It is Happening!

Level one. Furloughs. Starting Sunday. Six Hours.

Fine Tuning

Baby_Feet_1809101cSweetie 4 is continuing to do well in detention. We are so pleased. I KNOW that all of us are excited and believe she is going to do well, but we still have 3 months left.

Honestly, I think these are NECESSARY months for her, very much like that of a baby in the womb. They COULD survive at 6 months if they are born early, but it is harder. That last 3 months is a time of fine tuning and putting the finishing touches on very important parts of the body.
In the same way, these last 3 months will be fine tuning for Sweetie 4. The things she has learned, NEED to have those finishing touches in place so that she can live with ease and not struggle.

(this is how I explained it to her during our last visit)

Our “baby” is coming back to us. We don’t want her to come too early. The right time, which will be all in God’s timing will be just perfect. 🙂


Sweetie 4 is moving nicely through the JD program. It has been a LONG 10 months. November is the target date for her to come home, but during the next couple of months, we will be participating together with “furloughs”.

It will start with 6 hours, and then back to JD… Then 12 hours and back to JD. Eventually she will work up to being here.

I am so thankful with how they are progressing her, carefully, so she doesn’t go from no privilege to complete freedom all at once; from no officers and supports to
just her family once again.

We ALL need this “slow and steady get me ready” practice.

We are excited about what the future holds and pray that this dark chapter in our lives has come to a complete close, and that on the other side of it, is a fresh clean page to write on. And what will be written there will be words of life, hope and healing!

When the right time comes, I am going to invite her to be a guest blogger. 🙂 I believe she has a lot to share, that might help others who walk this path, see a bright light of healing.

Stay tuned! 🙂

Being The Steady…

Somebody asked about disrespect from a teen who said they COULD be verbally abusive and there was nothing the parent could do about it. The question was, what do you say when they say this?

First off, ((((HUGS)))) to you. I know this was not a part of the picture you had in mind when expanding your family, and offering love to a child who desperately needed a home.

I don’t know of ANY parent who wakes up in the morning and says, “Honey, I think we should bring a teenager home so they can cuss us out, scream at us, threaten us and hate us.”

WE ALL want to see the best side of the adoption equation. The one that shows our children doing well, being successful, and having that end result of a happy, healthy, functioning adult who is ready to face the world with gusto and not look back, lovingly coming to family dinners and bringing home wonderful spouses and grand kids for us to love on and enjoy.

I think for most of us, the truthful balance lies somewhere in between the last two paragraphs. 🙂

We have daughters right now who have given us ZERO problems whatsoever, and are just adorable. We have daughters on the other EXTREME and I do mean EXTREME who have given us grief beyond belief.

So, I will feebly try to answer your question about what to say when your child is IN YOUR FACE screaming obscenities and you say, “You can’t do that” and they say, “YES I CAN” or worse yet, “TRY AND MAKE ME STOP!”


The MOST POWERFUL THING you can do at that moment is to CALMLY…. say, “YOU ARE RIGHT. YOU CAN, because you are.
And then, let them know that YOU need to take a quick breath.
What ever you do in your private room…. take a shower so you cannot hear the pounding on the door, or go for a drive, or go for a walk…. write in a journal, take a long lingering bubble bath and cry it out before the Lord asking for wisdom beyond what is wisdom….. whatever it is you do… CENTER YOURSELF. CALM YOURSELF…. give yourself permission to cry, but in your pain, remember that PAIN they transferred to you…. that RAGE they transferred to you is how THEY FEEL inside.

So FEEL it… FEEL the despair and then….. take a breath and try a different way.

A few calming statements for your child:
“Wow, you sound really upset.”
“I bet it is confusing trying to figure out family life” or “how you fit in.”
“That must be really hard”
“I’m so sorry things have been hard for you”

THEN….. When things are calmer (not in the moment)
You can ask some thought provoking questions:

“What power do you gain inside when you curse at me?”
“How do you feel afterwards?”

You might be surprised at the answers you get.

Go back to square one…. “You know, you are right, there is not a lot I can do when you choose to be this way. But I can help you to make some new choices. Maybe you have never known anything different? Maybe this is what is “normal” for you.
(For MANY of our kids it is THEIR normal!”

And then, calmly, reassuringly guide them to a different way.
You can have a cursing book. A BIG FEELINGS book! These are modifications of the “Mom Dad and Me book” for an older kiddo.
Anything you can do to get them to WRITE DOWN how they are feeling or what they are thinking in their head is fantastic and helpful not just for them, but informative for you.
When they start to write in the book, (introduce the concept during a calm family meeting) give praise where praise is due!

If they choose to continue to be verbally abusive, offer more ideas for them to have new coping tools.
You can actually write down a tool list and put it on the wall or door. It can be in their room on the wall by their bed or on the back of the door
that just slammed. 🙂 There it is… “IDEAS to calm yourself”!
GET a MENTOR if you can; somebody who they can call, that is TRUSTWORTHY and will not cave to their claims of how horrid you are. 🙂
And somebody who will also offer them the exact same ideas or other ideas for coping with big feelings.

I have to admit, one of the more frustrating things for me personally that I just had to get over, was that our sweetie, in the detention center has been given NOTHING NEW for coping that we had not already offered her. She was however, willing to take that advice from another person that wasn’t us.
As irritating as that was, we are thankful that she is now USING THE TOOLS to help her stay calm and focused.

If you can picture yourself as a light house, stable and calm during a hurricane, that is what our children need. You can shine the light to them, but you also must remain steadfast and steady.
Don’t change things to fit the rage…..( as in, if you don’t let me do what I want, I’ll be abusive and disrupt family life)
Be calm and when the rage calms, you are still there.

Some of the tools offered to our daughter included finding a quiet place to go to outside. She had a favorite area ( we have one acre) To go for a walk, to ride her bike, To take a shower, to read, to write, to listen to music, to spend 30 minutes of the computer,
to take deep breaths WITH ME, to go for a drive and get a coke,
These are not magical things, but they calm the brain and get us into a different part of the brain when we are stuck in a negative feedback loop.
Get out of the loop!

AND THEN…. your real work is when they are settled and calm.
Do NOT harbor anger.. DO NOT allow yourself to be vindictive.
PRACTICE kind words, loving affirmation, compassion, peacefulness etc.

As your child opens up to you about the past, listen…. help them grieve, and then, help them see the big bright future ahead.

I once told our daughter, if we drive a car looking in the rear view mirror, we will crash and never get down the lovely road to see the beauty that lies ahead.

It has been 5 1/2 years with her, and she is finally starting to see things in a different light.

Have we shed tears of sorrow? Yes. Has it been hard? YES.
Have there been times of felling hopeless? YES.
Do we feel hope now? YES.
Because in all of it, we have to have a future focus.
If your child NEVER gets better….. it won’t be because you didn’t give it your all.
And if we as parents don’t give it our all, how will they learn to trust?

THIS DOES NOT MEAN you tolerate abuse. I’m not saying that.
It means that abuse can happen, and HOW YOU HANDLE that can lead them to a different direction in life, or not.
It may not even happen on your watch. They may not see it until they are in their 20’s or 30’s…. or they will see it now.
But they WILL see eventually.

If you are in a dangerous situation, as we unfortunately were, then as Karyn Purvis recommends, as well as Heather Forbes, you may need extra outside helps, including law enforcement.
I remember being in shock when we had to resort to that, feeling as if we had totally failed. I was wrong.
It has been the best thing for our daughter. You are not allowed to threaten to kill people. You are not allowed to pull a knife.
These things are beyond dangerous.
So, when the behavior crosses the line into criminal activity, then there are civil laws that must be followed too in order to protect the family.
This is NOT GIVING UP….. BE there.. love them through the process. If they wind up in detention as our daughter has, BE THERE to visit, love, accept, guide,
and listen. And be the authority that they need.
Not authoritarian…. overbearing, but that lighthouse…. “Over here! Remember! You cannot go there. It isn’t safe.” NO “I told you so’s needed”. 🙂

Love Never Fails.

Changing Faulty Thinking

There are so many layers to trauma, neglect, abuse, FAS, PTSD, Borderline, it is amazing how thinking can be so off that you almost can’t figure out how to address it. Almost. 🙂

The other day we had a GREAT visit with Sweetie 4. She seems to be moving in a direction that has all of us cheering her on. Her counselor, whom she sees several times a week and is on call for her was on vacation, and we went to take our grand daughter back to NM, so there were a few days where none of us were there. She handled it well! She didn’t sabotage when we all came back and we all breathed a deep sigh of relief.

YAY Sweetie 4!

During counseling, she was talking about facing her fears, and one of the things she really wants to do is to watch some of the old horror movies she was exposed to in Russia. She believes by watching them now, it will help her to put them into perspective and not have them haunt her as they do now.
A good example of this, is that for years she has been terrified to go into the attic because “The scary lady might be in there.”
“What scary lady?”
“The one from the movie we watched in the orphanage!”
She believes by watching some of these movies again, as an older teen, with her family, she can conquer that fear.

For those of you who do not know, it is not uncommon for orphanage workers to expose the children to extreme violence and horror to keep them in bed at night.
Their systematic frightening of our children is nothing short of child abuse, and our children suffer LONG after they have left the orphanage system.
Yeah, so take away their family, any hint of a nurturing loving parent, make them fall asleep alone, without comfort and don’t forget to add some HORROR to that; all at the age of 7 and many times YOUNGER. 🙁

I am horrified of the thought of her seeing it again, (no pun intended) but maybe it might help. I’m hoping maybe instead, watching how a movie is made and how they use special effects etc. will be enough.

We had the discussion during counseling and all was positive and good.
THEN… it was time for visitation.

During visitation we had a good visit, but then came the twisted thinking.
“If I experience my past abuse, maybe I won’t be afraid of it anymore!”


There is a huge difference between a fictitious scary movie and child abuse that is REAL!
To think that she can over come her fear of abuse by being abused again is
gut wrenchingly sad for us as her parents.
We want her to long for nurture and proper affection. NOT ABUSE!
We want her to come to us when she is afraid, and be comforted and made to feel safe.
She STILL has askewed thinking that SHE must conquer all these things on her own; and that she is truly ALONE. She is saying things about trust and learning to depend upon us to help guide her, but I’m not convinced she is there yet in her deep thinking. Instead her thought process tells us that she may STILL yet put herself into dangerous situations. For now, she is in a safe place; a detention center. But when she gets out, she won’t be. She will be back into the free world again, and that is scary for me as her mom.
I DO realize this time is coming and we cannot keep her where she is until she is older. We have limited time. So we know that there is much work to do before that release date comes!

We immediately wrote to her counselor when we got home so she can address the differences between real and fiction and help her know that going through abuse now OR a long time ago would be equally scary because it IS scary and dangerous!

Oh how we yearn for her long term healing and look forward to her having a healthy self image, and a healthy view on what is real and what is fiction.

We have a ways to go, but we WILL get there! 🙂

An Aha Moment again…..

Over the last several years, we have been learning more and more about what abuse and neglect does to the brain. It changes it.

I have written long ago about chaos being normal and normal seeming like chaos to the newly adopted child, and that IS true.
It is our job as parents to flip that around and help them to see that normal, boring, mundane family life IS the norm and all that horrid chaos of abuse they endured over the years is NOT normal.

But what about when that chaos is so ingrained in them on so many levels? What about when you peel back the layers of the onion of life, the layers never seem to end. You delve deeper and deeper to the core, and at the heart of the onion is not FEAR but true darkness. It is a darkness caused by a parentless void, no direction, no instruction, no love, no grace, no solid foundation; it is nothingness where one did as one pleased or had others do to them as they pleased at the core, the VERY CORE, is emptiness. It is a belief system of emptiness. It is a system that says “You are not lovable. You are worthless. You are bad. You have no hope.”

The FEAR comes, not from the skeletons of the past revealed, but from the changing of the core belief system.
YOU DO HAVE HOPE!….F..E..A..R!!!!!

When sweetie came to us with the big smile, we had NO IDEA the depths she had been through. We THOUGHT we did. We didn’t and neither did her first or second families.
If I have learned anything through being an adoptive parent, or even an adult in this world, it is that the more I learn, the more I realize I do NOT know.
And the more I learn, the more I cling, RUN, CLEAVE to the Savior, because It.IS. SCARY!

So, a couple of years ago when Sweetie 4 realized that what had been done to her was WRONG, not normal, it rocked her world. She was starting to feel safe, but it was too much to accept. EVERYTHING from her old life had been challenged. And now, the most personal of relationships, she found to be abnormal.

IT was too much. Her eyes were opened to the possibility that she was going to have to see things very differently.
And she fell apart.
Honestly, we have written before about this, but we NEVER have seen somebody unravel to the core so fast as she did. It was almost over night. We were making huge progress and it was like tumbling down the rabbit hole to despair.
And we have been there for a little while.

We have taken the bath in the pool of despair, we have rolled in the mud of humiliation, and we have been to some very dark places. But a light is shining.
There is a huge bright light of hope shining.

As Mike and I are learning to deal with mental illness and trauma, in a new way, we feel more empowered to meet Sweetie 4’s needs. Our journey is different, as all journeys are.
This one has taken us to Mars. 🙂 But since we are there, it is time to enjoy what Mars brings. It isn’t where we planned to be. But you know what? There is LIFE on Mars. 🙂

If you are going through your own journey, you will need to pack some very important things in your luggage, and you will also need to lighten your load a bit because Mars is REALLY HARD to navigate.

Things to remove:
Preconceived notions

Things to ADD:

Friends who understand

It is also important to find those who have walked before you, or can walk beside you as you navigate the future.
Our children need us, even when they say they don’t.
They WANT us, even when they say they don’t.
They crave our love and acceptance. They CRAVE that we understand them without words.
Sometimes on Mars there are no words.

I was talking to a counselor recently and told her that the only thing I could compare Sweetie 4’s life to would be if aliens came to Earth and told us that everything we ever believed about life here on Earth was primitive and backwards.
There are galaxies out there with advanced civilizations and all of them are communicating and getting along. It is Earth that is way behind.

That is what it has been like for Sweetie 4. But she is slowly but surely letting go of her fears… and the lies she has believed.

Yes, there is light…. and at the end of that tunnel?
We will be there.

A Mountain Moving Experience

It has been a while since I wrote an update. So much has happened and oh my goodness!

What does that mean? “Mountains have been moved?”
It means what seemed IMPOSSIBLE….

Happened. 🙂

As many of you know, Sweetie 4 has been home 5 years and 4 months and 20 days; not that I am counting. 🙂
When she was first home, and she discovered where Oklahoma was in relation to Texas, after a geography lesson,
she said, “We need to go and see my brother and sister NOW!” “I will break the door down!”

DOWN GIRL! It doesn’t work that way!
So what can we do? We can pray and ask the one who can MOVE MOUNTAINS!
And when HE MOVES that mountain, it will be in HIS TIME, not ours!
And we prayed. Again and again and again and again.

Year after year went by, and she felt hopeless.
We encouraged her to trust.
And soon, she was reunited with her sister.
That was an awesome time, and we have all maintained an ongoing relationship.
Sweetie was in her sister’s wedding 2 years ago and we have spent time together for holidays
and birthdays.

But there was another sibling that was very important to her.
And he was not in contact.

As she began to fall apart over the last two years, this had been an ongoing theme.
And now, she is in detention.

But this week, a mountain was moved. In God’s perfect timing, in HIS will, because HE DOES
LOVE to do GOOD for HIS children, there was a text message.
“Can we all come down for a visit?”

Now mind you, the visits are 30 minutes. So there would be a 5 hour drive, spend the night, get up at
6:00 a.m., visit behind glass for 30 minutes and then a five hour drive home.


We wrote to the counselor explaining the situation… and within an hour
arrangements were made for a “FAMILY SESSION” WITH the counselor and then a TWO HOUR
visit, face to face. No glass, no phones… FACE TO FACE!


We were delighted to be a part of this. I wish we could have seen her face.
But we were told there were squeals of joy, and a lot of emotion, catching up,
talking about things like “do you remember that house?” etc.

My heart is full of joy. I am so proud of these 3 siblings who have been through the unspeakable.
I have great hope in my heart for Sweetie 4.

God Answers Prayer
And Mountains are MOVED!


Pacific ocean waves crash the rocky beach coast by the Pigeon Point lighthouse in California by the Cabrillo highway US 1. It is California's most-photographed light house and the tallest one on the Pacific Coast

Pacific ocean waves crash the rocky beach coast by the Pigeon Point lighthouse in California by the Cabrillo highway US 1. It is California’s most-photographed light house and the tallest one on the Pacific Coast

Be a rock today! Be a lighthouse today! Be immovable in love and compassion towards those who need it most. They are usually the ones who present themselves as being unlovable. But when those waves of fear, control, anger and resentment, come crashing up against you… know that you are the solid rock they need in the moment, and the light you shine, will guide them safely to the shore of peace.

Progress? I Think So. :)

Last night we had a counseling session at the detention center with Sweetie 4.  We all knew 1 week in advance what this session was going to be about.  Mike and I talked all week about what we might say or what she might say and as we were on our way to go to the session we both looked at each other and said, “It may go well, it might not.  There is really no way to know!”

And with that, we walked in.  The counselor spoke with us briefly before going in, asking us our thoughts and offering her much needed advice.
We all agreed Sweetie 4 needs to know we love and support her.

And that was the attitude we went in with.
When we entered, I could see right away the wild look in her eyes.
It was a look of panic.  It was a look of fear.
I could see a very scared child, once again in a position of loss. Hopeless loss.  So she thought.

She was pretty riled up, and fiesty, saying some not so nice things.
“You are only acting this way in front of the counselor so you can make yourselves look good!”
Bounced right off.
I had that “I’m rubber mantra… going in my head”
We had to let it bounce off.

And she said, “I know you have lots of questions, “Ask me!”
We did have a few questions, but not the ones she expected.
And then, we affirmed our love for her.
She cried.
She was ashamed.
And then she was MAD!
The counselor asked her, “Why are you mad, things turned out well!”
She answered, “I can’t say.  I don’t know.”

I offered….
“I think she expected that we were going to talk, she would tell us things, there would be a blow up, we would get mad, she would cut off the relationship, move in with her sister and all would be happily ever after.”

Sweetie confirmed that was exactly what she was thinking.

Oh no! Sweetie4! You have parents who love you. We are still here!
She was frustrated, but at the same time, the wild look in her eyes
went away, she calmed down and we were then able to rub her back and she accepted our affection for her.

We gave her big hugs when it was over, and went on to visitation.
During visitation she was great. All that wall she had put up was gone.
How did we get here?  We have been working on trust for a  LONG LONG time.  She is going to have to take the dive into the trust pool.
And it just has not happened yet.
I looked at some old posts and thought about it taking a year or two years.  But five years? And we still aren’t there yet.

The Lord will give us the energy we need to continue.
Even though last night was sad…. it was productive.
It was sad because she still thinks she can’t live in a family.
It was productive because she experienced unconditional love.
Pressing on.

Defeating Shame

Defeating SHAME  written in 2011

Another BCLC Moment, brought to you……. 🙂

Sweetie 2 and 4  Skating by the Shoppe 🙂
If you understand the concepts behind BCLC (Beyond Consequences Logic and Control) you will know that being in a place of  FEAR_brings about  shame.  A child  can get angry or sullen or shut down.  They may act angry or say something short and stomp off or not accept an apology from a sibling.  And then, they are overcome by SHAME, because it is very obvious they FAILED…… and for some children, who are not secure, not safe, and have not practiced using their life tools enough, FAILURE is inevitable and therefore SHAME overpowers them.

We have seen a few stomp offs to the room to pout. (aka shut down)  And as we are getting to understand each other better and read body language better, it was obvious that our sweetie was not angry, but she was ashamed of herself.  She had not controlled herself like she COULD have, and in turn became defensive and hurt refused to accept an apology…..

The look on her face was Scared, Worried and Ashamed….. I walked into the room and saw a sweet sweet child contemplating her future as she lay on the bed…..There were no tears, because she has had to remain strong throughout her ENTIRE life.
(there is much to say about this later, not now)

A child who is laying on a bed and not crying in sorrow, is typically seen as rebellious, or defiant…..
She was neither.

I asked her if I could lay next to her and actually got a yes….. 🙂 Horray!
I told her she didn’t have to say anything, but could she just shake her head yes or no? She said Yes, with a head shake…. 🙂

Are you worried? yes
Are you angry? no
Are you sad? yes
Do you feel sad that you didn’t accept an apology? yes
Do you want to make things better? yes
Are you worried about whether you get to stay? yes
Do you think we might send you away? yes

This is a little girl who was laying there determining her future all by herself, wondering if yet again she would get sent away….. My heart broke for her.

So I talked to her about normal families….. What is a NORMAL family?  People are human, just like you! They get bossy, just like you! They get sad, mad, happy, joyful, just like you!
And when they don’t agree, they apologize and forgive! They don’t worry about leaving their family!
They are SAFE!
Safe is an important word around here.  Safe means exactly that, SAFE! SAFE to FEEL, SAFE to be HONEST, SAFE to LOVE, SAFE to be angry….BUT….. ALSO: SAFE TO BE VULNERABLE, SAFE TO BE HUMBLE, SAFE TO BE LOVING, SAFE TO BE FORGIVING!  You will NOT be REJECTED!

Why am I typing in all Caps! Because I am so HAPPY! I am happy to  tell you that our little sweetie responded so very well to that. She responded with tears and hugs and as I told her that she was safe and secure and didn’t need to be ashamed, she latched on and said, “I love you mommy”, over and over again.  And then came the “I love my sisters, I love daddy, I love ……”  🙂

And then, she said, “You are bossy too!” I said, yes, “sometimes I am..”..  She said, “what is bossy?”  I told her it is when you try to tell others what to do in a way that isn’t as polite as you could be!  She got this shocked look and said, “Oh, you are not bossy!”  LOL  I said, actually sometimes I am….but I do try not to be.
We both had a good laugh.

She is starting to understand the concept of permanence and real functional family, yet she has just been here a month.  I’m sure it will be more real to her in a a year, or two years or 5 years….. right now, it is a new concept. And just like learning a new math concept, for me anyway, it is learn, repeat, repeat, repeat until I get it. I never get it the first time. 🙂

While we were on the bed, I asked her if she would repeat these words before we got up:
“I am loved! I DESERVE to be loved!  The first part was easier than the second part.  When she got through the second part, there were little tears. But they were not tears of sorrow, but of relief, peace and joy.
I also made sure she understood that her standing in the family was that she was a vital part of family, just as if she had always been here. I let her know, she is just as important and loved as all 8 of our children.  Just because she is the newest, doesn’t mean she isn’t just as valuable as everybody else.
She is, and mommy and daddy will do our VERY best to be FAIR and LOVING!  Her ideas and opinion DO matter…. 🙂

When we were finished with our talk, I suggested that she apologize for hurting another little girlies feelings…. by not forgiving.  She got up and went right to task!  And we had a wonderful evening last night…. (We actually have had a great week)
I am so proud of my brave girl!  I cannot imagine having to relearn everything you thought was true about yourself.
The things she thought about herself were so sad…. and now, when I say, “You are smart, you are sweet, you are lovely, you are beautiful, you are nice, you are loving, you are kind, you are amazing!
Instead of a shrug, she smiles. 🙂

A Not So BCLC Moment

Originally Written in June 2011

We can turn our personal failures into successes

A NOT so BCLC Moment: courtesy of ME! Turned into a BCLC moment…. in the end.

Today started out as a great day. Everything was going well… Sweetie 4  was very excited about her treasures from the Euro Deli and said some really sweet things.

Then….all of a sudden…. there was complaining, there was arguing, there was demanding, and it went on and on and on and on……
There was the story cd in the bedroom she insisted she didn’t want to hear because it distracted her from playing. Her sisters did want to hear the story.  When I went into the room to check, she had brought a BOX of dirt into the bedroom to make a “habitat” for her fake frog, onto the white carpet.  LOL

I very nicely told her to please take the dirt outside, we cannot have dirt in the house like that. She pointed out that I have plants with dirt in them all over! “So Why Can’t I?”  I told her it wouldn’t be fair to the old vacuum cleaner.   She then proceeded to pout and pout and argue and argue…. and I was not budging. “Go take your dirt outside. The frog habitat will have to stay outside.”

And then, it was time for chores.  She complained about doing her part and how she always has to do more and that it isn’t fun and that she is tired and how everybody leaves everything everywhere on purpose and…. and…. and……

I also had to purchase crutches for Sweetie 2. She is having trouble with her leg and can’t wear a prosthetic right now. Sweetie 4 asked to play with the crutches. I said, yes, but if Sweetie 2 needs them, she must give them to her.
When Sweetie 2 needed them, she said, “She doesn’t really need them….” So , I had to take them away for good while Sweetie 2  was needing them.
After several hours….

Mama, blew it.  Her voice was getting louder and I got louder…. and I said, STOP!!!! NOW!!!! STOP IT!
AND SHE SAID, “I don’t like it that you raised your voice!”
I said, “I don’t like it that you have been raising your voice all day!”
And she said, “NO! NOT ALL DAY! I played with Sweetie 2 for about  10 minutes and we went to the store! THAT IS NOT ALL DAY!”
And I said, “Since Noon! It is now 4:00!”
She said,
“Well, just because I raised my voice doesn’t mean you should!” Hello!

And then….. I said, “YOU ARE RIGHT…. I SHOULDN’T AND I DID!”
And You are WRONG! You shouldn’t EVER raise your voice to mama!

And so, we went to the rocking chair and started over. WHEW!

So, since she has had so many opinions on my parenting today, I made her the parent and I became her.
I did my best to act like her, sound like her and do all the famous facial movements…..She watched with amusement and when it was her turn to instruct me, she blurted out….. “I have NO IDEA WHAT TO SAY! I’m just a kid! I don’t want to be the mom!” LOL

Yes, she takes her role play seriously. 🙂

We then had a talk about trust. And I was able to tell her how much I love her.  After that we snuggled for a while and we came up with some ideas on how to get out of the bad habits she has formed over all the years.

We talked about how hard it is, because it IS a habit.  She responded well to Bananas, but today I didn’t do it.  She has responded very well to prayer and breathing… but today, I didn’t do that either.
So when the right time came, I told her that I KNOW she CAN do it! She can do VERY WELL, and I also know it is hard work…. just like it is for me to be a mom.  Just like she couldn’t think of one thing to tell me when she was pretending to be me…. sometimes it is just that hard for me to be a mom too.

I want so much to help her see that there are some destructive behaviors that she MUST rule over!
“If you want to control something, control your temper!” LOL

I guess today was a 2 steps back day. 🙂  I know she is feeling anxious about me taking Sweetie 3 and Sweetie 2  to camp on Monday, and that will be the first time we have been separated.
Daddy is making plans for a fun filled week for Himself, Sweetie 1 and Sweetie 4.

Somehow, I think everything will be ok, in spite of my personal failure today.
And since about 5:00, she has been a perfect little angel. It is now 9:20! 🙂

Glad we finished this day off like it started. 🙂

Sweetie 3 is Blooming

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

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

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

A New Phase

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Eventful Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Introducing Sue Ellen

SueEllenSue Ellen is our newest family member. She was born on Feb. 29th, 2016.  She is adorable and sweet!
She is soaking up loads of love from the Sweeties!

“What Is Your Need?”

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

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

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

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

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

We won’t give up Sweetie.

Karyn’s Work On Earth Is Completed

It is with great sadness that I read this yesterday. But we also rejoice that Dr. Purvis is no longer in pain. She is completely whole, and the work that she did HERE, will forever make a difference in the lives of children from hard places and the families that love them so.
Rest well at the feet of Christ, dear and faithful servant!

Dr. Karyn Purvis

You Raise Me Up

4 years ago Sweetie 2 did this dance for my birthday. 🙂
I am still in love with it. 🙂  Be blessed today! 🙂

From My Heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Lovely Day!

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

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

The DEVASTATION of Pornography On This Generation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addicted to Trauma? Rejection? Drama?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any thoughts?

The Struggle

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

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

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

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

Resting at the foot of the Cross…..

Blindsided Again…Sort Of

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

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

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

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

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

And so, we march on into the unknown….

It’s Not About The Paper

Have you ever seen that video clip, “It’s not about the nail?”

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

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

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


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

Ten Years….

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


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

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

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

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

We were horrified.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We all said “Dos vadana.”  And court was over.
We had a new daughter!

The Ten Day Wait

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

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

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

Olga had a family. Us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back To Kyiv

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Never mind.

Where We Are For Now: Reflections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The Odd Couple”

They ADORE each other and have been together longer with each other than they have been with us.  I walked into their room and oh how their wonderful personalities just shine! 🙂
I JUST LOVE this! 🙂

Sweetie’s 2 and 3 Are On The Slopes!

I am so proud of my skiier and snowboarder!
IMG_0838Here there are with their surgeon and Friend Dr. Herring.
We are so thankful for the opportunities they have been given!
The amputee ski trip is the high light of their year!

Making Connection Through Art

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


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