Progress

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!

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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?

“I HATE SIN!”  “I HATE CHILD ABUSE”  “I HATE THE DEVASTATING AFFECTS of ALCOHOLISM”.

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?”
“Ok”….
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.”
“Yes.”
“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.

FACING FEAR

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!

LOVE NEVER FAILS!

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.

BABY JESUS: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS

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?”

YES…..

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

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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…..

PORK!

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. 🙂
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Snuggle time with sisters.
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Sweetie 1’s birthday request!
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Getting ready to make stuffing
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Enjoying the Holiday Break!
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The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
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Sweetie 2 and Truman on the see saw.
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Uncle Bob, Joe and David enjoying conversation
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Mr. Felix, enjoying toddlerhood!
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Sisters enjoying conversation

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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

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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

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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!

FITTING IN AND LOVING IT

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?”
LOL
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.
sleeping-beauty-girl-with-teddy-bear-toy-cute-alone
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.
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!

What Is Working!!!

I  wrote here about some ideas we have had and how we have used them in our family.
Today, I’d like to write an update on that, and how things are going!

We have had a LOT of changes in our family, especially within the last month!  Three of our girls are now in Public School and 1 is homeschooling and also enrolled in College classes.  I should really say, “College Class” because she can only take 1 class the first semester and then, she can take more. 🙂
She is proud of being a college student at 16.  And we are proud of her too!

All of the girls are doing well in school.  There have been a few bumps in the beginning.  We had to change a Spanish teacher for Sweetie 1 because the teacher was a “yeller” and that would just NOT work for her.  She LOVES her new Spanish teacher and all is well in her life now. 🙂
Sweetie 2 has had a great transition to Public School. She is doing well and making friends.  I knew she would do great!

Sweetie 4 is doing really well in her school and I have received 2 emails from teachers saying what a pleasure she is in class.

She has come home each day with stories to tell and adventures to share.  MOST have been good, and a couple not so good.
I am having to explain to her about Jr. High Boys and sometimes how they act. 🙂

She has had a couple of incidents in the last month where she felt overwhelmed and reacted to that overwhelm.
The thing that has worked EVERY TIME is… “Sweetie, I know you don’t like this! Let’s choose a different way.”
AND SHE DOES!
For a long time she had this “feeling” that we expected she would be disrespectful or snotty.  Hearing us tell her, we KNOW she doesn’t want to be that way seems to really encourage her to stop in her tracks when she falls into a rut!  It is such a powerful and positive tool!
She needs to HEAR that we know she wants to do well.
The more we say it, the better she does!
It is like speaking life into her.  She rises to the occasion!

I am so proud of her!  I am so proud of all of them!

All Is Well!

I received a letter from Sweetie 4’s English Teacher today.  It was a glowing report of how well she is doing!
I was so pleased!!!!!

All of the Sweeties are doing well in their classes.

This week has been so different!  I don’t have 4 students to teach anymore.  I just have 1, and most of her classes are at college or online!

Wow! They are all growing up!!!!

So today, I was reminiscing…….
My Fairy Princess
Sweetie 2 in a Princess Dress, sweeping dirt! LOL

another fairy princess
Sweetie 1 in her princess dress.

The princesses on teh swing
Sisters…. Precious Sisters….

homeSweetie 3’s first day home in America. 🙂

Dad and AlliOh how I wish Sweetie 4 had been with us since she was born…..
All of them… Since they were born….
But that is not the case.
They all came to us between 5 and 11.

But how PRECIOUS they are!

So thankful for the memories, and for the future!

Butterflies Flying

Sarah+and+Me
Oh my words! I cannot describe accurately the last few days.
Our lives are changing.  The girls are growing up.  I so love these years!

Where did my girls start from?
Chaos. Neglect. Unspeakable Abuse! Abandonment! Pain!
Three came from other countries, Russia and Ukraine.
One came from the faraway land of Oklahoma, drowning in the foster care system.
Two came to us because of Disruption. (Or dissolution)  This is when an adoption fails.  The parents actually have to “divorce” their child.
It is traumatizing.  One of our girls had this happen twice!

BUT GOD…..

Oh, how He loves them. Oh how He cared for them, and carefully orchestrated our lives to intersect, oh so carefully, just at the right time.
I had tears of joy when I dropped Sweetie 3 off at college yesterday.
YES! College!  She is 16.  Eight years ago, she was supposed to go to a mental institution for the REST.OF.HER.LIFE….
Why? Because she has physical handicaps.  The four years in a laying room (dying room) didn’t kill her.  The orphanage system helped her a little, because of a very precious Ukrainian lady who loved on her and taught her to go potty, speak, and eat, as much as possible….
But the system is cruel. If you are not perfect.  You are doomed to a life of institutionalization.
Our paperwork landed on the desk of the director the very DAY our sweetie was supposed to be transferred to a place she would have been left to lay once again…. and then, she would die.
After coming home from Ukraine, she had to have her feet amputated.  But she is walking!  And she is no longer in severe pain.
Today, I will proudly POST HER PICTURE!
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She is SMART! She is PRECIOUS! God was watching out for her.
It took time…. and He orchestrated the unthinkable…
He orchestrated that a Mechanic and his wife, who had never been on a plane together, ever… would travel over to the other side of the world, for her.  Just for her. 🙂
Our sweet girl… who is now 16 has bravely walked through the doors of the college!  She is in COLLEGE!!!

He orchestrated that Sweetie 2, would have spent time with Sweetie 3 at that orphanage. He orchestrated that they would love each other deeply, and that Sweetie 2, even though she went to a different family first, would come to us!  Even at 5 years old, she remembered her sweet friend Sweetie 3.
She had such hard beginnings.  The laying room like Sweetie 3… and then TB. Yep, TB!!!! She spent time in a Sanitarium.  She was only in the orphanage for less than a year.  While in the Sanitarium, a wonderful man met her, and though she was so traumatized by her circumstances, he worked with her until she trusted him enough to be touched, even though the hospital staff said she would die.
She didn’t.  She LIVED…. But she not only survived! She is LOVING LIFE!  Oh my words she brings us such joy!
The little one who came into our lives 6 weeks before she turned Six years old… is the most joyful, happy, sweet girl!
And she is in High School! 🙂
And today, I will proudly post her picture!
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Sweetie 1… what can I say.  She is adorable in every way.  She came to us at 5 years old through the foster care system.  It is a system of TRAUMA!
She was judged at 5.  Oh how our system fails our children!
The Lord led us to the right resources.  Sweetie 1 is thriving!
And she is in High School!  She studies hard and she has goals! 🙂
She has a Future and a Hope!
And today, I will proudly post a picture!
DSCF0066

And then there is Sweetie 4.
What an amazing girl.  She came to us after 2 failed adoptions.
She experienced unspeakable traumas and abuses in Russia at the hands of her parents and those in her community!  What a BRAVE girl!
After TWO failed adoptions, she dared to try to love again.
It was not easy, and it has not been easy! But she has tried HARD and we have too!
And we LOVE each other.  We love each other so very dearly!
The traumas inflicted on Sweetie 4 have been horrific.  But GOD….
This week, she walked through the doors of the Local Jr. High.
She got on that bus so bravely, and I shed tears of joy. 🙂
And today, I will proudly post a picture!
AliChristie

Can God orchestrate that 4 sweet girls would come together as sisters from all over the world , to such unworthy parents?  You bet He can!
We have learned so  much about Love and the Human Spirit!
We have learned so much about the unconditional love of our Heavenly Father for us!

And now… The time has come for our little butterflies to SOAR.
The Lord is Good.   And I am one blessed Mama.  🙂

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School Days, School Days!

101_0021Today, I watched four brave girls leave our home and board buses or be driven, to places for education.
We have been homeschooling since 1992, when we began to educate our sons at home.
Our girls have always been educated at home until last year when Sweetie 2 went to high school because of her desire to be in ROTC.

We have prayed about what is best for our girls, and this year, after much prayer and thought,   sending them to school was the best thing for them.
Never say never! 🙂

When we brought the idea up to Sweetie 4, 3 months ago she was horrified!  “NO WAY!” “Good luck getting me into a Uniform!”
Today, she not only put on a Uniform, but she had a wonderful day!

I was waiting for her at the end of the driveway when the bus dropped her off.  She had a huge smile. She said she missed me a lot, and started to panic, but she remembered to breath deeply and slowly and tell herself…. “Mama loves me! Mama Loves me!”
And it worked! 🙂
I am SO PROUD OF HER!

Sweetie 2 and 3 found out they have the same history class at high school! 🙂  I’m so happy they can study together!  Sweetie 2 also has a class with the girl next door and THEY can study together too! 🙂

And Sweetie 1…. she went to college. 🙂  While there, a young man said, ” You are very pretty! Can I have your phone number?”
She was embarrassed…. and said, ” Thank you… but I don’t think so.”
🙂
Good answer!
He said, “I guess I’ll see you around!”
Oh my!
Motes are not available modern day! Are they?
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The girls came home thrilled with their days.  Sweetie 4, whom I was most worried about had a great day!
I am so thankful!

My Daughters

On Monday, all four of my daughters will be walking through the doors of schools in our area.  One will be in College, two in High School and one in Jr. High School.

Each of them, so very brave, and so very wonderful.
We have been home educators since 1992, when we pulled out of the public school system because it just did not work for us.
Our sons grew up and studied hard. I am so proud of each one of them.
Our second son, who was the main reason we began home educating, is now a Special Education teacher in the public school system.
Our other three sons are :
1. A musician
2. An accountant
3. A Doctoral Student also employed at the University.

Our sweeties started out in home education unlike their brothers.
So with the brothers, they finished with home education and with the sisters, they will be finishing with public school. 🙂

I am excited with how the Lord has been with us through deciding each of our children’s education.

I have brave children.  I will celebrate with them in their successes
and comfort them when they need comfort.
SO excited for what the Lord has in store for us this coming year!
To God be the glory!

 

The Countdown to School!

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It is just five days before school starts! FIVE!  And guess who was diagnosed with Pneumonia today?  Whaaa! Sweetie 4!
Thank goodness we were able to get her in to see her doctor on short notice.  She is on 2 kinds of antibiotics and hopefully she will be mostly recovered by the time Monday rolls around!

We are still practicing our schedule this week.  Up at 6:00 a.m.
(mom and dad at 5:45)  And then to bed by 9:00 p.m.
The girls have done wonderfully.
I’m thinking about letting them sleep in for Saturday as a reward for such hard work!

Tomorrow we pick up schedules for Sweetie 3 and Sweetie 4, at two different schools. It is also meet the teacher night, so this will be interesting trying to find classes and teachers at two schools during the same hours. 🙂

Sweetie 4’s IEP meeting went really well.  I had enough documentation to get her in on a 504 plan.  Now I am wondering how much information I should share with teachers individually.
There is never a right answer on this stuff.  I will follow my gut, depending upon the teacher.

I am so proud of how she has progressed from being very apprehensive and nervous about the idea of school, to getting excited.
I know this is going to be a good year for her.  She is really trying hard to do well.
It is time for the little butterfly to spread her wings.  It is time for the little rose bud to bloom.  It is time.

And I am thrilled; SO thrilled to be a part of God’s plan unfolding in each of the girls’ lives.

Now to tend to sweetie 4.  She has some healing to do before Monday!

Beautiful Days

These past few weeks of summer have been wonderful.  We have been enjoying the down time and relaxing before school starts up again.
This year is going to be very different!
We will now have 1 girl in part time college, part time home schooling.
2 girls will be attending High School, and our youngest, will be attending 8th grade in Public School.

This is a very new track for us. We have not been involved in Public Schools other than last year, since 1992.
I am thankful for the schools we do have.  We are confident we are going to have  a wonderful year!

The girls are getting ready and excited for the new changes.
Sweetie 4 is apprehensive, but moving towards excited. 🙂

This past week our sweet friends from California visited us, and their friends, (who are now our friends) who are from Houston, came to our house too! We had a housefull!  14 people in all, visiting and spending a couple of days with us.
It was so fun!

We all support each other, having children from Russia and Ukraine.
Each of these beautiful children have their triumphs and challenges, and it was lovely to see them flourishing in their families.
We love seeing our friends, and the kids have grown so much since last year!

The girls had so much fun and so did Mike and I.
We were sad to see them go.
But… there is always next year! 🙂

During their visit, we had our first support group meeting for the year, and my friend attended, leaving all the kids at home with my kids.
We had a really great meeting.  I’m so excited we are going to go back through “The Connected Child”.  But we are going to start with chapter 12.
I think it is paramount to the book. 🙂

It was really neat to hear the stories shared last night, and meet such wonderful parents!
If you are not in a support group and are local, please come and join us!
If you are far away, find a group to belong to, it is really important to not be isolated!

I have written a book.  It is in the editing process right now.
I am hoping to have it published before the end of the year.

I am so thankful for the Life the Lord has given to us.
May HE be glorified!

Being A Team: Working Things Out

Some of you have been reading my posts for many years, some of you are new.  If you are an old reader, thank you for reading!
If you are  new reader, Welcome!!!

I used to blog in a family blog setting with names and pictures, but the girls are older now, and there were a few creeps along the way, so we switched to this type of setting.   I miss the old format honestly, and it isn’t as easy to blog without as many pictures.
But, this is the way it is! 🙂

Today, I’d really like to share some things we have been learning regarding parenting an older child who is in the process of healing from past trauma.
All of our girls are older now, in their mid teen years.   What an amazing journey we have been on!
Our youngest daughter is now 14 1/2.  She began to reprocess much of what happened to her in the past at a new level.  She also is very aware that some of her learning issues are directly related to alcohol abuse used by her bio mother in the womb and out of the womb.
Some of her processing, has caused grief, coming out in anger.
She can be quite expressive.   And this level of expression has been something we had not experienced before.

We very quickly needed to set some boundaries with her so that she could understand that having big feelings is ok, but how you act upon them might be ok or not!
One thing I learned that was KEY… was not to take anything she was doing personally. It was just pure, raw emotion.
It is hard to remember this in the moment. It is something that is much easier done with a younger child.
But in our brains, an older child should “know better”.
Well, not all of them do.
I think sometimes they forget that we are human too. 🙂

Sweetie 4 does NOT want to be angry. She does NOT want to slam doors or say hurtful things. I can see it in her face when she has failed and she gets so full of shame.  And I love this good quality in her.
It took a few months of experimentation in this area and I think we are really onto something I want to share with you. 🙂

Things to avoid:

1.  We can escalate in trying to do good.
That means, sometimes when they can’t think because of the pain…it is probably not the best time to offer a snack or suggest a tool. 🙂

2.  If you get caught off guard.  do NOT react, even if you have to remove yourself.
Trauma isn’t logical.  It doesn’t make sense, so saying “I don’t understand! What are you trying to tell me?” or “What are you doing?”
doesn’t help.  🙂

3.  Do not offer suggestions or too many choices.
When a child is in the middle of reacting to trauma or fear,
they can’t think.

4. Do Avoid reading negative blogs or negative posts that do not
help.  Honest is different than negative.

Things that DO WORK….

1.  Have a prepared plan.  Go over that plan when your child is regulated.  Make sure they know that this is for their benefit and you have no desire for them to be punished.

Our  notebook has served well.  Sweetie has called her brother and sister in law a few times with it to clear her head.  They tell her the same things we tell her, but that third party confirmation seems to really help her.

2.  Make sure that when your child is calm, you are encouraging. They are working HARD to stay calm.  It is not the norm and they can get tired.
“You are doing awesome!”  “Keep up the good work!”
and even, “Is it hard for you?” “I’m sorry it is so hard!”
This is WHEN they are doing well.

3.  If they have melted down….
Use humor to diffuse, but not right away….wait until they are calm but not out of the woods.
Example:  “Wow! That black cat  (fire cracker) turned into a nuclear explosion!”
“Let’s try not to go nuclear!”
Tell them you know they don’t like what happened.
Tell them, you are proud of what ever tool they used to calm themselves.
Tell them they are going to be ok.
Tell them you are ok too.

When a child melts down, shame takes over and sadness at failure.
They need to know you are on their side.
We often tell her, “You are on our team!” or “We are on your side!”

4.  Encourage them to write down those fears when calm and work through them together with you.
Ask questions when they are calm. How best can I help you when you are upset?  (that can change from time to time)
It might be just sitting there silent or just saying, “Honey, it’s going to be ok.”

5.  Make sure cause effect makes sense.  Sweetie 4 spent an afternoon repairing a chair with her daddy. He did not lord it over her or use the time to berate or correct.  They just spent happy daddy daughter time together repairing something she broke.

If it could not be repaired, she would have payed for it from her savings account.

Taking that time to put something together or go and purchase something allows the cause/effect to set in well, even for kids who do not relate to consequences.
A natural consequence is much different from a punitive consequence.

6. Always have open arms of love.
ALWAYS.  But test the waters before trying to hug or snuggle.
I usually trying to hold a hand. If the hand is willing she is ready.
If she pulls it away or has a clenched fist that doesn’t relax, she isn’t ready.  And I wait.
Typically now, she comes to me.

7.  If you need to leave, say for school or an appt. and they are dysregulated.  Do not ask too many questions.
Have that plan already in place:
A. If you haven’t eaten, and can’t decide and we need to leave, mom will make : 1. PBJ  2. Toast and jam
for you to take with you.
B. If you cannot decide what to wear:
There is a prepared outfit previously agreed upon that will be the choice to put on.

Having these steps in place is very helpful towards calming.

8. Surround yourself with those who will love  pray for your family.
Read from those who offer encouragement and hope!

9. Trust the Lord!  He’s got this!

10.  KNOW that all things work for our good!  In every dark cloud                there is  a silver lining. 🙂

Regarding Natural Consequences:

Sweetie experienced this a couple of times over the last few months.

She had to use her money to repair something she broke, and to replace a telephone.
She was wanting to get an Ipod, but now doesn’t have the funds for it.
She didn’t get upset when she realized her money was having to go to some things she had broken.  She realized if she wants to have nice things, she has to take care of her home.
Yesterday, she went into her room to regulate and shut her door very carefully. 🙂

She was dysregulated in a store and I don’t do dysregulation in stores.  She has always known this, and has seen me leave a store with our 3 year old grandson if he was uncooperative.

It was a silly thing she was upset about.  Or seemingly.  She wasn’t really upset about the “thing”, it was something totally different, but was coming out in demanding gum.
I don’t buy gum with horrid aspertame in it, so I told her we would get some at the health store.
She got upset.  So, we walked to the front of the store and handed our basket to a clerk asking her to put a note on it and save it for when we were able to come back.  (I did this same thing when she was 11 and first home)

She remembered.
“Are you going to take me home?”
“Yes.  When you are ready, we can go back and apologize like before and then we’ll finish our shopping.”

“Mom, last time I apologized, I was a kid. I can’t do that!”
“Why? You were able to act out?”
“MOM!!!!” “Will I ever be able to go to a store again?”

“Of course! After you apologize.”
And then I let it go.
This is a rule that has been in place in our family for 35 years.
She knows the rule, it isn’t new.

She took the time to get calm and think about it.
About an hour went by and she said, “Ok mom. I’m ready!”

On the way there she said, “Are you trying to humiliate me?”
I told her “Absolutely NOT!”
“I’m trying to help you gain integrity and take responsibility!”
“Kids who act out in stores are a dime a dozen.  But kids who go into stores and take responsibility for wrong actions are unheard of.
You left that store with people thinking that you were being naughty.  If you don’t apologize, when you go back in, the clerk will have an opinion that isn’t good.”
“BUT… after you apologize, that same clerk will see you as the brave girl who apologized for her actions and will look up to the integrity you showed!”

“You doing better will make others want to do better!”

She walked into that store, head held high, found the clerk and gave a very good, clear and concise apology.
The clerk was stunned.
As we were leaving, I looked back and she was smiling and gave me a thumbs up. 🙂

When we were walking out, Sweetie 4 couldn’t stop smiling.
“Mom, I feel so happy!”  “I can’t stop grinning!”
“Is it ok for me to be proud of myself?”
“I thought I would be embarrassed, but I’m not. I’m happy!”

YOU BET YOU CAN Sweetie!
I’m proud of you too!

And we high fived…. headed to the health food store and bought the gum, with the added bonus of it being 25% off! 🙂

We were buying school uniforms.  She hates the idea of uniforms.  She tried them on and then started crying. Poor kid.  I really do understand.
She couldn’t make up her mind and at the 3rd store of Uniforms, after trying on and (they fit her beautifully) she was going to reject getting them.
While she was getting dressed, I gathered them up and went and purchased them. I needed to make this decision for her because she couldn’t herself.
It was done. She has to wear them and delaying will do no good.
She got into the car and by the time we got home she was fine. She just needed me to make that decision for her.
She actually wore the pants today, willingly. 🙂

Since the gum  incident, things have progressively gotten much better and she is managing herself so much better. She can see that there are better choices to make and that processing sadness, loss, and trauma do not have to cause upheavel.  Instead, they can produce some really great artwork!   Or, you can do a really great work out
One of the benefits of being a teen, is that cleaning something or arranging something isn’t seen as “work”, like it is for little kids who do not care about their room. 🙂

I will be writing more on this topic soon.
To sum things up…. PREPARE: Have a goal!
PLAN: know what you are going to do and do it.
PURSUE relationship!
And don’t forget to smile!

If you would like to know about Essential Oils….. contact me.  We are using them.

Processing the Weekend

wedding 2
This weekend, Sweetie 4’s biological sister, got married to her childhood sweetheart.  It was a beautiful, lovely wedding.
Sweetie 4 was a bridesmaid.  She was lovely; beaming!

The wedding took place in Oklahoma, where Sweetie 4 lived when she came home from Russia.  It is also where Sweetie 1 lived when she was in foster care.

To say the dynamics of this weekend were huge, would be an understatement.
There was tension going to Oklahoma.  Sweetie 1 was tense because we were so near where she used to live. And sweetie 4 was tense because she knew she was going to see all those people who knew her before we did. They knew her at her worst.

We encouraged both of them the best we could, and everything went pretty well.
There were a few bumps, but with four teenage girls in a tightly packed car, I’d say we were a success! 🙂

After we returned from the wedding and were resting at Uncle Bob’s house, I needed to go to the store and took Sweetie 4 with me. She seemed anxious and tense. She had held it together great for 2 days with all the people coming up and saying, “Do you remember me?”
“I remember you!”  She was so scared of the unknown, and scared of what people thought of her.

Honestly, people were very positive towards her.

So, we were in the car and the tears started to flow.  She knows she has a new brother in law, but I’m sure she feels like she is losing her sister all over again.
She had some big feelings, and we talked about how to move through them in a healthy way. We were holding hands and she was intently listening.
I told her, “You know what?” “I am fully confident that you are going to grow up and live a happy and productive life. ”
That seemed to settle her. I told her that people had positive things to say about her, and she was relieved.

For Sweetie 1, we talked about how the land we were on is just rocks and dirt, grass and water.  Just because it has a name…”Oklahoma”, doesn’t make it a bad place.  We could be standing on the same rocks and dirt, and if we didn’t know we were in Oklahoma, she wouldn’t have been tense. 🙂
That seemed to make sense to her.

I really hate it that the girls had to work through such things. But at the same time, I’m amazed how how resilient they were this weekend.

Today, we had a really great day. Everybody was back to normal and glad to be home.
They spent the day going through wedding pictures.  Oh how lovely they are. 🙂  ( The girls and the wedding pictures)
wedding

The Confusion of Beyond Consequences Logic and Control Part 2

The Confusion of Beyond Consequences Logic and Control Part 2

 originally written in 2009
DSCF0066

I was talking with somebody the other day, and over the last few months, more than one person…. about BCLC and how it works.  There are so many mis understandings about it, and I think maybe clarifying would be very helpful for those trying to put it into practice.

I wrote part one here:

BCLC is not really a program. It is a paradigm shift in thinking.  Instead of ASSUMING that all behaviors that are negative are stemming from rebellion, manipulation, and trying to get at you,
we consider that the child 1. Is not scheming to get at all your buttons. 2. Is in Protection Mode
3. Is operating from what is called Fright and Flight mode….. (they aren’t thinking rationally)

Children with trauma backgrounds DO HEAL, CAN HEAL and WILL HEAL….. but if they are looked at in such negative ways as everything is either of cold calculation or manipulation or defiance and rebellion, AND, they are confused by those labels…. meaning, they don’t understand why somebody would say such a thing about them, and they are hurt by those words….. the opportunity to heal is slim.

If instead, the child is accepted WHERE THEY ARE, and then brought into a place of firm and loving acceptance, only then can they be guided to a safe place of vulnerability to really heal.
External obedience based upon fear is not healing. It is delayed rage.  But when a child feels SAFE, safe to talk, safe to feel, safe to say what is on their heart, even if those words are hard to hear; only then, can real, life long instruction that will STICK and cause PERMANENT change take place.

Will they be perfect little human beings? No. As, I am not a perfect mama, and am full of imperfections, they will always be human. 🙂
But, if I don’t hold my buttons out to be pushed, they can’t push them.  If I am stronger, and the grown up,  and the immovable loving force, that takes them by the hand and REDIRECTS them into a place of love and calm, they will want to stay there, eventually.

For the child who is used to a storm, loving calm can feel REALLY weird and scary. Yes, scary.
They will do everything in their power to stay within the familiar, because it “seems safe”.  It is familiar, and when everything else is unfamiliar, and uncharted territory, a good old fashioned storm seems safe in a warped sort of way.

Have you ever met an adult who seems to thrive on Chaos?  Apparently there are alot of them out there, otherwise soap operas wouldn’t be so popular.

So, for clarification’s sake:  BCLC is not a “coddle fest”.  It is not an, “Oh, Suzie, you just tried to burn the house down, I know you are scared, let’s go rock in the chair”.  LOL

BCLC is instructive and waits instead of tying to accomplish everything in the “heat of the moment”.
A child who is out of control cannot learn OR listen when they are in that mode.  Finding the best way to get them calm and quick is the beginning.  NOT the end.
If it is rocking, great. If it is sitting quietly next to them great.  If they are a teenager and they stomp off to their room to self regulate, great.  (don’t go storming in) WAIT.
They will not cease to exist in the next 10 minutes or hour.

When things are calm and settled, reaffirm your love. Then, talk to them about better ways to handle things.  Ask THEM, “How do you think you could handle that better?”  “What can mom and dad do to help you?”  You may be surprised by their answers.
Sometimes you might get an “I don’t know” and sometimes you might get an ear full. 🙂
BCLC is gentle shepherd parenting and instruction in righteousness, and right living, without brow
beating and judging every motive.
IS IT POSSIBLE you are dealing with rebellion? Yes it is.  But the instruction doesn’t change.
We are ALL rebellious in our hearts towards God.  Yet, God tenderly calls us to come to him and rest.

As you instruct and pray with your child, bringing into the fabric of their lives the word of God,  instruction for life,  talking about past, present and future…… be encouraged that LASTING CHANGE will take place.
Will you go backwards sometimes?  Yes….. but then, you will quickly move forwards too.

We had this experience last week…. and I have to say,  the forwards has not just been 3 steps but about 10.  I am even a little shocked. 🙂

I think one of the things that helps me understand BCLC the most, is the bible.  God tenderly deals with us. He woo’s us, he instructs us, his mercies are new every morning. He is GREAT in Mercy and Grace, not wanting anybody to perish.  He loves us with an everlasting love. The best model I can think of is Jesus himself with the disciples.  He was the gentle shepherd who instructed and taught and taught and instructed, and when Peter said something like, “I’ll die for you!”  He said, actually Peter, you are going to deny me, but don’t worry….. I am praying for you…. I love you. It will be ok.

Wow. This is our example.  Sometimes we have our kids written off before they are 3.  I know I have said this before…. but one of our sons, had we considered everything he did as negative rebellion and punished him constantly, we wouldn’t have the son we have today. I am convinced he could have become a self fulfilling prophecy…… But instead, he is a loving and happy husband and father and a very loving son.

Behaviors are simply gauges to watch, and when they are in the red area, we work to bring them back into compliance and get them to stay there on their own. 🙂
For some it is much harder work than for others….. but BCLC teaches SELF CONTROL not external control that will blow up later.
It may take a little more time, but once things are set in place, it is pure joy.

The Confusion of Beyond Consequences Logic and Control

The Confusion of Beyond Consequences Logic and Control
originally written March 2009


I have had many conversations over the last couple of years about the approach we use with our children.
It wasn’t until after a post yesterday that I actually understood where the confusion comes from when folks don’t quite understand.

I don’t think the approach is really that different from what we have always done, minus a few time outs or a grounding or even a swat or two from long ago with the boys.

I think the difference really is the “Outlook” or “Perspective” from where you parent.

There is no question that you love your kids.
BUT…Are you parenting your child in a state of panic and fear of the future, wanting them to turn out perfectly or better than you did? Are you hoping that your parents will be proud of your skills and that others will applaud your efforts? Are you feeling like everything they do is a reflection of you personally? Do you feel that their spiritual values are totally dependent upon you and not the Holy Spirit?

OR

Are you parenting from deep love in your heart that you pour into another individual, giving them guidance, spiritual understanding and acceptance, and loving them on a path that leads to life? Not reacting to their “off the trail” adventures to the never land of destruction, but shining the light back on the trail so they can be gently guided back?

I think that is where the confusion comes from. “What about when they go off that path? How do you not REACT?” “Why wouldn’t you REACT?”

Reactive parenting winds up being usually like “arm chair” parenting. Stop that!
I said Stop that! If you do that again, you are going to get a time out! That’s it! TIME OUT! Don’t look at me that way! Who do you think you are? I am your mom and you WILL OBEY ME NOW! YOU WILL RESPECT ME! YOU WILLL…..”Don’t you roll your eyes at me!….. And those little heals dig in and those little eyes no longer look at the crazy fuming person who is supposed to love them and they forget all about what they did but start to feel defensive and scared and wonder if they are going to die or if mom and dad are going to love them any more and then when they are alone in their room with all that time to think… they say, “why bother”, I’ll never live up. They don’t care. I have to take care of myself. I have to survive. All those little things they think are not true. But they don’t know that, their experience tells them something different. Because they HAVE been abused. They have been neglected. They have been wronged and rejected.

The idea is instead of react, RESPOND. Responding requires planned, self controlled thought out direction. It is studying and knowing what will work best for your child to bring them back on the path.

Reacting is instant. It doesn’t require thought. It usually reaches way back to somewhere in our past and brings out the worst in us. And the thought “Why did I just say what my mother used to say to me?” Where did that come from?

We ALL react sometimes. I know I do. The goal however, is to get to a place of naturally RESPONDING. I truly believe that can only be done with much prayer and supplication, surrendering our hearts to our Lord and learning to treat our children as HE has treated us.
He Brings us to a place of complete TRUST. We go off the beaten path when we don’t trust Him.
He gently woo’s us back because he is slow to anger and abounding in long suffering, patience and kindness. While we hated him, HE LOVED us. He knows us, from our very inward parts.

As we get to know our children, we learn to respond to their needs. When we respond instead of react, it puts the child in a place where they can begin to trust. When they are able to trust, then it isn’t so scary to let go of control and allow themselves to be guided and loved by a parent.

This does not mean, you don’t discipline. This does not mean they get away with horrid behavior. To discipline is to teach and to guide. It is to provide knowledge about life by modeling it to them.

As our children learn to trust us, and as they become more relaxed, there are natural consequences that will happen in life during the course of a regular day that will also help to guide them.

In BCLC there is a model called the Window of Tolerance. In a traumatized child the window is barely open compared to a child who is being raised in a nurturing environment.
The goal is to get that window open wider and wider. You will see a huge difference over time as you respond to your child’s needs. And eventually that window will look like any other window. That is the goal.

Here is an example of how a parent would handle a younger child in a store.

If you ask them to not grab things in the store and their little hands keep on grabbing; simply taking them home is a natural consequence to grabbing. Explaining gently that they must listen to mommy is very important at a later time when they are calm and you are calm, that is the teaching and guiding time.
You spoke truth to them that they can trust.
You responded to their disobedience.
AND THEN, after things were calm, and they were in a place that they could listen, you go back over the event that occurred in a loving manner and explain what is expected. Communicating with them at a very deep level. Children respond very well to this.
Then, before you get out of the car next time, you gently remind them of what they learned the day before or the hour before….. “remember what we talked about”….and give a big hug.

My guess is, and my experience has been, even with my boys,that it only needs to happen once. And you no longer have kids grabbing things in the store.
Very simple, very calm, and problem solved.

For the parent who says, “if you touch that again,I’m going to spank you, or we are leaving if you do that ONE MORE TIME, and then thousand times later, the parent opens a yet to be purchased bag of chips in the store to keep the little hands busy” etc. This parent has taught the child 4 things.
1. You don’t mean what you say.
2. The child has upset you.
3. The child is rewarded with chips for unwanted behavior
4. Mom lets me have things without paying for it.

No lesson of value was learned.

People will ask though: “Where is the discipline?” I think what they are asking is, “what punishments do you give out?”

The answer is, leaving the store was the natural consequence. It isn’t a “consequence like, If you do this then I do that.” Those types of things usually don’t teach much.
AND with a child with a low window of tolerance, it will teach NOTHING.

The discipline, which is teaching and guiding takes place during that calm discussion time where you can reach your child’s heart, talk about their behavior, their fears and their frustrations. At THAT time you can offer them the “tools” I talk about so much. What you are really teaching is true discipline, which is self discipline. You are teaching them INWARD discipline which is much more powerful that outward control because of threats of punishment. You are really reaching their hearts.

As time has gone on with our own children including our famous 3rd son….:) we have seen those windows of tolerance open wide. It has taken longer for some than others, but through loving, consistent guidance and direction, they are all doing well and we are quite thankful.

I have also learned a lot about myself. I am enjoying parenting so much now, and feel free to just love them as individuals. Each of them. All wonderful 8 of them.(even though 4 are grown) 🙂 My instruction to them spiritually is freed too. I don’t feel like I have to open their heads and pound in truth. I have been guilty of that before. I just need to model it to them through my life.

I think it was St. Francis of Assissi who said, “Share the gospel daily, and if you have to, use words.”
you can read part 2 here

Reflecting

I was reading an article where a child had been adopted to replace a child who had died.  The thought of that makes me cringe.
No person can replace another person.    And it is of utmost importance that we as parents don’t make decisions towards adoption if we are thinking a new child will replace somebody we lost.
As I continued to read, the little girl who was adopted asked her mother if she would have adopted her, had her other daughter not died.  The mother was offended by the question.

Our kids are going to ask us all kinds of questions, and we need to be prepared to answer them with respect and kindness.

Reading this caused me to reflect on something that happened in our own family a few years ago.
My daughter was newly home.  In her last adoptive family she had horses.  As I was rocking her, she looked at me sadly and said, “I would have rather had a horse.”

You know, I probably would have rather had a horse too, if at 11 years old I had just been through my third family,  only to lose my horse by being sent to yet another family!

I felt compassion for her.  I told her that I understood how she felt.
As parents, we can’t just fix grief in a nice little package of cliche’.
I could have said, “People are more important than animals” or “You are in your new forever family.”  Ummm. yea. That would have gone over like a lead balloon.

The one thing that we did not do, even though it was suggested to us, was to buy her a horse.
I wasn’t able to put into words why. But it just seemed like the wrong thing to do.
Today, as I read that article, the thought process became very clear.
We didn’t buy her a horse, because you can’t replace one horse with another, just like you cannot replace people with other people.

She suffered a loss. It was the loss of a friend; her horse.
To just give her another one would have been a cheap attempt to solve a problem that wasn’t about the horse.

Her problem had to do with not being able to stay in a family and identify with and attach to people!

So, we worked on relationship.  We worked hard and she did too.
And over time, she learned to trust us.

A year later, as I was rocking her, out of the blue she said, “Mama, I love you more than a horse!”
“Why thank you sweetie!”

Those words were precious to my heart.
They were more than just a nice thing to say. She meant what she said. She was saying that she was able to connect with people once again and not hide in  giving all her affections to animals.

That is a real victory.

Our children are going to ask questions and say things that might make us feel uncomfortable or even defensive.  We need to be very aware of WHY we might feel that way, and work past it.  They have every right to ask, the WHY questions.  And they deserve kind and loving answers that will help in the process of healing their hearts.

Support Group

Our support group is starting back up after a 2 month rest.
If you are interested, we meet in Wylie Texas on the 2nd Thursday of each month.
We will be having a discussion about adding an extra day in the month so we can meet twice a month.

Support groups can be vital lifelines of help and fellowship for adoptive families.

To check out the location, go to the Speaking and Support Group Page.

Understanding The Severely Neglected Child

Understanding The  Severely Neglected Child

All of our girls suffered terrible neglect, some longer than others, but two of them in particular developed survival skills that were entrenched in their little souls to the point that it seemed they were clutching those survival skills  with all their might, terrified for any changes to be made.  While they both wanted to have a mommy and daddy, sisters and brothers, it also terrified them.
A child who has been raised as a “street child”, is not going to come into a well meaning home and just “blend in” as one of the kids.  The concepts of normal family life will be so different to them, that even if they are from this country, it will seem like a completely foreign culture to them.
This is the child who has had no voice.  This is the child who wasn’t just unwanted or abused, this is the child who wasn’t noticed. It was as if they never were.

When this child begins to see that needs can be met by a mom and dad, they might really like it, and  pull away from it at the same time.  The pain of realizing what they have missed can be overwhelming for them.  Grief takes hold, and as parents we may need to hang on for a long and bumpy ride of anger, distress, grief, rage, and more, as our children settle in and allow themselves to trust.

Giving our children a voice, saying things to them like, “Tell me what you need. I want to provide for you what you need.”  Is so foreign to them.  If you stay steady, and keep at it, your child will learn to find an appropriate voice.

One of our daughters was a street child for a long time. Her youngest memories were of stealing food by going into other people’s homes.
I remember when she had been home about six months that we were eating at a Fast Food Restaurant.  In the back was  a huge dumpster.  She said, “I bet there is a lot of good food in there!”  “We used to get food that way sometimes.”

Some of our children come home with life experiences that we will have never had, and will never have in our lifetime.
We need to understand that the idea of trying to parent this type of child in a traditional way will cause harm and distress to all.
A street child takes care of number one; themselves. They do not suddenly become a son or daughter because they have been adopted.  All those street smarts come home with them along with a warped view of what parents are.
They will quickly find out that parents are not vending machines.  Parents are not money trees.  Families work together.  This may be a good thing, and they may want some of it, but they also may reject other parts of typical family life.

I remember one of our daugthers saying, “I have to do the dishes?” “What am I, some sort of slave?”
“No sweetie, you are no slave, you are a family member! Our guests to not do our dishes.  And by doing dishes, that shows you are not a guest, but a cherished family member!”
Put everything into a positive light, drawing your child to want to do what you are trying to teach him to do.

Teaching hygiene when a child is used to using leaves or only having one pair of underwear for a week and no toilet paper can be a real challenge for us sanitized overly clean Americans.   Our fascination with clean sheets, pajamas, toothbrushes and washed hair can be overwhelming for a new child; especially if they have survived on their own for a long time.

Be careful not to get frustrated with them.  Teach them through example and with the goal of relationship in all areas of family life.  They will learn, but they will learn better as you listen to them, understand them and then show them a better way.  They will see it as a better way, as they gain respect for you through relationship.  Think of things in long term blocks of time, then you won’t be frustrated when your child cannot wipe properly after being home a few months.

Do not throw a bunch of rules  and consequences at them.  You may wake to find them gone.  Always be willing to relax or firm up what you are doing.  Don’t be so lax that your children don’t grow. But don’t be so firm that they cannot achieve and then feel they can never please you.

Somebody once asked “I am bringing two teenagers home from Ukraine, does anybody have any advice to give for our first weeks home?”
I was shocked to see responses like,
“Don’t give them an inch or they’ll take a mile!”
“Lock everything up!”
“Show them who is boss from day one!”
“Lay down the Law!”
Not one response was to love them unconditionally or to be understanding and tender towards them, as they will be grieving the loss of all they have known.
There was no response like, “Prepare comfort foods for them so they can have something familiar” or “Have movies for them to watch in their language, so when they feel like they are going crazy hearing nothing but English, they can relax and hear their native tongue.”
Relationship builds on tender loving care.
A good way to start the relationship process all wrong, is to think, you can control and be the boss of the traumatized child.  They need tender guidance from us.  We need to reach their hearts so that they will want to follow.  We must give them reason to trust.

Do your best not to view your child’s worth by their outward behaviors.  Do not let your own fears cause you to have thoughts towards your child that will not build them up.
Work hard to guide them and encourage them.  Those first words of encouragement might bounce off of a very wounded heart, but as you continue to encourage, that little heart will start to receive those words and process them.
Soon, a little hand will slip into your hand, and you will have your child’s heart, for life.
They will be fragile for a long, long time. Handle with care.

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