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.”
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

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!


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!
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!

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!

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!

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.  🙂


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! 🙂

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?
101_0027 101_0031

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!

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!”

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)

The Confusion of Beyond Consequences Logic and Control Part 2

The Confusion of Beyond Consequences Logic and Control Part 2

 originally written in 2009

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?


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


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.

So Many Things We Are Learning!

The last couple of weeks have been a time of learning and pain.  Our Sweetie 4, has been suffering through some turmoil.  There have been times these last two weeks where we have changed the scenery more than once a day!   Our last post placement report was completed, and she was thrilled about that.
However, she has been struggling in a new way about her history.

Grief, reprocesses as our children get older. They work  to understand things at a whole new level.  Now that Sweetie 4 is 14,
she is understanding  what happened to her in a deeper way.
That can cause a new turmoil within.  And it did.
Oh, how I wish we had been able to take her home much younger.
She didn’t come home until 11!

Along with new understanding , she is also processing that her sister is going to marry!  She is in the wedding, and will be seeing people from her past.  To say she is scared would be an understatement.
I think this will be a great experience for her.

During our conversations with her sister, we found out that Sweetie 4 never really understood Russian that well. She was fluent in Chuvash. That explains why all of our study in Russian this year was not that fruitful!
Chuvash is a dialect spoken in the Chuvashian region of Russia. Sweetie 4 was not educated in Russian until she went to the orphanage.

We had been talking about how she couldn’t remember anything in her old language, so I decided to look up Chuvash online.   I found on you tube, a video of the Gospel of Luke in Chuvash, and then found a similar program to Rosetta Stone in Chuvash!
It arrived yesterday and she was thrilled!
She was really excited to say that she remembered some of the numbers. 🙂

We are praying that she will continue to process her grief in a healthy way, and settle back into family life, knowing she is loved and cherished.
Today was great! She had a wonderful time with extended family and  had a wonderful water fight with her daddy. 🙂
water fight 2 water fight

Love our Sweetie!

A Compilation of Humor Over The Years

A compilation of our lives together.

Here are some things I have recorded over the last several years:

We were talking about some church issues with the girlies.

We attend a Reformed Church, so one thing I asked the girls:

“What does reformed mean?”

Kristina , as always, excited to answer: “It means like, everybody there has problems!” Like, we go to “Reform Church”….

So trying to keep a straight face I ask, “So what is your problem?”

Kristina  said, ” HELLO! Like I have a wooden leg!


Many of you know that Olga  is a double amputee and wears prosthetic legs:

This is what she said this a.m.

This a.m., Mike and I were talking about a decision we needed to make. Olga was listening in and then said, “I’d hate to be in your feet!”

I told the girlies on Friday I think it would be fun to introduce them to “Arachnophobia”…..

Stevie said, “Mommy, I don’t think Kristina  would like it….

“why not”?

She is afraid of  terrorists!


At first I didn’t get it…. then she says

Iraq, HELLO!

I took the girls out shopping to find some simple items we needed. It turned into one of those go to a million stores events.

When we got home, Olga  was hugging her daddy and said, “We are EXHAUSTED Daddy!”

His very correct reply was, “You should have let your fingers do the walking and then you wouldn’t be so tired!”

She drolly rolled her eyes and looked at me and said, “Really mother, how do you put up with such a man?”


Ok, so I’m teaching common denominators. She knows how it works, but can’t seem to understand why it works.

So I drew some pies on the board. 1/2 and 2/16.

I showed her the difference on the pies and then asked, “So would you rather have 1/2 (8/16) of a pie, or 2/16 of a pie?

She sheepishly said, “2/16?”

I asked her “why 2/16?”

She said, “Because I don’t really like pie!”

I guess she understands!

This a.m. I was cooking breakfast and talking to the kids, and talking to Mike all at the same time. Typical a.m. events.

Stevie  was on the computer establishing a name for LegoLand. I noticed she put the wrong birth year and corrected it.

She said, “Oh, man I’m so stupid”…. which I didn’t hear… so I didn’t respond.

About 2 minutes later she came over and said, “Oh mother! You are SUPPOSED to correct me!”

“Correct you for what?”

I said “I’m stupid”…..

“Well, you know you’re not!”

Yea, but you’re supposed to tell me that.

Ok, “you’re not stupid.”

Then I got a big hug.

This a.m. Stevie  had SUCCESS! We have had a chicken escape artist that was going to meet its doom if we couldn’t keep it fenced.

She came in doing a happy dance this A.M. singing:

“block the hole, keep in the chicken”

“block the hole keep the chicken in the fence”

“Block the hole keep in the chicken”

“Light a candle everything’s all right!”

(to the tune of shut de’ door keep out de devil)

an old song

We went to the zoo yesterday and checked out the Reptile Pavillion. There were some very active snakes, and some had been shedding skin.

This a.m. Kristina  came to me with a little skin peeling off her nose from our lake adventure on Sunday afternoon.

She said, “Mommy, if my nose is peeling, does that mean I’m growing?”

Today Kristina  started working on her knitting. After about 30 minutes she said, “I can’t wait till this grows up to be a blanket!”

Kristina  has this habit of pretending her fake leg is real, so if it gets bumped or I step on her toes on her fake leg, she says OUCH!

The other day, she said, “there’s a staple in my foot!” So I said, “well, pull it out”. She did and said, OWWWW THAT HURT! I looked down and the staple was in her real foot. oops.

Yesterday it stopped raining hard and Kristina  was dying to go outside. She looked out the window and said, “Its not raining hard mama, its just drippling!”


This a.m. I was snuggling with Stevie.

She said, “Mama, do you want to see me get my cereal in less than a minute without using my hands?”

I was up for the challenge, so I said, “Sure!”

She said, “Mama, get me some cereal QUICK!”


“If somebody strikes you, turn the other cheek!” This was part of our little talk this a.m. along with Love your Neighbor as yourself……

So I said, you would never want somebody to strike you, so you should never strike anybody else.

Kristina  said,”Oh, I thought turn the other cheek meant, if somebody hits you on the cheek you turn and hit their cheek right back!”

Studying The Bill of Rights:

We were getting ready to study the Bill of Rights. When we were going over them, the right to bear arms came up.

I asked the girlies: What does it mean, “You have the right to own, keep and bear arms?”

The answers:

You have the right to have babies with arms! (bear)

You have the right to keep your arms. Nobody can take them away.

If somebody cuts your arms off, you can own them by keeping them.

If your arms don’t have hair; it is ok, you can keep them.

Here are a few more rights:

The right to petition for grievances in Fair and Honest Judgement:

“To tell the judge what you think of him.”

It means you can go to the judge and they will be unjust.

The right to privacy in homes:

The condition of being out of the sight and hearing of all other people.

IT means that you want to be left alone.

The right to free speech and press:

You can say what you want to say

It means the right to speak free without getting pressed.

The right to freedom from arbitrary government regulation and control:

You can do whatever you want.

The right to bargain for goods and services in a free market:

To be able to get what you want at the store.

The right to trial by jury and innocent until proven guilty means:

You get together with them and tell them if you are guilty or not.

This was a really fun school day for mom.


We were studying Proverbs 2 last night and Daddy asked the girlies. “Why does the book of Proverbs refer to “wisdom” as “she”? Stevie  raised her hand and said, “Because Girls are wiser than boys!”

We were learning about the life cycle of the insect. The stages they go through to turn into a butterfly or moth, and we even went out and found a chrysalis to put in a jar and watch it turn into a butterfly.

So the girls are doing their comprehension questions. Kristina blurted out, “I can’t find anywhere in my book where it says insects go through menopause!”


Yesterday on the evening news there was a story on teen pregnancy.

Olga was sitting next to me and I left it on, and figured I’d see what she “gleaned”.

After the story was over, the news Anchor said, “We have NO IDEA why this is happening!”

Olga looked at me with a shocked look and said, “Does that man not know about sex?”

Stevie was cleaning out her fish tank today. I overheard her tell her fish rather matter of factly, “If you don’t swim into my hand right now, I’m going to have to ground you and take some of your pretty rocks away!”

I asked her, “Are you talking to your fish?”

Yes, mom, the net has a hole in it.

I threw my back out once again, so I asked the girls if they wanted to play Cinderella. They said yes! So I had them clean the floor with wash cloths and Murphy’s OIL soap. It didn’t take but 10 minutes.

After they were done, I said, “Thank you so much my sweet princesses!” Kristina
piped up and said, “I don’t want to be the kind of princess who scrubs floors, I want to be the kind that wears pretty dresses and doesn’t do any work!”

We have been studying ancient Egypt. Today we had a creative writing assignment where the girls had to pretend they at one time lived in ancient Egypt.

Stevie’s  started with:

I helped to bury King Tut… I put him in a Jakcyl jar. I put him in a Falcon jar. I put him in a Baboon Jar. etc………..

I was laughing so hard I couldn’t finish grading her paper.

Olga  was asking about having babies today. I told her when her brothers were born, the doctor held them up and said, “It’s a boy!” She said, “how do you know if a baby is a boy or a girl?”

Stevie  piped up from the other room and said, “girls have hair and boys are bald!”

The girlies were watching “The 10 Commandments”.

The intermission section showed up and Stevie  said, “Oh, that is so all the actors and actresses can go to the bathroom!” LOL

Yesterday we went to the hospital for checkups.

Kristina  has grown and we had to take her leg down stairs to add some height to her prosthetic leg. She has grown over an inch!

After she put it back on, the dr. asked, “How do you feel?” She said, “I feel like a grown up woman!

We had been talking about dogs and the different kinds there are.  The next day we were waiting in the car while daddy went in to get donuts.   I saw a man walking his dog and said, “Look, there is an Australian Shepherd!”  Olga  said, “Yes, and he has a dog too!”

We attended a wedding and the usher stuck his arm out. Stevie  took his arm and we walked behind.  When we sat down, Kristina  said, “Well, I will wait to take a man’s arm until I’m grown up!  I asked her, “and when will that be?”  She said, “I’ll wait until I’m 10!”

When Stevie first came home, Marcus gave her all his old stuffed animals to play with.  She of course, had to decide if they were girls or boys.  She would sniff each one and say, “This is a girl, this is a girl, this is a girl.”  She got to Marcus’s favorite Teddy Bear that he used to keep in his back pack for Scout Campouts….. She took one sniff of that bear and said, “This one is a boy!”


Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus was a carpenter. Olga said, “that means he made carpets” 🙂


Kristina said, “Wow, that man plays a really good God”. (speaking of Robert Powell) 🙂


Tonight I was making dinner for the family. It was time to serve, so I sent Stevie out with Daddy’s dinner and dinner for our employee.

She came back in and said, “Daddy is off running an errand.”

I said, “Oh dear. I wish he had told me he was going, I would have saved his dinner.”

In her finest accent she said, “Don’t we all wish that of our men!”


I couldn’t stop laughing last night when

Kristina came weeping…..

“I’m so mad at Olga!”

I said, “Why, what happened?”

She was sobbing….”She says she needs her PRIVACY!”

So I asked, “Where is she?”

“In the Bathroom!” boo-hoo!

Well, don’t you think it is normal to want privacy in the bathroom?

“She never wanted privacy before? Now she does, EVER SINCE SHE GOT BREASTS!”

“Now she doesn’t want me in the bathroom with her!”

“I wish sisters didn’t get breasts until they were 30 !!!!! “

I just love Kristina. 🙂


So fast forward to today:

Olga and I went out for our mother daughter date.

We got back from the store and I had my super secret stash of Boston baked beans. The girls saw them and had their hands out…..


I said “You don’t want these, they are BEANS!”


They still had their hands out and I said,

“Are you sure you want these? They are magic breast growing beans!” LOL

Kristina  said, “I’ll take 2!”

Stevie  said, “Give me the big ones!”

Hmmmm. 🙂


Today Stevie said, “Mom, I know how Kristina can get over her fear of dancing in public and how I can get over my fear of public speaking!


“How Stevie?”


Adopt 14 children! It would be public speaking just to ask for the bread to be passed! And Kristina  would be dancing in front of all those people!

The girlies are diagramming sentences.

The sentence was: Gorillas and Chimpanzees are apes.

Kristina  got it wrong, having “girlies as the subject”, so I re read the sentence to her.

Her reply:

“Oh, I thought it said, “Girlies ARE chimpanzees and apes.” LOL


Stevie  was 5 and her brother was tickling her. She couldn’t pronounce her r’s very well so she said, “Be Cafull, I bwuise like a gwape!”


Another time when Kristina had surgery she called the nurse button. A man answered and she said, “Who is this? I’m trying to call a girl nurse!

She didn’t want to tell the man she had to go to the bathroom.


We studied the reformation recently and watched a video on Martin Luther. I quizzed the girls a couple of days later… “who was Martin Luther?”

Kristina  said, “I know, I know!” He was a German, A German…… A GERMAN SHEPHERD! 🙂

Kristina  saw her old prosthetist that she had when she was 5. He was walking down the hall and stopped her and said, “Hey Kristina, do you remember me?

She studied his face and said, yes, I think I do, but you look different. He said, “it is probably my beard!” She said, “No, you are old now.”


Kristina was looking on the Calendar and noticed it is “Ash Wednesday”. She asked what it was. After the explanation about what Lent is, and people “give up” certain things during this season and focus on Easter…. she said,

“I know, I’ll give up school!


Today we were starting Language Arts. We were having our oral lesson and I asked “How do you look up a word in the Dictionary”?

Kristina piped up, “That’s easy! You just open it up! It is full of words! 🙂


The other day, Gramma sent each girl  a Valentine’s Day Card and it was signed….

“God Loves You”,

Love, Gramma and Grampa

(Olga has overheard gramma now and then say, we are all god or I am god)

Olga looked at that and said, “If Gramma thinks she is god, then why didn’t she just sign it “I Love You”.


You know you live in the Country when your daughter sees the price of a new skirt and says,”Gee mom! You could buy a goat for that!” 🙂


When Kristina was 6 she was watching “My Fair Lady” . She loved the movie. It amazes me how much she catches onto for such a young girl. (the other 2 girls lost interest and went to play in their room, Dad was asleep, and I was sort of napping, so she was watching it alone.) Well, we were at the part of the movie where the man sings “I’m Getting Married In the Morning”. It is a LONG song and dance routine. After his zillionth verse about “getting married in the morning”, “get me to the church on time”……..


Before bedtime:

Stella: “I feel like I’m starving!”
Me: “Get something to eat.”
Stella: “I’m not hungry.”
Me.: What am I supposed to do with that?
Stella: “I don’t know, you’re the mom, you know everything. 🙂
Me: “You’re thirsty, get a drink of water!”


“Mom, not next weekend but the weekend after can you make blueberry muffins for breakfast?”

Sure…. but why not next weekend?

“Because I have kitchen duty that week.




Stella came in the house all hunched over.  I asked her, “are you ok?”  “Why are you bent over like that?  It isn’t good for your back.  Can you show me how to stand straight?”  She straightened up one side but the other side was still hunched over…..


I said, “what is wrong with your shoulder?”

She smiled and pulled out an egg that she was holding under her armpit!  She was wanting to see if she could hatch it.  “Mom, she’s going to give me ‘shaken teenager syndrome’!”

Stevie said this as Stella was picking her up to give her a morning hug….

My back has been really hurting. Stevie offered to help me with laundry right before bedtime…. I said, “You are MY GIRL!”

She said,
“Well, DUH! I’m not the next door neighbor’s girl! 🙂


Stella: “Quick mom, get a picture before Stevie throws me off!” LOL
Stevie :” Mama, Do you know I love you?”
Stevie”  It is one of my passions, right next to cats”. 🙂


Me- “Stella, it is time to do the dishes!”
Stella- “Can I wait a while?”
Me-  “Why?”
Stella- “Because the weather is bad and if there is a tornado, it would be a waste of time to do dishes!”
Me- “do the dishes”.  🙂


Stevie to Stella- “Stop worrying about tornados, God is in control!”
Stella to Stevie-  “That is true, and if the Lord wants us to die, He’ll kill us”.


Kristina twirls through the room and runs into me, (ow) then she twirls some more and runs into me again. OW!
“I’m not doing to bad for somebody twirling with their eyes closed!” ??? 🙂


Stevie at 9:55 a.m. She just woke up… “I had a TERRIBLE time sleeping!” Really, you just woke up. “Yea, but I slept all night on a pencil and a flashlight!”


Stella  to Stevie- “Hey Stevie, let’s pretend you’re my older sister and we have to study and do chores!!!! 🙂

Stevie- ummm, there’s no pretending about it! 🙂

For Mike’s Bday, I gave him 2 dvd’s… Courageous and Contagion.Stella jumped up and down and said, “Can we watch Contagious????” LOL

Stevie- “I will bow down and call you blessed if I don’t have to do Language Arts today.” Glad I don’t need affirmation.

It’s Stella’s turn to go out with Daddy. He called looking for the discount card for a favorite restaurant. I have it. So he said, “Maybe we’ll just go to Wendy’s then.” I heard Stella say, “Let me talk to mommy.” She gets on the phone and says, “Mama Help Me! You gotta talk to daddy! I hate Wendys!” ROFL…..I could hear Mike cracking up in the background. I think they went to Taco Bell instead.
Let’s just say, she won’t be without opinion when she grows up. 🙂
When Olga and I went to the hospital, it was the first day of Lent.  I have not had a coke for a long time, and didn’t realize it was Ash Wednesday.  When I realized it, I told Erika, “Oh no! I drank coke on Lent!”  She said, “That’s ok mama, you have given up your health for Lent!” 🙂
Olga to Stevie:
Wouldn’t you like to own a German Shepherd?
Stevie to Olga:
Olga, owning a person is ILLEGAL!


Stevie and I were on a drive and she was talking about a musician’s hair…. She described it as “Ancient….. Soooo  20th century!”
I had to laugh at that one. 🙂


Kristina’s  leg is sore from jumping on a trampoline it was all read and not getting better.
We went to see the prosthetist today.
He said, “So you jumped on a trampoline with your leg on?
She said, “Ummm. How ELSE am I supposed to jump????”  LOL


Stella and I were role playing.  I was pretending to be her and she as me.
She even put her glasses on the end of her nose and said, “Look at me!” 🙂
SO I was pretending I wanted dessert before eating my dinner. I was really putting on a show and she said, “Look at me!”  “Ok, you can have dessert sweetie!”
I had to stop my acting and say, “Stella! That is NOT a good mommy idea!” and she started laughing hysterically!
(you would have had to have been there) 🙂
Stevie, “What did you have for lunch?”
Stella, “I had Roman Numerals.”
Stevie, puzzled look….. “Stella, that is math!”
Ste;;a, “Oh, I mean Ramen Noodles”.

Olga was describing her cleaning job she does for her daddy.  She said, “First I clean the sinks and mirrors, then the toilet, and then the “baby toilet”.  Everybody was puzzled.  What baby toilet?

It was the smaller toilet on the wall.  (the urinal) LOL  We let her know it was not a baby toilet and she nearly died! EWWWW! I cleaned That????
Olga has a birthday coming up in less than 3 weeks.  I was going to surprise her with a facebook account.  But I wanted to get it all set up, so that when she went to the computer she would have lots of birthday wishes and all her her settings would already be completed for privacy etc.


She just happened to be on the other computer checking her email, while I was “stealthfully” creating her account.  And then, I heard this giggling.  Then more giggling.
And then I figured it out.
Every time I adjusted something or added something, she was getting an email notification!  I forgot about that setting! LOL
I was thinking about making her wait until her birthday…. but since she already knows…..Happy EARLY birthday Miss Olga!  You are my girl! 🙂
Sometimes we have to just stay and be….. today was supposed to be “Bright Lights” group.  Olga, Stevie and Kristina went.  Miss Stella needed to stay with mama for some mama time. She had planned to go, but it was quickly evident that she needed to stay home.  So I took the other girls down the street and dropped them off at the Bright Light’s location and came back home with Miss Stella.
We sat down to have our talk about what had happened and she listened quite well.  I am proud of her for that!  We really DID have a great talk. Right before we were done, she was looking intently in my eyes and I said, “Sweetie, Don’t be a dull bulb! Be a Bright Light! ”  And she burst out laughing!”Mama, you are so funny!” 🙂

Stella- “Mom, my toe is hurting!” (pointing to her ankle)

Mom- “Which toe?”
Stella- “The one I’m pointing at!”
Mom” Ummm, that is an ankle.”
Stella- “Ok, so I don’t have all my body parts down yet…. My ankle hurts. “
Stella was doing a simple review sheet just to keep her up on her facts.  The instructions were : Add 8 to each of the following numbers.
9, 19, 26,42, 34 27 etc.
She added it all right:
Tonight we were at our old house cleaning and there was a ruckus going on down the street. I think I heard the N word! Yikes!
On the way home Kristina said, “Mama, I think that may have been a gang!”  I said Maybe….
Stella asked, “What is a gang?”
Kristina said, “It is when people beat other people up to get in the gang, and they hang out and spread confetti everywhere!”
Mama- “Kristina, do you mean graffitti?”
Kristina- “Oh yes, graffitti!”
Then Stella asked, “What is the N word?”  I told her.
She said, “Is that a bad word? I thought that was a kind of acandy bar!”

Kristina always makes the morning coffee and then comes in to wake us up. First she comes to me and we have a quiet time for a few minutes and talk about our dreams… then she goes over to daddy’s side. He ALWAYS pretends to be asleep and she taps him on the shoulder. And then in “What about Bob” form, she jumps on him and says “Cocka-doodle-doo!”….. and he wakes up. 🙂
This a.m. daddy said, “I’ll cherish these moments for the rest of my natural life!”
Kristina  replied in a droll little tone, “And what do you think is so natural about it?”
This morning Stevie was diagramming a command sentence where the subject is understood. (YOU)
Instead she wrote ( U )….. and then there was an “R”   instead of are.
She said she was diagramming in TEXT!  No, dear, I don’t think so. LOL


Olga was talking to her sister and I overheard her say, “Don’t Hypervillinate”!   
Today I put spare ribs in the crock pot for a late dinner.  We had our 2nd support group meeting and I wasn’t going to be home until after 8:30.
I bought the kind with the bone in.  When I got home, Olga said, “That sure was a lot of work! It burned my fingers!”
She had deboned every single spare rib and there was a big pot of shredded pork!   LOL
Poor girl. 🙂
I THOUGHT we had gotten through April Fools without a hitch….And then, I went to get in bed. I hopped right back out. Something was seriously wrong with the mattress! Couldn’t see anything and got back in again. OUCH, something weird! I investigated further and to the delight of two giggling girls, I pulled a prosthetic LEG from underneath the mattress! LOL
Thanks Kristina and Stella. 🙂


Tonight during Family devotions, we were reading out loud the accounts of the Resurrection in each of the 4 gospels.
Somebody mispronounced a few names:
Mary Magdalene was read “Mary Magical” and Salome, was read “Salami!”  LOL
Stevie overheard Stella saying to Kristina, “Let’s pretend we are sisters, not real sisters, but adopted sisters, and that we are really close and love each other and everything….”


Stevie said, “what is pretend about that?”
I thought I was so talented at the gas pump.  2 x’s in a row it shut off right at the 75.00 even mark. We always strive for that .00…..  and the last two times I didn’t even have to try!  I called Mike to tell him of my gas pump talent and I was informed that the pump shuts off automatically at 75.00.  I just never knew that because gas has never been so expensive! Not sure if that is funny or not! 🙂
This morning Mike was getting ready to leave for church.   (Stella and I are home sick today)
He couldn’t locate his wallet.  He said, “The last time I remember having it, was when I  made Steve change.”  Steve is our friend.
So I asked, “Where were you when you did that?”
Mike said, “In the yard by the wood pile. “
Stella with a surprised look says, “You made Steve change his clothes outside??”

Last night during Family Worship, Kristina prayed that she wouldn’t lie.  That perked mama’s radar abit.  Then, this a.m. when we got up, she prayed again that she wouldn’t lie….radar up…..

After prayer I took her aside and asked, “Sweetie, is there anything you need to tell me?”

She looked puzzled…. “No mama.”

“Are you having trouble lying?”

again…. puzzled look…. “no mama”


Then why are you praying about lying?

“Oh, because I don’t want to, so I pray that I won’t and I don’t!”Gotta love that little girl of mine! 🙂

Things I NEVER Thought I’d Have To Say!

As a mom, I never dreamed of the things I would need to tell my children over the years…..

Here are a few including some from years ago with the boys:


No, you may not go outside naked!

Please don’t ever throw the rabbit over the fence!

Don’t make guns out of your peanut butter sandwiches!

Don’t fish for your brother!

Please Take Tim’s Cabbage Patch Doll OFF of the noose!

Please don’t spread your arms and say “It is finished!”

Your brother said “Gunnery”?

Ok, don’t say “gunnery”!

Don’t put dresses on the Tom Cat.

Don’t EVER tell big boys your brother is going to beat them up!

You Traded our brother’s CRANE for Tooth paste and a tooth brush??

You’ll choke if you swallow Brussel’s Sprouts whole!

No we do not climb on the school roof!

Please take your glasses off before you fight!

Do not put beans in your ears OR your nose!

Please don’t take the baby’s pacifier.

Don’t hold your doll by the neck or the foot!

What do you mean you went door to door to tell jokes and made 35 Cents!

I know you want to be different, but you actually look like everybody else who THINKS

they are looking different!

Medians are NOT for driving over, just because there is a driveway on the other side!

YES we got new furniture! Why did we wait so long? Did you see our old furniture???

We had to wait until you went to college. 🙂

You better take her on a date, she flew all the way from Maryland to see you!

If your sister is bleeding in the driveway, it is best to come and tell mommy, not just come in for a hug.

Don’t wrestle the goat!

Didn’t you see your sister laying next to you on the floor while you were blowing bubbles

in the mirror?

NO! Daddy does NOT act like a rooster.

Please don’t baptize the duck!

Yes, mommy and daddy are married.

Don’t cry sweetie, Mommy and Daddy have been married a LONG time!

Please keep your leg by the bed at night, then you won’t lose it!

Be careful, your toe is about to fall off!

No it is not ok to walk barefoot just because you can’t feel anything.

BE CAREFUL… .Don’t fall! Please!

NO YOU CANNOT drive! You’re 12!

YOU WHAT??? When did he let you drive????

Don’t forget to pack your legs.

We can drop your leg off tomorrow and pick it up on Friday.

Please don’t kiss the goat.

I’m sorry I didn’t see you laying there!

Please don’t tell people our food had a name, it will ruin their appetite.

NO you SHOULDN’T have removed your leg and layed it on the sidewalk and hid behind the mailbox to scare the nice lady!

You don’t have cancer, that is a mosquito bite!

No you may NOT hide your sisters leg! Body parts are off limits!

You said the “S” word???

Oh yea….. Stupid is NOT nice to say! nor is Shut Up for that matter.

NO S words are nice to say!

Ok, you can say, sweet and smile…..
Please don’t pee in the field next door!
Please don’t pick up daddy. You’ll hurt your back!
No I’m not dead, I’m sleeping!
Midol is the answer!
No you didn’t miss your snack. That is communion.

Your teacher was wrong…. YOU CAN LEARN!

No, it was not your fault that they abandoned you.

No, we are not going to sell you for your body parts.

Yes, Sarah is still alive!

I bet you look just like her. 🙂

I can’t imagine the pain in your heart.

Hi, My name is Mrs. Minich…. I’m here to keep you safe.

Do you have any questions before we go home?

This is your sister Stevie, would you like to order some french fries?

I don’t know all the answers, but God does.

Can you trust me just a smidge?

AND:  We will Never, EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER give up! EVER! 🙂

and another EVER after that one.

Trying Differenly Rather Than Harder

I highly recommend this book by Diane Malbin M.S.W.


This is a time of year for transitions.  Many of us are winding down our school years and getting ready for Summer activity.  For children with trauma backgrounds,  transitions are hard.
I have been wanting to write about this, and I’m glad I waited a few days before writing, because we wound up having to help Sweetie 4 through some transition.

We seemed  to have  run into a perfect storm over here during this time of year.  Anniversaries combined with teen age girl angst and transitions can bring out behaviors that are unwanted by her and by us.
She was STUCK.

As I was focusing in on what to do, it clearly came to mind some of the things we had let slide.

1. Nutrition
At 14, it is harder to make sure proper nutrients are taken in.  Letting things slide like breakfast, or allowing unhealthy snacks instead of healthy protein has been happening over here too much!

2.  Supplements

I am a strong believer in fish oil and vitamins.  We also use some herbs and was letting that slide.

3.  Schedule

We have been going to bed later and starting school later.
Dinner has been late, or sandwiches for about 2 weeks.
There have been reasons, but it doesn’t matter.  For a child from a trauma background, some things cannot be allowed to slide.

HMMMM>>>>  Anybody see a pattern here?
ME!  My lack of being diligent to make sure my part is done is a contributing factor here!

Back to transitions:

Apparently I start to get lax during these times too!  I need to be aware of my own habits so I don’t cause my child to not feel safe.
We had some very sad situations arise that involved our local extended family and friends.  Two deaths occurred that were very untimely.  So for me to be grieving  on top of all the transition added to her dysregulation.
It is not bad for her to see us grieve, this is real life. It was just the first time for her and she didn’t know how to respond.

So needless to say,  we have pulled the reigns in and are getting ourselves regulated and ready for Summer Transition Time!

One of the best ways to get ready for change is to begin to talk about it ahead of time in a positive way.
“In the Summer, we are going to have so much fun!”
Include your children in the ideas and plans  so they feel they have a part in it.

Make a schedule and KEEP IT! (preaching to self here)
Do not have completely unplanned days.  This is not good for a child who is  prone to dysregulation.
Have a wake up time, bed time, even if they are later for summer.
Make sure to have meals and snacks planned.
Have a routine of game time,  reading time, play time, park time,
swimming time, work out time, etc.

We have plans for specific arts and crafts during the summer as well as swimming , volunteering and play dates at specific times each week.  That way she knows:
On Monday we go to the Library, on Tuesday we volunteer with dogs, on Wednesday we have swim/picnic day … etc.
Don’t forget to include daily clean up rituals, and time for reading and rest, so that things can remain orderly.

If you need to, write out a schedule and put it on the fridge for all to see.  Let the children check off on the list if this helps them, so they know what to expect.

I believe that staying focused during the summer, helps with the transition back to school which is so structured.
Structure helps our children with felt safety, and we need to keep that structure in our homes to help with the transition from school to home.  (this includes winding down home schooling and switching to a summer schedule also.)

Residual Fears

Today I took Miss Sweetie 4  grocery shopping with me. When we were finished putting the groceries in the car, I asked  her to put the basket in the basket area and I’d drive over and meet her there.
I pulled up and she was all smiles getting into the car.

That smile reminded me of the first time I saw her in the parking lot at Walmart waiting to be picked up to start a new life.

I asked her, “Can I ask you a question and you must answer totally honest?”
She said, “Ok”.
“When I was driving up and you were putting the basket away, were you worried I wouldn’t stop? Were you worried I would drive on by and leave you?”
Her answer…. “Yes. But just a teensie weensie, not like before.” 🙂

Even still, she has her little doubts.
I told her,”Lets practice this every time we go to the store until it doesn’t happen again OK?”
She said, OK and then I got some serious snuggle time.

Folks, these are thoughts our children born to us never have.
They don’t worry that we are a few minutes late that we aren’t coming at all. They don’t worry that they will be abandoned, ever!

When a child is abandoned and rejected, it effects them greatly!
And it takes time for them to fully trust again.

I am thrilled she answered me honestly and that my gut instinct was correct.

Love that girl!

Reflections On 3 Years 2 Months 23 Days and More…

Today our sweet social worker came over for our very last post placement report to Russia.  She has been doing our post placement reports and home studies since 2003.

When we found out about our fourth daughter, Sweetie 4,  three and a half  years ago, we talked with our social worker on the phone, and the overall conversation was good, but serious.
She wanted us to seriously contemplate what we were about to do.
Sweetie 4 was going through her second disruption  after coming to America.

We knew that in bringing Sweetie 4 home , there would be some new challenges.  Any time a child comes home, the dynamics of the family changes forever.  No child comes home to the same family, because family dynamics change with each new addition.

We learned so much with each sweetie coming home; each of them so vastly different from each other.

With Sweetie 1, we learned about ways to keep her busy and keep her off guard.  She was used to being in charge of her little life, and we had to help her learn to trust us, and to be a little girl, resting in our safety.  She was used to going from home to home to home, and we were just another stop on her journey; so she thought. 🙂

Our Sweetie 2, was just terrific.  She was very hurt from a disruption, and from abuse, but she was such a strong little one.  She was so open to being loved, and quite easy to love really.  She didn’t understand English very well and we learned all about explaining things and not assuming she understood us.  I learned how to go into her world to help draw her into mine.  Cooking Ukrainian foods  and giving her control of the blankets in the house were very important to make her feel safe.

Sweetie 3,  came directly from Ukraine!
She progressed quickly because  she was so  motivated to love and blend into the family. She didn’t look back.  She loved having new parents and sisters.  She has been soaking up love the whole time she has been home and it has been an amazing experience watching her turn into a fine young lady.

Five years later, Sweetie 4 came home.   We had plenty of experience in the adoption world under our belts including going to special training and being a part of a very large online support group over the years.  We had already adopted from overseas, from disruption, from foster care and now we were adopting from disruption again.
But this was a different child, and she had come over to the U.S. much older.  She also had been adopted twice.
This was serious.

We  prayed, and considered all the information we were given.  We asked questions of ourselves and our children to see if we were going to be a team.
You see, a family IS a team, and everybody needs to be on board when bringing somebody new home.
The situation is quite different from having a baby.
An adopted child comes with a previous life, and brings that life into your home, with all of its unpacked bags.  Even if they come as a newborn, they have still had 9 months, developing in the life of another mother.  They know her voice, her heart beat, her habits, and her stresses.
For our daughter, she wasn’t a newborn, but 11 years old.

We called our social worker and told her we were going to go for it. We felt we could be parents to one more child; this child.

When we got the call to go and pick her up, it was very sudden. I had just 1 day to be in NC from Texas.   I also had to wait in NC for all the proper ICPC paperwork to go through  before returning to Texas.

When I arrived, Sweetie 4 was waiting in the back of a car in the parking lot at Walmart.  It was awful.  I hate the idea of picking up a child, of all places, at Walmart!
She  was all smiles, but I could tell she was so very scared.
Who wouldn’t be?
I reassured her that I was going to keep her safe, and that she would be ok.
Children are so vulnerable to the decisions that parents make.
It breaks my heart. She had no choice about being born to alcoholic parents. She had no choice about going to an orphanage.  She felt she didn’t have a choice in her first adoption at nine.  She had to choose between leaving her mommy, hoping she would come for her, and losing her brother and sister, the only sure people in her life,  to a new life America.    She bravely, at 9 years old,  chose America.

Because things didn’t go well in her first home, understatement…
because things went terribly wrong  in her first home, her fears escalated.
Her biggest fears came true.  She lost her brother and sister;  no contact allowed.  She tried to be brave when sent away to a new home. Sadly there were complications with the next adoption.

Sweetie 4 was victim to a set of extreme circumstances that began before she was born.  It was not her fault.
After all, there is only so much a child can take.
New country, new language, new parents, loss of birth parents,
loss of siblings, loss of adoptive parents, loss of adoptive parents again….and now another new set of parents.     US.

She put on that  brave face (mask).  Honestly, what choice did she have?    At eleven years old we were her 3rd official set of adoptive parents.  Why should she trust us?

We didn’t dare say something cliche’ like “Welcome to your forever family!”  That didn’t exist in her world.
The only sure thing that existed in her world was rejection and pain, and in her mind, we were the next set of people placed in her life to torment  and reject her.
In her mind, surely she must deserve this type of experience because obviously there is something very, very wrong and bad about her.
She felt black inside.
And in spite of how she felt, our brave girl put on a smile and forged forward onto an airplane with a me, another well meaning stranger in her life, and started over.

Up Up and Away! Into Unknown Territory…..

It was unknown territory for both of us.    Yet, I had a peace in my spirit, in the very deepest part of my being, that this was right.
Mike had that very same peace, as did the girls.
We knew it would not be easy, but knowing it wouldn’t be easy and experiencing those “not easy” moments are vastly different.

Knowing what to do or what you think you will do in a very stressful situation because of your training  is very helpful, but those training scenarios do not give you the “feel” of fear and adrenaline as your brain is bombarded with emotion and doubt.

Training is VERY VERY important, because it is your tool box.  But it is equally  important to learn how to access that toolbox when you are in the midst of your own dysregulation due to stress.  A locked tool box does nobody any good!

I am so thankful that we could see deep inside of Sweetie 4, a desire to do well.  It was just very well hidden behind a wall of anger, frustration and self loathing.

I remember telling her one day that she really needs to love herself because you really can’t love others properly if you don’t properly love yourself!  That concept was so foreign to her.

We knew the only way to reach her was to focus on relationship and not behaviors, because you cannot become a respected  authority in the life of a child with whom you have no relationship.

This is where BCLC (Beyond Consequences Logic and Control) helped us so very much.  BCLC focuses on connecting relationship first.
We had our whole lives to work through the rest, but relationship is number 1!
Isn’t it that way with God?  He wants to have relationship with us, and until we come alive in Christ, we are in rebellion towards God.
When we come alive, in relationship, God doesn’t start giving us a list of what to change in our lives.  He loves us and we love Him and those changes occur as we pursue relationship.

To our real surprise, Sweetie 4 began to respond relatively quickly.
We had told ourselves not to have expectations early on, not even for the first two years at the soonest.   Instead, we found ourselves surprisingly falling in love with our sweet little girl and she with us.

We had many, many days of trial and error, climbing up trees, head banging, screaming, slamming, threatening, hiding things,  including scissors and knives.  Some days seemed surreal.  But God…..

He didn’t walk us to this point to abandon us, and we know he doesn’t change His mind.  We trusted him and pressed forward.
It was quite obvious to us that God had some work to do on us too.
Just as with all the other families in her life, there was work to be done .

We had many days of soul searching and trying things that worked with one child but didn’t work with this child.  She was different.  Her hurts were different.  Her pain was different.

I am so thankful for Sweetie 1, because she prepared us for Sweetie 4 in the area of behavior.  And I am so thankful for Sweeties 2 and 3 because they prepared us for Sweetie 4 for in the area of  language and culture changes.

As her first anniversary approached, she was literally terrified we were going to send her away.  It was palpable in the air.  She lashed out in a big way, and she and I wound up in the car going for a drive;
her convinced I was taking her to a psych unit and me trying to convince her that she was ok, and didn’t need a psych unit.  But in her previous family she had been taken to one, and it was an awful experience for  her.
She was reacting to some very, very deep hurts and I had every confidence she could overcome them, not by erasing them, or pretending they didn’t exist, but by facing them and not allowing them to rule her life.
When a person has been through some of the extreme things this daughter has been through, how could she not have some extreme behaviors?  She was reacting in my opinion normally, to very abnormal circumstances!

We succeeded in that trip around town, as  we headed to the park, and oredered a coke to sip, to connect, in a very special way.

Some would think we should have punished her for the things she said or for what she did.  Some would have figured there is no hope.
But God…..

We knew better. We could see a little butterfly ready to emerge from that cocoon.  We could feel it.  She was doing well in many areas, even though it was 3 steps forward 2 steps back, then 20 steps forward  21 steps back, and then when we worked through that, a HUGE jump forward both emotionally and intellectually.  She could concentrate better, give eye contact, give and receive love and more.

She was responding to LOVE.  She was responding to REAL and Unconditional love.  Some people say that Love is not enough.
But Love is enough, if it is real love.
We only have one word in our language for Love.   But there are many different types of “love”.
True love is a verb.  It is an action word that means you choose to love and do what is best for another without expectation. It is laying ones life down for another.
It is much easier to love when you are loved back.  This kind of love requires much prayer and is found in the prayers and tears of compassion over the brokenness of another.

In our second year of being home, contact was made through Email with her biological sister who was now out of the first adoptive home.   There were careful emails exchanged to make sure that Sweetie 4 and her sister would not be further hurt.
After being confident that we could move forward, they exchanged letters first.
It was so precious to see Sweetie write that first letter to her sister.
“I am sorry. I broke our family apart. It was my fault.”
I didn’t interfere. This was how she felt.   I let her send that letter, feeling so sorry that she carried such a huge burden.
After she mailed it, I told her that it was not her fault, and we had some very good talks, but it would have been wrong for me to try to correct her letter to her sister.

Her sister wrote back, and responded exactly how I had hoped she would.  “It wasn’t your fault, you were just a little girl.”

I am so thankful that Sweetie 4 and her sister were able to reunite.
It was a precious time.  And they have continued to stay in contact, getting together and doing face time on the computer.
What a blessing to help Sweetie 4 reconcile the past with the present.

This year, we took our first trip out of state besides Oklahoma, to attend the graduation of our oldest grand daughter.  We had a wonderful time together and Sweetie 4 thoroughly enjoyed herself, as did the rest of us.

She also had her very first sleep over at her brother and sister in law’s house.  She was able to help with her little nephews for an entire day and loved every minute of it.

Sweetie has processed a lot this year especially, and we have learned how best to help her when she gets dysregulated. Each child is different, so what might make one child relax might cause another to escalate.  We worked really hard together to see what worked best.
We were then able to give her tools to help her.

One of the things that works well for her is to request permission to cool down in her room.  It just takes her about 5 minutes, but that time is crucial for her to gain control of herself.
If we were to try and talk with her before that alone time, she would escalate.  If we were to try and have her sit close to us it would escalate, and on more than one occasion I was on the receiving end of her frustration.

The best thing we did was make sure she had the space she needed to not feel closed in.    This is her tool, “Mom, Dad, I need to go and cool off, may I go to my room?”

You would think in a dysregulated moment she couldn’t do that, but she has learned through calm role play and do overs what to do.
We will ALWAYS say YES for this request.  It is what is best for her.

What she is not allowed to do is disrespectfully walk away. It took her a while to get it, but she has it now.

We are so proud of her!

So as I write this, I am writing out there to encourage those of you who are walking a similar path.  Our children have been broken from their histories, but they don’t remain broken, they do get better, and learn to put their past in perspective and not allow it to control who they are today.

That is where all of our Sweeties are today. They are happy and continuing to progress  towards a happy, healthy adulthood.

Having four teenage girls in the house is delightful (most of the time 🙂  )  Seriously. It is .

And as I look back on our last 10 plus years, I am fully comforted and aware that my early childhood experiences that I didn’t get for so long, were intended for my good and the good of my girls. They were there for me to draw from, to give me compassion, to allow me to have a better understanding and to help us all to heal together.


Our last post placement report meeting!!!!



I don’t usually write about this topic.  But today, I felt compelled to.

I have been wanting to write a post regarding a behavior that a majority of families in the U.S. practice.  In fact, within the church it is RARE to find a family who does not use Spanking as a tool to deter unwanted behaviors in our children.

Spanking and yelling were the primary tools my parents used to raise us.  If we did something wrong, we were yelled at, and then spanked in anger.

There are books out there that talk about doing this in “love”.
There are detailed books out there that give specific instruction, even going so far as to say if you do NOT spank, you do NOT love your children.

As a Christian parent, coming from a background steeped in physical punishment and fear based parenting, I wanted to do things differently with my children.

At the time when my boys were very little, I had actually never heard of not spanking.  The popular teaching of the day was to never use your hands, because your hands were to be instruments of love.
To spank you should use a wooden spoon or spatula.  This would make it so that your child didn’t fear you.

I  had no information given to me at that time that suggested spanking was not good. Even in the public schools, spanking was used by principals across the nation.

The other popular teachings had to do with scripture in Proverbs.
I call them the “Spanking verses”.    They were used to tell well meaning parents that if they didn’t spank their children, they would send them to hell.  They would not grow up to follow the Lord and they would become criminals and fools.

I remember when the boys were little, I had such guilt about spanking them, and most of the time I didn’t.  But there were times that I did give them a swat on the behind; and then I cried and  would feel terrible guilt.  I desperately did not want to repeat what had been done to me as a child.

As time went on, I began to read scripture for myself, and found that gentle and tender parenting was birthed in scripture.
We spent more time teaching and talking and less time using punishments.  Our relationships blossomed, and instead of anger and rebellion that was warned about in those books, we had happy young men who were serving the Lord.

When the girls came, we knew that we would have to do things very differently, especially since they had backgrounds fraught with abuse.

Over time, as I processed my own personal childhood experiences, and studied ways to parent differently, we found ourselves on a different parenting path.  It began with our boys, and became a comfortable norm with our girls.

Today, I had some time to think as I was driving to and fro  for several hours to attend the funeral of a dear friend’s son.
I love long drives because they allow me to think without distraction.

When we are parenting children from trauma backgrounds,  we really need to know ourselves well and the reasons we get upset.
We need to know that we must be strong and loving to our children and remember to not take things personally.

We were committed to never spank our girls, yet with our first daughter, there were a few times where we actually gave her a swat out of desperation.
What failures we felt like!
How could a 7 or 8  year old bring a grown person to resort to swatting her?
She didn’t.
It was us.   Old habits die hard.
Was she being rebellious or showing us disrespect?  Yes she was.
But we had to learn new ways to parent her, continuing the journey we started with our boys.
We had to BURY the spanking tool.
We had to BURY the punishment paradigm and work on a relationship paradigm.
We knew what to do. We just had to do it, and be convinced that it would be what was best.  Those old sermons swirling around in one’s heart after years of bad teaching can have an effect.

First,  we had to realize that if we were allowing “buttons to be pushed”, then we needed to put those buttons away.
She wasn’t intentionally pushing buttons.
I hear that all the time.  “They were pushing my buttons” and the child is blamed if a parent gets angry.
The truth is, we get angry because we get frustrated.  Something inside of us reacts because, “We would have never gotten away with something like that!”  or “Our parents would have knocked us into next week if we had done THAT!”


We have learned to put them away.  And we are much happier for it.
If one of our children is having a hard time, we do not own it.  It belongs to her.   We help her through it, instead of becoming enmeshed IN it.

And we do not use YELLING as an alternative to physical punishment, or punishment itself.
Natural consequences work very well to teach life lessons.
Natural consequences are not made up; they occur in every day life.
If I don’t pay the electric bill, the electricity gets turned off.

For our children, if they lose their allowance through carelessness, they don’t have spending money.   If they don’t collect the eggs, there are no eggs for breakfast.  If they don’t get their clothing into the laundry basket, they don’t have clean clothing.
There is no anger;  just life lessons.

I remember a long time ago when our youngest son had lied, this is how we handled it….

He had told a worker at Dairy Queen that he put his quarter into the game and won a free Sundae.  The truth was, he hadn’t, but they couldn’t prove it, and he got his free Sundae.

For almost a year, anytime I suggested Dairy Queen, he didn’t want to go, as he was eaten up with guilt.
Finally one day, he confessed that he had lied to the lady at Dairy Queen.
We hugged him and told him how proud we were of him for telling us what happened.  We drove him to Dairy Queen so he could pay for the Sundae and apologize to the manager.
It was a  precious life lesson for him to face the truth and clear his conscience.
At first the manager didn’t want to take his money, but we insisted she allow him to pay for it.   She came and sat down in the booth and told him he was allowed to come to her store any time and how much she appreciated his honesty.

For our girls, we have had some incidents where they have confessed to telling a lie, and our response is the same. “We are so proud of you for telling the truth!”
They don’t need to be shamed.  They need to be led to want to do what is right.

No Spanking Needed.  No Lecture Needed.
No Yelling Needed.

Proverbs 15 :1-   “A Soft Answer Turns Away Wrath”.
Romans 2:4-  It’s your kindness that leads us to repentance…

There is now wonderful information available to counter act all those “parenting books” that we didn’t agree with so long ago that were so popular.
We have been able to educate ourselves with refreshing truth that is backed up by scripture.  Tender and gentle parenting, love and kindness goes a long way.  Relationship based parenting, works!

We ask ourselves, is what we are doing bringing us into closer relationship or is it causing division.  We always want to parent in a way that foster closer relationships.  And that builds TRUST.

The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis
Beyond Consequences Logic and Control  by Heather Forbes/ Post
They Rod and They Staff They Comfort Me  by  Samuel Martin
Heartfelt Discipline  by Clay Clarkson

Happy Mother’s Day part 2

100_8923Yesterday came as a total and complete surprise to me.   I am so full of joy today.  The Lord has been so good to us, and His mercy and grace were evident in our family yesterday.

Our sweeties have been home for more than 10, 8, 7 and 3 years.
What a blessing they have been in our lives, teaching us to depend upon the Lord for every breath of life. 🙂
They have brought us great joy, and caused us to do deep soul searching about priorities, self, serving, parenting and more.

Yesterday, I woke with sweetie 1 not feeling very well.  She had a fever and a head ache and I just had the head ache.
Since we live very close by to church, I ran down there to help my husband teach Sunday School and then came back home to stay with Sweetie 1.
Sweetie 4 waited with me to go to church a little later, and while we were alone, she wished me “Happy Mother’s Day” and then pulled out a beautifully wrapped gift she had carefully chosen.
To say I was in shock was an understatement!
She used black tissue paper and then created a lovely flower petal vase with a flower arrangement on the package. It was so pretty and thoughtful!

100_8883She has worked through some things the past few years, and I wonder if celebrating last week at Chuck E. Cheese let off some of that pressure build for the big day?
I don’t know.
I just know that her efforts were beautiful and genuine.

After the rest of the family came home, we had a lovely salad for lunch and then Sweetie 1 presented a gift. She has never presented a gift and doesn’t like holidays that much. Today was different.
I don’t expect gifts…. if you expect something, it isn’t a gift anyway, right?
I was so surprised, and she picked a perfect gift.
Then Sweetie 2 had made a beautiful card and I received a necklace she had picked out.  It too was perfect. 🙂
And sweetie 3 wrote a beautiful tribute and blessed us with pictures.

I am in awe of these girls and how they blessed me so very much yesterday.

Our boys called and visited and I even received a beautiful home made scrub from my daughter in law.  The beautifully written cards and thoughtful calls all made me feel so blessed.

If you are in the trenches of trauma….. hang on and keep moving in the direction of unconditional love, acceptance and healing.
It  will  happen!

You are sewing the seeds of success for the future!100_8901

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to Each and Every One of You!

For many children from hard places, Mother’s day is a bewildering time. They are supposed to be happy to celebrate their mamas and at the same time are reminded of the mama who is gone. Some of our children have had multiple mamas.
Mother’s day is a mixed emotional bag!

Relax and enjoy your day, and accept that some of our children will not be emotionally able to have joy.
But our jobs as mamas doesn’t end because it is Mother’s Day.
If they are struggling, we need to be there for them to comfort them, and support them.
We need to be the ones to reach out and offer grace and mercy.

With that in mind. Get up early and have a good soak in the tub.
Make a lovely breakfast for your family, if they are unable to do that for you.
Model to them what you would like them to do for you.
They’ll catch on…..

Bring JOY to your family tomorrow. Let your children know you love them.
And don’t let any sadness or bitterness seep in because of unfulfilled expectations.
Every Day is Mother’s Day.

Peering Over The Edge

Peering Over The Edge

 originally written in May 2013

In my
last post,I wrote about why traumatized children cling to chaos.  Today, I’d like to write a little bit more about our experience this past week.  It was a journey into chaos and the journey back out.  Please join me. 🙂
As many who read my blog know, our newest daughter, home 2 years and 2 months, came to us through some very difficult circumstances.  She was full of fear, anger, resentment, misunderstanding, and much more when she came into our lives.  We know that the Lord called us to bring our darling home, and and that He also promises to walk with us as we trust Him.  And walk with us He has!

As I write this, my girls are getting ready for Friday Night at the Movies.   They are laughing and cheerful.
This was not the case much of this week.  Instead, chaos came to visit, and tried to stay.  It would have been easy to allow it, or join in by buying into fear, buying into the negativity of trauma, and doubting that healing really does take place. It would have been easy to say, kids with this much trauma can’t heal, or obvious FASD issues make healing futile.  Those are lies.

As I have said before in other posts, when somebody takes many steps backwards, they are getting ready to lunge forwards in healing.
But why the downward spiral?  I touched on some of this yesterday, but would like paint a clearer picture. 

I know that our sweetie has seen the “Grand Canyon”.  Not the real Grand Canyon, but,  if the Grand Canyon could represent all that is wonderful and right about the world she lives in, and all that will be wonderful and right about her future…. she has peered over the cliff and seen it.

Getting there has been hard work, and that was just the rim.  Getting a glimpse of the canyon, was a fearful experience for her. Why?
The reason is, because even in the world of normal, problems are still there.  Bad things still happen to people, and there are hard things to solve.  We learn to walk through them,  and conquer them.
She chose  to cling to the old familiar…. chaos..
This past week, a perfect storm brewed and came to a head.  As our social worker Kathi put it,

“This sounds like the perfect storm of hope, fear, anger, need, and trauma. It is all that Purvis and Post and Forbes talk about in one huge dose.”
    And she was right.

It was a huge dose.  But remembering to stay present, stay calm, presenting a united front (tidal wave) of unconditional love brought the Perfect Storm to a halt!   I love the words of Christ in Scripture when he calms the stormy sea, “Peace! Be Still!”.

We rested last night, and made some plans to bring our sweetie closer for a little while.  That means, going back to a more therapeutic parenting style, as some of her fears have returned.  The explosions in Texas and the Bombings in Boston had a huge effect on her fear level.  To a child with a trauma background, it can feel like their entire world is collapsing.
The memories of the past rushed in and reared their ugly head and before we knew it, she was a big mass of anger and fear.

We must remember  that an angry child is a fearful child.  If we only dealt with the obvious anger and not the root of what was causing it, it would be like pulling the top of a weed off and expecting it not to come back.

Instead, we addressed the entire problem.  But we had to start from a place of love in ourselves, not fear of the future or what may happen.

It is hard to look past the behaviors into the root cause.  But there is peace there. And in being at peace, we can help our children who are suffering, through a crisis.

Today, our sweetie is doing really well. We have definitely made her world smaller and will continue on that trajectory for the forseeable future, until she feels completely safe once again. She is relaxing in our love for her, and in our conversations, she fully understands that the life she can have, living in a healthy, peaceful way, is attainable!

 It doesn’t mean the past never happened, it just means that how you interpret it, and deal with it, comes from a strength within that will turn all things into life lessons to achieve something better.

You don’t have to let your past dictate your future.
And you don’t have to let your fears overcome you and rule over you. These are the lessons we learned this week.

We also were reminded in a very practical way, that LOVE NEVER FAILS, and love never gives up. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever!
I can see her hiking in that Canyon someday, with great confidence. 🙂

Focusing on Relationship

I wanted to write a little bit about focusing on relationship and not behavior.
This is one of the hardest things to explain, especially to hurting parents.

Questions might be, “Do you mean you want me to reward bad behavior?”
Of course not.

But there is a cycle we can get stuck in, and as the adult, you can either stay IN
what Heather Forbes refers as “A Negative Feedback Loop”, or you can choose to get off of the crazy train, and help your child heal.

It doesn’t happen over night, and it DOES take time.

For what ever reason your child might spin into a meltdown,  it is most excellent
if you do not follow in suit.  Instead, take a deep breath and work to connect with your child.
If there is a mess to be cleaned up, it can wait.
IT MUST WAIT, because a dysregulated child isn’t going to be able to rectify the mess.

Instead, sit with your child and just be with them.  Do your best to get close to them, but if they are unable to be close at the moment, sit near.  Speak in a soothing tone, until you sense that they are calming.  You will know the right moment when you can connect with them by touching their hand and they don’t pull it away, or by looking in their eyes and they don’t gaze away.
Gently and lovingly speak to them telling them they are safe.
“What’s going on sweetie?”
Sometimes they may know, as a memory was triggered, but sometimes they may not, especially if their trauma was pre verbal and they only “feel” with no cognitive memory.

I believe the latter is much more difficult to deal with, because there is no explanation.
Many people think the earlier the adoption the better…. I don’t find this to be necessarily true.

Once you have made emotional connection with your child, loved on them with your words of comfort, you can THEN return to deal with the mess.
Don’t be harsh, instead use any of the tools you can, including humor.

“Looks like we have a mess to clean up!”.  And then do it together!
Your child will most likely be remorseful.  Reassure them, and then when you are all finished,  reassure them more.
During a period of regulation, not necessarily right after, so you don’t take “too long” and lose their attention span, have a time of teaching where you can discuss better ways to handle big feelings.
Give them some choices for tools and have them practice them.
1. deep breathing
2. request to sit in room (older children)
3. go for a walk
4. magic mustache
5. jump up and down
and more…..

When that next time of dysregulation comes, just gently remind them of the tools they have to use.
It may take several times before they use the tools, but they WILL use them!  And eventually it will become habit for them.  Those behaviors that you were so worried about, and we not focusing on, will start to disappear and much healthier behaviors will begin to show up!

The negative feedback loop patterns will be further and further apart and certainly less intense!  And your relationship will improve!

I remember when one of our daughters was about 6, she had been successfully using her “tool box” to keep regulated.  One day during a math lesson, she began to act out. 🙂
I mentioned getting our toolboxes  out to find a tool and she instantly crossed her arms and looked at me saying, “My toolbox is locked and I can’t find the key!”   LOL

She did find the key, and we worked through her frustration together.

Accept your children for who they are and respect where they have come from.
Work hard to build relationship first.  Do not negate gentle teaching, which is discipline,  at the right moment, and unconditionally LOVE your children.

You will be surprised how unwanted behaviors begin to diminish and the real child begins to show up, all due to felt safety.  Make your child “feel” safe, and they will drop their guard for you to find the tender hearted, delightful child that they really are.

No matter how long you have been home, months or years, until you work on relationship first, struggle will continue, and you will feel defeated as a parent.

Such a simple tweak, can make all the difference in the world!

Easy. No.   Worth it! You bet!
Don’t forget what success looks like!

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I think sometimes one of the harder aspects of parenting is having the energy to play with our children, especially children who have trauma backgrounds.

Time spent  with them can be taxing and exhausting, causing us to be weary and too tired to play!

But one of the huge benefits of playfulness with our children, is it brings about connection, communication, facilitates attachment and calms them.
Yes! Play can calm a dysregulated child!  And that is a huge benefit to us, as parents! 🙂

One of our sweeties seemed to just be rather grumpy for a couple of days.  It wasn’t anything awful and she really wasn’t disrespectful, she just seemed weary.  It could be the end of school blues, or stresses  with a busy schedule.  I don’t know.
But instead of having a serious talk, I engaged her in some fun play. I spontaneously had her put her work  down and we did some fun hand games,  and then we danced together, just being goofy.
She laughed and laughed.
And you know what?  That edge was gone, she initiated hugs from me yesterday and then again all day today.
It is like she has her joy back.

I think sometimes we can forget that our minds need to rest,  and they also need to process what we have taken in.
Playing games is a perfect way for that to happen!

I remember when our boys were little I used to give them a very long lunch.  They could rough house, play soccer, or just play together.  I was always amazed at how they seemed to process what they were learning in school  or just general family life, through play.
Our girls do the same thing.
I remember a few years ago Sweetie 4 said at lunch time, “I know! Let’s pretend we are sisters and that we  were adopted, and that we are home schooled and that we love each other and everything!”
Her sisters really started laughing at that one. 🙂

Here are some ideas for playing with your children, young or old.

1.   Basket ball
2.   Blowing bubbles
3.   Dancing to music
4.   Hand games
5.   Hide and go seek
6.   Freeze tag
7.   Hula Hoops
8.    Play dough
9.   Legos
10.  Blowing up Balloons and popping them
11. Swimming together (diving for rings)
12.  Going on a scavenger hunt

Playful engagement is really important. It makes our children feel “LIKED”.
We need to feel liked.
Today, before the girls left for dog training, I packed them each a lunch, leaving a playful note of truth in each bag. 🙂
IMG_0370IMG_0372 IMG_0374

What are your ideas for playful engagement?



The question came up about whether adopted children lose their “identity”.
This was a discussion among professionals.  And I think it is a good question.
A long with that question was whether changing names was  a good idea or not,
and whether information should be open or closed.

I would like to explore some of that from an adoptive moms perspective, and also from the perspective of my girls.

We have done our best, as an American family living in Texas, to help our children keep their original heritage alive.  But honestly, I am not really sure how much of what we are keeping alive is their actual “heritage” that they would remember at all.
The reason?  They never really experienced their “heritage” other than language.
They  did speak Russian, living in Eastern Ukraine, but they never went outside of the walls of an institution!  There was no travel to see beautiful sights, or the ballet, or the hearing of great books from famous authors.
There was no real “Christmas” or “Easter” or Birthdays for that matter.
Every day was the same.
Even though this is true, we have done our best to educate our girls on the origins of their birth country, and to help them keep their Russian skills up.
We take them regularly to the Euro Deli in our area so they can have foods that might be familiar.
We celebrate Orthodox Christmas with Ukrainian traditions, and recognize other Ukrainian holidays.  We cook Russian and Ukrainian foods regularly.
They are proud of where they have come from.
And they are also proud to be Americans.

Because of this conversation, it got me to thinking about America.  Honestly, there are great variations within our own country!  I am a California Transplant, living in Texas.
There are big differences between California and Texas.  Here, children say, “Yes sir and Yes Maam!”  Not necessarily so in CA.  Clothing is quite different, and speech is very different.  But I have learned to embrace both places.
I am proud of my California Heritage and proud of where I live today.
I am a blend of both societies, and on one hand I could say that I don’t fit completely into either anymore.  But that has not caused me to lose my identity.  It has just enriched it!

How we see our own identity,  can be greatly effected by our upbringing.
Of course if there is loss, there will be crisis in identity, but it does not mean identity is destroyed.  It is just deeper, with more layers and it makes us even more interesting! 🙂

Our daughters like that they are from a different country, and they like that they are family.
They feel special both ways. 🙂

Each of them had different names at one time.  Many people have a real problem with names being changed.  I can see that and understand it on one side, and I can also see the other side of getting a new name for a new start.

We had no intention of changing our daughter’s name when she came home at 5. She insisted on changing it.
When we would call her, she wouldn’t answer unless we used the name she picked.  We finally decided that she needed the change, so when we finalized the adoption, her new name was given to her; the one she chose.

When our second daughter came, she found out that her sister got to pick a name, so she picked one too.  It was actually perfect for her, and she LOVES her name.

Our third daughter, was in Ukraine and we had to go and get her.  We decided since we had to have a name for the adoption, we would give her a choice to keep her name, or to have an American name, or an American name close to her last name.  She picked the American name that was close to her last name, and loves it.
For each of them, we included their other names as middle names.
With our last daughter, her name had been changed after her second adoption and we were her third.
We were not about to change her name.  She was much older at 11.  However, we did give her the option of her original name.  She said no.
So she has a variation of that name that her 2nd family gave her.

Each of our girls were very happy with their names until this year.
Our Sweetie 1 has decided to call herself a blend of her original name and the other name she chose.  She is experimenting, and that is OK.
So we are calling her, her new nick name and she loves it.

It is normal to want “identity”, adopted or not.  I went through a stent in Jr. High where I wanted to be called by my middle name because I thought it was much cooler than my first name.  That didn’t last very long because everybody would forget. 🙂
I believe our daughter is experimenting much like I did.

I think we can get lost on “heritage” and “names” and forget that our children
are individuals who need to be accepted for who they are and honored for who they are.
Their identity is not lost in becoming American or having a name changed.
Identity is lost when they are not accepted for who they are or how they look!

There is also the issue of birth family knowledge.  Adoptions can be open or closed.
International adoptions are even more complicated, not just by distance, but by circumstance and culture.
We have the names of our children’s birth parents and we know a little about them.
We have shared what we know.  Our girls have seen their parents hand writing in our paperwork.    For now, that is all we have to give to them.
One of our daughters has a picture of her with her birth mom.  She keeps that picture by her bed. 🙂
Our youngest daughter has a picture of her baby brother who was adopted by Russians.
She doesn’t have any pictures of her parents, but we have been on Google Earth and visited the village she grew up in!  Google Earth is quite cool! 🙂

Being open about our girls’ origins helps them to have a strong self identity.
They are proud of where they came from and proud to be a family together.

Our children’s identities are deep and vast and wonderful and they have opportunity to write their own story on the tapestry of life.  Those identities will be beautiful threads
woven into history, and they will not be lost. 🙂

an addition:
It is important for all of us to remember that looking up history, does not change who we are.   There are no magic answers that will be life changing and bring dissatisfaction to satisfaction.  It is important to remember that if we are unhappy with our circumstances,
looking into our history is not going to make us happy.  We have to make peace with the present in order to have a clear look at the past.
Our joy and satisfaction is found in the Lord.  We must be at peace within ourselves
that we are where we are supposed to be.
There is peace in the fact that God is in control; even in the little things.


My daughter was in her high school health class, and the teacher asked
“Does anybody know what FAS stands for?”
My daughter raised her hand and answered, “Fetal Alcohol Syndrome”.
The teacher asked her how she knew.
Her answer was, “I heard it from my family.”

We were hearing about this at breakfast this a.m.
She then very humorously asked, “Ok mom, which ones of us have FAS?”
“Just  name  names!”

Mike and I looked at each other and smiled.  I was laughing inside.
FAS in NOT funny.  Alcohol is a terrible trauma to the brain of a developing baby that
can cause lifelong problems.  In the most serious of cases it can cause damage to the other organs of the body too.

I smiled because though our daughters’ lives have been touched by the effects of Alcohol,
we also know that the brain CAN and DOES heal.
That does not mean things will be perfect, and we will never know what things would have been like had alcohol not been a factor, but it doesn’t matter!

Did I say that?  IT DOESN’T MATTER!


The reason I say that is that we have no spare time to mourn what is lost.  We have no spare time to commiserate and wallow in pity, and for some of us parents even, self pity.

There is WORK to be done! Much work! And with GREAT HOPE for the future, armed with a true understanding that things are not the same, we press forward and love our children through.
Children CAN learn.  They CAN find self control.  They CAN heal.
But they need our support and understanding to get there.

I remember when our sons were little, and we had some very extreme difficulties due to the effects of prematurity.Honestly, looking back, we had some more difficult times with   our son than we have had with our daughters from hard places.  I felt hopeless for a while, especially when his repetitive behaviors were non stop to the point a neighbor came over and asked us why we don’t just get rid of him!  I am not kidding. :/ That neighbor caused me to think about my calling!
That hopelessness lasted  a short while, because I could either fight for my son to improve and do his best, or I could the be obstacle in his way to keep him from growing.
I didn’t want to be that obstacle, so putting emotion aside, we forged toward a goal together.
Today, that son, whom everybody believed was developmentally delayed, mentally delayed and behaviorally challenged, is a husband, father and teacher.  Even though he wasn’t reading at 11 years old…. He is now a college graduate and a certified teacher.

He had brain damage. Severe brain damage.  If HE can do it! Anybody can do it!

And so, with the girls coming home , we just didn’t worry so much about FAS.

We knew that two of them for sure had lengthy exposure, and our youngest daughter was exposed in utero and after she was born.  She was nursing on a drunk mother. 🙁

It took one of our girls 5 years to learn her times tables, and 2 of them, if they don’t keep up with certain types of math, forget it altogether and have to relearn it.
However, they have both learned to read and write well!
If we didn’t try hard to do math, they might never succeed in that area, and they must have some success in order to understand a bank account or even possibly go to college.
So we tried many different ways to learn math concepts, and found ones that worked.

The brain can make new connections! This is the good news on brain science!
Just as the brain can be damaged by alcohol exposure, the brain can develop new connections, if we help our children through nurture,  and mental exercise.

Kids from trauma backgrounds learn things a little differently.  Commonly,  they do not understand cause effect.
We know for our youngest daughter, this has been her biggest challenge.
She has had to learn by repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat….. not because she is bad and won’t learn, but because that is how she is designed to learn.
Accepting that, makes those repeats easier for me. 🙂
YES! ACCEPTING WHAT IS… helps me to parent better!

Sweetie 4’s baby chicken died this a.m.  I know that for her, she will have to go through the process of sadness, picking out a little box and burying the baby bird, then praying for him; basically conducting her own funeral, before she can study. 🙂
So, I am in here writing, and she is out there having a little funeral.
IMG_0357 IMG_0365 IMG_0367
When she comes in, she will then be able to concentrate on her work.
If I told her she needed to do her work first, it wouldn’t happen.
That is how she is designed.  So I work with her instead of against her.

When we need to help our children make changes, redo’s work really well.
Each time there is a redo, a connection is made in the brain on how to do something
differently.  And by our own modeling behavior, changes occur for our children. Over time, behaviors we have worked to achieve, have become a  habit and the right way of doing something or responding   automatically happens now. 🙂
(of course not 100% of the time, or we would be talking about perfection, and none of us are perfect)

As parents, we have more of an effect on our children than we might think.
If we choose to see our children’s abilities and help them to achieve  even though they  struggle, we will see them achieve much!  And we will all celebrate what they CAN do.
If we focus on the negatives and the “dis-abilities”,  we will be the motivation killer that
results in under achievement.

Honestly, I am so glad that we had the variety pack of boys that we did, before the girls came home.
We had some difficult times working through prematurity, seizure activity, brain damage, cerebral palsy, dyslexia, general learning disabilities and more…..

They prepared us for our girls. 🙂

Accepting our children for who they are, and not seeing them through the eyes of a diagnosis will go far in helping them achieve all they can be, because our children are deep and interesting and mysterious and complicated, not just a one faceted diagnosis!

If WE as adults never stop learning and growing, why do we think our children won’t continue to learn and grow well past the age of 18??  We shouldn’t sell ourselves short!

I am still learning new things, and to cease to learn is to cease to live!
Don’t parent from fear.  Don’t think you have just a short time and then you are done.  It isn’t true.
Use the time you have with your children wisely.  Encourage them and give them the tools they need for a continued life learning!  Your influence will continue well past the age of 18, if you establish that positive, loving relationship with them now.


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