a mom’s struggle with attaching

I was given a deadline for this post of the end of July – mostly because I asked for one.  That was a month ago.  As I write this I am now only one week out from the deadline, and I’m just now sitting down to put my thoughts on paper.  Although I am a natural procrastinator, this post goes beyond that for me.  It’s hard.  It’s hard for me to think about it, talk about it, and become vulnerable enough to share it with “strangers.”  So let’s just call each other friends and that might help… ok maybe not, but at least I will have a lot more friends!    

I’ve struggled, wondering if talking about this out loud would *hurt* my son if he reads this someday.  I ultimately came to the conclusion, after talking with some wise friends, that as long as I have an open dialogue with my son about this story of redemption, it won’t be anything new for him to read one day.  He may or may not ever learn to read or even be able to understand the concepts that I will discuss, but if and when he does, it won’t be a surprise to him!  The benefits to other moms that feel alone in this struggle far outweigh my fears and pride of keeping silent.

Let me start with a little background information about myself as well as my family’s adoption journey.

Our family wasn’t looking to add more members to it.  We thought we were finished growing our family after the birth of our 3rd biological child.  I had had some very risky health issues during my last pregnancy and my doctor advised against having any more children.  We were content that God was closing the door for us on more children.  Over the next several years God put into our lives many friends and acquaintances who had adopted or fostered just because they were “called” to it.  God started working on my heart about adoption, but I kept it to myself for a while.  Unbeknownst to me, He was also working in the hearts of my husband and children as well.  One day my husband said out of the blue, “Babe, I think we should consider adoption!”  You can imagine his surprise {and I will never forget the look on his face} when I said without batting an eye, “Yes, I do too!”  Two days later as we were leaving church our oldest saw a family that had adopted two beautiful children from Africa walking out.  She said, “Mom and Dad, I think we should adopt like them.  We have so much God has given us and orphans don’t have anything!”  My heart nearly melted right there and I knew at that moment this was a God thing working in all of us separately.  We were sure it was Him!  {This is goose bumps kind of stuff, girls!!}

We began our adoption journey in Thailand 4 1/2 years ago.  Our intention from the very beginning was to adopt a special needs girl. Shortly after we started the process Thailand changed its referral system.  It was one of those “It will be so much better and faster with the new system” changes and then the whole program came to a screeching halt.  Well, after 2 1/2 years of just waiting with no movement, we decided through much prayer and many tears {and it was such a hard decision} that we would switch programs to China.  We felt peace about switching and beginning a journey that would take us to our little China princess.  But God again had other plans, and He was really stretching us and putting us through His refining fire. 

After a few months in the China program a little 4-year-old boy popped up on a list that our agency had compiled through the Journey of Hope program.  My husband had an instant connection to him, and although I thought he was cute, he was a HE  – not a SHE!  After talking to our agency about the possibility of adopting a boy AND a girl at the same time, we agreed to proceed with adopting our sweet Hudson.  We were told he had a mild form of cerebral palsy.  We were also told that he was a very smart, curious, and helpful boy.  Over the next year I grew to love this boy more than my heart could take.  I couldn’t wait for the day to get my boy from China and bring him home.  The whole time we continued to work toward a possible referral for a little girl.  However, during the time of processing the paperwork God saw fit not to give us that second referral.  This was hard for me.  After all, I had been praying for this girl for over 3 years at this point.

Two months before we traveled to China we signed up to be short-term foster parents through an agency called Safe Families For Children.  We got a placement right away, and we were told that our involvement would last only for a weekend.  That weekend turned into 6 amazing, fun weeks caring for an 11-month-old baby boy that we fell in love with.    Anyone that knows me knows how much I LOVE babies.  I might have an unhealthy addiction to them! LOL.  Because of that having this little guy in our home was a balm to my impatient soul while waiting to go to China!  After the 5th week of caring for him we learned that his mom had not been checking in with the agency as required.  He was going to be considered abandoned.  The agency told us that we could go to court and petition to get legal custody of him.  The day before court his mom showed up, and we were given only 3 hours to take him back to her.   Oh my heart broke.  This was hard for me.

There was only 2 weeks before leaving for China at this point.  I had no time to grieve and I had a family of 5 to pack for.  Soon we were off to China and picking up our son.  My heart was about burst when we walked through those doors at the Child Welfare Institute, and he ran toward us.  As that first day went on I was a little taken back by the fact that this smart boy seemed to have a lot of strange mannerisms.   He also didn’t seem to be acting like a typical 5 year old would act, but rather a 2 year old.  The more the week in China went on, the more I felt myself distancing from him.  I didn’t know this child.  This child wasn’t the one I had read about or seen in videos and pictures.  He was very different.  This was hard for me.  And even though I would have never said it out loud, inside I was thinking this is the child that kept me from my baby girl.  {OK this is one of those cringe while I am typing moments.}  I have to add for my son’s sake, that none of those feelings were actually because of him.  They were all me and issues I was having.  You see, even though I didn’t realize it, I was grieving inside.  I was grieving the loss of the baby girl I longed for, grieving the loss of my foster son, and grieving the loss of the smart little boy I thought we were going to get.  While “grieving the loss of the boy we thought we were getting” sounds trivial, it is common.  I knew without a shadow of a doubt that this beautiful boy was mine.  I knew that God designed him to be knit into our family’s tapestry before time began.  So why did I feel this way?  Why couldn’t I get past this?  Why did I seem to keep withdrawing?  Why was I simply going through the motions of parenting him instead of having the feelings I should be having as his mom?

How could I have loved a foster baby soo much in 6 weeks and I don’t have those feelings for my own son?  Will they ever come?  What is my problem?  I LOVE children, why is this happening?  These questions {and many more} rattled in my head for months.  I couldn’t talk to ANYONE about them.   Besides, look at all these adoptive friends of mine on Facebook that have picture-perfect attachment. {or so it seemed!}  How could I talk to them…..they’d totally judge me.  Such shame, guilt and loneliness surrounded me.  Those were exactly the things Satan wants you to say to yourself and how he wants you to feel……isolated, alone, and full of shame.

My husband was a rock star in China.  He knew I was having a hard time, but didn’t say a word.  He took over the reigns of caring for our son while we were there.  I am so thankful that God gave me such an amazing husband and father to our children!

After months of beating myself up, and nothing changing in my relationship to my son, I mentioned how I was feeling to 3 close adoptive mama friends.  I was SHOCKED to learn that 2 of them had been struggling with the same thing!  What?!  I’m not a terrible person all alone in this?  You mean this is normal?  It was like a heavy weight had been lifted off my chest.  I felt hope for the first time in months.  Just knowing I had other mama’s that understood and were praying for me was an amazing feeling.

At month 7 of my son’s being home, I had the opportunity to attend the most AMAZING adoptive mama conference, Created for Care.  If you haven’t been…..You Need To Go!!!  It changed me.  God changed me there.  I learned that most of my attachment struggle was not about my son’s special needs, but about my expectations.  I had expectations for how I was going to respond to him when he joined our family – not met.  I had expectations about how he was going to be – not met.  I had expectations for his future and my future – not met.  The list goes on and on of my expectations vs. the reality of the situation. 

And like every godly woman would do when expectations weren’t met {insert sarcasm} I pulled away more and more.  This wasn’t because of my son.  He is perfectly created how God meant him to be.  This was because of me, and my failure to see him as the perfect son that God created for my family.  A son that will point me to Christ more fully each day of my life. Some days I feel like it’s too much for me to handle.  And to be frank, it IS.  God gives us more that we can handle so we are forced to turn to Him and let Him carry us through.  I am just stubborn enough that I require a lot more of these situations than the average Christian, it seems!  But I am thankful for it.

family

So while I came into this adoption fully prepared to deal with a child that struggled with attaching to me, instead I was the one that struggled with attachment.   Thankfully God has been {and is still is} molding me to be more like Him, and in the process is teaching me how to love a child adopted into my family as my own.  It’s such a beautiful picture of what God does perfectly in adopting us into His family, and loving us as His own children.   I am reminded of this nightly when I hold my sweet boy, look into his eyes, rock and sing to him before I put him to bed.   I thank God for these sweet glimpses of who He is and what He’s done.

I won’t lie and say there aren’t still days that I struggle, but I will say that after a year being home, those days are less and less, by the grace of God!

I hope and pray that this post is an encouragement to any mamas that feel alone in the attachment process and wonder if it ever gets better.   Don’t have any expectations about a timeframe, but it will get better.  It’s a lot of work and prayer but it will get better!

{HUGS}
Stephanie Lacock

waiting child highlight: older children

Please take a moment to view the older waiting children with Lifeline that are highlighted below. Lifeline has many children waiting to find their forever families. If you would like additional information or have questions regarding any of these children or a child you see on the website here, please contact Annie Hamlin for more information.

Hanne

Hanne – female, 8 years old, special focus (new hope journey), delayed psychomotor development (cerebral palsy). According to her file, this sweet child was abandoned at 6 years old and when found, was weak and unable to walk or talk. Precious Hanne did however, like to be held on the nannie’s laps. She is now said to be receiving therapy at the orphanage rehab center and is cooperating well with the therapists. Hanne is stated to be a smart girl who “follows teaching and practices well” and is making good progress. Hanne is said to be an out-going and cheerful child who loves music, toys, games, and reading books. She is stated to love to talk, but without clear enunciation. She can manage some simple daily words to communicate with nannies and she gets along well with the other little children. She is good with her hands and she can fold paper airplanes, pick up small pieces of paper and various toys. Hanne usually sits in her wheelchair or special chair to do activities because it is difficult for her to straighten her legs.

Please read this from her file: She is kind and spreads joy to others. She likes to greet strangers when she sees them and under the care of her nannies she is happy every day. Update from 6.3.14: She can hold her bottle and drink water, she can walk with assistance, she knows some familiar fruits, other things, her teacher and other young kids. She does not have any medicine. Please watch her sweet videos on Wonderful Waiting Kids HERE.

Please keep in mind that several families may be reviewing this child’s file at one time. At any given time, this child’s file can go on hold or be taken back to the Shared List by the CCCWA. Please contact your Lifeline social worker or Annie Hamlin for more information.

Josiah

Josiah – male, 8 years old, special focus (new hope journey), congenital cataract (both eyes blind) and HGB low. This adorable little boy was found with a “plastic bag beside him with a bottle, half sack of “yashili” grape sugar, 1.5 sacks of milk powder, Johnson floral water and shampoo, prickly-heat powder, an allover cloth hat, a silver pendant with DOB on it inside the bag. There were also 16 pieces of clothes and a wind coat in another bag.” This sweet boy was more than likely well-loved and I pray he will be able to find his forever family and know that love again. Josiah is said to be introverted. His file is outdated but it states that at 2 years old, he likes to be held and played with. He is said to be active and clever and likes to smile. His post on Wonderful Waiting Kids is HERE.

Please keep in mind that several families may be reviewing this child’s file at one time. At any given time, this child’s file can go on hold or be taken back to the Shared List by the CCCWA. Please contact your Lifeline social worker or Annie Hamlin for more information.

Ruthie

Ruthie – female, 7 years old, special focus (new hope journey), postoperative congenital cleft lip and palate; bilateral alveolar cleft. This precious child is described as polite, quiet, and fairly shy; however, in more familiar environments, she is fairly “active and restless”. Ruthie is also said to get along well with other children and really likes chocolate. A girl after my own heart! According to her file, following her surgery, “her physical state is stable, she developed well in language and cognition” and her “growth development index is close to that of normal peers”. In September of 2012, she joined the “senior class in kindergarten”.

From Ruthie’s file: Due to postoperative congenital cleft lip and palate, she can’t speak clearly; but she can express herself and can talk to adults well. Ruthie is a quiet and smart little girl. We believe that she would make great progress by her efforts in future. The link to her post on Wonderful Waiting Kids is HERE. Videos posted.

Please keep in mind that several families may be reviewing this child’s file at one time. At any given time, this child’s file can go on hold or be taken back to the Shared List by the CCCWA. Please contact your Lifeline social worker or Annie Hamlin for more information.

Harriet

Harriet – female, 10 years old, special focus, postoperative cleft lip and palate. Sweet Harriet is said to be bright, understanding, and “not obstinate” with “good life skills”. This precious child is stated to like sports, is energetic, and “adapts well to new things”. There are wonderful videos of Harriet included in her post on Wonderful Waiting Kids HERE.

Please keep in mind that several families may be reviewing this child’s file at one time. At any given time, this child’s file can go on hold or be taken back to the Shared List by the CCCWA. Please contact your Lifeline social worker or Annie Hamlin for more information.

rosie

Rosie – female, 7 years old, special focus, deaf/unable to speak, postoperative congenital megacolon and completely precious. This little one’s video will make your day! When Rosie was 4 years old, she was diagnosed with abdominal distension, which was finally repaired. Her file clearly shows a child who was not doing well before her surgery. However, after the surgery, her file changes to describe a child who is no longer in pain and happy, adjusting well to her new foster family, eating and developing better! She is said to be extroverted, kind, polite and sensible with “active thinking.” Just watch her precious video! She will steal your heart and make you smile! PW is rosie1. Her post is linked HERE.

Please keep in mind that several families may be reviewing this child’s file at one time. At any given time, this child’s file can go on hold or be taken back to the Shared List by the CCCWA. Please contact your Lifeline social worker or Annie Hamlin for more information.

Hans

Hans – male, 3 years old, special focus, Down syndrome. Our China facilitator met this little one and felt like he was doing really well and functioning on a very high level. Hans’ file states that from the nineteenth to the twenty second month, he could distinguish acquaintances and strangers and would not respond to strangers. From the twenty second to the twenty sixth months, Hans was said to be able to he walk easily. He is also said to like to play with his foster sisters, can draw lines, cooperate with his foster mother to dress up and when having a bath in the bath tub, he likes to splash in the water. He is stated to be a lovely and energetic boy. Please read what our team wrote about him when they met him in May of this year: High functioning child with Down syndrome. Very curious personality. Can speak relatively well. Not fully potty trained, can alert caregiver when needed. Very healthy, never sick. Eats very well. He is really cute and has good personality. Favorite toy is said to be karaoke, loves to sing. He also have some stomach problems with spicy food. Strong willed but overall very sweet.

From another team member: “He is the sweetest little boy! He is extremely smart! He has a very extensive vocabulary, and he is potty trained. At three years old, he does not seem to have many delays at all. He is currently in a foster home, and it seems that his foster mom treats him as a child with no special needs. He is extremely high functioning for a child with Down syndrome. He likes to talk, but he is shy around those he does not know… this little guy stole my heart!”

Hans is posted at this link HERE on Wonderful Waiting Kids.

Please keep in mind that several families may be reviewing this child’s file at one time. At any given time, this child’s file can go on hold or be taken back to the Shared List by the CCCWA. Please contact your Lifeline social worker or Annie Hamlin for more information.

Zachary

Zachary – male, 6 years old, special focus, postoperative repair of congenital bilateral complete cleft lip and palate. This sweet child’s file states that, “He is make us happy, his expression and motion make fun, as he appear always make us laugh.” In 2011, he was said to have slow language development but was in Kindergarten, learning to play games and teaching the nannies and other kiddos upon returning. The link to his post on Wonderful Waiting Kids is HERE. Videos posted.

Please keep in mind that several families may be reviewing this child’s file at one time. At any given time, this child’s file can go on hold or be taken back to the Shared List by the CCCWA. Please contact your Lifeline social worker or Annie Hamlin for more information.

Olivia

Olivia – female, 7 years old, special focus, possible delays. This sweet child is said to be gentle and polite, greeting people well and appears to have made good progress from her first few years in the orphanage. Her file states: “Her self-esteem is strong. Once somebody wanted to adopt a child and asked about her, I said slow reaction and some problem on her brain. She listened and depressed very much. When I saw this and regretted. We took her to do the CT test: no problem.” The link to her post on Wonderful Waiting Kids is HERE. Video posted. Her video is SO much cuter than her pic.

Please keep in mind that several families may be reviewing this child’s file at one time. At any given time, this child’s file can go on hold or be taken back to the Shared List by the CCCWA. Please contact your Lifeline social worker or Annie Hamlin for more information.

Liza

Liza – female, 10 years old, special focus, listed as both healthy and as having cerebral palsy. Please read from her original file done in 2004: “Liza is stated to have normal physical development. At the age of 2 months her motor development was said to be good. She had begun to laugh, her cry was loud and at the age of 3 months, she would respond to her name. Liza’s file states that she is very beautiful and lovely, with a ruby complexion and eyes that are big and bright. She was said to seldom cry and to like being close to people. Her file states that she is active and extroverted, especially liking being teased by other kids.” From her updated video, it appears that this precious one may indeed have cerebral palsy and will need a very special family to love and care for her. Please watch her sweet videos HERE and please let me know if your heart is moved for this beautiful child.

Please keep in mind that several families may be reviewing this child’s file at one time. At any given time, this child’s file can go on hold or be taken back to the Shared List by the CCCWA. Please contact your Lifeline social worker or Annie Hamlin for more information.

waiting child highlight: WACAP

Two precious children – who don’t even have a specific special need – waiting for their forever family to find them. Both are on WACAP’s designated list and have a $2000 grant for qualified families.

Juliet, born April 2002, can be a little shy in unfamiliar settings, but once you get to know her she warms right up! She is talkative with people she knows, and loves to share her unique opinions on things.

juliet1

She is attending school, and her handwriting is neat and beautiful, however, she does have trouble focusing in class sometimes. Caregivers feel she is smart, but sometimes “tunes out.” She does keep up in class, and is learning more and more Chinese characters, and doing well in math. Though her test scores aren’t the best, she finishes her homework on time. She is independent in daily life, and hasn’t had any major illnesses.

juliet2

Elliot, born May 2005, is a bright and clever boy, who laughs often and gets along well with other children. He is attending primary school, where he has learned to write more than 50 Chinese characters and do addition and subtraction within 50. He was found at two months old, and sent to a foster family in December 2006.

Elliot1

A sensible and obedient boy, he often helps his foster parents with chores. As a baby he only liked sweet food, but his tastes have expanded, and he’s no longer a picky eater, enjoying rice, noodles, and all kinds of meat and vegetables. Though his file initially listed a diagnosis of repaired cleft lip, an update from earlier this year clarified that he was not born with cleft lip! He fell in March 2007 and split his lip; his foster parents put medicine on it and it healed in a few days, but left a scar. He is considered otherwise healthy.

Elliot2

For more information on Juliet or Elliot, please contact the NHBO Advocacy Team or email WACAP.

waiting child highlight: Oh, those boys!

Many people not familiar with China adoptions are surprised to find out that approximately 75% of children waiting to be adopted in China are, in fact, boys. There are many factors that have caused this staggering number of boys to wait…some of them for a really long time. As the mom of 3 amazing boys, that saddens me. Yes, boys can be stinky, loud, rambunctious, grocery-eating machines! But they can also be compassionate, loyal, protective and hilariously funny! Yep…those stinky boys totally have my heart!

Brayden, born November 2012, is a quiet little boy, but he loves listening to music! You can hear him laugh out loud, especially when playing with toys that make sound. He is a good sleeper, and has begun to have other food with his milk at meal times.

Photo 2

As of September 2013, he could raise his head while lying on his stomach and roll over on his own. He could pick up small objects like beans, reach for toys beyond his grasp, and pass a toy from one hand to the other. He would also turn when his name was called, and express “no”. He was able to differentiate between strangers and caretakers, and react appropriately to adults’ facial expressions. Brayden was born with a cleft lip on one side, but no cleft palate, and a heart condition. He also has one eyelid that droops.

Photo 3

Ezra, born May 2008, is outgoing little boy with a great smile! He can be a little shy in front of strangers though. He was born with a difference in one leg, but he can stand without support, and moves himself around easily by jumping on one foot while using his hands to push off the ground.

IMG_6381 small

He has excellent language skills, and can ask questions and express his needs. He has been attending classes at the orphanage, and gets along well with other kids, though he’s occasionally stubborn. He likes watching cartoons and playing on the swings. WACAP staff saw Ezra in 2011, so there are many extra photos and videos of Ezra!

There is a $4000 grant available to a qualified family that chooses to use WACAP to complete Ezra’s adoption.

Updated Photo 1 small

For more information on Brayden and Ezra, please contact the NHBO Advocacy Team or email Lindsey at WACAP. What a joy these boys will bring to a very special family!

Eye contact {tips for your toolbox}

We received a surprise gift the day we received our daughter 4 years ago.

Dimples.

Lydia-dimples-in-Guangzhou1

Not just any dimples, the most adorable little dimples. The kind that show up even before the smile breaks, giving away that she’s about to lose the staring contest. I love them.

While we got to see them that first day and most everyday since, we didn’t always get to see them for more than a quick glimpse. The hundreds of pictures I took of her in our first months home are a bit deceiving. They capture one split second of a moment; they do not reveal how her gaze directly at me may have only lasted for that split second of a moment. I longed for that closeness of gazing into each other’s eyes as I did while I nursed our other three. But, her loss of that closeness for the first year of her life made her fight it with me. She fought the closeness by looking away a second into the gaze and physically turning her head or whole body away. Her seeming rejection—through eye contact and in other ways—made my attachment process harder which made her attachment process harder which made my attachment process harder…and on and on…you get the idea.

Four years into this adoptive parenting thing and a few years into connecting well, I now know things I wish I had known in those first days to encourage eye contact and move us both towards a better connection. Here are a few…

  • Make it easier – It is a whole lot easier for a little person to look at a big person if the big person isn’t so big. I realize that to get better eye contact, I need to come to her, lower myself to her height while not making her feel like I’m all up in her grill.
  • Simply touch my nose – the simple movement of me moving my hand towards my face drew her attention and made her look in the right direction without the intimidation of looking up into my eyes on her own. As she looked away while we were interacting, repeating it again brought her back to my face again.
  • Use verbal cues – I’m a fan of simple scripts. Saying something every time I need to like, “Lemme see those brown eyes” served as a verbal cue for her that she could expect and depend on and kept me on track when I could have felt more frustrated and spiraled elsewhere.
  • Ask a seemingly silly question – I confess that the suggestion of spontaneously asking “What color are your eyes?” seemed odd to me when I first learned about that tool. But, you know what? It totally works. She looks at me; I admire her eyes for a few seconds and then continue speaking while I’ve got her right there with me.
  • Guide the glance – without touching her face but using the same motion as if I were, I can direct my daughter gently into eye contact by cupping my hand near her cheek a couple inches from her face. The gentleness of this tool helps us both.
  • Be a cheerleader – positive reinforcement goes a long way. When she would look right at me and we’d lock eyes for longer than was natural for her, I cheered her on: “Oh, I like that. Good job looking right into my eyes.”

They’re tools for the toolbox, tools that were my go-tos in some seasons in particular over the last four years. But, there’s nothing magical about them; they don’t “fix things” on their own; there’s no if-then guarantee about them–and I so want if-then guarantees.

Lydia-dimples-with-AnnaKiele1

But, there was something to the intentionality of using them, the pursuit itself of tools to use and then celebrating little successes that moved us forward.

And, the hope and joy in that forward momentum has been nothing short of life changing for all of us.



waiting child highlight: Lifeline

Please take a moment to view the 10 children highlighted below. Lifeline has many children waiting to find their forever families. If you would like additional information on any of these children or a child you see on the Lifeline website, please contact any of the Lifeline social workers listed below.

elias
Elias – male, 8 years old, special focus (new hope journey), epidermolyssis bullosa simplex. Oh my… this little guy looks to be such joy! He is said to be loved by all that meets him. He likes see-saws and trampolines and playing outside is his favorite. We also have some pictures of his art work. This guy has many talents waiting to be developed and appreciated by a family that loves him. Please keep in mind that several families may be reviewing this child’s file at one time. At any given time, this child’s file can go on hold or be taken back to the Shared List by the CCCWA. Please contact your Lifeline social worker or Amy Hart for more information.

EstherEsther – female, 9 years old, special focus (new hope journey), mild retardation. What a beautiful girl with even a prettier smile! She has a good relationship with her teachers greeting them every day. If there is a problem she will go to her teacher for help. She is said to be a lovely girl with a bright smile. She likes playing outside. Please keep in mind that several families may be reviewing this child’s file at one time. At any given time, this child’s file can go on hold or be taken back to the Shared List by the CCCWA. Please contact your Lifeline social worker or Amy Hart for more information.

Ezekial
Ezekiel – male, 7 years old, special focus (new hope journey), cerebral palsy. He is said to adapt well and can maintain a normal living schedule. He is said to get along with others in his environment. Look at that smile! He shines. Please keep in mind that several families may be reviewing this child’s file at one time. At any given time, this child’s file can go on hold or be taken back to the Shared List by the CCCWA. Please contact your Lifeline social worker or Amy Hart for more information.

TuckerTucker – male, 1 ½ years old, special focus, congenital heart disease, tracheomalacia. Tucker is described as a shy boy with a ready smile. He enjoys outdoor activities and playing with colorful toys. He is close with his caretakers and when he sees someone familiar he will become very happy! Tucker is a sweet little boy with a lot of love to give! Please keep in mind that several families may be reviewing this child’s file at one time. At any given time, this child’s file can go on hold or be taken back to the Shared List by the CCCWA. Please contact your Lifeline social worker or Elyse Ellingboe-Hoots for more information.

Troy
Troy – male, 3 years old, special focus, progressive muscular dystrophy. Troy is a handsome little boy with a charming smile. He enjoys playing with toys, riding bikes and playing on the swings. Troy gets along well with others and likes to play games with his friends. This sweet boy is closest with his caretakers and loves to be praised. He is ready and waiting to come home! Please keep in mind that several families may be reviewing this child’s file at one time. At any given time, this child’s file can go on hold or be taken back to the Shared List by the CCCWA. Please contact your Lifeline social worker or Elyse Ellingboe-Hoots for more information.

MonicaMonica – female, 3 years, special focus, CHD (severe). Monica is described as a lively and cute child who likes to play with other children. She is very sweet and conscientious of others; when she sees another child crying, she will comfort them, bring them cookies and will alert her foster mother asking her to care for them. Monica is also very helpful and even though she cannot clean very well, she still tries to help her foster mother by sweeping the floor. She has loads of personality and will dance and sing along with those on the TV. This darling little girl is full of joy and she is waiting to share that joy with her forever family! Please keep in mind that several families may be reviewing this child’s file at one time. At any given time, this child’s file can go on hold or be taken back to the Shared List by the CCCWA. Please contact your Lifeline social worker or Elyse Ellingboe-Hoots for more information.

Pamela
Pamela – female, 13 years old, special focus, cleft lip and cleft palate, blood WBC is slightly higher, postoperative cleft lip and cleft palate repair; no obvious abnormality of other examined items. Pamela is said to be a clever, active, and outgoing child, who likes outdoor activity, games, and watching TV. She is helpful to others; she respects older people and is very polite. She is stated to have average grades but her teachers feel she could do much better if she tried harder as she has won several awards at school. When asked about foreign adoption, this is what her file states: returning to the family is her desire, she wants parents who belong to her, and she wants a warm family, now if she can be adopted by foreigners, she will be very happy, and this is beneficial to her growing, so she would like to be adopted by foreigners. Please visit this link on Wonderful Waiting Kids to view her wonderful video in which she plays the piano: http://wonderfulwaitingkids.com/2014/pamela-2/. Please keep in mind that several families may be reviewing this child’s file at one time. At any given time, this child’s file can go on hold or be taken back to the Shared List by the CCCWA. Please contact your Lifeline social worker or Annie Hamlin for more information.

Benson
Benson – male, 4 years old, special focus (orphanage partnership), congenital deafness. Meet Benson! Benson a little boy who loves to play games and has a ready smile. He is described as observant of his surroundings and flexible as a monkey! He is active, clever, and energetic. He likes colorful clothes and is ready to share with others. He has been fitted for hearing aids. Please keep in mind that several families may be reviewing this child’s file at one time. At any given time, this child’s file can go on hold or be taken back to the Shared List by the CCCWA. Please contact your Lifeline social worker or Emily Flynt for more information.

Derrick
Derrick – male, 6 years old, special focus (orphanage partnership), ear deformity. Derrick is a happy boy who likes to be independent and helpful. He enjoys learning and has a creative imagination. He is in the Half the Sky program at his orphanage. Although he has some trouble speaking clearly, he has no difficulty communicating, and his cognitive development appears on track with his peers. Derrick is a darling little boy who is ready for his forever for family to bring him home! Please keep in mind that several families may be reviewing this child’s file at one time. At any given time, this child’s file can go on hold or be taken back to the Shared List by the CCCWA. Please contact your Lifeline social worker or Emily Flynt for more information.

Addy
Addy – female, 3 years old, special focus (orphanage partnership), skull deformity. Addy is an outgoing, talkative little girl. She loves playing outside with the nannies, singing, and enjoys bright colors, especially purple. Her caregivers say she is ready to smile, is helpful, and is known to give other children massages. Addy has a skull deformity as well as shortened forearms and fingers. Addy is waiting for her forever family! Please keep in mind that several families may be reviewing this child’s file at one time. At any given time, this child’s file can go on hold or be taken back to the Shared List by the CCCWA. Please contact your Lifeline social worker or Emily Flynt for more information.

A Summer’s Day

Childhood in summer. Unique for each kid, but much the same. It’s giggles, all day PJs, Crocs and popsicles. Children meeting, then heading out into the sunshine hand in hand as easy friends. The sun offers a special freedom.

One of our recent summer days had notable stats: 1 water park, 4 mommas, 18 kids, 7 children adopted from China, a long list of medical needs represented, 12 snack breaks, and 6 hours drenched in June sunshine.

4 of these kids, home less than a year from China, had medical needs that might have kept them home that day.

One sat in her stroller with a cast from her waist down to her toes helping heal her hip dysplasia, her momma visiting in between cardiology and orthopedic specialist appointments. She shared Teddy Grahams with friends who peered into her stroller and sometimes splashed her fingers in the water. Sunshine on her skin, she was a child in summer.

Another laughed and played with waterproof cochlear implants attached to each ear. Her wide smile told us that the thousands of dollars of life altering equipment just beginning to help her hear and understand sounds were not on her mind that day. The melody of water splashing and kids squealing as they swooshed down slides were sweet new sounds. She was a child in summer.

Another little person is prone to kidney infection, and her exposed bladder kept her from walking beyond knee deep in the water. Un-phased by her limitations, she spent the day sloshing in a bubbling fountain. Drippy ice cream in hand, she was a child in summer.

Finally, the oldest, a young teen with spina bifida, was rolled into the park in her wheelchair by her mother. Despite her challenges, a plastic wheelchair and a life vest enabled her to spend the day plunged happily in the pool. Feeling cool water on her legs, she was a teenager in summer.

Their stories bring easy tears, with limits and challenges shaping their pasts. Their orphanage years not just institutional and without parents, but surgery filled and soundless. Their battles far from over, the reasons to keep them away from a water park were many. On the other hand, the reasons TO linger were many as well. God performed countless miracles to change the course of their lives. And seeing them all together reminded us that we were in the presence of His sacred work, His love stories splashing around in swimsuits.

I used to see kids like ours and feel sorry for them. Though I still ache for pain endured and struggles to come, now I see the simple happiness’s of childhood radiating from them. They teach me again how to rejoice and be glad in a summer day. These resilient fighters have fought for joy soaked days. With the care of medical specialists, and the love of families, they’re free to uncover new worlds of wonders.

And what would God have us do with these redeemed lives? Splash in His water and soak in His sun, their joy shining stories of His lavish love for all who took moments to watch our noticeable group.

rebecca

Part of turning corners with a special needs child is ME getting over ME. My daughter’s limitations once consumed me. I didn’t see her as just a child, with childhood days precious sand slipping through our fingers. But then I woke up to the wonder of her, and began to finally SEE her as fearfully and wonderfully made, outside and in between all things medical. Awed by her strength, and falling more in love with her laugh, I don’t want to stand in her way. I don’t want to spend so much time anxious about the next doctor’s appointment that I miss our appointment-less today. She can’t be submerged in a pool, but she can splash in puddles.

We as four mommas of medical needs kids have stepped well past our limits. We are relying on good health insurance, medical expertise, therapists and our limitless Lord. We must be wise in our care for them, but also must let the childhood that they fight so hard for, be theirs. Some days they need to float down lazy rivers and sit on beach towels snacking on chips and salsa, unburdened with knowledge of procedures to come. I don’t want to see our precious ones and see limits, missing out on fun, personality filled kids. I want to know that dance music makes them wiggle and that they prefer no pepperoni on their pizza.

Unaffected by each other’s wheelchair, cast, cochlear implants or limitations, on that day, they were just friends in summer with water to splash in. Unaware of the beautiful miracles they are, they just giggled and licked ice cream from a stick like it was their job. And we, the four mommas with lots in common, smiled and did some splashing of our own.

This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24



what we’re reading links: 7.22.2014

From the last few weeks, some good stuff we’ve read that relates to adoption and/or parenting a special needs child.

As always, if you’ve read or written something you think would be a good addition to a future What We’re Reading post, we’d love to hear about it.

To share a blog post or news article go here.
To share your blog with our readers, as a soon-to-be traveling to China family go here.

blogs

Rachel Engel shares What Facebook Means to Special Needs Families on her blog Tales From the Plastic Crib. And she is oh-so-right.

In China adopting her son, Liberty laments her son’s poor condition in Orphanages are No Place for Children. Then, after having a chance to visit her son’s orphanage, she shares her new perspective in They Saved His Life.

At The Diary of a Not-So-Angry Asian Adoptee, Christina shares An Adoptee’s Perspective: 15 Things Transracially Adoptive Parents Need to Know.

Jaclyn of Kinda Crunchy explains their journey from dreaming of adopting a daughter to joyfully planning to adopt a son in Delicate Decisions: Adopting a Chinese Boy.

Listen to the parent interview in Grace as Allen and Teri Reaume of Michigan adopt their daughter, who has vision impairment.

Amy of Two Vandalgrads and Three “Gs” shares her heart in The Unspoken “But…” after 49 days parenting her newly adopted daughter.

Stephanie Giese of Binkies and Briefcases tells others on the Huffington Post blog why she knows that sensory processing disorder is real.

At We Are Grafted In, big sister Meredith Toering writes about how her younger sisters constantly ask her to “Tell Me My Story Again.”

inthenews

Half the Sky launches Nanny Connect, a program that “allows adoptive families to submit updates and photos about their children to caregivers at the 53 institutions where we have established our programs…”

The Huffington Post reports that Crohn’s Disease Model Bethany Townsend Reveals Colostomy Bag (PICTURES).

Another article from The Huffington Post features the family of a little girl born without a nose – arhinia – who want to encourage others not to to give up on children with rare conditions.

Mallika Rao of The Huffington Post tells others You May Not Know About the First Chinese-Americans, But You Should.

Distractify offers up 40 Genius Travel Tips That Will Change Your Life Forever.

We’ve seen two recent news articles about China’s population control policies, including Second-Child Policy Having Limited Effect in China Daily and Trusting God for a Second Child in China in World Magazine.

Kat Chow, a member of the Code Switch Team at npr, details how “Ching Chong” Became the Go-To Slur for Mocking East Asians.

This week Love Without Boundaries announced its new Cleft Initiative. So excited about this!

Read something inspiring lately? Informative? Encouraging? Share the link HERE.

liberty

Liberty and her new son Luke

families

 
 

In China now to bring home their child…

Enlarge Thy Tent
Strengthen My Hands
Blessed Beyond Measure
Sprout Spot
Filled With Joy Family

Just Home from China…

One More Piece
Lybbi Shu Fang
Full Hands Fuller Heart Family
The Trusty Family
Everything Beautiful
Adding One Morh
Impossible, Difficult, Done
Our Jones Clan

Getting close to travel for your little one in China? Share the link HERE.


The OhOh Song

Like all toddler/preschoolers my boy can be a bit obsessive about things from time to time. He frequently will not leave the house without a random “object of necessity”…a pillowcase, a can of mushrooms, a toothbrush AND a Bible, the vacuum cleaner (he may have been commenting on the state of the car with that one). It’s funny and random and I roll with it. The rules remain loose, unless Momma needs to wear it under her clothing, you can take it with you (seems fair…and legal).

There is one song however, that we MUST listen to nonstop, everyday, the ENTIRE time we are in the car. The “Oh-Oh” song, IE: We Are The Free by Matt Redman. His face absolutely lights up when track 1 turns on: “Momma! This is it! This is the song we’ve been waiting for!”

We Are The Free

We’re the forgiven, singing redemption’s song
There’s a fire that burns inside
A fire that burns inside
Nothing can stop us
We’ll be running through the night
With a fire that burns inside
A fire that burns inside

We are the free, the freedom generation
Singing of mercy
You are the One who set us all in motion
Yours is the glory
There’s a fire in our hearts and it burns for You
It’s never gonna fade away
We are the free, and Yours is the glory
Oh, oh, ohhhh, oh, oh oh…

We are the risen, living alive in You
And our passion will not die
No, our passion will not die
Nothing can stop us
We’ll be running through the night
And our passion will not die
No, our passion will not die

Up from the grave He rose again
Up from the grave He rose and we will
Rise up, rise up
Into the world that You so love
Into the world we go and we will
Rise up, rise up

We are the free, and Yours is the glory

He keeps time and ‘sings’ along inserting the signs we’ve invented to go with most of the lyrics; his favorite part is pumping his finger towards the sky yelling ‘Yours is the glory!’

I tried so hard to get frustrated with the repetition of the song as I’m convinced we’ve listened to it 4 gazillion times. I’m sure if it were Elmo or Raffi I would have jabbed a fork in my ears already. But I can’t seem to get overwhelmed by this song and it thrills my heart that it is Isaac’s favorite. My three & a half year old has memorized the Gospel through this tune — Jesus rose from the grave, we are free, we sing of your mercy and give You the glory. Isn’t THAT the Lord’s love for us & call to evangelism in the simplest of terms? Why do we try to complicate something so simple, so pure with a labyrinth of theology and legalism? My Isaac responds to these words 90 times a day with the joy and passion of a Saved Soul. Shouldn’t I as well??


Singing "oh oh" at the beach

Singing “oh oh” at the beach



Isaac ‘sings’ his song in the middle of Target (I’ve learned to let my pride go and do the same); he signs it to his speech therapist, who has now had to learn the words (the Gospel!) to sign along with him; and he has taught his little friends at school to follow along as he leads them in circle time worship. He officially has a “fire that burns in side that nothing can stop”. Oh — and when this song pops up during Sunday worship, he sits back in awe. You can read it in his face…”they ALL know our song?!!” They sure do, buddy. We are the free, and His is the glory!


Quiet Times: And on the seventh hour, we rested…

We are on the verge of a major transition in our home.

For the last 14 years, we have had at least one child who needed an afternoon nap. In recent weeks, it is becoming clear that our youngest, Sam, may no longer need one.

As my three-year-old transitions into a big-boy schedule, we are forced to face the somewhat awkward reality that my 41-year-old wife has not yet dropped her afternoon nap.

Anne LOVES her afternoon nap. In retrospect, I think she may have adopted Sam and Ellie simply to extend the window that she has an excuse. At times I worry that she will try to adopt again just to insure that she can continue the façade that naptime is for the kids.

For the first several years of our marriage, I did not understand the “nap” thing. In my house as a child, adults did not nap. (My parents use to claim that they were taking a nap on Sunday afternoons, but I now believe that those locked doors were hiding a different activity… that I cannot think about any longer for fear of going blind.)

But in Anne’s house, napping was celebrated as the crowning jewel in each day’s schedule.

For example, Anne’s dad owned a very successful business. This afforded him certain luxuries… which included an office with a door that closed and a desk with a pillow underneath it. Like George Costanza from Seinfeld, my father-in-law often crawled under his desk and took a little afternoon nap. “It helps me think better,” he’d explain with a well-rested smile.

I recall weekends visiting her family before we were married. I’d leave the room for a bathroom break and come back to find every member of her family asleep on a different chair or couch. When I saw the same pattern repeated multiple times, I worried that they had fallen victim to some kind of collective narcolepsy.

But each time, they would wake up in extra pleasant moods, comparing the quality of their naps and encouraging one another with phrases like, “You must’ve needed it. ” I eventually stopped questioning it and bought an Xbox to fill the time.

And the sleepy apple did not fall very far from the tree. Anne has been taking an afternoon nap on as many days as possible since our honeymoon. (Insert… “It must not have been that exciting of a honeymoon” jokes here…and then I will insert “I do have six kids” as a retort… and then you respond with “But the last four were adopted”… Glad that we got that out of our system.)

Since mid-day naps are not as socially accepted outside of Pre-schools, Nursing Homes, and Latin America; Anne had to hide her secret love… until we had kids. And then there was a built-in “Get out of life free” card that could be cashed every afternoon. And over the course of six children and 14 years, it has become a staple in our house.

But interestingly, this mid-day ritual has evolved past the confines of the traditional nap. While Anne and at least one child still took naps each day, most of the older kids grew out of them. What they did not grow out of was the need (or requirement) for some kind of a mid-day break. For those not spending it on sleep, we call it “Quiet Time.”

(Side note: We are actively looking for a better name than “Quiet Time” since the current name evokes images of libraries and the Amish. Anne has experimented with sportier titles like “Half Time” or even biblical malpropisms like “Sabbath Time”… but nothing has displaced the “Quiet Time” moniker. I proposed calling it the “Hour of Power”… but then Anne informed me that she expanded it during the summer months to 90 minutes… because she is a genius.)

And over the last 14 years, I have changed from a Quiet Time skeptic to its most passionate advocate.

Some reasons are obvious. I mentioned that we have six children. Any period of time where all of them are required to be quiet is generally seen as a good thing.

But Quiet Time in our house is about much more than just “being quiet.” Quiet Time has been a time when my kids fell in love with reading. With no screens allowed, reading is the most common activity. (Yes, we bored our kids into a love of books.)

Quiet Time has also provided built-in time for them to explore their friendships with God. Our kids hear endless messages from grownups about the importance of prayer, Bible study, and worship, but QT has afforded them the necessary privacy and dedicated time to give it a real try. (For our extraverts like Adam, it may simply be because he spends much of Quiet Time praying it will end.)

Abby: Disconnecting from the world creates space for connecting with God.

Abby: Disconnecting from the world creates space for connecting with God.

And with eight different personalities in the house, Quiet Time is also a blessing to the introverts in our family. As much as I’ve fallen in love with the many upsides of large-family life, QT offers a rare reprieve from the omnipresence of siblings and parents. A time to regroup.

As I have watched this phenomenon for the last 20+ years, I have learned that the presence (or absence) of a break can also affect my outlook for the entire day. As tiring as it can be at times to run our large household, Anne and I know that we are never more than 5 or 6 hours from a break… and that makes all of the difference in the world. Sometimes the simple anticipation of a break is almost as valuable as the break itself. It makes the challenge of trying to be an engaged parent into more of a series of sprints than a marathon. I don’t need to be an intentional parent for the next 20 years… just for a few more hours.

Ellie: Ellie is our most recent graduate from naps to the “Big Girl” world of Quiet Times.

Ellie: Ellie is our most recent graduate from naps to the “Big Girl” world of Quiet Times.

Based on the data, I could argue that naps may be a catalyst for World Peace. My wife takes more naps than anyone I have ever met, and she is (perhaps not coincidentally) also the nicest person in the world. This may sound like hyperbole to those of you who have not met her, but I assure you that it is not. As evidence, I would cite her high school resume which included: Prom Queen, the “Good Citizen” Award for the city, and being voted “friendliest girl” by our high school class. Perhaps United Nations Peacekeeping envoys should travel with fewer tanks and more pillows.

As such, my wife has an incredible tolerance for even the most frustrating people and situations. I have seen her carry on a 35 minute conversation with the woman at McDonald’s who is taking our order to have the discussion end with Anne praying for the woman over a tray of cold fries. Yeah, she’s that kind of awesome.

And as nice as she is at the start of a nap, she is even nicer by the end… With one noted exception.

The aforementioned winner of “best personality” (yet another of her “she is really that nice” accolades from our youth) is nowhere to be found if someone makes the grave error of calling on the phone or knocking at the door during Quiet Time. In an almost Pavlovian response, I have seen this extraordinary woman break into sailor-grade profanity when the UPS man rings the doorbell during the Sacred Hour. We take Quiet Time seriously, and we expect everyone else in the world to do the same…

Sam: That mid-day smile says “You may be tired, mom.  But I am not.”

Sam: That mid-day smile says “You may be tired, mom. But I am not.”

So while Sammy’s season of napping may be coming to an end, he will simply be transitioning like his siblings into the new world of the Quiet Time.

To be sure, he’ll fight the idea at first. But I hope that he’ll eventually embrace our family rhythm; perhaps even finding treasure in a reliable slice of time each afternoon for thinking, reading, dozing, dreaming, building, and pretending. I believe that through the years he will make friends with himself during that hour, and I pray more than any of it that the Quiet will create space for his adventure with the Friend of all Friends.

For me personally, I usually use it for a book or a movie or a game or two on the Xbox. And occasionally on a Sunday afternoon, Anne and I take a locked-door nap together… because she’s not the only one with family traditions. .. ;)