens to children when they have abuse and neglect or alcohol exposure, and WHY I feel, “traditional” parenting, in these cases many times does not work, or why I believe it could cause delay in attachment and healing, and unnecessary hardship on all.

Because of trauma…. our children can be all over the age spectrum. They may be 11 in their body, but 3 emotionally.  When parenting them, you really have to understand if they are 3, that is where you parent them.  It is one of the hardest concepts to grasp, because you don’t WANT them to be 3. You want to reason with them like an 11 year old…
What we have found, is if you reach them where they are… those gaps will fill in and your child will no longer be fragmented.

In my own children’s cases, they all have vastly different backgrounds and experiences, the one thing that we have found that DOES work, is a consistent, unconditionally loving, stable, environment, where they were allowed to go through the grief process and heal.

Yes, our children grieved.  When they realized that their normal, all those years wasn’t really normal, they finally allowed themselves to grieve.  If we can see the different stages our kids go through clearly, we will recognize grief.

There is NO way to determine how a child will react to a new family. If that could be predicted, there would be a whole lot of “do it this way” books out there.
Instead, our children come home with a very heavy suitcase of emotional baggage…. (think piles of Christmas Lights all wadded up and needing untangling)  and no instruction manual.
I remember Sweetie 4 saying, “Every family says I am in a forever family.”….. So we dropped that phrase from our vocabulary.

Our children come,  having lived, apart from us in a totally separate life. They have celebrated holidays, or not, in other countries and with different traditions. They have good memories and bad memories.  And we, before we got them, were used to how WE did things….
They cried themselves to sleep more times than not, and quivered with fear at the thought of being harmed in the middle of the night.
Sometimes they were tied down in their beds, and nobody came when they cried. So they stopped crying.
They learned very quickly that nobody will look out for them, and if they want food, they better get all they can, because it is scarce and nobody cares that you are hungry.
They learned that other kids are wanting the same things you do, and if you don’t get it first, you may never get it, because there isn’t any rule about fair.
They learned that it doesn’t matter what you wear, because it isn’t yours anyway.
They learned that there is something called a Mama and a Papa, and everybody wants one, but they don’t really know what they are, really.
They learned that caretakers can be indifferent, sometimes downright mean, and sometimes nice. You never know what your are going to get.
They learned that some children leave with Mama’s and Papa’s and they cry because they miss them.
The caretakers tell them that they are the lucky ones, because the one that left will be killed and sold for body parts, so don’t cry.
This is just a FRACTION of what they know when they come home.

Their world is very different from what most people experience  growing up. They don’t know baseball, football, restaurants, church services, zoos, parks, beaches, and birthday celebrations.
They don’t understand all the food. They don’t get that the bed will be there for them tomorrow too, and they don’t have to fight for a blanket anymore.
They don’t get that mom and dad will love them…. forever.
They get a little freaked out by all the attention and pull away. It is so foreign.  It takes a long time to unravel the world of the orphan.
SLOWLY…. layer by layer, emerges a new understanding, and a new dawning, that is both comforting to them, and painful at the same time.
It is comforting for a fleeting moment when they dare to trust, just a smidge… and painful when they realize just a taste of what they missed their whole life.

They hoard food. ( some call it stealing)  I don’t believe a child can STEAL food…. food is for the needs of the family members and if they need food…. they NEED it, so FEED them.
(Sweetie 4 has gained 10 lbs and 2 1/2 inches in 7 months and eats non stop. 🙂 She is still very thin)

Sometimes they become collectors of the most interesting things….. when you find it… don’t accuse, take notice, “Oh, I was looking for those nail clippers,  or, the flashlight is best kept in the kitchen drawer so we can remember where it is.  Would you like your own flash light? Simply ask them to put the item away or remind them where it belongs… whatever it is. 🙂  This may be a process that takes awhile to recover from.
They may lash out at a sibling out of a lack of understanding that love is not scarce or limited but flows freely for all. LOVE THEM. And love the child lashed out upon. Encourage them to be part of the team.  We didn’t adopt the girls until the boys were older. With the girls, they are very close in age.  We didn’t adopt in birth order, but close enough. Alli is the youngest by 7 months.

When you need to instruct them, sometimes it won’t be received…. those are rocking chair times. 🙂
(What do you mean I need a bath? I only took one once a week in Russia!)
Sometimes you just have to repeat, repeat, repeat,repeat…. “Yes, we take a bath every night. Remember? We talked about this?”  If they have possible FAE, they won’t remember. We have to be patient until it becomes habit. 🙂 Try reading a story to them while they are in the bath… or sing to them… Make up all sorts of silly songs for all sorts of things including cleaning rooms, making beds, etc.

As they begin to come to an understanding, they start to test the waters abit….. “So you love me? PROVE IT!  Nobody else has ever loved me…”
And the testing begins.
Some see this as the “End of the Honeymoon Period”.

I choose to see it as the beginning of REAL healing.  When a child feels they are finally safe…. that is sometimes when they can really grieve.

This is also the period of time where  a parent can lose control IF they do not  understand what is going on. The child tries to bring the parent into THEIR norm of control and chaos, because THAT is where they are comfortable.  The PARENT MUST RESIST this, and carefully, like a surgeon of the heart, bring the child into the world of peace and a new reality of belonging, of being cherished and  of being LOVED.
It is a very humbling experience to be the parent of a child who is so needy, but doesn’t believe they have a need. It is heartbreaking to  truly love a child who has never had the experience of being loved.
It is very challenging to try to guide a child  who thinks they don’t need guidance. 🙂

I think sometimes we try to rush things, or  we think they SHOULD KNOW THIS BY NOW, (whatever it is) and we get impatient just doing life… And when we do, it backfires.  The unconditional love, suddenly has a condition and the child picks up on that like a strong radar signal going off.   And the wall goes up, and that is when the negative cycle can begin…. and some, unfortunately never get out of it.
It turns into a button pushing fest for both parent and child…. and it will require that WE AS PARENTS stop it!   And I mean stop the cycle in a loving wave of acceptance and comfort. When they think they don’t need it, we are there anyway. When they reject us, we are there anyway. When they hurl insults out of deep pain, we  are there anyway…. and we wrap our loving arms around them and keep them safe. And if we have children already in our home, we include them in the process teaching them also, to put themselves aside , and love unconditionally.   You become a team, a wave if you will, of love.

And then….. out of the ashes… a little bud of hope appears.  It starts to grow, and as you tend to that little bud, sometimes it will try to retreat and hide…. the sun is just too bright…. and the new world is just too scary.  One of the reasons it is so scary is because of a fear they just might lose it. They might lose  what they are beginning to love.
And so, when that happens, sometimes they try to make the inevitable (in their minds) happen. They try to make the process of rejection get sped up, because the anticipation hurts too much.
Unfortunately, THIS is the time, when many people throw in the towel.  They have given all they feel they can give.  They do not understand why the things that work on most kids isn’t working on theirs.

They think, if I get a little harder, or punish a little more, that will make them understand…. when in reality, what they are dealing with is fear and  grief.  You cannot punish fear and  grief out of a person. You have to comfort and reassure and slowly guide them out to safety, in the process teaching them right from wrong, respect vs. disrespect, responsibility and how to love.  Loving instruction with unconditional acceptance…. goes a long way.
When you gain your child’s trust….  (trust cannot be forced) and they know they are in their home to stay…. that is when real learning takes place.

Is it a TALL order??  Ummm… Yes it is.  But it is so worth it. EVERY minute of it. Because in the process, not only your child grows, but you grow to in ways you never imagined. 🙂  The Lord leads and guides us along the way, and we find that our prayer life is MUCH improved! 🙂  We come to a deeper understanding of what GOD has done for us, through HIS sacrifice for us.
And we get to see our children turn into healthy, happy, productive kids that are no longer looking back, but looking forward to a newness of life that they never understood they could have.  And when we mess up…. an “I’m sorry can go a really long way!” 🙂

Tonight, Sweetie 4 spent a good amount of time in the shoppe with her dad. She was having so much fun out there she wanted to stay longer. 🙂   She also has kitchen duty this week.  Since she was having such a good time, I decided I’d go ahead and do the dishes.  I had just started when she came in. I was very pleased that she said, “Mom, that’s my job, I’ll take care of it!”….. So I was the helper and we did them  together. 🙂  7 months ago, this would not have happened.

(Since Sweetie 4 came home 2 and a half years ago, she has gained 40 lbs and 8 and a half inches.)

Issues With the Older Adopted Child part 2

 

Issues With The Older Adopted Child part 2

(written November 2011)

I wrote a post on issues that older adopted children face here.
In this post, I would like to discuss issues of insecurities a child faces when they come into an already existing, functioning family.
Many of the older children who come home, come home to a family that already has , or has had, other children.
Older children have many insecurities. They are insecure about being loved and cherished. Many times they will challenge parents love. They are so convinced that THEY are unlovable or undeserving of love, they will set out to prove it!
They see the love being given to the other children as a threat to their existence. They also perceive that they cannot be loved in the same way.

Adoptive parents need to be prepared way beyond the typical “what would you do if your child…. (fill in the blank)…. and be ready for some REAL soul searching.

Our children come with GREAT LOSS and may feel that they have NOTHING more they can lose, so why bother! Why bother attaching to somebody who is going to reject me?  Why bother trying, when it won’t be good enough?  They feel they will never measure up to siblings that have already secured their parents affections.  They do not understand the concept of love that is big enough to cover all, especially Love  that is big enough to cover them!

As adoptive parents we MUST, MUST, MUST, understand that our children are HURT. ALL CHILDREN who come through the door of adoption have faced GREAT LOSS at some point. It is the opposite side of the adoption coin.  Adoption/Loss.
Whether they remember it or not does not really matter. It is REAL, and it is RAW.  All the material things in the world, will not fill in the void and pain of rejection.

We need to be VERY CAREFUL that we parent our children with the same tenderness and gentleness, yet parent them according to each individual need. It can be exhausting, but it is NECESSARY.

There are those who believe that a child with RAD has no feelings or conscience. I disagree.
They have deep feelings and conscience. They are buried deep within the weight of rejection and pain, neatly protected by a wall of indifference so that nobody can shatter the already shattered heart again.

It is our DUTY and JOB as a parent who brings a child home, to do everything possible to get to the shattered pieces of the heart and put them back together and help our children heal. I am not talking about shipping them off to counseling, in order for them to be “fixed”.  I am talking about US LOVING THEM.  If WE need to get counseling to get ourselves together, go for it. If we need the help of a counselor in a combined effort that WE are INVOLVED IN, find one.  BUT WE SHOULD NOT USE THE COUNSELOR TO DO THE JOB WE SHOULD DO!

Children who have no understanding of family or any concept of authority or structure will not understand consequences or punishment. It will only make them angry and cause them to dig their heels in and pit one will against the other, better known as a “power struggle”. And power struggles lead to nowhere.  Engaging in them causes growth to CEASE!

No, they must be reached in a very different way.  They must be reached through unconditional love that shows curiosity into their lives. It shows empathy and understanding, AT the SAME TIME, offering a guiding,  gentle light out of the dark tunnel. Not TOO BRIGHT all at one time, or they can’t adjust and will reel back and head for cover.  It has to be slow and steady and gentle and non threatening.

When they begin to see that their behaviors are not going to earn them a ticket back to where they came from…. when they begin to see that mom and dad love them without condition, when they begin to see that they too are cherished, because we SPEAK IT INTO THEM….. they will slowly and steadily begin to respond.

Our words are so important.  If we speak words of encouragement and affirmation, they will rise to the words spoken over them.
BLUNTLY:
If you tell a child they are a liar, they will be a liar.
If you tell a child, I know you are honest inside! They will become honest.
If you tell a child they are rebellious. They will be rebellious.
If you tell a child you know they can be sweet, kind and obedient. They will become sweet, kind and obedient.

I remember telling Sweetie 4 several months ago, ” I know that you are capable of great love. I can see it in you. I know that you can tell the truth, you WANT to be honest! You are just too scared to try it!”
After hearing this over and over, she BECAME those things.

She would say, “I know you don’t believe me!” And we would reply…. “We WANT TO! You have to tell the truth! So the truth is”…. and then she would speak it. 🙂
She has been such a sweetie and has learned so much and come so far, it just makes me teary. I just love this little girl so much.
(all of my girls, actually)

She was called a Liar! She was called violent! She was called hateful!
But She IS: Honest, gentle and loving!   She really TRULY is…..She is NOT what others said she was.  She was HURT.  Now, she is HEALING!

When our social worker visited today, we were able to share where Sweetie 4 started and where she is today. It is nothing short of a true, modern day miracle.

I praise the Lord for her. I praise the Lord that she has been TRANSFORMED before our eyes.
And I praise the Lord that our girls have a deep love for each other and for us.
Our little Sweetie 4 has changed…. from the INSIDE OUT she has been transformed.  I am thrilled to be a part of her healing and to see her grow into the beautiful young lady God has been preparing her to become.

And in 2013, she can continued on her healing journey.  We are so honored to be her parents and to be a part of her healing.

What Success Really Looks Like

What Success Really Looks Like
(originally written in Jan 2012)

 This can apply to most anything: Careers, Marriages,Educational pursuits… but it really made me think about “Older Child Adoption” and what a comlexity it is to raise our children. 🙂  I often say, 3 steps forward 2 steps back.  This line is much more accurate. LOL

This is what it looks like to raise a child who is all over the place in emotional maturity, intellect, physical ability and sensory issues.  It is what it is like to try and understand what emotional level a child can be at, in any given moment. 🙂  It is what it is like to raise a child who has had trauma.
Complicated?  Oh Yea!  The neat thing though, is that we grow ourselves! We change ourselves, if we are brave enough to see that WE NEED TO CHANGE TOO!
There is HUGE blessing in  raising children, and HUGE blessing in raising children who have been thoroughly touched by trauma.  The big fat squiggly line part, is where many people feel they cannot go on, and disruption occurs.  Keeping one’s eye on the end of that arrow, can help those struggling to see that it WILL get better.  Trauma blindsides us sometimes.  We think we are headed straight and then, we go through a roller coaster.  But coming out the other side of that is MORE HEALING; deep healing that can only be had through the struggle.
So look at the end of the arrow! It is still headed to  success!  Which means something different for each individual family.  But happy, healthy, thriving adults in the future, who are secure and compassionate, forgiving and forgiven, trusting, full of grace and mercy, and striving to reach a newer personal goal, is what I have in mind. 🙂
Wishing everybody a TRULY Happy and Healing New Year! 🙂

Control and Insecurity

When a child is trying to take control of things, it is most likely that they are feeling quite out of control inside.
We had a scenario play out in our family over the last couple of days that I’d like to share.
Sweetie #4, was wanting to get new shorts for her exercise class.
We agreed another pair of comfortable shorts would be a good idea, but we also didn’t want those shorts to be too short!
We looked over a couple of days and didn’t really find anything.
Sweetie 4 was asking again about shorts, but seemed a lot more “vigilant” about it.
When we got to the store, it was not enjoyable. She was anxiously walking ahead of us, instead of staying with us. She was back to asking for things. Everything she saw; chocolate, candy, clothing, snacks and more, were met with, “Oh mama! Can we get these or this?”
It seemed out of the ordinary as she hadn’t done that in 2 years!  I knew something else was going on in her heart.

When we finally got around to looking at shorts, she became dysregulated, as we looked because there weren’t any shorts she could wear to P.E. that she liked that were also worthy of wearing.
Why do girls’ shorts have to be so stinking short???

So, I gently said, “We’ll look at another store later.”
This got her even more dysregulated and she even suggested we go back to a different store and get a pair of pants that she claimed 30 minutes before she didn’t like!

Then I KNEW something was wrong.

By the time we got home, she was upset and really didn’t seem to know why.
We went in my room to talk and the tears started to flow.  “Mama, I don’t think you want to get anything for me.”

“Why do you think that?  Didn’t we get a couple of things for you?”
“Yes, but we didn’t get the shorts I want.”

It was at that time that I wanted to address the real issue.
“Sweetie, do mom and dad provide for all of your needs?”
“Have you gone without food ever?”
“Have you had to be cold because you had no covers or a coat?”
“Have you had to go naked because you didn’t have clothing to wear?”
Her answers were, “No mom.”
“Then, do you trust mom and dad, that we can provide what you need at the right time?”
“Can you trust us to make sure you get the proper shorts?”

“Yes mom.”

And then, some things came flooding out.  She was worried about being cared for.
You see, when a child has experienced great neglect as she has, sometimes the urge to “control” comes out and they start making sure things are going to be ok.  They are no longer resting in our safe and secure love, but taking the reigns to make sure things are provided.
In doing that, they get scared, and feel upset, because it isn’t what things are supposed to be like.  Having that control is not fun.  It puts them back in a place where they HAD to  make hard choices.
During our talk, I simply took control back. 🙂
“How about if you let mama and daddy provide for your needs. You can rest and not worry any more.”
“You need to let yourself be a kid again.  OK?”

“Ok mom.” 🙂

“Now let me see your beautiful eyes.  There’s my girl! Glad to have you back!”
And then there was a peaceful smile. 🙂

POSTING

I have added several posts today from my personal blog. I am in 2009 right now.
There will be several more added over the next weeks.
I so appreciate anybody who stops by and reads!
Feel free to drop a comment! 🙂

TRUE GRACE Vs. RELIGIOSITY

True Grace, VS. RELIGIOSITY

This post was originally written in  August 2009

Somebody asked the question is Grace Based Parenting  compatible with Christianity, as in, if it taught a “false doctrine”, how could you use it with your children?

I have been studying this for a while, and I would really like to address that issue, as something has been made very clear to me in my study and I am quite excited about it.

Grace Based Parenting speaks often about unconditional love and forgiveness; not parenting from a fear base but a place of love. It is not consequence based, Logic based, or control based.
I was reading a book today having nothing to do with this, yet I found it had EVERYTHING to do with it. The Title of the Book was “The Reason for God” by Timothy Keller. In the book I was reading the chapter “Religion and the Gospel”. It began to cover the difference between “Phariseeism” vs. “Grace” and how one leads somebody to be accepted based upon performance, and by fear of punishment, where the other, is based upon acceptance because of love.

Let me explain:

Pharisees lives are driven by the despair of sin. They build their sense of worth on their moral and spiritual performance as a kind of “resume” to present before God and the World. The moral and spiritual standards of all religions are very high and Pharisees know how deep down they are not fully living up to those standards. The result is internal anxiety, insecurity , irritability caused great distress and from lack of measuring up. It shows itself in pride, fierce judgmentalism and even self righteousness and defensive criticism. It is based upon fear, of eternal judgment as the pharisee can never live up to a Holy God.

Phariseeism says, “I obey, therefore I am accepted by God”.

Grace however, just sounds too easy. Nice deal! I trust, and then I can do what I want. That however is NOT TRUE. Having experienced true grace causes a person to say,
“I am accepted, therefore I obey!” That obedience is based upon the unconditional love poured into us and onto us. The motivation is not from fear of punishment but it is motivated by love and joy. It is motivated by security.

In Christianity I would say, “I am a child of God”.
In our Family, I tell the girls, “You are a Minich!”

Grace and Mercy frees us from the bondage of expected performance, to make a life worth living and loving.
In Christianity, we are not accepted because of our performance, but because of a forgiving Savior.

In Grace Based Parenting, our children are loved unconditionally not based upon what they do or how they perform, but sacrificially loved, laying our lives down as living examples to show a light out of a very dark place. When our children respond to that, it is very much a parallel to what I have written above.

So let’s take our children who come to us for acceptance. When they have a warped view of our love for them, which is unconditional, or should be…. or if we give them conditions for accptance, which many times we do…. it can cause them to view themselves as not measuring up, never being good enough, and can lead to anxiety, depression, anger and acting out.

However, if we take our children’s behaviors in stride, and see them through they eyes of simple grace, extented to them with loving hearts, patiently showing them we love them unconditionally, not based upon what they do, but we love them JUST BECAUSE, and then accept them, JUST BECAUSE, the results are astounding!

It may take time for them to respond, as they do not initially trust. But when they DO TRUST, and I promise, they do…. the result is so delightful, the relationship, so delightful, and all of the barriers are broken down. You have relationship that you never dreamed. Your children come to you and seek you out, they love you, they care about what you think, they WANT to please you and it is an amazing experience.

I see it in my own life before my Lord… I do want to please the Lord, I do care to please him, not from fear but out of gratitude and love.

I see the girlies, and our boys too, in the very same way.

The relationship is free to blossom in love.

Glue Sticks Are For Gluing

Glue Sticks Are For Gluing

This post was written October 2010

I have heard more than a few times last year and this year, folks are using GLUE STICKS; the larger foot long kind;  you know the ones we get for our crafty glue guns??  They are using them to “spank” their children.

I’m sorry, but GLUE STICKS ARE FOR GLUING things. They are meant for fun family projects…. Not this!
So, I googled it….. and sure enough, just as I suspected once again…. there is a group of people on the internet recommending glue sticks be used as “a rod of correction”.

If you believe in spanking. Fine. This post isn’t about that. Spanking vs. not spanking will be an eternal debate in this country.   This post is about  common sense and not harming children.

WHAT IS GOING ON????    We are such a society of extremes.
I read several posts such as: “the liberal left who wants to keep you from any form of disciplining of your children”, and then,  “the extreme fundamentalist right who wants to beat their children for pleasure”……  Those are really near quotes from some of the wesites and blogs I went to.
Frankly, I think both of those extremes are emotionally charged statements that don’t solve anything and certainly don’t lead to somebody with an opposing view to soften their ideas.

(I won’t send you on a wild goose chase, just google for yourself, it will keep you up all night)
Keep in mind these names: Michael and Debi Pearl,  The Ezzos, Richard Fugate . There are others.
Their books have been around awhile.

I read Mike and Debi Pearl’s book a long time ago, when their name kept popping up, and when I kept hearing about how selfish babies are and how they need to be trained from newborn not to demand being fed, held, etc. ????? I’m serious,  I got totally freaked out.  The Ezzo’s are regurgitated Pearls in a nicer package, but the message is basically the same.

One of the problems with these people is they prey on insecurity, guilt and fear. They tell you if you don’t do things THEIR way, which is OF COURSE, God’s way, then your kids will grow up to be unrepentant  ax murderers and it will all be your fault!  That is a basic synopsis.  In fact, I did a book review one time and was shocked at the venom, just because I dared to disagree with a certain book.
Of course, my soul’s eternal state was in question, all because I didn’t agree with the person’s book!

People Please!  “Train Up Your Child in the way He should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” IS NOT an etched in stone command that guarantees your child’s sure salvation.  No man comes to the Lord unless the SPIRIT draws.
If you are going to take that Proverbs passage literally, then you will have to take the entire poetic book literally and make it all fit into a neat little theological box…..It won’t, because it wasn’t meant to be literal.  The word used for “in the way he should go”, is talking about a child’s strength or “bent”…… meaning….. if he is great at carpentry, teach him the skills, and when he is old, he won’t depart from being a carpenter, or a plummer, or a musician or a seamstress….. fill in the blank!  But it is just an observation.

After 30 plus years of hearing this type of stuff…… ENOUGH! I am sad to see young parents drawn into the same illegetimate garbage of the day. I am sad to see them saddled with guilt,burdens and fear, that if they don’t do things just like so and so, their child will not grow up to serve God.   IT IS NOT TRUE!  There is NO scripture that says this.

Scripture says CLEARLY, “He who does not DISCIPLINE his son, HATES his son!”  THIS IS A TRUE FACT….. but what is discipline? That is the million dollar question…. Sadly, for many, all it means is punishment, and punishment is NOT = to  discipline.

 

TRIGGERS

Triggers

Originally Written in January 2009

Our Friday night tradition of Pizza and a movie continues, and then we all retreat to camp in mom and dad’s room for the night. It is usually a peaceful sleep, but last night was a little different. The sleeping arrangements were changed. This time Sweetie 3 slept on the cot at the end of our bed, Sweetie 1 took the chair and Sweetie 2 slept on blankets on the floor.
I was awoken to Sweetie 3 having one of those dreams; the kind that give me chills. She never remembers them. But they are of that deep,mournful cry; a panic, a sense of loss and loneliness that is so great it can’t be fathomed by those of us who have never experienced total aloneness.
And then, once again, I heard the cot start to squeak back and forth. When I got up to check on her she was in a deep sleep rocking back and forth and she had tightly wrapped her covers all around her like a straight jacket. I touched her gently and said, “Sweety, you are rocking”. She opened her eyes,smiled and then went to sleep again, this time without rocking. Then it started up again…..
When she woke this morning, she was rested and had no memory of her restless sleep.

I am so thankful that in God’s mercy, he allows us to not remember things in our conscious state; things so terrible and feelings so fearful that they are best left untouched.
When the right time comes, if God so chooses, she may remember more. She remembered a lot when she first came home, and the things she told us were shocking and upsetting.
She was in the dark a lot. There were other beds. She was tied, sometimes she ate and sometimes she didn’t. The covers were wrapped around her. She was left to lay. For four years she rocked before she made it to an orphanage. Much of what she told us, she has forgotten. Time has a way of helping us to forget.

But then there are those times when her memory is triggered and she does. The season of year, may be her trigger. Our 3 year anniversary is coming up soon. It is both joyful and sad. It triggers memories of belonging to a new family, but it also triggers memories of rejection, abandonment and loss.

That is the nature of adoption. It has 2 sides. Happiness in finding a forever home, but profound sadness because you were rejected by the very ones who gave you birth.
The circumstance doesn’t really matter. The rejection hurts just the same.

One thing we as adoptive parents can do for our children is to grieve with them. The compassion we show them when they feel that loss is so important. Their sadness does not reflect on their love for us, nor does it mean they don’t love us. It just means they have suffered great pain and need support to heal. It is our job and DUTY as parents to love them through these moments, being careful to not trivialize them by saying, “But you have a new home, you are here with a new mommy and daddy, your life is wonderful now!” Those things do not matter at that moment. What matters is that momentary memory of pain and rejection. Our reaction to that can make all the difference in the world towards their complete healing.

Our daughter is a happy, loving and caring child. It is our prayer that her past pain and experiences in life will be used by the Lord to mold and shape her into the vessel He has chosen for her to be, and that she would see His hand on her life.
I know she already does.

YOU SMELL LIKE UKRAINE

You Smell Like Ukraine!

originally written February 2008
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This is what Sweetie 3 said to me this afternoon after I had put on some much needed Oil of Olay. The last time I used Oil of Olay, was in Ukraine! It is so funny how our brains remember smells, seasons, or how something felt…
Sweetie 2 did something very similar when I pulled out my flannel nightgown that I had not used since we were in Ukraine. She smelled it and it still had a faint scent from the laundry softener used there. She said, “Oh mama, this smells like Ukraine.” You know, she was right! I smelled it, and it put me right back into our little Apartment in Kharkiv.
But… these are pleasant memories. What if the memory of something we smell or feel, or a certain season evokes a bad memory and causes us pain.
Many times with our children who have had unspeakable torment in their young lives, this is exactly the case.

I remember hearing such a sweet song, actually so sweet that I have it on my blog to listen to. At one time, it wasn’t so sweet. I called 5 year old Sweetie 1 into our room to hear it and let her press the button. When the song started she got a huge look of fear on her face and said, “I know that song”. Then she started to cry and squirm and wanted it turned off NOW! WOW!  How could such an innocent song bring such torment to a child? I don’t know. But it did.
For the other girls there have been things that have caused them distressing memories.
Seasons for Sweetie 2, and darkness for Sweetie 3; a sense of being alone.

How do we get through the tangled mess of distorted memories, tormented pasts, and seasons, songs, smells, or familiar looking people?

I don’t think we can without the help of the Lord. He is our shelter and our peace, a comfort to us in a time of trouble. If we teach them to run to the Cross when they are frightened, to turn to the Lord for help, to run to mom and dad who will comfort and pray with them when they need stability then these “giants” of our past don’t seem to be so big.

Thankfully today, our Sweetie 1 can listen to that cute little song and she now likes it.
Sweetie 2 isn’t as tormented by the season which upset her so much. Sweetie 3 isn’t as
afraid of the dark as she used to be. (still working on it)

Thanks be to the Lord who comforts us and takes away all our fears.

All About Losing

All About Losing

written: Feb 2008

I have been thinking about the issue of loss and losing . We are almost 2 years down the Road with Sweetie 3, and 3 with Sweetie 2,  and 4 with Sweetie 1. Yet, the issue of loss is always there. YES there are gains, but there are also losses. Every birthday, they are reminded that they lost a birth mother. Every Christmas, they are reminded that there are people out there probably celebrating Christmas without them.
The issues aren’t necessarily on the “front burner” of their minds or even mine, we love birthdays and Christmas, but they are there.

I was thinking about what our children “lose” when they become our children. They lose EVERYTHING. Even their underwear. They take NOTHING with them. Then, those little fragile lives are placed into the hands of complete strangers and they get on a train, then a plane, then in a car, and these are traumatic experiences for them. They go off into the unfamiliar, the unknown,  armed many times with misinformation like, “Your new parents will beat you or sell you for your body parts.
So not only are they stripped of their dignity, they are armed with fear.

These experiences are so related to our spiritual walk.

Aren’t we ALL sick, and naked and fearful and imprisoned and many times don’t know it? And here comes our Lord in to rescue us from the pits of despair, and many times because of misinformation, we respond in fear, and we follow kicking and screaming into LIFE because we don’t know what it is like to really be alive, we are so used to the familiar.
And just like the orphaned child, grieves his loss and is then able to embrace his gain; we realize, WOW! We have a REAL LIFE I can really trust my Lord. I WANT to hold His hand. I WANT to sit at His feet. I Want Him to love me. I am FULL of Joy unspeakable. This is real LIFE. It is incomprehensible that we would have wanted to stay in our sin.

Our losses become GAIN. It’s the process that hurts. But on the other side, we become thankful for the breaking process we go through, as it helps us to understand the joy.

As adoptive parents, it is our ministry to our children to guide them, to lead them to life and to love them through the process, eventually introducing them to yet another hand to Hold. That of our Heavenly Father. What they will come to realize is that He was holding their hand the whole time.

PARENTING

Parenting

(originally written January 2008)

I have been thinking over and over how the last 30 years have changed our lives. Raising 4 boys, to Empty nesters, to raising 3 little girls. They didn’t come the usual way, or maybe they did?
(kicking and screaming) Just larger. 🙂

I always say, we got our girls “potty trained and talking back”. 🙂

There is much to be said about being parents on how to “change” or “tame” the wild beast of a child. But little is said about what really needs to happen and how God in his infinite wisdom, KNEW, that while we THINK we are teaching them, they are really teaching us.

They are teaching us how to use self control, they teach us how to ask nicely, they teach us how to love unconditionally, they teach us that we really don’t have it all together, even if there is 1 child or 10 children.

The most important thing they teach us is to be on our knees in prayer for them and for ourselves, asking for wisdom from above, as the responsibility is huge and time is not slowing down.

Many years ago, I would read all about “this is what you do to make your child mind”.
I didn’t like the books I read, and tossed them for the scripture itself. I found the answers to my deepest concerns, and wisdom for my older children. Much change took place in my life in regards to parenting.

Now,I am more comfortable as I look inwardly and ask myself, “if my child is not obeying like I would like to see, with the right ATTITUDE, what have I been doing to come along side, guide her to the next step and help her to see what she should be doing? Am I being the example I should be? Or.. am I modeling what I am seeing in her?

This type of parenting has opened up a whole world of exploration and experience that is freeing and wonderful. Seeing the responses of those little girls, those eyes that look at you so lovingly and trusting, the pleasure of obedience. And…. it isn’t law oriented, it is love oriented, it isn’t law driven, it is love driven.
And it is a journey in life that we walk together. Mike and I as the teachers, and authorities in their lives, but always seeing that we too are being taught and under the authority of Christ. Oh my, how that perspective changes you, humbles you, brings you closer in your walk with the Lord…..

Are things perfect? No. Because WE are not perfect. But there is such joy in the journey.

An Important Message

An Important Message

(originally written July 2010)


I usually don’t read psychology today. In fact, I have never read it. 🙂 But today, a fellow adoptive mother sent an article that is VERY MUCH WORTH READING!

The title of the article is “Kidnapped or Saved” How some children feel about being adopted.

It was written after Justin was sent back to Russia by his adoptive mother. The person who wrote the article adopted her own daughter 4 years ago. She decided to ask her daughter, who struggled for a while when she came home, about her thoughts on the subject. It is the first article I have read from the adoptive child’s perspective.

I was very pleased to see that she also covered what our children are often told before they come home. Our own daughter was told that we were going to kill her. We were going to sell her body parts. It terrified her. I was so glad that the information came out during our 10 day wait and that with our translator we put her fears to rest. But what about the child who is told this and internalizes it? Our children, being used to bearing their own burdens, many times do NOT share their deepest fears but try to handle them on their own. 🙁

I was especially interested too in the feelings this little girl had regarding the language barrier. She was terrified that she could not think in Russian OR English! Her parents didn’t know she was feeling this way because she was unable to tell them. So things came out in rage.

So many children go through very tough times and they need US, as Parents to step up to the plate and be prepared!
Please read this article. It is a very good reminder for all of us to remember to think outside the box a little bit.

Child Abuse and Adoption

Child Abuse and Adoption

(originally written Feb. 2011)

I was sickened and horrified to read about yet another child abuse/murder case of an adopted child/children.  It is just too much…..

We are all capable of much sin, I know this…… and I also know there are stresses out there with parenting that can bring you to the brink…… but honestly, it SEEMS that abuse is just over the top and out of control!  I don’t know if it is just that there is more reporting of it, but what I came across today really disturbed me to my core.

I was reading about the recent case in Florida where the children were tied up regularly. The twins were adopted, and the family had numerous issues with CPS.  But it all came to an end, with a child dead and another clinging to life with severe burns.  I wanted to find a local update from Florida so I googled adopted children abused… and came across this. The case of Cassandra Killpack, a 4 year old girl, adopted… not sure where from…..but murdered at the hands of her parents.  The first article I read was about how the mom wanted out of prison so she could raise her biological children. They missed her.  There was much blame placed upon her 4 year old who was said to have RAD.  This family was from Utah and went to therapy at a Utah clinic in Orem.  They claimed that they were told to do what they did. The clinic denied it.
However, I wonder……
Frankly, I have read some things that I find downright dangerous and abusive….. placed into the hands of a stressed out mother, I could easily see how things could spiral out of control….. it is the human factor.
I don’t know why it is harder to do something out of a place of love and control than anger and hostility….. but it seems to be, even though the results of kindness and self control go FAR with a child who has RAD.
Why oh WHY would a RAD child WANT to attach to a scary, angry person?
There is the recent case of the angry mother who gave her child cold showers and hot sauce, there is the awful case of the little girls from Liberia who were both systematically BEATEN with plumbers pipeline until one of them died and the other was in critical condition….. and the list goes ON…..and ON!
What is sad, is the kids are being blamed.
THAT, I DO NOT get.  I DO get that children can have very difficult behaviors. I DO get that it can cause a parent to be frazzled….. but I DO NOT get, how you can come to the conclusion that extreme punishments, exercises, holding positions, forced rages, forcing a child to ask for each and every direction, including if they can have a sip of water or go to the bathroom…… etc. etc. all done in the name of “THERAPY” have EVER made it out of a person’s mind, into a book or article and somehow became “professional therapy”….. Where did these people go to school? Auschwitz?

I feel sad for people who have been caught up into these types of child torture, only to find their children harder to reach and further down the path of destruction, because now they can’t even trust the one who claims to love them.

There are MANY great resources available for parents who are struggling…. but honestly….. as parents, we need to take responsibility for our OWN actions, our OWN control issues, our OWN temper fits….. and stop blaming our children.

It does not mean anything is easy.. ….. but GREAT things come from GREAT struggle, IF you are struggling in the right direction TOGETHER on the SAME TEAM…..

If you are caught up into some “therapies” that do not feel right, or you are not having success;
or, if you are parenting, not necessarily seeking help, and you are finding yourself frustrated and things are not working…. ask yourself, “How long do I do the same thing and expect a different result?”  1 year, 2 years?  “If what I am doing isn’t working, WHY am I still doing it?”

If my children have figured out how to press my buttons, why do I have my buttons exposed?
What do I need to deal with before I can help my own children?
It does seem sort of silly to try to help a child not have temper tantrums, when the adults in his/her life are throwing fits themselves.

We are the ADULTS…. WE  ARE responsible!  TAKE CONTROL! Be Empowered and Energized!

And if you are thinking about adopting, EDUCATE yourself……do your homework, research and investigate…. and PRAY.  Sometimes Life can throw us some real curve balls…. sometimes life is hard for a season….. but keep it in perspective. Our children come to us broken and hurt….they didn’t get that way overnight and they will not heal overnight.  It is a process…. a LONG process.

Excellent resources:
Scripture: all about love, all about self control, all about relationship……
Heather Forbes – Dare to Love, Beyond Consequences Logic and Control volumes 1 and 2
Karyn Purvis- The Connected Child,  and her website.
Clay and Sally Clarkson- Heartfelt Discipline
and Sally’s Blog  is full of wonderful advice for moms.

CHOOSE NOT TO ABUSE!

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