baby hand
Visiting Sweetie 4 on Thursday evening  didn’t go so well.  She wound up leaving the visit asking  demanding  for me never come back , saying that she would refuse my visits.

I have to say, that had never happened before in any of our visits.  So this was new.  It wasn’t without trepidation that I returned to visit this a.m.

She wasn’t  expecting me, even though this is our normal routine, but I was there, determined to make a connection with her.  I am her mama, and in her words from the past,  the best mama she has had ‘so far’.  🙂   Hopefully the LAST! 🙂
I am mama 4.    Could you imagine having FOUR mothers!
And those are just the “official” mothers, not the ones who do temporary care.
Other than her birth family , we are the family  who has had the longest relationship with her.  She was in her birth family for 7 1/2 years.  She has been with us almost 5.

Today’s Visit:
She came in and we started our visit with typical small talk.
“What are you reading? What movie did you watch? Who is
caring for your pod today?”  etc.
Then came the sharing of the weekend events that she typically loves to hear about.They were   that Aunt Carla, Uncle Bob and Uncle Dave came to visit us and that at the hotel, they served Texas Shaped Waffles to the guests. We watched part of Les Miserables, and the girls went to see a movie with friends.

Without a break in small talk, she went from smiling to yelling.
“You just want me in here! You don’t want me at home! Why are you visiting me I told you you are wasting your time!!!”
“Families are SUPPOSED to be together for holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Birthdays and YOU DON’T WANT ME HOME! ”
and more.
She then put the phone down and refused to talk to me, ringing the bell to leave.
I moved over to the next window where I could see her and knocked on the window lightly…. She finally looked up and trying to smile,  so she didn’t think I was mad, I held  the phone up…..
She picked up the phone and said, “WHAT?”  “Why are you here? ”
“Why would I want to talk to you? You’re AFRAID of what I might do, RIGHT?”
I waited for her to stop, and the officer banged on the door telling her to settle down or she’d lose her visit.  “She said, “YES SIR! I don’t care, I don’t want her to visit!”  But he wisely didn’t open the door. 🙂
(He is a really REALLY fine man)

So I tried a different idea.  “Sweetie, breathe with me, just like we do at home.  And she DID…. We took some deep cleansing breaths together, her on one side of the glass and me on the other.
I put my hand up to the glass and asked her to put her hand up, and she DID….
And then, I was able to “connect” with her.
“Sweetie, I’m here because I love you.  I’m here because I have HOPE!” “I will NEVER EVER give up on you.”
“Do you think maybe you are afraid?”  She seemed to relax and
talk about her disappointment of having to stay so long.
It was then that I could once again give her clues as to why she was there and why it was going to be longer this time.
She listened as I was very clear but gentle with her.  You are here because of your own decisions, not because mom and dad placed you here.  We think this is going to be a good place for you for awhile. They have counseling and life skills training that you need!
When you are home, you won’t try and your decisions are not good decisions.  It is not ok to break your probation requirements!

And then I told her that her counselor said that she shouldn’t worry about high school electives that she can’t get there. College is what matters for career, and the biggest thing to work on is doing well outside of detention, because THOSE behaviors will decide how far she can go in a career, not if she had Spanish or pre med sciences.

As we continued the conversation, she was feeling so “displaced” because she isn’t 100% sure where she is going to be.  We talked about how at home, every year we switch roommates and change things up a little bit.  Maybe she could think of where she is like that for awhile.  In January, we will be changing rooms up again at home. In detention, at some point soon, she will be changing from Short Term to Long term and will get a new room.  We talked about the positives in long term including she could write in her room, instead of only in the common area like in short term, and before I knew it, she was much calmer.

We changed the subject a little bit again and I asked her what we could bring to long term when she is there during the holidays.
She had already been asking those questions and had some answers.
By the time our visit was over, she was in a more pleasant mood, had decided that tomorrow she would tell the judge she is ready for long term and that she wants to do well.

I’m so glad I didn’t leave when she said she was finished with the visit.
And so glad that she looked up at my knocking and responded to pick up the phone again, and try again.

She is so exhausted from herself.  But right now, she is trapped because she does NOT want to face the WALL that she can’t seem to climb.
She will never have to climb it alone.  We will be there as a safety net for her as much as we can.  But we cannot “save” her from her behaviors. We have helped her to see that she needs to be responsible and accountable, and provide other healthier tools to help her  handle her anger, fear, frustration and confusion about love and family. But she has to pick those tools up and use them.

We are so thankful to be in an area where Juvenile Detention is looked upon as a place for rehabilitation and not just a waiting game until a kid goes to adult jail.  They are working VERY hard to provide services that are truly helpful, and she could not be in a better place to meet her needs at this point.

Of course, we would love to have her home, but right now, she is too dangerous to be at home.  It is so hard to write that.  Safety is important.

BUT… we connected.  And it was good.

An “Ah-Ha” Moment

Peace VS. Chaos

After our visit on Thursday evening, we were discussing the events that lead up to incarceration, and what things are like now.

As predicted, Sweetie 4 was fine. She appeared to be calm and was smiling when we came in.  She was asking about granola bars that she likes and was a little worried she might not pass Spanish when she gets back because the detention center does not offer Spanish. It was as if she doesn’t know that she will be there for quite a while.
She struggles with the concept of time.

We just let her talk. There was NO MENTION of the young man she was ready to die and go to jail for.  Not a mention.  There was not a mention of what happened, regarding her violence and anarchy.
Instead, she was complaining with a slight smile that the other girls in her pod are so badly behaved and it drives her crazy so she screams for everybody to shut up.
She went on to explain that she is the best behaved in the pod and has lost no points and has not had any “room time”.

As we were listening, it was like hearing the very same words from the last two times in detention.
And it dawned on me…. My “Ah Ha Moment”……

Something we haven’t been able to figure out, was WHY she is so much more well behaved in detention, besides the fact that there are locks and officers that have some serious power.

I have written much on my blogs about chaos and the craving of chaos at a brain level… (a bio chemical level)  I do not think this is  a purposeful choice in a way, as the brain is craving it, much like you or I would crave sugar or caffeine.
So even though she knows what she is doing is not ok, it is like she caves in to a sugar attack.  But it isn’t sugar.  It is a “chaos craving attack.”

We tried to recreate the simple choices routine at home, which is what she seemed to thrive with in detention.  She liked not having so many choices, and school uniforms helped with that. We made a simple schedule to follow and she liked the security of that schedule.
What we DID NOT recreate, was the “controlled chaos” that happens in detention.  She was able to get that bio chemical fill IN detention, combined with the limitations.
But at home, we are peaceful and everybody is generally happy and following societal norms of getting up on time, family devotions, going to school, helping with family chores, spending time together, playing games, going boating, going to work, family dinners etc.
THIS PART of family life, she cannot stand.  Normal? NO.  But it is very real to her.
Instead of punishments, which do not work for a child who does not understand cause / effect, we created a coin earning program for her where she would earn coins every two hours for positive behaviors.  We chose every two hours because that is all she could handle.
A few days she earned all her coins and there were prizes to be had.
More recently, she was down to about 7coins in  a week. She didn’t care about prizes or money.  She didn’t care about coins.
She was trying to recreate chaos on a regular basis and seemed to be upset, yet thrilled once she achieved that level she needed, which was getting higher and higher and more and more dangerous.

Now, at SCHOOL , there was PLENTY of chaos.  So she was chaotic.
What they DIDN’T provide, (because they cannot) was the limited choices.  There were no locks on cabinets, she could choose to go to class on time or not.  She could eat or not eat, she could see whom she wanted when she wanted and she could not handle the FREEDOMS at school, so she acted out and became more and more out of control.
Her behaviors started to spill over into instruction time, and she was spending a lot of time creating more drama.

So at home, she had peace and limits.  At school she had chaos and freedom.
At detention, she has EXTREME Limits and Controlled Chaos.
AND THAT combination seems to work for her.

The BIG question is, how to help her change her brain to see peace as desirable and not chaos.  We have had the joy of working hard  with some of our other sweeties when they first came home and we were able to successfully help them to transition to a new “normal”.   One of our sweeties took a long time for that transition to happen.

So far, after nearly 5 years, Sweetie 4 has not been able to transition. In fact, she has dug in and gone backwards in her behaviors for an extended period of time.
Sometimes I don’t think she likes it, but most of the time, sadly,  she DOES like it.  It is all driven by whatever emotion she is feeling.  She is ruled and driven by pure, raw emotion.  There is no logic to it, and therefore trying to reason on a logical, cognitive level,  is not successful.  Changing the brain’s craving from chaos to peace is proving to be a near impossible feat with Sweetie 4.

Now, what to do, WHAT TO DO!!!!

Love NEVER fails!  NEVER EVER will we give up!
BUT…we also have to be safe.

At this point, things are not in our hands and decisions will be made by the courts for her extended detention.  We are praying for wisdom and discernment for when that time is over.

She is getting older and my fears can take over my thoughts and all that does is raise my blood pressure.  UGH

We have time for visits and writing.  One of the therapists is hoping to see her in detention. This will be good!
And now, we rest, wait, plan  and pray.
Her story is NOT over.


Tonight we will be visiting with Sweetie 4 at the detention center.  I have not seen her since Monday.  We  don’t know what to expect, other than the usual smell of the center when you walk in, the heavy doors, the buzzer that locks you into a room and the glass window that divides us and keeps us from being able to touch each other.  She will have a phone and we will have a phone.  Mike and I will take turns talking for the 30 minute visit, and then we will go home.
And she will be escorted back to her pod.
It is just so stinking sad. 🙁

I was reading up on Borderline Personality Disorder, which has been a diagnosis being thrown around for Sweetie 4.  The disorder is one of the most difficult types of mental illness.  Treatment is difficult.
And if she doesn’t want to try, there is nothing we can do.
Right now, she doesn’t want to try.
Will maturity make a difference?  I sure hope so.

But for now, we wait and watch the process unfold before our eyes.
So we visit and we talk… “What did you eat? What are you reading?”
“We have a baby chicken named Martin.”
Maybe she will smile and say ” aww, I want to see him. ” Or, maybe she will shrug her shoulders and say, “I don’t care.”
There is no way to know.  So we will smile and say, “We have a new baby chicken named Martin.”

It is a helpless place to be.  But we are not without hope.
And there are lives to live and activities to attend!
We will be attending our favorite celebration of the Harvest
with good friends.
It is just so sad that Sweetie can’t be a part of it.

So There Is This Boy…. :)

The Sweeties are getting older.  Sometimes I miss the days of this:The princesses on teh swing another fairy princess

duck girls DSCF0076 DSCF0084-1  boys%252Band%252Bgirls
4 girls
But these days are precious too….They are just the beginning of more change. 🙂kids

100_9809There are now “Homecoming Dances”
and respectful requests to talk to “Dad”…..
And pictures with good friends
friendsAnd special friends…..
erika and jon

Daddy is still very special…. 🙂

And he still takes the girls out on Thursdays.
He has been faithful to spend time with them and guide them.
They will always treasure their Thursday nights which are including a lot more driving! 🙂
As much as I love the earlier stage, I LOVE this stage too.
There are already requests being made to arrange for special Christmas Eve dinners with other families, and slowly but surely these sweeties will be ALL GROWN UP!
I am so proud them!  It just brings JOY to my heart to see them flourishing.
And I am in AWE of the process!

Order to Apprehend

images-1Yeah, that is a fancy way to say there was a warrant issued for Sweetie 4’s arrest.  She was apprehended at school today.
Once again, Sweetie 4 has found herself in the middle of turmoil, drama and incarceration.

We are at a loss for words.  The only thing a parent can do if a child is dead set on destruction, is cry out to the Lord.  We have been doing that as well as spending many days involved in intense counseling.

But it is up to Sweetie 4 to change her direction; we cannot do that for her.  
She knows the tools to use to calm herself, and she knows how to use them.  She decided she didn’t have to follow probation rules and openly flaunted the fact that she wasn’t following the rules.
She didn’t believe the rules applied to her.  She was taking joy in tormenting the family with threats of harm and the worst of cursing language.
Now she knows differently.
She unfortunately believes that we can get her out of this. She was demanding that I tell them at court on Monday to recommend she come home.  She said, “You can do that!”
She doesn’t understand the way the law works.
BUT SHE DID UNDERSTAND she wasn’t supposed to be doing what she was doing.  Secretly seeing a convicted FELON at school was NOT ok with probation!  They told her!  Sternly WARNED her! She didn’t listen.
Truly, this is probably the best thing for her, as hard as that sounds.
She is safe from “Felony Fred”.  If all goes as we believe it will, she will be in Juvenile Detention for nine months.
While we are sad,  and we feel terribly sad for her Russian sister who was to visit us next week as a surprise, we will never ever give up hope, because LOVE NEVER FAILS!

This truly has been a heartbreaking trial for our entire family.  We love our girl.  She is not without hope, but she has to look to the one who can change her heart.

I’ve been practicing my lesson the counselor gave me, keeping my surroundings very centered and making me aware of the true condition of our surroundings.  We are surrounded with loving people and family, we are in a safe place and Sweetie 4 is in a safe place too. She is not being harmed, but being kept from harming others.  She could not be in a better, well equipped detention center that offers counseling and life skills training.
We are so fortunate.  So very, very fortunate.

Sweetie 2 Had Surgery

(This video is from  5 years ago, but it is one of my favorites. She danced for my birthday)
Many of you know that two of our Sweeties are amputees.  Sweetie 2 has a below the knee amputation of her left leg.  She is an amazing athlete, dancer and daughter. 🙂
She has grown SO MUCH!  She wasn’t expected to reach 5 feet tall, but as of today, she is 5 ft. 2 1/2 inches!
With all that growth, her bones grow in her amputated leg and it causes her pain.  This is the 5th time she has had to have those bones trimmed back!
Every time it has been a 2 to 3 day hospital stay.
Would you believe she came home on the same day!!!
She is an amazing girl, and TOUGH!
I would have been whining and begging for pain meds.
Her only request was to EAT. LOL
Once she ate, and got around abit, she was ready to go home.
She is such a trooper.
AND she is a sweetheart. 🙂
Here is another favorite:


Hey There Dear Reader,

Apparently for a long time there had been problems with making comments.  I do believe that is fixed!  Yea!  If you are a reader, please feel free to leave comments! 🙂  I enjoy hearing from you.

Keeping Your Feet On The Ground…. When Everything Is In The Air!

Sweetie 4 is continuing her spiral downward once again.  It is so very hard to watch.  And it is something completely out of our control.  The choices she continues to make, may land her back into juvenile detention for awhile.
But you know what?  We are at peace with how we are trying to guide and help her.  As her own personal storm rages on, and we are the targets of her aggression and rage,  that strong bubble that we have had to develop is working.

But I have a NEW One, that really was helpful yesterday.
After a phone call that she was once again in ISS and the knowledge that this was going to result in detention, my heart was racing and I was feeling overwhelmed.
I CANNOT keep her safe.  I can offer her safety, but I can’t make all the choices for her.  I can limit her choices, but I cannot force her to choose wisely.

Sooo, as I was driving and worrying, which is NOT a good thing to do, especially for those of us who have high blood pressure….. I decided to try what our counselor suggested.

I sat in the car and said, “Ok, my feet are right here and they are pressing on the brake and gas.  I am driving down the street in our town to pick Sweetie 3 up from college.  I have on jeans and a turtleneck.  The stores are open, and it is BEAUTIFUL outside, with a beautiful beginning sunset.
I am NOT running for my life, from ISIS, I am not in a war zone where people are being bombed and harmed.
My daughter cursed loudly at me in front of a bunch of people and threatened to harm me,  and what she said was hurtful, but I’m not dying.

And you know what?  It worked!  I was immediately calm and everything was put into perspective.  I knew I needed to call her psychiatrist, and take some notes down to make a different plan for her at the school.  Mike and I need to talk about a few different ways to try and reach her, and IF she goes to Juvenile Detention, that will be HER choice, not mine.  I will do all I can to help her make better choices, but ultimately, it is up to her, and I cannot own what she does.

That is a place of peace in the midst of a huge storm.
And I’m truly thankful for a little oasis.


What a trail we have plodded in the last year and a half!  Sweetie 4 began to spiral out of control about that long ago.  Since then, we have been building a team to help us navigate through the tough job of parenting a child with such a difficult background, who is struggling with mental health, behavioral, hormonal, esteem, and spiritual issues.
Let me start with, my thankfulness for those in the adoption community who walk the walk and talk the talk of unconditional love, and encourage through example, the path of love.
Over the years, I have met so many, many people, too many to name, who have brought great insight and wisdom into our lives.
A HUGE Thank you.  You who blog, write, speak,share, THANK YOU.
For many, MANY families, all that is needed is a strong support group, system, family, friends and church family.  But sometimes, you need more.
In the case of Sweetie 4, we had to reach outside of our typical community and outside of our comfort zone.

We are also,  SO THANKFUL for the team of people who have come into our lives to help us help HER navigate these next few years.
With all of our other children who have come from difficult backgrounds, we have navigated the waters with them fine, and they have succeeded without extra intervention, other than us continuing to learn and study how best to parent them.
With Sweetie 4, we are on a completely different plane.  We have never worked so hard!  We thought we had before, but we had no idea. 🙂
As we have continued down this road, we have felt the Lord’s blessing in each of the people who have come into our lives.
Sweetie 4’s art therapist is provided  through the Child Advocacy Center. They are a WONDERFUL resource for therapy and specialize in TRAUMA!  They are also free of charge!  I don’t think we could have a better art therapist! She is awesome!
Our favorite social worker is coming to our home and doing family therapy, because the extreme behaviors Sweetie 4 has, has brought a tremendous amount of stress to the other sweeties and to us.  She has been by our side for almost 13 years, and we are so thankful for her insight and ideas!  Our newest experience is with a psychiatrist.
She is AWESOME! She was appointed by the court and could not be a better fit!
Then there is our pastor and elder who are our prayer partners.  They play a VITAL role in encouragement.
Our family doctor is part of our team.  And then there is the school.
Thankfully, we are in an awesome district, and I could not have asked for a better school.  They are all together in working to help Sweetie 4 succeed.
Then, we have a probation officer.  This is probably the most difficult person to trust,  on our team, but she IS on our team.  Her role is law enforcement, not therapy, and not counseling.  It has taken some getting used to, but I think she is doing a good job.

All of these people collaborate together and support us as parents!
How awesome is that!
Lastly, we have our family…. They are awesome and we could not do what we do without them.

One thing I have learned is that there are many GOOD people out there who are well trained.  The Child Advocacy Centers are nation wide and we have found excellent care there.
We plan to attend a parent support group soon through them.

It is important to realize when you cannot do things on your own.  It is not a failure to ask for help.  Of course Parents are the primary and best source of help and healing in their children’s lives, but when circumstances are extenuating, and extreme, reaching out for PROPER and SUPPORTIVE help is a good thing to do!
While this time has been extremely difficult, we have learned so very much, and we are continuing to learn.

Sweetie 4 is going to therapy and enjoying it. 🙂
This is a HUGE change from 6 months ago!

So thank you to ALL those who serve in the mental health community and GET trauma!  Thank you for understanding and being a support!

If your child is in need of more than you can provide as a parent, and things are not improving, do not hesitate to find PROPER help.
Start with your adoption social worker and they can guide you from there.
Hang in there, and remember, LOVE NEVER FAILS!

A Visit From Alex

At our kick off meeting for Adoption Support Group, Alex Krutov came to visit.  He shared with us from his heart and we are so thankful to have had the honor to have him speak to our little group.

He also spent some time talking to the Sweeties after the meeting.

If you don’t know Alex, you really REALLY should get to know him through his book “Infinitely More” or look to hear his speak at a conference in your area.
Alex was an orphan in Russia and grew up in the system. He described what things were like for him, and also shared a great message of hope and healing.
Alex has a ministry called “The Harbor” which supports many kids who have aged out of the orphanage system.
What a blessing!
Thank you Alex!

Catching Up

Well, school has been in full swing for about 7 weeks and the girls are all doing well.  Testing has begun for sweetie 4 at the local high school to make sure she is getting the proper supports.

She has been able to keep herself out of detention for the last 10 weeks!

We have a great support team at the school, but this does not come easy.  In order to build a support team you have to let people know what is going on and your private lives are no longer private.  Being honest and keeping good records goes a long way to find the right advocates.  Not everybody will be on board, but many will and honestly you don’t need everybody.  You DO however need a team.

Our team consists of principals, school counselors, psychiatrist, family doctor, art therapist, family therapist, and probation officer.
It is a team we never dreamed we would need, but they make a good team.
We keep them updated on Sweetie’s status and how she is doing.
She continues to struggle, but with lots of input we have made some specific changes in direction and we are doing better than before.
We have a LONG ways to go with her to feel that she is “out of the woods”.
She can be a sweetheart, and she can also turn on a dime and be quite dangerous in her behaviors.  At 15 1/2, some of the decisions she is making keep us on our knees.
But that is OK.
We are here to love her, and see her through.  We are trying hard to be her guides through this very dark time and hopefully she will see light.

On a lighter note, Sweetie’s 1-3 are all doing great.  Sweetie 2 has surgery next week. Sweetie 1 is in college and got a B+ on her first paper in English!  Way to go!!!
Sweetie 2 continues to flourish in ROTC.

AND we have just had our 12th grandchild!  A girl! 🙂
(well, WE didn’t have her, but our daughter in law did!) 🙂


Hey There folks…. I have been locked out of my blog for awhile due to some glitch and computer problems. I finally had time to get the problem solved, so I’m up and running again!  Whew!

Simple Lessons For Healing #1

I am planning to write a series of life lessons that we have used over the years to help our girls.  This one was actually from today.
If you enjoy it, or use it, please leave a comment and let us know how it worked in your family!

I designed this object lesson (a spinoff from an old marriage counseling lesson with some tweaks)  because Sweetie 4 believes family would be happier without her sometimes. She loves us in her own way, , but does not understand how much she is deeply loved by all of us.  She was thinking she could just go away and everything would be as if she were never here. That is NOT clear thinking!


Today’s object lesson went like this.
Supplies needed: 1 piece of card stock paper
1 piece of construction paper any color (but different from card stock)
Card stock paper represents the family.
Construction paper represents a member of the family.. .(said child object lesson is for)
GLUE the papers together with a glue stick. Glue it well… not just on the edges.
SEAL IT…. to illustrate a covenant.
Then, ask what a covenant is?
She answered, “an agreement?…. or a commitment?”
Family is STRONG when they are committed to each other. (card stock)
When you came to the family, we made a covenant to be your family, no matter what. Richer, poorer, sickness, health, if we lose everything or gain everything…. we are committed to each other. YOU.
Do you really REALLY think, being away from family will make us happy?
(this was said before…as in, if I’m gone you will all be happy again)
Do you really believe that you have had no effect your family?
Of course you have! We love you. Love effects us. Commitment effects us.

So you think you can leave a covenant without effecting the other members of the covenant or yourself?
Let’s see how this works….
Try to separate the sheets of paper.
What happens is the one color is stuck to the other color and the construction paper trying to separate from the card stock paper is shredded.

So, not only is there a huge impression left on the family paper, the family member trying to leave is shredded in the process.

1. Lesson one….. family is committed no matter what.
2. Lesson two….. dividing family EFFECTS the family greatly!
There is no such thing as a clean breakaway!
Now try to glue the shredded paper the best you can, back to the family.
Do your best! The paper was glued greatly, but there were obvious signs that the paper had been severely damaged in the process. YET…. even though there was damage, the paper held strong BECAUSE it was glued to the family paper. (the card stock)

3. Lesson three….. Even though there are trials and struggles, we are not shredded
and alone when we STICK to our family and allow them to love
and help us to heal. In fact, we can be STRONG and we won’t
fall apart.

End of object lesson… Big hugs.
You can make this stuff up as you go. Everything in life makes a great object lesson. smile emoticon
Teach them as you go throughout life…. on the wayside, as you walk, as you garden as you work, as you fold laundry…..

But don’t forget to be quiet.



We planted 2 fruit trees about 12 years ago in our front yard.  One of them died and the other one lived.  It was a pathetically sickly little tree for its first few years, and then it seemed to have deeper roots.  Every year it would blossom, but all the blossoms would fall off prematurely, and there was no hint of fruit.

I began to question if it was even a real fruit tree!
I knew that we needed a pollenator for this tree, but there were other trees in the neighborhood that should have sufficed.

As the years went by, no fruit came.  We cared for the little tree and it grew larger, slowly, larger.

I actually FORGOT what kind of fruit tree it was, because it never bore any fruit.
I just treated it like my “smallish shade tree” that didn’t really produce much shade.  I was disappointed.

It finally got big enough that it was rather pretty with all its blossoms in the spring, and this year, I was sitting on the porch swing admiring that tree.
This year has been ESPECIALLY rainy here in Texas.  In fact, we have had RECORD rainfalls.  And my little tree seemed to really like all that rain!
It was larger and greener than ever before!

Well, about a week ago, we were walking past the tree to get into the car and  as we walked by, one of the girls exclaimed with excitement, “LOOK MOM!”
I had stopped looking at the tree to examine it for fruit YEARS ago!

But there WAS FRUIT!  In fact, there was a decent amount of fruit!
Not loaded down, but FRUIT!
I was filled with joy for my little tree as it produced its first fruit!

I remembered now it was an apricot tree and now we can buy a pollenator for it to help it along to have more fruit!
BUT wow!  APRICOTS! They are sweet and delicious and OH how I have longed for that tree to produce fruit!
And now, it has!  I’m proud of my little tree!

So what does this have to do with adoption you might be wondering???

Well, FRUIT of course!  The fruit that is produced in our lives after much fertilizing and watering,  ss we pour ourselves into our children. Some of them produce fruit, healthy fruit, much easier than others.
We may find ourselves in a place where we get discouraged and no longer expect fruit.  We might even think that there is no life to produce the fruit; that the relationship that we have worked so hard to create,  is barren.

Well hang onto your hat!  Don’t forget to look up with expectation and hope!  Those little seeds you have planted, that fertilizer of love that you have poured onto and into your child’s life WILL take root and will produce fruit!
Don’t get discouraged when they seem to blossom and then those blossoms quickly fall away and they seem to go backward.  It just might take a much longer time to produce healthy fruit than expected!  Don’t forget to look up for the blessing!
Be thankful for the little blossoms because they are required to produce that fruit, even if they do fall of prematurely, at some point, they will remain!

Don’t Give Up!

I have some good news! I’ll write about it soon. 🙂


Parenting children who come from very hard places is not an easy feat!  We are making GREAT progress!  Sweetie 4 snuggled in tonight and expressed herself well!  She is working hard.
So PROUD of her!
And I am so proud of her sisters for pressing into family!

We will ALL make it through, learning and growing along the way!

I am SO THANKFUL for the people who have come into our lives with a joint concern to help our youngest sweetie.

We are ALL going to make it! 🙂

A Celebration!

Friday, we celebrated Sweetie 3’s 9th Anniversary!!!!
She is such a precious girl.  She came home at almost 8 years old from a special needs orphanage in Ukraine.  Her journey has been nothing but miraculous!

Sweetie 3 is blossoming into a beautiful young woman and let us know that she will be voting in the next election! WOW!
That puts things into perspective, doesn’t it!

She has brought us great joy since the day we met her.  We have watched her overcome obstacle after obstacle, including amputations, and reconstructive surgeries.
Nothing has held her back from love.

Sweetie three oozes the Love of Christ to everybody she meets.
She ministers to her sisters,  as well as friends.  I often see her encouraging one of her sisters.  She loves helping all she can around the house and does a great job.

Today, she is still home educating and also attending the local Jr. College where she is taking Russian.
I went to a recent conference on Language where she was a presenter.
She did a fantastic job.

AND…. drum roll please…….
She is learning to DRIVE!  🙂
Nope, we cannot hold this one back.  🙂
And we wouldn’t want to!

We are turning in her second to the last post placement report to Ukraine.  The last one will be due when she turns 18.
I am so thankful that the Lord brought her into our lives!

Sometimes There Are No Words

I was thinking about a title for this.  All I could think of was, “Devastated”  or “Shattered”.

But those words are without hope or purpose, though they may be used to describe feelings we have had the last few weeks and certainly the feelings of Sweetie 4.

I feel that I owe an explanation for my lack of writing in the last  several months.
We have been in the “thick” of trauma.
May I say something that I hate?


Deep breaths…..

Most of us are doing well.  We have taken in stride the events that are going on within our family and have acclimated to a new normal.
But at the same time, I believe we had “Frog in the Kettle Syndrome”.

DId you know that a frog can get into a kettle of cold water, and if he stays in there until the water is hot, and then boiling, he will not know that he is about to die.  He will die in that water.

Trauma being wreaked in a family can be like that.  As we made more and more accommodations, we kept acclimating to trauma, instead of trauma acclimating to changes.  And then, about 10 weeks ago, we found ourselves in that very hot  pot of water.
As we made huge efforts to turn the heat down, it boiled over… and nearly every appointment we made  to bring more tools into our toolboxes was met with cancellation because Sweetie 4 was spiraling so badly, we couldn’t keep up.  We made counseling appts and then the day before she would go into a unit.  We made them again after she got out and then she was back in….

We have found what a lot of parents have found.  There isn’t much help for the mentally ill in our society.  Our system is terribly broken.
Every state is different.  Beds are not available in many places, and the person on the other line is probably so used to getting calls they are robotic in response.  Many of the private care facilities are cost prohibitive…. one being 15,000! dollars a month!  Seriously?

We did reach out to the ADAPT team in our area and they would talk with us and with her, but ultimately, there isn’t much they can do other than talk.
We were being told we were doing all we could do.
But when that isn’t enough…. All you can do…..
There comes the responsibility of the person spiraling out of control.

Sweetie 4 acclimated into our home well and we did quite well for 3 years, seeing and being in touch with our social worker on a regular basis.  We worked hard to help her get back in touch with her sister and brother that she lost in such a devastating way 3 years earlier.

She responded well to our parenting, and had many bumps which were expected being a child from a huge trauma background as ALL of our sweeties are.

But somewhere, she made a decision.  That decision also included turning her heart away from Christ, and heading her own direction.
Once that happened, beginning about 10 months ago, she has continued to spiral out of control.

We watched “Unbroken” last night.  It was tough to watch.
But the message in the documentary and in the credits was clear.
This young man suffered the unspeakable. He developed SEVERE PTSD, and nearly destroyed his family.  But when he turned his heart to Christ, and to understand the power of love and forgiveness, he became a new person.  He forgave his captors, and turned his life around.
So, as of this writing, Sweetie 4 is sitting in a Juvenile Detention Center.  We have no idea what her future holds, but we have great hope.   We love her!
We will continue to love her, even if that love means we don’t bail her out.
It is time to face some reality.  I hope THIS is her bottom,
and we can only look up.

Our hope is in the Lord.

What Goes Down, Must Come Up or…..

Up the Down Stair Case. 🙂

“Mommy, will you sit with me?”
“Sure sweetie, would you like to relax and watch a movie?”
So we picked a nice “snuggle” movie…
“Arachnophobia”! 🙂
I remember when that movie came out in the theater, Mike took our oldest son, who was 13 at the time and DYING to see a scary movie.  🙂  He curled up in the theater seat next to his dad.
Fast forward  23 years later… and it is me and Sweetie 4, snuggling and laughing.

Just last week, we were at an all time low.  And I mean ALL TIME….

The phone rang.
It was one of those calls you never want to get, like when somebody is in an accident, or has died.  Instead, it was the officer at the local Jr. High School.
“Is this Mr. Minich?”  My husband answered, “Yes it is.”
And I heard his voice change.
“This is Officer H.”
“We need you to come down to the school. Your daughter has said she wants to hurt herself.”
This is the same daughter that started “cutting” herself 8 weeks ago.
She had been spiraling down and then trying to get back up, and then down and then back up, like a doomed flight that was not going to be able to make it to the airport safely.

The hair stood on my arms and back as I listened to my husband talk to the officer, and I began to gather my purse and keys. We had to leave right away.
It was a surreal feeling. We were not going to the hospital because of an accident, but it felt that way.
We were going to the school, because of something intentional, but it Didn’t feel THAT way.
Not our sweetie!  NOT sweetie 4!
We have worked so hard! SO HARD together these last 4 years!
Things had been bumpy the last few months and those bumps we would have expected.  She is 15.  It is a hard year for any teenager,
especially a teenage girl in her very first year of school, thrown into the atmosphere of Public School; Jr. High.  But she was getting decent grades and her 504 plan was in use.   She was wanting more “freedoms” and we had decided to try a few things to help her smoothe over her struggles.  Maybe walking home instead of taking the bus so she could have some down time would help.

In talking with the School counselor, she was encouraging.
“When I see her walking down the hall, laughing and talking with friends, I see a miracle!”  She is just having a bump.
I agreed.  Every time I heard  her laugh,  pet a puppy, snuggle with her sisters, her daddy, me, or go to the mall and try on clothes, have fun with friends, or sing in church, I saw a miracle; and I still do.
So, yes she was having a bump.

But this was a BIG bump, this bump was not going away, but growing, more like a Mountain!

We talked to our favorite counselor and confidant, but Sweetie 4 refused to go back.   We began to search for a new counselor and had just found one. In the mean time she was seeing the school counselor as needed, which  was becoming more frequent.

That day, she had written on her desk, “I want to die.”
When we entered the officer’s office,  he asked us, “Do you realize your daughter has been cutting?”
We answered, “Yes”.
He replied, “What is that all about?”
We asked him, “Do you know our daughter’s background?”
He had a small bit of info, but nothing like he needed.

After calling Sweetie 4 in, she insisted she still wanted to harm herself, and we were left with no option than to send her to a psychiatric unit.

We were thrust into an unknown world, that we surely didn’t want to visit.  And the experience was NOT what we expected.
It was sort of like taking a trip to Paris, but landing in Syria.
Shocking to say the least!

Two days later, Sweetie came home worse than when she went in.
Her biggest fears of being sent away were coming true once again.
Another family sent her to a psych unit and then refused to pick her up.
She was convinced it was the same for us.  We DID pick her up, but she was angry. VERY angry that we didn’t get her out the night before when we visited. She didn’t understand that the ball she started rolling was out of our control.

We did our best to offer comfort but she was not accepting it.
She began insisting she go to another home.   She insisted we take her to the police so she could go to “Juvey” or ” foster care”.
She did her best to make us call the police, and we did wind up doing that.
The police that came were SO HELPFUL and gave us a lot of great info to help us.
For one, we had NO idea of a group called ADAPT. They are a mobile unit of trained trauma counselors that can do an assessment at your home!  They are also available 24/7 for her to  call if she is feeling overwhelmed or like cutting.  After they talk to her, they talk to us.
We have used them 3 times in the last few days.

Sweetie went to school on Monday but we had to leave for an appointment with an investigative officer regarding an allegation made of abuse at the park.
Sweetie did well with that investigation but did not disclose enough information for charges to be filed.
The door was opened for her to receive counseling  FREE of charge at the center.  We are so thankful!

She couldn’t go to school today. She was too traumatized from the day before, and was not able to regulate herself.
So today, we took a “Mental Health Day”.
I found some eggs, made of ping pong ball material,  left over from Easter at Walmart for .19 cents a dozen!  She can paint them and decorate them or even squish them.   She enjoyed doing both at the counselor’s office on Saturday at her support group.
When she was dysregulated this a.m.,  she broke several… when she was regulated, she decorated two of them.  I brought some to the school for her to use tomorrow if she sees the counselor.

Our sweet girl seems to be calming down after all the events of the last week and I am seeing the girl I have not seen in a  long, LONG time tonight. So I will enjoy the moment!

She seems to have gotten off of her mind the traumas she was hiding, and even though we have a long way to go,  she is making positive progress.  I am so THANKFUL this is taking place NOW, instead of when she is an adult, where we wouldn’t be able to help her as much.
I am always full of hope, that healing will take place in her life in a miraculous way.  It already has… and this mountain CAN be moved!  She is LOVED unconditionally.  And LOVE does NOT fail. NEVER, EVER. EVER.

Tonight, she wrote this on the board in our dining area.
dont give up

We won’t sweetie. We will never give up.


So last night, when Sweetie 4 came home from school, I let her know that her paperwork arrived from the doctor. He approved her to try out for track and field!  She has been looking forward to this for weeks, and has been asking and asking,”When is he going to send the letter?”
It came.
Her reaction was just as I expected.  FEAR.
Now, she has to actually perform!   She has to put her speed where her talk has been.  F E A R!!!!!
She went from happy to sullen.  And then began to complain that now she has to change to sports class and doesn’t have the right uniform etc.
I told her, after dinner, we will go and get your uniform.
She made it through dinner, barely.  And then the  snotties took over.
She knows that we go nowhere when Miss Nasty is visiting.  We did our best to keep things calm so she could be calmer.  When she calmed abit,   I reminded her that tomorrow she has sports and I’m sure she wants to go with her uniform.
A few minutes later, she apologized and was ready to go.  I reminded her before we got there, “We are here for black shorts and a grey tshirt, that is all.”
“Ok mom”.
We got there and nothing was going to be good enough. Walmart didn’t have the “right” black shorts, or the “right” t shirt.
We finally settled on one of each , and then she headed for socks.
“Sweetie, remember what mama said?”
After a little “but mom”, we left… or I should say, I headed for the cashier and she followed. 🙂
(She probably wasn’t quite ready to go so soon, but sometimes we have no choice.  We had to get her ready for her Sports class the next day.)
When we got home the tears started to flow.
“I don’t think I’m going to make it!”
“I don’t think I’m going to be fast enough!”
Trust me…. She is FAST.  And she can run on gravel in bare feet faster than you can blink an eye.
I decided to use some humor….
“Are you telling me all those years from running from the Cops when you were little has made you slow?”
She switched from crying to a big grin.  And then a laugh…..
I reassured her she would be just fine.
This a.m. she woke up with a “foot ache”….. 🙂
I’m sure once she races one race, she’ll be ready, and then we’ll go and get her those prized running shoes she has been hoping for.

Fear can look like many other behaviors.  It can look sullen or snotty, or disrespectful.  Fear hides quite well in order to distract us parents into thinking it is something else!
If we hang onto our training and ask the right questions, fear will have to come out of hiding and reveal itself. THEN we can deal with the root issue.
The issue here was not snotties, not wanting to change classes, not wanting to wear a uniform, or wanting socks. It wasn’t about dinner, or anything else.  It was simple.  She is terrified of failing or looking bad.  She really wants to do this, but she is scared inside.
Trauma does a number on our kids.  It really does.
Using humor,  and knowing HOW to use it at the right time, can expose that fear and then help our children see that we are confident in them.

I have no doubts that Sweetie 4 will be a champion!
She already is in so many ways!
She just doesn’t know it yet. 🙂

Sweetie 4 Turned 15!!

Our 4 year anniversary is quickly coming up (March 2nd) and Sweetie 4 has turned 15!  She is far from the little girl we picked up in North Carolina 4 years ago!  So much has happened!
She is growing up!!!
Her bio sister and brother in law came down and surprised her for her birthday. It was really fun!
I love it that the girls are back together after so much trauma.
We pray that their brother will be with them soon.
The great news is he did wish her a happy birthday!!!

There are many changes taking place in our sweetie. She has been all over the place riding the roller coaster of emotion!
One thing we have learned, and reminded ourselves  to not do, is to not ride that roller coaster with her.  We need to be that firm and steady tree planted by rivers of life giving water.  We can sympathize, suggest, listen, speak…. but NOT ride!
There have been days that I have failed at that, and jumped on for the ride!
I’m thankful for Mike when he says, “Don’t ride!” LOL

15 is hard for any girl, but for a girl with huge trauma, it can be SUPER hard!

Honestly….. I will be very happy when 8th grade is OVER and she can move into Summer, to be nurtured for awhile before she begins high school.
She will be with her sisters in high school and that will be a safety for her.

I have a few posts rolling around in my head that are more specific to how we are working as a team to keep her steady and get her through the teen years with success!


I’m Back

It has been a really difficult month and a half.  We have had illness and I am in a new situation. My mom has Alzheimer’s disease and is now in a memory care center.  She is pretty advanced, but is doing well.

Over this month, I came across a DVD I wanted to share. It is called “Meltdown” by Debra Jones.  Debra speaks often with Empowered to Connect conferences. She is also a parent trainer with Empowered To Connect, teaching TBRI to parents. She is the author of the book , “God Are You Nice or Mean”.
If you can, it is very worth it to get this dvd.
Meltdown – DVD

New Year, New Thoughts

new year thoughtIt has been an amazing year, and here we are in 2015! Where did the time go?  We had a wonderful holiday season, and will be celebrating Ukrainian/Russian Christmas, by having a traditional  meal on Wednesday evening, with dear friends.

I have had so many thoughts going through my head these past few weeks, but have not been able to form the words so that I could effectively share them!

I’m going to go ahead and give it a try, as  a few things are fresh on my mind.

I read a recent blog post by a fellow adoptive parent. It was a really nice post about how the Church can be helpful  towards families who have adopted or are fostering children.
I was upbeat about this post because she gave some very helpful information.
Then, I read some of the comments.  It wasn’t shocking that one of the comments was very negative. What shocked me was that it came from a very bitter sounding  fellow adoptive parent!
She diminished this woman’s post with critical words and observations that were over the top ridiculous.
The blogger did not have low standards for her children, but this person accused her, and any parent who has had a child who has struggled with being basically a bad parent!
Why?  She said she has raised 3 girls adopted from foster care and they are all fine and she had high standards and made them mind…blah blah blah…..she lost me.  She lost my respect.

I COULD have been that person, if the Lord had not brought our Sweetie 8 into our lives.  I could have been that person if the Lord had only given us 4 of our 8 children! 🙂
They were pretty easy!  And they all had trauma.  I could have said that allowing a child to wallow in the past is not helping them, or not making them straighten up is doing them a disservice! I could have said that if they didn’t discipline them, then the children would not do well and it would all be because of bad parenting!

I am SO THANKFUL for those other 4. And yes, some of them were home grown! 🙂
They are the ones who didn’t allow us to relax on our great parenting skills! They are the ones who challenged us to look deeper inside of ourselves and find that we too are seriously lacking, that we too need forgiveness, and that we too make mistakes!
They are the ones who have kept us on our knees and close to our Lord!  They are the ones who have experienced GREAT triumph and successes and have caused us to cheer those successes, truly appreciating each little step!
All of our children are deep thinkers, and feelers, they have blessed us in so many ways!
Parenting is a calling.  Adoption is too.
Even though we are called to be parents to our children, and we know that in a deep way, it does not mean that our path is easy.
It isn’t.  But it is RICH.  It is wonderful! And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

When our first son was born, I wanted to do everything right and make sure that he became the best person ever!  I found very quickly that being his mama was important, but I would not be the only influence in his life, and he might have different ideas than me. 🙂

Now having just 4 left at home, and almost 12 grand children, I have learned to relax a bit. 🙂  I am never going to be a perfect person.  But I do know that the Lord can use my imperfections, just as He  always has!  He chooses to work with imperfect humans and in the process, we all learn together and find the wisdom of God.

I am so glad that our church has been so supportive of us through thick and thin.  I am sure there are those who have watched some of the things we have been through and felt we were coddling, or giving in to bad behaviors or worse.  There will always be those.
But overall, we have felt the love of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we have felt their prayers!

Parenting a child from a very hard place, is most certainly not for the faint of heart.  But it is so rewarding.  Watching Sweetie 4 begin once again to flourish, and to catapult to new heights is exciting!
It will be 4 years in March when she came home at 11 after 2 failed adoptions.  In that time she has learned SO much! And we have too!

Navigating through the teen years with 4 daughters is a challenge, but so fun!  I love my girls and I love seeing them blossom!

Thank you Lord for 2014.  And thank you Lord for what is to come in 2015.  My hope and peace are in Christ.


I remember teaching Awana a few years back. I was teaching my favorite group, the “Sparkies”. It is such a great name for Kindergarten to 2nd grade. They are kind of like little “sparklers”, all over the place, but if you aim them in the right direction, they just sparkle and shine.It was Christmas time, and we were of course talking about “Baby Jesus”. We had done and interactive play with Mary, Joseph, the wise men, baby Jesus, donkey’s etc.ALL the kids knew about the shepherds, wise men and baby Jesus.

What surprised me though, was that many did not connect Jesus the Man, the Crucified one, the Lord, the Savior, with Baby Jesus.

“Do You mean that is the SAME guy?”


The world LOVES to celebrate His birth. The cute little baby, in the manger, sent as the Savior. “For on this Day in the City of Bethlehem, a Savior is born, Christ the Lord”.
But when it comes to him growing up, walking among us, convicting us of our sin, telling us that HE is the Way, The Truth, The Life….. people start dropping off the celebration wagon.

In order to be forgiven of sin,to be saved, we need to recognize that we are sinners in need of salvation!

Jesus was perfect, sinless, and the final and complete sacrifice for sin. Why is the “baby” accepted, in song and celebration, but the Man, despised, rejected, diminished?

The truth is, This is the WAY God showed his love for us, He sent His only Begotten Son.

That Son, would pay the ultimate price for our sin; death on a Cross. But it doesn’t end at his birth, nor at His death.

GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD! He is eternal, His name is above ALL names and Every Knee Shall Bow and EVERY tongue confess that Jesus Christ Is LORD~!

Merry Christmas

Holiday Time


We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We had a great time with Uncle Bob, and our extended family.  What a fun day!
It was really nice to see Sweetie 1 enjoy her birthday this year!
She has always dreaded holidays and birthdays,  but this year she looked forward to it!
She even asked to go to Razoos and eat Alligator tail! 🙂
So we obliged!  If you were wondering, it tastes like…..


We managed to get a little shopping in that the girls were looking forward to, and they were able to go together in the mall area while I went to another area.  It is lovely having older, responsible girls!

Being home from School and all the schedules changes can wreak havoc on a child from a trauma background, but it seems that keeping a semblence of a schedule, and a plan helped sweetie 4 stay regulated.  We didn’t do too much, but we also didn’t avoid things either.
She really enjoyed the shopping.
When it was time to go home, she hadn’t done all she wanted and started to get a little snotty.  My reminder to her was enough to get a fast apology and we were back on track!
I call that success! 🙂
Backgammon is our best holiday game! This was Uncle Bob and Sweetie 3 ‘s game.  Sweetie 3 was winning this one. 🙂
Snuggle time with sisters.
Sweetie 1’s birthday request!

Getting ready to make stuffing
Enjoying the Holiday Break!
101_0332 101_0333
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
Sweetie 2 and Truman on the see saw.

Uncle Bob, Joe and David enjoying conversation

Mr. Felix, enjoying toddlerhood!
101_0371 101_0376
Sisters enjoying conversation


This year, we wrapped the turkey in Bacon.
bacon turkey

Time to Start Christmas Decorating!101_0399 101_0401 101_0406

Wishing everybody a lovely Holiday season where you can rest and relax, and keep your children engaged in what is important.  I pray they can come to understand the Love and Peace that Holidays are supposed to bring and not get caught up in the Holiday RUSH or the stresses of wanting, instead of the peace that giving brings.

Having a plan and schedule so that they can be prepared ahead of time is really helpful.
Having a plan if they get over stressed, like taking a reading break alone, or going for a walk away from crowds of people, (no guilt)
can be just what they need to regroup.
If you are visiting and your little one gets overwhelmed, it is ok  to just say, “enough is enough”! It was nice to visit everybody and so glad to see you, but we need to head home!  And then enjoy your time, giving yourself permission to regroup in a quiet environment.
I cannot tell you how valuable it is to your child that they have your compassionate understanding when they need regroup time.
It will truly pay off in the end and they will be able to handle more and more stimulation as time goes on and they continue to heal.

Stretching and More Stretching

The girls entered College, High School and Jr. High this year.  It is a year of stretching and learning for all of us.  It is good!
Some of the new social settings have been a little shocking. We were pretty “protected” in our little cocoon of love, and the girls have been exposed to some realities that are out there.
There are broken families, broken teachers, broken lives.
But there are also some really great people and great teachers and those who are living their lives to the fullest!

All of them are blossoming and I am so thrilled to see their progress.
They are studiers and it seems like at night, their rooms remind me of “dorm rooms” at college where everybody studies and eats! LOL
They have all developed good study habits and I am proud of them.

But there are times when a little fear takes over and maybe the stretching has been too much; especially for Sweetie 4.
She was stretched twice this week.  One was for a poetry project that is very abstract, and she became overwhelmed because she just couldn’t get it.  The tears flowed, and some letters were exchanged between her teacher and me.  We both felt she could do more than she had, but she was going to need some extra help.
Then, there was her art class. Now you would think Art would be her favorite. Nope.
She doesn’t like the structure required and just like I get “writer’s block”, she gets “artists block”.
She was chosen for a National Art Competition, and her perfectionism took over.  “It isn’t going to be good enough!”
“I’m not good enough.”
She had been given 14 days in class and at home to complete her project.  She started it a few days ago.  I was reminding her as was her teacher.
She was overwhelmed with the responsibility, but I knew she could manage it.
She pulled a little trick to get out of it.  There was a paper I was supposed to sign to enter the contest. She didn’t give it to me.
So yesterday, she said, “Mama, I can’t enter that contest after all because you didn’t sign the paper.”
“What paper?”
“The permission slip.”
“I didn’t know there was one!”
“Well it is too late now.  I’ll just turn this in as a free draw. It isn’t very good and isn’t really completed.”

This a.m. at around 10:00 a.m. I got a call.
“Mama, can you come to the school and sign my permission slip?”
Oh… “My teacher wants to talk to you too.”
We were on the same page.
The teacher went the extra step and Stretched Sweetie 4.
I told her she was just afraid, and needed the push.
Sooo, guess who’s work was just entered into the art contest?
“I don’t like that teacher anymore mama.”
” You’ll like her later and appreciate what she did for you!”

Our other girls are learning about relationships of all kinds.
Sweetie 2 said, “Why do boys always want to be your boyfriend and then they get their feelings hurt when you aren’t interested?” 🙂

Sweetie 1 is deep into her ROTC routine and actually flew a plane!
Sweetie 3 had a new challenge this week at college, trying to navigate been a teen and also being around older people.
She has a great head on her shoulders and is doing really great.
She just needs to trust her gut and be confident.

And me?  Well…. I am just enjoying watching all of them grow up into the young ladies God has designed for them to be.
What an honor!

A Right of Passage

imagesSweetie 3 took her driver’s test to get her permit yesterday.
She passed!
That means, mama has to come out of retirement from teaching children to drive, and start all over again!

Honestly, I wanted to pass it all over to Mike, but I know that isn’t realistic; though he will take his turns.

This a.m. we went to ta parking lot to start and she did a really good job.  When she started the car, I cringed, feeling that moment years ago with the boys when they started the car.
I’m a big chicken! Ok!
Putting a child at 16, behind the wheel of a huge beast of a car is scary, even if I am strapped in, and the government says they know enough to drive!

But there was a relaxed atmosphere and when we were finished, Sweetie 3 said, “Mama, I’ll remember this day the rest of my life!
Just like when I remembered coming home and pulling back the covers to my bed and smelling the fresh sheets!

Awww. Heart. Melt. Moment.

Sweetie’s Choice

Many years ago, when Sweetie 4 was 7, she was removed from her tiny village, along with her brothers and sister and placed in an orphanage.
She said that was the first car ride she ever remembered.

Sweetie had a very tumultuous life, but she didn’t really know that, because it was all she knew.  There was a serenity about her village that she speaks of often.  She was carefree, way before any child should be carefree wandering through the streets of her village.
She wandered into houses and took food. She wandered into orchards and took apples. She wandered the streets and found terrible trouble also.
Her earliest memories of this were long before she was able to have been left alone.  She said her mama piled garbage bags against the door so she couldn’t get out of the house, so she climbed out the window, and nobody ever noticed she was gone.  She would wander home sometimes after dark.
She and her sister still remenisce about simple things like making hot soup, fishing in the river, drying the fish on the roof, tending to a garden and  raising chickens.  They fondly remember their brothers.

They also remember the dark side of things;  alcoholism, hunger, fear, cold, abuse, violence, fighting, broken glass, garbage, and more.

Sweetie was ripped from the only mama she knew, a mama she loved, and placed in the orphanage. She saw her father taken away by the police, never to be seen again.  She loved him.  She hated him.

Not quite two years later, a family would come to adopt her, her brother and her sister.  Her sister was looking out for her best interest, and Sweetie trusted her sister.  But she had to make a choice.
She was 9.
She didn’t want to go to America. She wanted to stay. “What if my mommy comes back and gets me?”  “What if she comes to see me?”
BUT…   She had already lost her baby brother to adoption by a Russian couple.
She didn’t want to now lose her brother and sister too!
She didn’t want to be ALONE!

So she made a choice that NO NINE year old child should have to make.
That was my brave girl.

Trying to adjust to life in America was so hard on her.  She didn’t want new parents, but there they were. And her little brother was replaced by another little brother. She didn’t want him either.
She was grieving.
And then she got ANGRY.
As her little life became full of rage, it spilled out against the very ones who wanted to love her.  They couldn’t reach her.
It never once occurred to her that she could possibly lose her brother and sister. But that is exactly what happened, and now, her worst fear had occurred.

She was ALONE. Completely alone in the world. She had no way of contact and was not allowed to contact her siblings.  She was on the other side of the world from her biological extended family, and she was TERRIFIED.

We came into her life when she had turned 11.  There were a few other stops along the way in her journey.
We are her third adoptive family.

She was BROKEN.

I had never seen a child who’s spirit had been so broken.  Trauma had taken hold of her like a freight train running down the tracks. There were no brakes and it wasn’t slowing down.

BUT GOD…. rich in mercy, great in compassion, looked down at a little girl whose life was a tragic mess and intervened.
What a journey for her; for all of us.
I can say she is doing great, and she is, but there are days when
suddenly, every thing doesn’t feel like it fits.  All of the sudden, it is like trying to wear a high heel and a tennis shoe at the same time.
It just doesn’t “feel” normal.
And the memories flood back in.

This was our day yesterday.   I don’t know why sometimes I get caught off guard. You would think I would remember.
Yesterday everything seemed to go wrong for her.
“Mother! You need to do your job and make my breakfast!”
“Mother! You have to take me to school, NOW!”

“Are you asking or telling?”
And she blew up….  Five minutes later, she was full of remorse, and then five minutes later, back to being demanding….
She made it to school and when I picked her up she was full of remorse again.

Then there was a bumpy, afternoon, it was hard work to keep her on track, but we managed.
Then, last night before bedtime she asked if I could rock her.
“You don’t have to rock me if you don’t want to! You really don’t!”

“Why would you think I wouldn’t want to?”
“I think you sighed.”
“I’ll be happy to rock you.” 🙂

So we rocked. My 3 year old, in a 14 year old body, curled up on my  lap and I rocked her.  And then, she began to speak.

“I miss my family.”
“I miss my mommy and daddy. I miss my brothers and sister.”

“I know sweetie. It must be so very hard sometimes to not have them.”  “It wasn’t your fault.”
We talked a little bit about her memories of them and then I sang to her the song called, “Through It All”.

I’ve had many tears and sorrows
I’ve had questions for tomorrow
There’ve been times I didn’t know right from wrong
But in every situation
God gave blessed consolation
That my trials only come to make me strong

I’ve been a lot of places
And I’ve seen so many faces
But there’ve been times I’ve felt so all alone
But in that lonely hour
In that precious, lonely hour
Jesus let me know I was His own

Through it all
Through it all
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus
I’ve learned to trust in God
Through it all
Through it all
I’ve learned to depend upon His Word

So I thank God for the mountains
And I thank Him for the valleys
I thank Him for the storms He’s brought me through
Cause if I never had a problem
I wouldn’t know that He could solve them
I wouldn’t know what faith in His Word could do.

As I sang to her she intently listened to the words.  It was a precious
time with her.
She whispered in my ear, “I’m so glad you are my mama.”
And I whispered back to her,”Me too.”   “It is always ok to love your first mama.”
“And someday, if I ever meet her, I will give her a hug, because she gave me you!”
And Sweetie 4 went to bed, peacefully and drifted off to sleep in safety and security.

And then,  I breathed a sigh of relief, that she is really going to make it!  She really is!

And I reminded my self once again that not all behaviors are what they seem.  Sometimes they are just a kid being rude, and sometimes they are symptoms of grief.
How those two scenarios are handled, is very important.
We cannot plan for “grief” to visit us in a timely manner.
It just happens.  You can be going along just fine, minding your own business and suddenly, you are missing somebody who has died. That has happened to me so many times in my life.
I’m glad she was able to open up and tell me with her words, what her behavior had been trying to tell me all day.

NEW BOOK by Dr. Daniel Siegel

The new book is out, and it is fantastic!  The title is “No-Drama Discipline”.
This book puts together in practical form that anybody can understand the concepts of relationship based, trust based parenting!
I pre ordered it a while ago and it arrived today. I cannot put it down!

My husband is reading it too.

If you buy any books for parenting, GET THIS ONE!


As you all know, Sweeties 1, 2 and 4 are in Public school now, and Sweetie 3 is home schooling and doing dual college credit classes at our local Jr. College.

Everybody is doing really great!

Sweetie 4 however, does have anxiety over doing well at school. She is a bit of a perfectionist so I hear things like, ” I have a 100 in 5 classes!”  “I have a 69 in Science, I give up, why bother trying?”
See the extreme?

She is learning that perfection is not the goal but learning, and sometimes you learn a lot but don’t get a perfect grade.
Character is MUCH MORE IMPORTANT than grades are in our home.
She was at the lunch table last week and all the kids for some reason were talking about what happens when they get into trouble at home.
There were spankings, groundings, taking away electronics, being yelled at and being cursed at, and more…. which shocked her little ears.
It was her turn and she said, “Well, my mama talks to me about it.”
And then she realized, she was different.  She also felt good about her family.  She was asking all the rest of the week about being “grounded” and what it meant.  That seemed to be  the most common form of Jr High punishment.

Fast forward to this past weekend.  We had a HUGE weekend and it was really TOO huge.  I don’t think there was any time at all to rest and she needed that time.  She has been doing so well, I didn’t really think much about it.  Hopefully I won’t make that mistake again!

By Sunday Night, she was starting to panic about school starting, and a few other things and suddenly she went into anger mode.
And I do mean suddenly.  It was right before we had a meeting at our home with a group of people coming.
She said some things that are not allowed and used a choice word that is never allowed!  And then,  I got a kick in the knee.
I walked her to her room and told her that we cannot cancel the meeting so she would need to calm herself down.  She wound up falling asleep and woke up refreshed but feeling quite sad and remorseful  about what she had done.  She kept asking if I was ok, which I was fine.  “Do you forgive me?”  Yes.  Always. But that does not make it ok.
So, we sat down and talked and she asked again about being “grounded”.
“Are you ready to try that?”  She actually had a smile on her face.
I am so not used to doing anything like that, I told her I would have to think of something and I would let her know tomorrow.

So, she went to school yesterday and when she came home, I was ready to rock her in the rocking chair.  We sat down and talked again about the event on the weekend in a calm manner and she said, “Mom, just tell me! I’ve been worried all day about how I’m going to be grounded!”

“Ok.  I have decided to not allow TV for 2 weeks.”
Her eyes got big and that smile came back and I got a hug. LOL

I think at the lunch table today, she might be sharing about getting “grounded”.  Or, she might not.
I do know, she is wanting to do well and when she went to bed last night, she had little tears saying, “Mama, I really REALLY want to do what is right. I want to be a good girl!”  And when I saw her laying there, I was seeing a 3 year old in a 14 year old’s body, wanting to be reassured of my love for her, and wanting to make sure that I know she wants to do well.
My heart was full of compassion.

“You ARE a good girl Sweetie!” “We just have some tweaking to do.” 🙂

Memory and Trauma

Sweetie 3 is attending college this year as a 16 year old.
She is doing well, and her first class is Russian.  She has been studying Russian for a couple of years, but is now at the level of conversational Russian, in college!
Today, she mentioned that while she was listening to “Conversational Russian”, she had an emotional feeling, “Like being punched in the gut!”  It was a negative feeling, but she couldn’t put it into words.  She was OK, but also a little confused as to why she felt that way.
Sweetie 3 has blocked a lot of what she went through in Ukraine, out.
I am so glad that I wrote down all that she told me years ago, when she could first speak English, so we could document what she did remember.
At the same time, I know we have not even come close to covering the depths of horror she went through before she was 4 years old and transferred from a laying room to a special needs orphanage.

When she was home for the first two years, the nightmares she had we so awful, I would cry.  She would cry out in her deep sleep, “MAAAA MAAAA!!!!”  and both Mike and I would rush to her side and she would be in a deep sleep, rocking and wrestling with the demons of the past. 🙁  It was as if she needed to be rescued.  And her cry was that of complete and total despair. 🙁
We would whisper in her ear, “You are safe.”  “Mama and daddy love you!” “We are here sweetie!”
And she would open her eyes and smile, and then drift off, back to sleep.
This happened at first, on a daily basis, and then weekly and eventually a couple of times a month and finally once a month and then rarely.  It hasn’t happened at all for several years.

YET….. those feelings are there, under the surface and all it takes is a Russian Language class to bring it back up.

I asked her today, “Are you ok?”  “Is this class too much for you?”
She did her famous face of “Mother Really!”  And said, “I’m fine.
I’ll work through this!”
I’m so thankful she is facing the future and the past, and she is safe.
We love her so very much!


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