Away at College

Well, Sweetie 3 has moved into an apartment! At 21, I think she is quite ready and is doing so very well. She is continuing her studies at college for a degree in Psychology. I’m so happy for our sweetie. She is thriving. While going to school she is also a bank teller and volunteers at the hospital.

Sweetie 2 is in college also, but for this semester she is taking a break and just working. She is such a sweetheart and absolutely loves her job. She is deciding what she wants to do next, in school, but for now, enjoys being with friends, practicing 2 stepping and writing. She loves Jesus and it shines through her.
Sweetie 3 tried to convince Sweetie 2 to come to college, but she is happier at home right now. πŸ™‚

So we are ALMOST empty nesters. πŸ™‚

We took these two with us on a vacation to the Grand Canyon last month and had SUCH A GREAT TIME! I think we laughed from Texas to Arizona and back. We were able to stop inbetween and visit our oldest son and grand daughter. What a blessing that was!

This has been such a time of change for me, going from homeschooling mom to working partner with our Auto Business.
This is the first time in 2 years since our last child graduated that I didn’t have an urge to buy school supplies!
I love school. πŸ™‚


I’m looking forward to spending a little more time on this blog and starting back up where we left off when we had to focus so very hard with sweetie 4.

She is busy being a very good mommy. And our little grandson is adorable; 4 months old now!

I have much to write about….


An Update

It has been a little while since I have posted! We have been busy rearranging our lives! We now have 14, FOURTEEN grand children. The latest two are boys.
Sweetie 1 is living in another state and raising her little baby boy. Sweetie 2 is at home and is a sophomore in College. She is thriving. Sweetie 3 is a junior in college and she too is thriving. She has had a LOT of pain recently due to her arthrogryposis, but is handling it like a champ. We are looking into therapy and how it can help her so she isn’t in so much pain, poor dear. She is also working as a tutor for a large family and loves her job.

Sweetie 4 continues to heal and is doing well. She has a boyfriend and works as a cashier full time. We talk often and she is learning how to manage her fears and it seems that she is gaining good insight. Our last conversation had to do with what she would say to the girls at the jail. She has been invited to SPEAK to them! πŸ™‚ What a blessing that is!

I am working full time for the hubster now. We continue to minister to our children, and to those around us. We LOVE how the Lord has brought us to where we are today, walking us through some VERY hard times, to see that He has been with us all the way.

What a blessing it is to live life and pour love into those around us.

I pray that you will have a blessed year in 2019!!!

They Won’t vs. They Can’t!

Have you ever thought about how one time your child can do something, and then the next time they can’t?
Ever think it is willful disobedience or they are faking it?

Try looking at it this way:
One time, they can do their homework and the next time they can’t, think about the trauma brain and ESPECIALLY the FAS brain.

Think of a filing cabinet full of folders of information. You know how it is all neatly organized and alphabetical?
You can go to it and retrieve what you need.

Now picture all those files dumped into a huge pile on the floor. You can retrieve information, but it might not be the right information. Or you can struggle so much to find the right folder, you give up for awhile.

THAT is what trauma brain is like!

That is why we don’t assume a child WON’T, but that they CAN’T; even if they COULD before.

Some ideas to help trauma brain AND FAS brain.

Your children sometimes get stuck in a loop in which they can’t get out. Exercising the RIGHT BRAIN with music, art, sketching, crafts, photography, etc. can really work the right brain, and help connect with the left brain, or even help the left brain rest……
Your children will benefit so much from this.
AND they will be able to locate those mental folders a little easier.
If you see your child stuck, TRY art, sketching, going for a drive… illustrating a book read aloud. ANYTHING to get the right brain lit up.

What BCLC is NOT!

I have written about BCLC several times because of the misconceptions out there regarding how one parents using the BCLC paradigm. Recently there have been some questions I have been asked, so I wanted to clarify…..

What BCLC is NOT: March 2012

1. A kid led fun fest
2. A guide for Wimpy Parent excuses
3. A style of parenting where the kid rules
4. An excuse for snotty unruly kids
5. A parentless gimic that will end up in monster teenagers.
6. A parenting style that lacks authority
7. A liberal, free to be you and me, parenting gimmick.

1. A fear based parenting style.
2. A consequence based parenting style
3. A punishment based parenting style.
(I could go on, but I’ll spare you)

1. A patient parenting style
2. A KIND parenting style
3. A listening parenting style
4. A RELATIONSHIP based parenting style.
5. A parenting style based on forgiveness, mercy and grace.
6. A love based parenting style…

BCLC does NOT allow kids to get away with murder. We have respectful and kind girls around here, and our boys are the same.
I think the main point about BCLC, is that PARENTING IS NOT ABOUT Consequences, Logic, and Control ….Parenting is about raising a child to be a successful, secure and happy adult. And if you begin your “relationship” as strangers, ESPECIALLY in light of older child adoption, trying to control and punish unwanted behaviors is only going to cause more division, mistrust and hurt, sending you down a path of great regret and sorrow upon sorrow.

When you have somebody come into your home, you don’t just throw the book of laws at them and force them to comply….. you lovingly, guide them and teach them, building a trusting relationship along the way.
You find the things they are doing right. You study them and concentrate on the things that you love about them. Even if it is one thing! And then you seek to find more.

There WILL be those times of struggle, and when they are struggling, and you show them great mercy and compassion, that BUILDS a relationship. EVENTUALLY, things fall in to place and you get in a rhythm or dance that is called RELATIONSHIP. They learn to trust you.
They can TRUST YOU BECAUSE you are not hurting them, criticizing their every move and making them feel like something is WRONG with them that needs to be FIXED…..
Instead, you see them as a WHOLE person who has a REAL NEED to have a voice, who NEEDS to be heard and understood.
As you develop that trusting relationship, there is a whole LOT of instruction going on and a WHOLE lot of listening going on, and it has a great effect upon the healing of your child.

When a relationship is REAL, then you will be seen as a REAL Authority and NOT somebody who has forced yourself on them.

Grace upon Grace, just as God has given us Grace upon Grace. Do they deserve punishment sometimes? I can think of several times this year where Sweetie 4 would have deserved punishment or consequences. And though it was deserved LOGICALLY, it would never have been received and would have caused GREAT DAMAGE to her, because of her past circumstances.
Instead, we have worked on relationship building, and understanding that our words can hurt others.
She has learned SO VERY MUCH this year and come farther than I ever expected. And I praise the Lord and give HIM glory for that.

She has been led to the everlasting water that refreshes the soul, and she is drinking…..on her own. πŸ™‚

Today, things are way more relaxed and I can be that authority in her life that she needs, without her feeling afraid. It is a position that I have had to earn through a lot of hard work.
I know that today, if I were to give her a consequence, she would accept it. But I do not feel the need.
If something is wrong that we need to talk about, we work it out through quiet and kind instruction and conversation, based in biblical grace and mercy.

Yesterday, during our Pastor’s sermon, in the book of Amos…. (OLD TESTAMENT) I found something very interesting. In fact our pastor drew it out and related it to raising children. In Amos Chapter 7, God gives Amos a vision of what the people deserve, yet he instead chooses to show them grace upon grace. They are unrepentant… His grace and mercy is not based upon what they DID…. it is based upon His infinite love for a stiff necked people.
(that is what GOD calls them)
There are several instances in scripture of GOD NOT giving what is deserved, starting in the Garden.
God is SLOW to Anger, abounding in Great Love and forgiveness…. He is the SAME in the OT as in the NEW…..
Are we slow to anger? Are we ABOUNDING in loving kindness?
That does not mean God has never punished, he has. And eventually, I believe He will. But GRACE and MERCY cover us. And HIS desire is that we would all have relationship with Him. He will take NO PLEASURE in punishment. NONE…..
Can we say the same thing?

There have been conversations in our home before about not taking advantage of Grace. It is not there so we can go on doing whatever we want, and those conversations have been taken very seriously.

What I have found, is that TRUST is built, and the children have developed INTERNAL CONTROL instead of being constantly controlled EXTERNALLY by somebody else. And there is a peaceful contentment in that.

BCLC Creativity

BCLC Creativity πŸ™‚

A little girl who shall remain Unnamed gave me permission to write this. πŸ™‚

Over the last few days, I had noticed our sweet little Noelle’s (all our girl’s middle names are Noelle which means God’s Gift) behavior taking an unpleasant shift. She was being grouchy, only thinking of herself and not others, and just had a dissatisfied countenance. If you knew this little girl, you would never think these things about her. She is carefree and fun, always smiling, always happy.

I had to correct her 3 times by taking her aside to my rocking chair and talking about her attitude. For some reason, I didn’t feel like I was getting through.

In the back of my mind, I was thinking, something is up… Is she beginning the emotional swings of puberty? Is something horrible bothering her? What is it?
I would ask, and she would just say, “I don’t know!” She also seemed abit confused when I talked to her about her attitude, as to what I was talking about. She wasn’t seeing it the same way.
Another Noelle had bothered her, or she simply just felt she was RIGHT…..Yikes! πŸ™‚

I had been observing and watching and praying and trying to figure her out. One thing that kept coming to mind was that she was angry. Dissatisfaction is another type of anger or resentment, as is entitlement. She seemed to be feeing rather “entitled”……

In the morning, all the Noelle’s had slept in the same room on the same bed, and this happy sweetie pie, woke up grouchy. She was bothering her sister, and I was hearing from the other room, her singing a non sense song loudly, and finally I was feeling like “this is the last straw”.
She was doing it to be annoying and laying on top of her sister to tease.

I called her, and I heard a louder song. I called her louder and heard a LOUDER song! GOOD GRIEF! This had not happened before.

So, I went in and asked her to come to my room. She was in the rocking chair with me, and Mike was in the room getting ready for church. He sat down and we both wanted to talk to her.
It was like trying to reach a brick wall.

Then, I felt like the Lord Showed me that she was hiding anger, and the events since Friday, the reading about the little boy being sent away, the news reports etc. brought a lot of anxiety and anger flooding back into her little heart. She mentioned it to me, about the little boy the day before.

Mike got a balloon out of the package that we are planning to make our Solar System with, and I asked her, “Would you like to see how Anger and fear, can effect you?” She was intrigued by the game.
And took the bite…. “Sure!” big smile……

So, I blew up the balloon a tiny bit, and I said, all babies cry when they are born. They are probably a little scared and a little angry because they are cold. So this is your baby anger.
Then we talked about how babies need love and affection and attention and food….. I blew into the balloon a little more….. You were afraid being all alone. Then, I talked about how when she broke her hip she was MAD MAD MAD because they tied her in bed at the hospital. (she was in Ukraine and Papa Dima told us about it) So we blew some more air into the balloon.
Then, I told her that it was her adoption day and she had so much hope for going with a new mommy and daddy! And we let some air out of the balloon….. not all of it, just a little, because she was still scared.
Then, after she was here, things didn’t go so well….. I added a LOT more air, as there was A LOT of anger and fear at that time. We went over some certain stories she has told me, and added air for each one. Our balloon was getting quite big!

Then, I told her about when we went to pick her up she looked so scared! More air.
I talked to her about how she smiled and covered it up, but I knew she was terribly scared.
But she became happy when she was home just 1 day! So we let some air out.

Then, we talked about when the family wanted to come and visit her and how she burst into tears for fear they would take her back…. More air.

We talked about how mommy and daddy left to go and get Sweetie 3, and she had to stay behind.
She told me blow more, I was REALLY scared. She was scared we wouldn’t come back. πŸ™

She was really getting into this balloon thing now. πŸ™‚ So, we talked about her fears of not having blankets, of going to the bathroom on her own, of being in the dark, of being alone, etc. etc.

Our balloon was VERY Large!

And then, I asked her, “What do you think happens when a little girl holds in all this anger and fear and needs to keep adding more to her list?” She looked at me and said, “She explodes?”

“You see sweetie, you cannot hold all those fears and all those hurts inside, sooner or later, they will make you explode. BURST! And that is not good for anybody. But there is a way to let it go… let the air out…. safely. ”
So, now she was totally engaged. πŸ™‚ We talked about things, many which we had talked about before. We talked about forgiveness, and moving on, and we talked about how we can try on our own to forgive, but REALLY, we need the Lord to help us. We cannot do it on our own.
She began to cry, and she prayed with me and asked the Lord to heal her wounds and her heart and to help her not to be afraid or angry. She was serious and sincere in her prayer and then we snuggled. Our hearts met once again, and we SLOWLY let the air out of the balloon, giving it to the Lord and letting HIM bear our burdens of sadness, fear and anger.

I’m telling you, ALL DAY, she has been a sweetheart of a girl. She is back to her normal self.
I am learning that healing takes place in layer after layer. We think things are conquered and we find that there is another layer like in an onion. One thing is exposed and dealt with, and there still may be a scar on the layer below. πŸ™‚

I am so thankful for my sweet little girl. She teaches me so much about love and compassion.
I cannot see how there would have been any other way to reach her heart, other than to compassionately point her to the one who can HEAL all of our wounds and make us anew once again.
HIS mercies are new every morning. πŸ™‚

Thank you my Sweet Noelle for letting me share part of your precious life so others can take joy with us. πŸ™‚

How Long Do You Do BCLC?

Written in May 2012.

Somebody asked, “How long do you have to do BCLC, before you can parent “Normally”?
That is a VERY good question!

I think what this person is asking is, “When can I show displeasure or anger at my child’s behavior as I have done with my biological children and not have a back lash effect?”

I think the answer to this question is two fold…..
In question form:

1. Can you talk to your child about WRONG behavior WITHOUT the anger?
2. Have you established a trusting RELATIONSHIP and CONNECTION with your child?

I had to talk to one of our sweeties this morning about a behavior that was bothering me. Instead of showing her anger or disappointment, I simply was able to spell out the facts. “The behavior you are showing is not what I see as productive. You need to make some changes. I KNOW you can do it, because you are great kid!”
At first, she didn’t want to hear it. But she listened as I encouraged her to hear my heart. And when our talk was over, she was empowered to do better and consider dropping the behavior in question.

I didn’t HAVE to show anger to get my point across. I was serious and to the point, minus the “guilt trip anger”.

Now, I could talk FRANKLY, BECAUSE we have established a trusting connection.

One of the points about BCLC parenting is that a RELATIONSHIP has to be WORKING in order to be able to parent. This is VERY TRUE!
It does not matter how LONG our children have been home! If we have not established RELATIONSHIP, then everything else is FUTILE! RELATIONSHIP IS THE ALL IMPORTANT FIRST STEP!
IF relationships are established and trust is there, we have much more freedom in how we handle any given situation.
I think BCLC is not much different than “Grace Based Parenting”….. It is respectful, kind and gentle. It tells the TRUTH in LOVE!
But in order for our kids to HEAR the TRUTH, they need to trust us first.
BCLC looks past the behaviors to the FEAR that drives the behaviors. Those behaviors diminish GREATLY as trust is established. The fears disappear and many unwanted behaviors go away.

Once TRUST is established, you can work on the specific lingering behaviors; fear driven or formed from bad habit. When our children trust our love and know we accept them, they are very willing to work on hard issues. πŸ™‚
And it is a JOY to see them progress!
There is no anger needed to point out that some behaviors are wrong or immoral. Those things can be spoken of with great tenderness.
It helps to remember that our children are STILL CHILDREN and even as young teens have a LONG ways to go before adulthood. Our own fears should not be what cause us to over react or implement destructive consequences that get in the way of true progress.

I am ALL FOR NATURAL consequences, but not IMPOSED consequences that are more like punishment.

There have been many times where my own girls have felt like I was “punishing” them because I didn’t allow a certain freedom or privilege. I am very quick to let them know that I would LOVE for them to be able to do X….. but until they are ready, it would not be right for me to give that privilege.
It is amazing how they respond to that. Usually it is a very positive response, because they are made to feel safe and secure.

So how LONG do we do BCLC? Always! πŸ™‚ Of course we have to be VERY CAREFUL with our own attitudes and tones of voice when a child is learning to trust. But things do relax and when we do not do things perfectly, as we are NOT perfect…. the kids are relaxed and forgiving of us, just as we are of them. πŸ™‚

I think that there is a great misunderstanding that when using BCLC, you have to walk on egg shells for eternity and your kids never get past being treated with kit gloves. I believe the word is “coddled”. This is a MYTH. The point is, that LOVE WORKS! We all want to be LOVED and CONNECTED because we are social beings. Tenderness and gentle parenting is a GOOD THING for ALL children!
Learning to be an effective parent without blowing our tempers is also a good thing! The scripture says, “Be angry and sin not!” and “A soft answer turns away wrath!” That means, we can be angry and tender at the same time. We can disapprove of wrong doing and correct behaviors in our children without overwhelming them with shame and guilt.

Effective parenting doesn’t just “happen”. It is well thought out, planned, orchestrated, plotted, outside the box type parenting. πŸ™‚ And it is ALWAYS LOVING. “Savior, like a gentle shepherd lead us…..” We need to be GENTLE shepherds for our children.
No sledgehammers needed. πŸ™‚

Communication: A Foreign Language

Written in 2013.

Imagine yourself moving to a new country where NOBODY speaks your native language. Television is in another language. You stare at the news commentator and hear all these foreign sounds coming out, and you do not understand ONE THING he is saying!
You turn on a cartoon to relax and the very same thing happens.
You turn on the radio to listen to music and you hear the tune and the harmony, but you don’t understand the words.
(Many of us have experienced this going to another country to adopt)

As time goes on: days, weeks, months, you begin to forget your own native language. You haven’t heard it much, and you are concentrating SO HARD to try and figure out this new language; and beginning to catch on with phrases and sounds that you didn’t know existed before.

You are even starting to communicate quite well in “conversational language” such as, “Hi, how are you!” “May I go outside?” “Yes, please pass the potatoes!” “Thank you”….etc.

But deeper thoughts, thoughts you REALLY need to share, and really wish to convey remain frustratingly locked in your mind, unable to get out because there are no words to express them.
You may begin to feel pent up frustration or rage and feel like you are going crazy!

And then…. it is that moment where you are upset because you can’t express your feelings, you explode with the strongest language you can come up with. It ISN’T what you really want to say.
So it doesn’t make sense and you KNOW it doesn’t.
But to save your dignity, not wanting anybody to know that you REALLY DO NOT understand all they think you do, you stop trying to express what you cannot.

Even in the most caring of homes where parents understand communication issues, it can be so frustrating to try and work through these issues.

On the parents side of this, they are trying to help you communicate. They are trying to explain in ENGLISH, and offering more words, explaining each meaning. The more they try, “in the moment”, the more frustrated you get.
And then you just say, “NEVER MIND!”
But parents don’t want to hear “Never Mind”….they want to keep on trying to understand.
And then you let the H BOMB go…. “I HATE YOU!” That is the strongest thing you can say to express your frustration. And those words pierce the heart of your parent…..even when they know it was said in the “heat of the moment”….. They pierce your heart too…. because you just epically failed!
And you see their pain….
Then you feel shame. And you don’t really know how to express that very well either.

You feel like your parents are dissatisfied with you all the time because of your “tone”; even though you know they are only trying to HELP you with it.
Maybe they are trying to help too much…. maybe.
It might be a good idea to remind you how VERY WELL you are doing in most areas of life!
Sometimes parents forget.

So, you went 3 steps back….. you apologized for your words…. and you both know, that the deeper words for expression are not there yet.
And that is ok. We can try again another time, a better time….
And then, you pray and reach out to the one who can heal all wounds.
And a little snuggle, that universal understanding of mutual affection that needs no words, doesn’t hurt either. πŸ™‚

Seven Years Ago part 3

Well, after 14 days in NC at a hotel, with a pool, we flew home.
Sweetie had been the perfect guest and was excited to meet her new family.

We had many talks during that 2 week period and she began to open up just a little bit about what had
happened to her in her short life.
I was able to rock her to sleep in the chair provided at the hotel. She slept for over 2 hours in my arms while I sang and prayed for her.
When she woke up she looked at me, completely relaxed and said, “Nobody has ever rocked me before.”
It made me so sad… because I had rocked all of our children every single day.

We visited the zoo, aquarium, children’s museums, history museum and much more
while waiting, and then real life began in Texas.

Sweetie fit right in with everybody and they all ran off to play. They were all so brave!

It was a few days before she started to relax and begin to show the real Sweetie 4.
There was so much trauma beneath the surface and it all started to come boiling out.
This is when REAL healing can begin. Hang onto your hats if this is what is happening to you,
as it can be very scary when they start to realize their entire life was one of pain and sorrow.
Calm and peace is foreign…. and VERY UNCOMFORTABLE, because their little brains have been wired for Chaos.
And when they start to be chaotic, it is calming for THEM.
I liken it to trying so very hard on a new job that you exhaust yourself and have to have a break!
Her brakes were “adventures in chaos”.

I am so thankful for those two weeks that showed me what she was capable of!

The next 6 months were a blur of rages that lasted hours which included a lot of head banging, talking back, threats, and then tearful apologies.
I later found out that what that other woman had said to her DID in fact had meaning as my gut told me it would.
“Do your stuff” meant, “act up, kick, hit, scream, disobey and then, runaway.” πŸ™
What is WRONG with people???? Why would somebody sabotage like that?

By the end of the 6 months we had weaned down to a fairly normal pace with a few tweaks here and there, but overall, not too bad.
She had her rages down to about 30 minutes a few times a week, and was clearly beginning to show trust and attachment.

We did really well for a couple of years, and then.came.puberty.

And with puberty a new time of letting loose to share grief… DEEP grief.
It was one of the darkest times of our lives. I’m sure it was darker for her, poor girl.
Grief visits in cycles. As a child grows and matures, they experience grief all over again at a different level.

Sweetie had to stay in juvenile detention for over a year, but what a time of precious visits, and working
through much of her trauma. We are so thankful for the center near us that is not “consequence oriented” but “therapeutic and rehabilitative”.
They were awesome and exactly what she needed!
God is so good to us.

Sweetie has grown up since then, using the tools she learned for the most part. She has been living on her own, and is now an adult. She calls, texts, and now and then comes by.
We are most certainly her family.
She has relationships with some of our older kids also.

With all the trauma we all endured during the last 7 years, I would not trade the lessons learned for anything.
God walked all of us through some very difficult times, and has brought us out on the other side.
We all grew up. πŸ™‚

If you are in the trenches with a very extreme child, it is my prayer that you can find solace in this blog, and don’t forget that it
is VERY important that you DO NOT ISOLATE….
(Winston Churchill said that)
This video was made at year two for Sweetie’s 13th birthday. πŸ™‚

part 2 is here.

Seven Years Ago Part 2

Seven Years ago today, I left on an airplane to NC to get Sweetie 4. She was 11 years old, and her life was 11/11ths of total and complete chaos. πŸ™

Because we had to leave so suddenly, Mike stayed home with the other girls and I set out on a treck that changed our lives and her life forever.

I was to land at the airport, and then head straight to the attorney’s office where I would then go with her to pick up Sweetie 4.
When I got off the plane the rental car company was a nightmare, but I had to have a car so I payed the extortion fee and off I was in a place I had never been…..

I turned on the radio only to have the channel set to a station where the artist was singing, “When peace like a river attendeth my soul, when sorrows like sea billows roll”…. and it continued to….”My sin oh the bliss of this glorious thought, my sin not the 1/2 but the whole, was nailed to the cross andI bear it no more bless the Lord bless the Lord oh my soul” “It is well, with my soul” “It is well, it is well with my soul”……
Tears streamed down my eyes as my heart calmed, my shaking stopped and I remembered I wasn’t alone.

The attorney and I left right away, and sadly, we had to meet in a Walmart Parking Lot.
The situation Sweetie was in was very dangerous. It proved later to be more dangerous than I had imagined. πŸ™

Sweetie was in the back of a car and the two people were fighting. She was seemingly oblivious. SEEMINGLY.

When we got out the attorney said, “What are you going to say?” I said, “I don’t know.”

Sweetie 4 got out and I knelt down and said, “My name is Mrs. Minich and I’m here to keep you safe!”
I invited the people to dinner which they declined.
Then the woman said, “Don’t forget to do your thing” and she smiled and got back in the car.

I took note of what she was saying for later pondering.

When sweetie and I got in the attorney’s car, I got in the back seat with her. She was completely calm on the outside. I put my hand on her back and her little heart beat was beating a mile a minute, poor baby.

I used my best reassuring voice telling her she would be ok.
And then asking, “Hey, do you like to swim?” “We have to stay in town for awhile, because there are a lot of people who know where you are, and where you are going, and we need to wait for paperwork from the agencies that brought you to America and also from TX.

She didn’t have a bathing suit, but we remedied that.

Then, my friend, JJ, drove in to see us for a couple of days! YAY!
Her precious sons were so sweet distracting Sweetie 4.
THEN… my son and daughter in law and 2 grands came to the hotel the next weekend and we all visited and swam…

Sweetie’s behavior was absolutely PERFECT the entire time.
I knew this wasn’t real. LOL

She was like those little squirrels in the cartoon that are so polite….”You can push the button mommy” on the elevator.

hmmmm. To be continued:

You can read part one here

Seven Years Ago

Oh My!!! A LOT has transpired in seven short years!

Seven years ago today, we got a call saying, “Remember that little girl we told you about in October? Are you still interested? If so, you need to be in NC tomorrow!”

And with that, our prayers were answered, and our lives were changed…. as was the life of our Sweet Sweetie 4.

We had been told about her in October, and we were interested, but then we got a call that it would probably be impossible. We were ok with that, because our prayer was for the Lord to open the doors wide, or slam them shut. We did not want what HE did not want.

The doors were opened wide! There were many confirmations of this. But that did NOT mean that life would be easy the next several years. God’s WILL does NOT mean that He is going to only bless us with easiness. He may have MUCH BETTER and BIGGER plans for all involved.
Oh! Did He!

We went into bringing Sweetie 4 home with eyes wide open. She had been placed in an orphanage in Russia at 7 1/2, due to severe abuse and neglect, she had to change her language to that of the orphanage, and then 2 years later, she was adopted with siblings and it didn’t go so well… she was having a very hard time adjusting to U.S. and another new language, then another family came along and she was with them, unfortunately, there were some things that happened that were not legal, and she was yet in another failed adoption. πŸ™
Poor baby….
So here we were, knowing we were walking into the unknown, but knowing God had also called us to love her fully. And fully we did.
We did not expect her to love us back, how could she? But in fact she did. She did connect, she did love…..

And then, the very stability that was good for her, became a trigger for her. She was battling so many things from her past. Her rear view mirror was in the way of the front window, and she couldn’t see clearly.

The last 4 years, have been INCREDIBLY difficult and INCREDIBLY rewarding. So many things have happened.

I had no idea that deep trauma could reveal itself in dangerous behaviors even though she was being loved and cared for. I didn’t know how HARD a child could fight to not have to deal with the past.
I didn’t know the depths of my own heart’s sinfulness, and how easily I could doubt what I didn’t doubt before.

SURELY God did not intend for us to go through all of the turmoil, violence, vitriol, chaos……SURELY!!!
Ummm. Oh yes He did. And HE chose to take us through it, love us through it, teach us through it, guide us through it and set us on the SOLID ROCK of his deep and infinite LOVE for His Children.

He made us grow up; ALL of us, together!

We had adopted other children, and all were doing well. One was from foster care. One was from an international adoption dissolution and the other was a direct International Adoption. All were adopted at older ages. Even our boys were adopted by Mike. The parenting paradigm we adhere to, was followed throughout all of our adoptions and the raising of our sons, with a few tweaks added as we learned more.
But READING ABOUT extreme cases is very different than living them in our daily lives.
It is kind of like a surgeon reading about operating on the heart in a book, and then being faced with opening a person up to operate on their heart.

When faced with DEEP trauma, the rubber had better meet the road. You had BETTER be REAL and COMMITTED to what you are doing…. and DO NOT LOOK BACK.

We are so thankful to be on the other side of the deepest pits of days which have been written about on this blog. I’m so thankful that Sweetie 4, now that she is an adult, has NOT chosen to walk away, but is a proud member of the family. She calls, she texts, she goes to lunch, she is active with some of her siblings.

And we are left with a deep understanding of how GOD sees HIS children. Though we hated him, HE loved us. When we didn’t know it, HE was caring for us, protecting us,
guiding us, leading us.
And HIS love never fails…. Never EVER.

Sweetie 4 is deeply loved. And she knows it.

If you are in the thick of trauma behaviors, DO NOT give up. Be wise, seek guidance, but DO NOT GIVE UP. NEVER, EVER, EVER.

And now, we press on….


I had somebody contact me and let me know comments were unable to post. I’m so very sorry
if you have spent time trying to comment, only to have it not post!
I just fixed that.


Being A United Team

For those who are married, Take TIME for your marriages! They are the foundation to connected parenting within your home!

When Michael and I were in the thick of working with Sweetie 4, before we understood that she had BPD… she would do her very best to divide us.
All I can say is, even in good marriages, if there is ONE TINY WEAK LINK…. they will hunt it down and find it! And whoa, LOOK OUT.

So be on guard to protect your marriages and relationships.

I don’t think they realize what they are doing… as in, I don’t see it as completely “manipulative”; but survival.
May times we moms take a huge hit, and that is why it is so important for dads to be involved, even on THESE PAGES…..

Mike and I have a distinct memory we have talked about often and it still brings a tear to my eyes because HE was seeing something I was not, and I was NOT ready for what happened.

Sweetie 4 had been rather brutal. I had sent her out to talk to him. (He works behind our home)
And then, I went to bed.
I was awoken to him coming in with her to say she was sorry.
This had happened SO.MANY.TIMES. and I was not ready at that time to hear it.
To His frustration after he had worked with her for a couple of hours, taking paintstaking time to help her understand ……
I just started crying and said, “I forgive you, goodnight”…. and tried to go back to sleep.
She was being emotional and apologetic… and I was aloof.
And HE was FRUSTRATED…. πŸ™‚ Sorry Michael.

What he was seeing was that 10 % in her, that wanted to do well, had appeared and he felt she was sincere. He had worked her through bouncing off the walls, for over and hour and then weeping and saying “I don’t know why I do this”…. that was OPPORTUNITY he saw, that I missed.
My aloofness frustrated her and it started all.over.again.
And we all went to bed, frustrated.

That was our DIVISION that we both worked very hard to have never happen again! WE MUST BE UNIFIED.
As parents, we do not have the luxury of “just being parents”…. sometimes we MUST take the office of clinician, for SURVIVAL.
And this is something that requires perpetual UNION and purposeful working through..

STEP BACK… Assess. Confess. Be humble. Forgive. Think the best of each other. We never arrive, but we can strive to be more Christ Like laying OUR lives down for others, (our children) and each other… and we become stronger, and ultimately, marriages become stronger….

(From both of us) Thanks sweetie. <---- my mike

Thoughts on Lying

I was reminded recently through a conversation that lying can be a perplexing and stressful part of raising our children.
Many of our children, though they may even be teens and tweens, are behind developmentally, and lying is a part of what they do, by habit.
Lying for absolutely NO reason, is not uncommon.

If you are experiencing this, do not despair. Instead, learn about what is going on underneath the surface.

Lying can be a habit formed from early trauma. It can be something that was TAUGHT TO our children by unhealthy bio parents or even within a foster or orphanage system.

In some countries, lying is NORMAL…..?? yes it is. Hiding the truth, being mysterious about what you are doing and outright lying, are all part of unhealthy societal cancers.

So what do you do?
First, understand your child’s mindset. While we can see that black and white, “lying= bad, lying= deception”….
our kids see “lying=protection, lying= life or death, ”

They are many times NOT seeing it as a “moral issue” but a “protection issue”.

IF you were in Nazi Germany and the police came and you hid a family, would you tell them “yes, they are hiding in the wall?” Or would you say, “Nobody is here?”

That is the type of lying our kids see. EVEN when it is not necessary for survival. It is how they are wired.

The trick is to get them OUT of the lying, and into a place of honesty and exposed truth. This requires TRUST.
It requires them to be “exposed”; their hearts, exposed!

1. MIRROR to them what you want them to mirror.
SO, DO NOT LIE yourself. Do not tell them to tell somebody on the phone that you aren’t there, even if it is a sales call.
Do NOT let them hear you say, “Oh hi, I didn’t get your call, when everybody knows you DID, you just didn’t answer.
ALWAYS be honest. “I did get my bill in the mail, but I failed to mail it ontime, I’m very sorry, can you please take that fine off of my account?” “I’d really appreciate it.”

2. Do NOT put your children into a place of lying. Do not “corner” them where they have to fight for their life in their little minds.
If you KNOW they did something. ( example cookies on face and chocolate chip cookies missing)
You can say, “I see you ate the cookies we had planned for desert. It is best to ask before eating. We plan to have x for desert tomorrow.”
And that is IT.
You have just helped them see that
1. They will not die when exposed.
2. You are not mad at them.
3. If I eat the desert now, I won’t have any later.
4. There will be desert tomorrow.

ALWAYS ALWAYS offer warm expression, warm hands of love. Do not fold your arms or tap your foot in disdain.

“Since you hit your brother, let’s find a way to apologize.”

We had a daughter who was stealing from our jar hidden in the closet where we used to keep loose change and sometimes added dollars.
It was a family jar that was added to and when it was full, we would count the money and do something fun as a family. One time we went to Great Wolf Lodge for a night.

Our newest daughter, Sweetie 4, helped herself to that money …. hundreds of dollars missing.
I wasn’t SURE if it was her, but nobody had ever stolen before and money was missing from siblings purses and my purse.
I emptied the jar (which was not easy to see so you had to reach behind some sheets to get to it, and left a note in the jar. “Please stop stealing”.

Well, obviously she got the note, and we found some Russian money in the jar. LOL
(her way of trying to make up for what she did without saying anything.”
Then, I knew.

And then we had the talk….
Now that the money is gone, it is so sad we can’t do anything fun with it.
She did wind up confessing.

This is so counter intuitive to what we want to do….

Also, scaffold your children with loads of analogies and stories about telling the truth and the rewards of honesty.
Tell them stories of being honest. Tell them stories of the rewards of being honest, and also about the consequences of not being honest in life.

Also, if your child is much younger emotionally, you can teach them the difference between the truth and a lie by playing a game. We used to do this with our girls.

“Mom went the the store to get groceries and I rode a giant pink elephant!”
“Mom went to the store and drove the car.”
Which is true?

make up all sorts of things for fun, and then make it harder and harder for them to guess…..It is VERY helpful to a child who needs concrete examples of truth and lie.

We did this for YEARS. The girls loved it.

I also did this with our Awana Sparkies.Β Β It was a game they loved.

Is the book “The Never Ending Story” real or fiction?
Is the book “The Story of Jesus” real or fiction?
etc. etc.
You can use all sorts of things.
You can use “fake fruit, that LOOKS real, vs. Real fruit and let them tell the difference.
Your homes are OPEN SEASON for life lessons that will carry them through ALL of their lives.
You would be surprised how much they take in, even when you don’t think they are listening.
I am experiencing this now within my own family with our girls now all being older.
It brings joy to my heart to hear them repeat what they learned long ago….and live it in varying ways now.

Fill your home with love and teaching, and they WILL learn to tell the truth and that they will NOT die if they do.Β 

When Trauma Invades

When Trauma Invades written August 30, 2011
My fellow bloggy world friend Annie posted on this topic last week. I wanted to share more of our own experiences regarding how Trauma invades in interpretation of events.

Part of this comes from my own life experiences, and the rest from what we have observed with the girls.

When I was a kid, we lived in some very bad areas in Southern California. Southern California evokes all sorts of “Pictures” in the minds of those who have never lived where I lived. While I lived in California, and not far from the beach, it was a crime ridden, gang infested, congested, unhappy kind of a place. We had to be VERY careful. I learned early on that I could not trust the people who walked down the street. You didn’t make eye contact out of fear. You locked your house, your car, made sure every window was locked, and still, things were stolen.
Our home was broken into 2 x’s that I can remember as a small child.
One night, I remember the shadow of a man by my window. I put my legs down hoping the shape would go away and the shadow was just me….. it didn’t go away and I covered my head with my pillow and prayed the scary image would go away. It did. And then the image tried to climb into the kitchen window instead. Apparently my window was locked.
One time my mother was at the grocery store when I returned home from school. She had left the back door unlocked for me to get in. A man from across the street saw me try the front door which was locked, and then go in the back door.
He must have known I was alone. Who knows how long he had been watching me.
The next thing I knew was he was knocking on the front door and offered me a quarter if I’d open the door. I refused.
Then I saw him see the back door was open. I ran to the back door and tried so hard to get it locked. It was terrifying. He was walking to the back door and we had those stupid old skeleton keys. It was so hard to get it locked but I did it just in time. He left very angry.
I never told my mother.
My parents thought I was too old to be afraid of the dark. I remained PARALYZINGLY afraid of the dark well into my adulthood.
My mother in law used to joke that she is the only mother in law who every babysat her daughter in law. My husband worked the night shift. πŸ™‚

I also had some very scary experiences I cannot write about here. But needless to say, they were traumatic and it effected how I viewed things.
When Annie wrote about the serene setting and how one person interprets things very differently…. I am that person too!
I think when Mike and I first married, I drove him crazy locking everything. He would walk out of the house and I’d lock the door. I locked car doors, I locked the garage and I locked every window. I am a very good locker. LOL

Mike’s upbringing was WORLDS apart from my own. He grew up spending his days on the Lake of Pawtuckaway in the Summers, and Nashua NH during the school years. He ran the streets and played and never felt a sense of danger. He has fond memories of his childhood.

To THIS DAY….. when I walk out of a store, I have my keys in my hand set for self defense just in case. Logically, I know I am in a pretty safe place. But my experience tells me otherwise.
When I see somebody walk down the street in our country area, I am immediately suspicious.
Mike sees a guy walking down the street. I see a criminal.
Isn’t that AWFUL!!!!!
I don’t like to view things like this. I FIGHT IT….. and I have done pretty well overcoming much of it. I even leave the door unlocked during the daytime now. πŸ™‚

The experiences I had as a child, have helped me to understand where my girls are coming from sometimes. While they are different, there are some common themes.

So, when Annie showed the picture on her blog….. I looked at it and thought about what I would have been like several years ago. I would have seen a bad person lurking in the bushes, or could have seen it wasn’t safe because nobody was around. Today, I am not that person…. Today I can look at a picture like this:
and actually enjoy it!

The other day, Sweetie 4 and Sweetie 2 went for a bike ride. Sweetie 2, is no longer afraid like she used to be. 5 years ago, we had to stay in the bathroom with her, even in the day time. Today, she can ride her bike freely and enjoy everything.
Sweetie 4, is still afraid. Sweetie 4 is afraid of a car running her down. She is afraid somebody will kidnap her. She is afraid when Sweetie 2 goes ahead on her bike, it is because Sweetie 2 is trying to win in a race that doesn’t really exist. Sweetie 4 gets her feelings hurt because she sees that Sweetie 2 wants to be first. Sweetie 2 gets confused because as she says, “I’m just riding my bike.”

Sweetie 4 is still interpreting her present experience by her past. They are not the same. They cannot be measured by the same standard. Sweetie 4 is hypervigilant about relationships right now because she has never experienced so much love. Not because others didn’t love her, but because she couldn’t receive it.
Now that she can, she is cherishing it, and trying her hardest to hang onto it. She is far from this serene picture. She is learning that she doesn’t have to try so hard. We love her period. She is learning that Sarah loves her too. She isn’t competing. Nobody has to be first or win. We are all winners. πŸ™‚

Because of our new notebook experience, that I wrote about here, both Sweetie 4 and Sweetie 2 were able to write about the bike riding experience of yesterday. We would have never known! LOL
And we were able to explain to each of them separately what the other is possibly thinking and how they can try to understand each other.

It really REALLY did help!

This a.m. Sweetie 2 and I looked at some peaceful pictures and talked about fear and what a fearful person might see. Sweetie 2 suddenly said, “I used to be like that!” πŸ™‚ I was so happy to see her understanding CLICK, and she was given renewed energy to love on her little sister who so desperately craves her acceptance. πŸ™‚


This has been on my heart for several days and I have a little time before bedtime to share……

Imagine if you were 10, or 12, or 15 or 16, and you were in an orphanage in America. You didn’t really understand what a “family” was, but you had heard ALL about it. You wanted one. Everybody wants a mom and dad and a home to call their own.
And imagine, you were hosted in China…. and you had a wonderful time for 2 weeks or the summer, and a bunch of kids went with host families, and everybody was excited because they knew they were going to be picked to be adopted.

And then, imagine that wonderful day when your parents came to get you. You dressed in Chinese style clothing and had learned a few phrases in Chinese. And you were SO READY to go!
You said your goodbyes, and got on a plane, and went to your new home, excited, full of hope…. ready for a NEW LIFE.

And then…. there were so many things to learn. So many new foods that you weren’t too fond of. And the sounds…. IF YOU HAD TO HEAR CHINESE for ONE MORE MINUTE, your head would explode!

Oh how you longed to hear your native English. Oh how you longed for Coco puffs… Oh how you longed for a taco!
Instead, it is squid, and rice and fish and seaweed FOR A SNACK! WHO EATS SEA WEED FOR A SNACK!

You are REALLY TRYING, but you can’t help but feel a little resentful that nobody seems to understand how you feel.
How do you tell them HOW YOU FEEL when you cannot communicate with them???
They think you are mad at them, YOU THINK, you aren’t even sure, and you really can’t tell them you are sad and you are longing for what was familiar, NOT because you don’t like your new family, but because you miss your old life.
It isn’t that you don’t like where you are, but you miss where you were.
Everything is SO HARD….. Every time you have to talk, it is HARD WORK to think of the right words, and the chance that you will be totally misunderstood!

And everybody just seems on edge. You question if you have ruined the family. You question if the family still wants you. You have been So.Much.Work!
Sooooo, in order to give them an out, and not cause any more damage, you say

“I want to go back! I want to hear my language, eat my food, see my friends!”

And they get mad. So if you stay they are mad. If you leave they are mad. They are just mad…. and there is no end in sight.


Imagine, if your parents, instead, recognized just how hard it was going to be for everybody and they worked hard to surround you with comfort foods.
One morning when you were expecting fish, they gave you coco puffs.
One day when you were trying to get the right words out, they sat and smiled at you warmly and gave you a hug, letting you know it was ok. Not to worry….

They worked hard to warmly smile at you daily…. They offered kind touch, and used gestures of acceptance and love.
Imagine if they took you to an English speaking Church, and then out for English food!!!!!
They brought over people who spoke your language and learned it themselves!!!

They laughed with you when you butchered Chinese and you were able to laugh at them when they butchered English!

Imagine they gave you space to grieve and knew when you were crying to go back home, they offered a warm hug and told you they understood…..

How different things could be……

The experiences we have had bringing girls over from other countries brought this to mind. I remember the days when communicating was so hard for them and the JOY on their faces when they learned we cooked Borscht!
We found a local Euro Deli that sold many of the comfort foods they loved from the orphanage, and they could hear their native language spoken to them.
It has been a wonderful experience going to the deli 4x’s a year and letting the girls ooh and aahh at all the food and bringing home things they never thought they’d see again!

I remember when Sweetie 3 was learning English how hard she was trying and it was YEARS before she mastered…… In fact, she is 19 and still has not MASTERED…. and she has been home since she was 8.
Second language MASTERY takes a LONG LONG TIME.
And English is JUST HARD.

Our facial expressions and body language is SOOOO IMPORTANT because our children READ us in that way.
LOVE YOUR CHILDREN… HAVE COMPASSION for them. Be understanding and kind. ALWAYS KIND, even when they aren’t…..
They are learning.
Not only are they learning about culture and language, they are learning about family and love and commitment and it is a STIFF cliff to climb.
Through Grace upon grace, and mercy upon mercy….. we will all make it.


Being Connected Being a Team

What does CONNECTED parenting looks like, when SAFETY is a HUGE problem.
First, we need to make sure that WE are not escalating situations by having expectations that are not realistic, (straight A’s, participating in things that overwhelm, expecting gratefulness, keeping rooms perfectly clean, etc)
and not shaming or consequencing our children to death with burdens too much for them to bear.
Keeping that in mind…..
When you are a connected parent, respond instead of react, have exhausted all, ALL measures of grace and you have a child who is bent on destruction both of themselves and family….
Let me ask, “Is it loving and connected to allow this to continue?”
I spoke to a sweet mama who’s son is about to turn 18. He has been allowed to rule the home for YEARS.
This poor mama has been abused by him for years. He is now unwilling to work or contribute in any way. He lays all day on the couch using drugs, playing games and taking….
Her heart is broken, thinking that if she lets him continue, someday it will stop.
It was NEVER EVER her desire to see this happen and she now has the opinion that “all the kids are like this now”…..
So we talked a lot about connection last night, and the difference between connection and door mat.
There is NO connection in being a doormat. It only prepares for a path to further abuse, not only now, but in the future with other relationships.
Have you ever heard that how a man treats his mama is a good indication of how he will treat his wife? It is true…..
(of course there are givens… but it is pretty accurate)
So this post is NOT about the Newly adopted teen…Nor is it about the struggling teen who WANTS to do well.
This post is about that 10% teen that Dr. Purvis talks about.
Sometimes wounds can be so deep, or there are other types of damage so deep that basic connected parenting cannot reach them. THIS DOES NOT MEAN connected parenting is a fail! It just means that our parenting needs some extra scaffolding!

PLEASE PLEASE! If you read anything in this post…. read this!
Instead, FORM a TEAM! Include your medical doctor, your school counselor, adoption social worker… LOOK HER UP IF YOU MUST, Your Pastor, Elder, family member friend and law enforcement, and any other person in your child’s life that contributes to their well being…
Write to them every couple of weeks and give them updates of what you are doing with your child and how they are responding or not responding.
These must be TRUSTED people! Not gossips, not prone to judge….. But this circle of people is a must for your own sanity.

Computer generated image – Search For Solution

If you have connectedly exhausted all means over the years to help your child and violence begins to evolve in your home. Put a STOP TO IT….
A child who pushes the fences will continue to push the fence until it is too late. Do NOT wait until 18 years old to start to help your child, realizing at that point they are an adult and subject to adult laws.
It is OUR JOB to teach our children about acceptable behavior within society. These are basic general rules that govern all, whether they be mentally ill, traumatized, foster, bio, adopted, handicapped, it doesn’t matter! You MUST be able to live in society.
IF YOU CAN’T…. or WON’T…. society won’t tolerate your behaviors.
So, since family is a microcosm of society at large, helping our children understand this on a small scale will help them succeed later.
If your child is violent and having mental health issues which many of our children do, contact the non emergency police number and ask to speak with an officer regarding your child.
Send them a profile of your child as a SN child. Give them cues on how to deal with your child should they ever come into contact with them in order to keep things de escalated.
The police will APPRECIATE THIS.
And then, IF your child threatens your safety… CALL THEM.
CALL the police.
Let your child know CLEARLY that boundary cannot and may NEVER be crossed.
It is much better for your child to deal with a juvenile system than the adult system later.
It is complicated and very very scary to be involved in a world you never thought you would know, but it is truly for the best.
I am not suggesting if your child is flippant with you to call the police. I hope I have been clear about that. This is for the extreme child who does not respond…..
STAY connected, show empathy, compassion, (do not bail out of jail) VISIT.
Let them take the responsibility for their actions.
Let them OWN them.
THIS IS NOT A CONSEQUENCE YOU have placed upon them but one they have placed upon themselves.
So if an arrest is made you can use your visitation time to set clear, concise boundaries. I will visit, but I will not be verbally abused. If verbal abuse occurs, walk out.
I will be kind and send letters and visit all I can.
And then, use those times, even if it is just a few weeks to truly work to communicate and establish with them what boundaries must never be crossed.
This just MIGHT save your child’s life. I know for a fact that it saved our sweetie…..
She remains connected with us to this day, though not living at home.
IF you do anything in your time with your child, make it known to them that they are deeply LOVED and cherished.
She has said she knows this very well.
After years of violence, her violence has ceased. There are no threats, no incidents, nothing. And I am truly thankful to the team of people we surrounded ourselves with to help us dig out of a very VERY deep and sad hole.
Sweetie has a long ways to go as far as many would “judge”…. but I can see the incredible progress she has made and I ‘m so proud of her.
I’m glad we didn’t wait until she was 18.


I cannot believe how quickly time has gone since my last update. But I wanted to let you know where we are today in this journey.

We officially have another adult in the house! Sweetie 2 turned 18 recently, graduated from high school, received a scholarship for college and took a trip with me and several friends to Galveston Island! That was SOOOOO FUN! I’m still peeling from my not so great tan. :/

Sweetie 1 is still living in NV near her birth mother. We are in contact on a fairly regular basis. She loves her job and has a boy friend.

Sweetie 3 is moving…… MOVING into an apartment near the University. She has been home for the summer and we have thoroughly enjoyed the time off! She is working and has 1 more class before she finishes the associates part of her degree. Not bad for a young lady who just graduated from high school last year!

Sweetie 4 is living near the same University in an apartment with 3 other roommates and is working. She loves her new job and is learning to navigate the bus system. She is in contact on a regular basis and we are so thankful for that.
She too has a boy friend. She is not 18 yet, but is doing well.
Sweetie 4’s situation is one that I’d like to address a little more in depth. She was not able to function in a family setting, yet she loves her family. This is an “outside of the box” of a typical parent child relationship to say the least, and if you have read my blog for any period of time, you will get that! But we are in a good place with each other. We meet for lunch or text and sometimes talk on the phone. Sometimes she calls and just sits on the phone to be near us. Sometimes she doesn’t want to be near us at all.
So we LOVE her, as we do her sisters, but in a different way of expression.

There is a movie called “Contact” with Jodie Foster that has a scene that best describes when a child cannot navigate family life in a typical way. In the movie, Jodie Foster has been placed in a time travel space capsule and the well intentioned scientists added a safety seat to protect her from harm. She sits in the safety seat and it causes SEVERE turbulence. But when it finally breaks and she is free of the seat, there is peace and no more turbulence. She is at peace.
Letting Sweetie 4 go, NOT REJECTING HER, but working WITH her fears and special needs has given us the ability to remain a family. So while she has a safe cocoon of family to love her, we are not living together and the turbulence is gone. We have stopped trying to figure out how to fit a square peg in to a round hole!
I cannot pretend to fully understand because honestly I don’t. It makes me want to check my deodorant on some days, or to say, “Why can she not just love us?” And I have to remind myself, it has never been an issue of love. She DOES love us. But the damage done was so severe, she is too afraid to be in a vulerable family setting. So I guess there is a part of me that understands, but in all honesty a part, that if I look at “self” that gets wounded to think about it. So I try not to and just lovingly accept what is.

Sweetie 4 has great value and is precious to us, but she is more like trying to raise a “feral cat”. She obviously is not a cat, but if you have ever been around a feral cat you will understand what I mean. They want to come close. They want you to notice them, but then when you do, they run…. they come back, they run. They get more comfortable and come closer, and if you reach out or talk sweetly to them, they run.
They are more comfortable observing and enjoying from a distance.

We have a very large orange cat right now who is doing this. He sleeps very close to us while we are working and is fine as long as we don’t try to interact. πŸ™‚

Because Sweetie is 17 1/2 and we live in TX, she is able to live where she chooses as long as we know where she is. She has done WELL, holding a job and finding living arrangements. The life choices she is making are not easy, but she is happy. She KNOWS we love her as does Sweetie 1.
If we have accomplished anything, it that they KNOW that they are loved.

And because LOVE does NOT fail, we KNOW that in the future, they will in turn be able to share that love with others.

Soooo, that is my update! I am a mom to ALMOST 8 adult children! Yaya to 12 grandchildren and counting and wife to one awesome husband. πŸ™‚
I leave you with Sweetie 2’s Graduation Video.

“Your a a super Genius”. πŸ™‚

Grocery Store Bonding

This morning I headed out to do the weekly shopping. I had been doing it on a different day for quite some time, but as last weeks events took place I was unable to go on the day I typically had been going.
When the girls were younger, every Friday was filled with activity including soccer, library, lunch and grocery day. As they got older and schedules changed and circumstances changed, my shopping day changed too.
But today I needed to catch up AND Sweetie 2 was home, so I invited her to come along!


And our conversation made me realize JUST HOW IMPORTANT those mundane day to day tasks we moms do on a weekly basis are, and how they can create a sense of safety, security and wonderful childhood memories.

As Sweetie 2 began to share on the way there:
β€œRemember when we used to go to this place?”
β€œI was SO excited the first time you let me go on an aisle and get something for you; I felt so grown up!”
β€œRemember when you let us push the basket?”
β€œI remember finding a piece of chocolate on the floor and I ate it. I really felt guilty about that.”
And the memories flowed like a beautiful song through our entire shopping trip.

We decided to go to Central Market Place which we fondly refer to as β€œFood Land”….
You start in fruit land and vegetable land, then go on to fish and meat land, and then wine land, and grocery staples land, then on to bulk foods land, candy and coffee land, and dairy land, then bread land and then lunch meat and cheese land, and finally olive land… Oh MY!

As we walked through, I offered for her to get her favorite yogurt or bread or cheese and finally she said, β€œMama, I feel so spoiled!”
I replied, β€œDude, you are the last person home, you win!”
When the girls were younger they each got to pick 1 favorite thing…. but now that it is just her, and her choices are always healthy, I could enjoy saying YES! πŸ™‚

As we continued our conversation back into the car, we talked about how important it is to MAKE memories out of simple things like grocery shopping. I remember using our grocery time to teach many things including following directions, (before we got out of the car, instructions were given for a fun shopping trip. β€œAlways stay with mama!” ) self control,( If mama said you can pick one special thing, it is one. Not two… Remember to be happy that everybody gets to pick.) being polite,(when somebody says, β€œHello! Say Hello back!” or if they compliment you, say β€œThank you!” β€œDo not get in the way of other shoppers, always be aware of where you are and watch for others, putting them first.”) learning math in the produce department: β€œIf bananas are 48cents per pound and we are buying 2 1/2 lbs… how much will the bananas cost?”
Or on the cereal aisle: β€œIf this box of cereal costs 23 cents per ounce and there are 15 oz. how much will the cereal cost?” Or reverse it…. β€œIf the cost of the cereal is 3.50 cents and there are 15 oz of cereal, how much is it per oz.”
They could race to do it in their heads and it was fun!
When the boys were home, and would be ready to spend their money on a book at the book store, I would tell them, β€œI’ll pay for the book if you have the total figured out with tax applied before they tell me the price.” And they would!

Making happy, healthy family memories does not need to be costly. It doesn’t have to be a Disneyland Vacation. It can be a simple habitual family ritual that takes place every week, that we make an effort to make pleasant and memorable!
IT IS WORK to do this. It DOES require that we be patient and take more time. But it is so worth the effort!

If you have a child who easily becomes dysregulated in crowds, try adjusting your time for later at night or early in the a.m. Make sure younger children are well napped and well fed before you leave the house. Make sure older children (teens and tweens) are also rested and fed.
Before you leave the car, make everything very clear about what you are going to do so there are no surprises for your child.
ALSO… for older children, if you let them plan a meal once a week with you and write down the ingredients for that meal, they can have great joy and satisfaction in picking out the ingredients and then cooking their meal with you.
But be prepared to go to a few different kinds of stores depending upon what country your child is from. In our area I have seen stores from the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America . It is amazing what you can find within an area if you look online. Even in some of the larger grocery stores or World Market there are International foods.

The opportunities to connect, create, teach, and show our children LOVE are endless.
The memories made are priceless!

Washed in the Love of Christ

Rejection hurts.
But you know what? Isn’t that how our kids feel? Isn’t that how they got to be with us in the first place?
For an adoption to take place, there has to be a rejection, right?

For some kids, they are able to heal, and we have experienced and been a part of that process for many years. For other kids, it never ends. Their hurt is too much, and while they take baby steps for a while, sink back, take more baby steps and even giant leaps, they still sink back, and as parents, we have to understand that this child will not heal easily. They will be grown and yet not ready to face life.
And you know what? That is where they are, and we have to accept where they are, even if it means they reject our love.
Their stories are not over and 18 is not the magic age of everything being fine, so now you are on your own.

They have a life time of relationships and growing to do, just like everybody does. There will be people who come alongside and speak life into them, just as we have. They may be in the form of a friend, pastor, significant other, spouse or child….but it will happen.

As I sit here and type, I realize more and more that life is so short, and the time we have with our children is so short. We MUST make the most of it, even when it is difficult.

Love, even when they scream they don’t want it.
Accept, even when they don’t want our acceptance.
Reach out, even if they don’t take your hand.
Be kind, even if they don’t return your kindness.
Reach out, even if they don’t respond.
Be available! So when they are ready, they can reach out.
Leave the door open…. they may try at some point to walk through it.
Pray! Oh Pray! Prayer is powerful!


Christ loves us. We are washed in His love daily. It is palpable for me right now.
The Lord comforts those who mourn. He is near to the broken hearted.
He is the lifter of my head.

And I will walk in faith and TRUST the one who is worthy of my trust!

Dorm Life

Sweetie 3 has been in the dorms for a month now. Oh how I miss her! The GOOD news is, she is just 30 minutes away. How convenient!

Sweetie 2 and I are having lunch with her tomorrow at her dorm apartment. We did last week too, and I think I feel a tradition coming on! πŸ™‚

We text back and forth every day and sometimes send photos, “This is me, saying I love you!”

She is adjusting quite well to college life and taking advantage to the fullest of some of the neat communities on campus, including her Focus group. It is a Christian group that meets together.

I cannot believe she is all grown up! We are so proud of her!

I don’t know what I did. But I did it.

I tried to change my background and it cut out comments. I could not figure out how to get them back, and I tried everything! So we are back to normal. I’ll try something new more carefully next time! LOL

In the process I found a few cool things to add to my side bar. πŸ™‚

There is a lot to share, and I am passionate about caring for and navigating life with children from very hard places. Please join my community! Let’s dialogue!

What Does Connection Look Like?

What does connection look like after your children have not left well?
In today’s society it is so much easier than it would have been a long time ago.
Remaining connected to our children who are outside of our home is vital.

Obviously, there must be a connected relationship already established. I am so thankful that
over the years, our girls have shared that connection with us. There has been love and there has been relationship. Most certainly it has been marred by trauma and the results of FAS, but the seeds of healthy relationship remain.

Have you ever planted something in the ground and then nothing happened? You thought that the seed didn’t germinate and would not produce, and then, suddenly, a little bud comes up and starts to grow.

I believe the simple connection that is being communicated even if it is a yes, or a no, is a little bud of hope.
Love does not fail. But daring to love, can be painful.
Are we willing to accept the pain? Or do we shrink back and give up?

I do not believe that it is best for Sweetie 4 to be home right now. She, for what ever reason has in her heart to leave and be an adult. The counselor said last week, “I think this will actually be better for your relationship if she goes.” Those words made me angry at first, because of the rejection.
But Sweetie 4 is in her own way, trying to prevent any more pain. She doesn’t know why she doesn’t want to be at home. She doesn’t know why she doesn’t want parents. She really doesn’t.
She just knows she will be angry and hurtful if she is here.

So, we are thankful for the safe place she is in. We are thankful that she reaches out.
We try not to talk to her too much, or too little…. It is a new world…. and eventually,
I am confident that those seeds that we have planted in Sweetie 1 and 4, will blossom,
because HE who began a good work, will be faithful to complete it.

A New Phase

We were doing really well. WERE.
FAS wreaks havoc on families. It is a demon that sometimes cannot be controlled… For some children it effects their bodies, or facial images, for others it has permanent lasting impact on the reasoning in their brain. We have that impact.

Sweetie 4 had decided at 17, her birthday, she would run away from home. She said, “It isn’t you. You are good people. I just don’t want parents.”
She had planned on a very BAD plan. A man… OLDER…. a assistant manager that had been hired to HELP her…. and much more than can be mentioned here.
BUT… THANKS to LOVING brothers and sisters in law, she was able to “run away” to a safe place. πŸ™‚
I am forever greatful to them for helping in a dire time of need.
Her biological brother and sister tried to talk to her, but to no avial.
She is now out of our home. πŸ™
We have loved her completely.
She KNOWS it. She has told us she has felt safe with us, and knows we love her.
Her path is going to follow to the beat of a different drummer.
She has a new job, a new location and she still texts “I love yous.”

This has been quite the experience and not one I could have ever expected or comprehended.

Sweetie 2 is home with us, and thriving.
Sweetie 3 is at the dorms but comes home on weekends.

We are blessed…..

IF… all we have accomplished in the lives of Sweetie 1 and Sweetie 4 is that they know we have loved them… That will be enough.
But I can’t help but tell you, I am truly sad.
Because our unconditional love for them, wasn’t enough.
And there is not one thing we can do about it. πŸ™

They Know….

How many times do we go to bed saddened by the events of the day, feeling as though we have not connected?
I remember reading a very old book on parenting written in the late 1800’s.
One of the things that I picked up from this book (which was not written for traumatized children) was that this man understood that children are little people and they should have a voice.

As I read it, one thing struck me more than anything. We all get tired at night. Kids fall apart, parents fall apart, and yet, it is one of the most important parts of the day, because when your child goes to bed, they have all night to think about what JUST happened.
So, when your children go to bed, leave them with love, tender voices, kisses goodnight (if they will accept them) and encouragement.

I was thinking about this last night, as we came home rather late from a girls night out to see La La Land. (which was great btw)

My girls are older, but it doesn’t prevent me from saying “Good night darling…. I love you..Sleep tight…”

I can say this even if they don’t receive it. I can say it anyway.
Something I learned last year from our extreme experiences with Sweetie 4, was that she was listening and paying attention all those times when our love seemingly fell flat at her door.
She was HEARING our words!
How do I know this?
Because when she was in JD, during group sessions over the year, it would come out. “My parents always said they loved me.”
“My parents kissed me goodnight”……
And the memories were there when she was regulated, and placed in proper perspective.
Don’t ever think, even for the most difficult child, that your efforts are for naught. They have a much greater effect than you might think!

If they ask for one more drink of water. Get it for them. Even if you think it is a massive manipulation. Do it.
If they decide that is the time to talk, set a reasonable 10 minute limit, and talk to them.
You cannot err on the side of love, voice, acceptance, compassion or patience.
LOVE NEVER FAILS…. never ever.

Sweetie 2

She just breaks out into dance….. I love it!

Blending Back Into Normal Life with some tweaks….

When Sweetie got her job at the pizza place we told her that she might have a hard time
with impatient customers, mistakes made and a boss who yells. Her bosses culture is different
from us, and yelling is a first resort. :/

She has done well working since before she got out; while on furlough.
But last week, there was a perfect storm.

An out of control customer used the worst of language, and yelled in her face. The Freezer broke down right before closing and the manager didn’t come in until after closing.

After her working super hard, and being 45 minutes late getting off, leaving us in the car waiting….
she was a bit out of sorts.
Her dad had tried to call in to see what was happening but she hung up the phone.
When he knocked on the door, she got angry and stormed into the car.
He wasn’t angry, just confused why she wasn’t coming out.

The manager apologized to him and then showed him what a wonderful job she did rescuing the food from the freezer before the manager had arrived.

When we got home, Sweetie 4 thought that we were mad at her, and in her distortions, she began to shut down and melt down.

I sat with her and asked what happened. As she poured out her heart and hurts, I was able to rub her back and affirm that that was a really hard night.

I pointed to her distortions page and gave her MY distortion…. I made an assumption.
I thought it was possible she was taking longer than necessary. And it was wrong of me to assume.

She looked at her page and said she was being secretive, (hanging up the phone and not communicating)
and then melting down/shutting down)

We went to Dad and he had the same one I had, “assuming”.
We all apologized and the tension was just GONE!

Accepting that we all have perceptions and distortions in thinking that can be wrong makes it so we don’t expect perfection out of everybody, AND helps us remember we need to communicate.

We talked about ways what happened can be avoided in the future, and we all moved on. πŸ™‚

I love having tools we can all use on a regular basis to keep grounded. πŸ™‚

2 Weeks

It has been two full weeks since Sweetie 4 came home. Two wonderful weeks! She is doing so well. We are so proud of her!
And we are proud of us too. πŸ™‚

We have had many talks, shopping trips, a “Girls out to get Starbucks” on Thanksgiving night, where we all sat outside because they
were closed and laughed until we cried.
It was SO FUN.

Sweetie 4 is adjusting well.

Praise Be to the Lord!

It’s A Marathon NOT a Sprint

I tell myself this all the time, and yet on Monday, I was sprinting. For the last couple of days, contemplating Monday has been on my heart. Why did I get so upset?
Why did it bother me SOOO MUCH?
I actually expected a lot of what happened and I was shocked with myself on how deeply I was personally hurting.

I must confess, that if we lose focus on and put our hopes into somebody other than God, we can be crushingly hurt. But if we remember that I have been forgiven much and
I still fail my Lord. He is faithful and just to forgive me.
My hope and trust MUST be in Christ. To love purposefully is a spiritual action. Love does not expect anything in return. We knew going into our lifestyle that we MIGHT have reciprocal love, but we may never see it, and we knew it would be ok, because the life we are living, we believe is what we are SUPPOSED to be doing.

So if my focus is on Christ, then what everybody else does doesn’t really matter. I must DO what I’m called to do! Love.
I think on Monday, I was in “Sprint” mode. I was thinking, “Ok, we have worked hard, you are out, let’s get life going again.”
That was wrong.
She is having to process the loss of the last year just like we have had to.
She spent this last year working on herself and focusing on herself, but NOW she has to process the LOSS of last year. She wasn’t here for Thanksgiving.
A year ago she was on suicide watch.
She wasn’t here for Christmas, her birthday, Valentines Day, Easter, 4th of July, for anybody’s birthday or graduation, youth functions, a trip to Albuquerque,
Ruby’s 1st birthday and more. That is a LOT of loss!
But it wasn’t a complete loss, because she has gained GREATLY. She has gained the ability to ENJOY those things that she couldn’t enjoy before because she couldn’t see past
her pain.

I also didn’t help by telling her that what I want for Christmas is a happy family when she asked what I wanted. While it is true that is what I would want, and gifts aren’t important. For HER, they are. This is how she was trying to express her love, and I rejected it. I didn’t intend to, but I think that is how she took it.
After thinking about it, I apologized to her and gave her a couple of ideas she could think about for me and she was thrilled.
I have always told my kids “I want a happy family” and they say, “Yeah we know that… BUT…”
But for me to say that to Sweetie 4 I think it had a different feel for her. It wasn’t intentional, but it came to me very clearly last night as I was pondering Monday.
She needs to be able to give something tangible. That is how she needs to show her affection.
So I may get a really cool kitchen apron!:)

So we are back to Marathon Mode. πŸ™‚ My focus is back to where it should be. And we are also enjoying the benefits of a young lady who WANTS to be home and loves her family.

Settling In….

101_0915Sweetie 4 has been home since Friday. The weekend was like another Furlough. She knew what to expect as we continued doing the same things and she had the same schedule.
Then came Monday. It was all new to her. She has been away over a year and the dynamics of family life have changed now that 2 of the girls are in college, one no longer lives at home and their schedules are completely different than ours.
I think this came as a shock to her. When she left to the detention center, everybody was a minor and Sweetie 1 was taking classes at the college for dual credit. Nobody was driving, and nobody was an adult.

Now that she is home, we have 2 adults, 1 driver, one learning to drive, everybody in college, and one not living at home. I think that was a lot to come home to even though we told her during all those visits what was happening in family life.
She came home to different dishes, a room painted blue, the bathroom wall paper removed and painted a different color, and lots of little things we probably do not notice because we are here all the time and the changes seem more subtle.

And then, Monday started. We were back to teaching at home and there was nobody to force her to get up in the a.m; she is expected to do that on her own, with an alarm. We had a computer glitch and during that glitch I asked her to go ahead and read the lesson so we didn’t waste time.
I was met with a force of NO. Then, “nothing has changed, it is all the same, I knew you wouldn’t change!” I was confused.
“What are you talking about?”
More words …. and then bombs…. “I’m DONE with this family!”

It was over the top and OUT OF NOWHERE!

I could see it in her eyes. It was fear. She started the morning with not getting up for family time. My first wake up call was gentle… “Sweetie, it is time to get up.”
My second wake up call was “Sweetie, you missed family time”….
My THIRD wakeup call was, “If you were at the detention center, would you still be in bed?”
She got up.
But in her mind, she was a complete failure and that set her up for the entire day…. failing, in her mind.
She tends to beat herself up like that, and then gives up.

We started with geometry and she did great.
Then, the glitch happened and she couldn’t handle the change.

So, from around 9:30 till 4:00, she was over the top going between weeping and anger, speaking harshly, accusing, and then saying, “I’d rather be in jail!”
I couldn’t hold back my sorrow, nor could I hold back my own fear. I was seemingly put right back into the scenario of a year and a half ago. I began to question, “Are we going to make it?” “Are we REALLY going to make it?”

She would verbally attack and then say she was sorry, then attack and then say she was sorry, and then say I love you over and over and over again, inbetween attacking and
then getting upset because I was hurt or had a sad look on my face. But I’m human. I do well rising above most of the time. Yesterday, tears flowed.
It was like a huge build up of tension, and then an explosion over and over, but expecting us to just “take it”.
Oh that felt so familiar.
And it didn’t help that I wept, because then she thought I was disappointed in her. I was frustrated with her behavior, hoping we had moved further down the road than we had, but it never changes my love for her. I’m so proud of how hard we have all worked to make this happen!

I wanted to connect, but I also needed to be honest with her.
I told her, “I am not going to go through this again. You need to make up your mind what you want.”
“You SAID you wanted us, you wanted family, that you wanted to come home.” “So what do you want?”
That was probably not the best way to handle it.
By now, I was not thinking about connectedness as much as I just needed a raw, real answer.
She was angry I was hurt.
I was hurt and felt betrayed.
So I gave her a mental picture, the best I could, trying to regain connection and correct at the same time.

An abuser hits somebody in the face and says, “I’m sorry.”
They are forgiven and then they turn and hit the person in the face again.
They say, “I’m sorry” and it happens again and again and again….The abuser buys gifts to make up and then
the one they are abusing has a bloody, bruised face, is hurt and in pain and responds to that pain.
The abuser then says, “What’s the matter? Why are you sad?? I SAID I WAS SORRY!
Why are you still sad… they study your face and every.single.action. maybe if you didn’t respond quickly
enough when they reached for your hand, And then they get angry
and accuse the person of not loving them, or worse.

THAT is what you have been doing ALL DAY LONG.

Her response was interesting. “You told me you wanted to know how I felt.”
But she has no filter. I forgot that. She needs these things explained.
We can have many thoughts or feelings go through our minds, some that need to be spoken and
others that we can say, “Why did I think that?” or “That isn’t valid”, or “That is ridiculous!”
And we discard them.
She just says everything that comes into her mind.
We need to remember that she needs to learn that filter.
She mixes up “feelings” with “thoughts”.
We need to remember she has an FAS brain. Sweetie is very smart, but she struggles GREATLY with understanding
emotion and body language.

So as you can read, she was all over the place.

So last night, I was able to get my bearings and start to gain some strength. Mike is a huge help in helping me focus and
stay the course.
I decided maybe getting her busy as a distraction would be a good thing. We put on Christmas music and started to decorate for Christmas,
a week early! LOL

She totally got into it, and we enjoyed the rest of our evening. She worked really hard to help with everything and needed that continuous
praise and affection.
She went to bed a happy camper.

This a.m. she woke at the right time, and has been a joy all day long.

I’m sure we will have some glitches along the way and I need to remind myself that she still has a long way to go.
I am thankful for a counselor who is willing to work with us and discuss ways to help her.
This is still very much a team effort. It is a marathon and not a sprint.

I am proud of her for pulling herself out of a state of fear and into a place of peace.
Folks this is hard stuff. But it is real. The lessons learned through these experiences will stay with us the rest of our lives. We cannot err in loving. We will not err in following the Lord. And we are confident, that HE who began a good work in her and in us, will be faithful to complete it!


img_1551She’s home. πŸ™‚

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