Sunday, September 17, 2017

We're still here

It has been far too long since our last update.  What happened?  Life.  As it is for most families the children are involved in a number of different activities and hobbies and that takes up a good amount of time, which is a good thing.

I don't know if I could have imagined this is where we would be three years later.  We have had our moments, some great, some bad and some just ones we want to forget.  We read almost everything we could about adoption and learned a great deal, but its like driving, you can know everything but until you get behind the wheel it's all still theory.  This is a participation contact sport here folks!  The only way to do and get through it is with your sleeve and pants legs rolled up, lol.

The joys really outweigh the bad parts when you take a moment to reflect upon the adventure.  Hearing my children read for the first time, see them making friends, watch with pride as they accept a blue ribbon for their fair project, etc.  Our kids have come so, so, so far from where they were and I can't imagine life without them.

We still are here for families considering adoption and do all we can to be real and honest with them about the adventure it will be.  I am so glad that we have made some fantastic friends along the way who have encouraged us and been there when we needed an ear of reason.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

What we have learned

I don't have a good excuse for not posting anything in the last 8 months except life and all that goes with it.  Life continues, we continue to grow as a family, the kids keep growing despite me telling them not to!

What we have learned since coming home in 2014...

- I am still not a patient person and I ask everyday for more opportunities to be patient

- We had room in our hearts to love all of kids, God can stretch it to unimaginable limits!

- Noise is ok, it let's you know you're not alone.

- Peace, don't go to bed until it's been made.  Teach your children this and they will value forgiveness from both ends.

- They should have a shopper of the month at Wal-Mart, Sam's and Aldi's with free food for the winner.  I'm just saying!

- I forgot how much boys smell

- Pancakes on Sundays bring a smile to even the grumpiest of children.

- Teaching family traditions is never wasted time.

- Waiting time with my kids is my favorite time of the day!!

- I love my wife now more than I ever have!

- Mt. St. Laundry is the highest hill in Central Indiana.  I'm pretty sure that's a fact ;)

- The trampoline was a phenomenal investment, for our sanity and to ensure a smooth bedtime.

- We get weird looks when we march in anywhere, two by two.

- We are THAT family

- It's always a good time to dance!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

So.....It's been awhile...

Sorry for the lack of updates, I don't really have a good excuse except that I've been distracted.  Anyway, we have had a very busy summer.  But first let me back up to the previous post about the challenges of adoption.

My previous post dealt with how hard it can be dealing with the effects our adopted children deal with such as lying, uncontrolled emotional outbursts, blatant disobedience, etc.  These behaviors can literally suck all of the energy out of every fiber in your body.  You have to find a way to deal with it that does not take such a physical and emotional toll on your family.  It takes patience!  When things do not change immediately, it can, and will get frustrating.  We have been working with TBRI/Connected Parenting to get a better understanding of where our children's behavior comes from, so we can treat the cause and not the reaction.  It takes time, but I can see results when we approach the issue differently then how we would have in the past.  You will never "fix" your child. That is an unrealistic (and quite honestly terrible) expectation.  We adopt a child, not an idea.

So on to the summer.  We traveled to Florida in mid-May and the kids had their first visit to Walt Disney World!  They saw their first "live" palm tree and were spoiled by their DISDad uncles.  We have been to WDW many times in the past, but this was the first time as a family of eight!!  The kids did great and loved all of the experiences, well most of them anyway.  We took a very leisurely approach to visiting the parks.  We were concerned about over stimulation, how they would handle larger crowds, and their reaction to masked characters.  We avoided fireworks to help the ones who do not like loud noises, and it allowed us to spend more time at the pool which they love.  All of the kids loved the characters.  We were cautious about contact, but they did well.  Overall the crowds weren't bad and we developed a plan before we left and discussed it everyday about how we would do things. This really helped the kids "see" how things worked in terms of working our plan.  I know it also helped build some trust that the expectations we discussed were met.

Their uncles really spoiled them and it will be a trip they remember for a very long time.  It was a great lesson in generosity, caring and giving to others.  Thank you guys!!

Our parish festival featured a Polish foods booth this year so we had a little taste of "home".  The pierogi's were from a traditional recipe and they complemented the kielbasa perfectly!

We have also had the awesome opportunity to welcome home two families who have adopted in Eastern Europe.  Our dear friends the Carlson's brought home their four kids from Poland.  What a treat it was to be on the other end of a welcome home celebration.  Just a couple of weeks ago, some more friends brought their precious little boy home from Bulgaria!  What a blessing it is to be near other families who have traveled this journey we call adoption.  We have had some great discussions with our kids regarding these families and I know it helps them feel like they are not so different.

We will begin homeschool again in the coming weeks.  The kids are looking forward to starting school and participation in our co-op events.

Until next time....

Saturday, February 28, 2015

This is Hard!!

It has been quite awhile since our last blog entry.  From the title above you can probably guess this is not going to be a light hearted report.  Let me do a little disclaimer before we begin.  I am in no way saying my kids are bad, that the adoption was a mistake, that our lives are ruined or that everything has been a disaster.  What I am saying is that this has been hard.  The training we did before hand and books we read seem to have been cleared from our memory banks.  Please know that I love and respect our children too much to name them individually and have them feel betrayed.  What I will be writing about is the difficulty from our end as parents.  One of our goals has always been to be honest and forthcoming with our experiences so that anyone who comes after us on the adoption journey will be a little better prepared then we were.  We had so many wonderful families share with us that we feel it is only right that we share as well.

Let me begin.  This is hard.  The honeymoon is definitely over.  We are exhausted.  We have said all of those things over the last few months as everyone has become more comfortable in their new surroundings as a family of eight.  Kim and I read a good many books on subjects that would deal with behaviors that our children might have which formed from their early life and the trauma involved.  We did the mandatory (and some extra) Hague training through web videos that was required by our agency.  I will look you in the eyes and swear we must have forgotten it all.  We are a couple of blithering idiots!  Nothing we tried in our parenting utility belts has seemed to work.  It has been so frustrating.  The emotional outbursts when trying to correct a behavior probably has the neighbors thinking we are barbarians who are beating our kids (for the record, we are not).  How do you deal with a child who just can’t communicate other than uncontrolled screaming and crying?  On the end how do you deal with one who becomes a stone cold statue and can go hours without saying a single word.  

We always tell the children we love them and try to establish eye contact.  We hold their hands and re-assure them that we are a family forever, that mommy and daddy are not going anywhere.  All of this has not appeared to help matters, at least from an outward perspective.  Please understand we are not here to complain.  I wish someone had been this honest with us about some of these issues before we started.  We could have prepared even more and been better equipped as parents.
One of the first troubling behaviors that popped up was disobedience.  Blatant disobedience.  The kind where the child is looking at you in the eyes, with a smile on their face, as you tell them no and they continue to do what they are not supposed to.  Not a big deal right?  I mean we have twins who did this stuff at one, two and three.  It is a big deal when it happens every day, multiple times of the day, and by someone old enough to know better.  Or do they?  It is as if we have no house rules at times.  I personally feel I discipline on the same subject (ex. no throwing balls in the house) all the time.

Another thing we have been dealing with is lying.  Flat out lying to our faces, sometimes even after we saw with our own eyes what happened.  Both of us have a real problem with lying and have always told the kids (all of them) that if you tell us the truth there will be a little trouble, but if you lie, then there will be huge trouble.  This happens almost everyday and a for awhile it was happening on multiple fronts.  An example, one child will lie to get another in trouble, and then that child throws another child (innocent I might add) just so everyone gets in trouble.  It is a huge web that we must go through and it is truly one of the most tiring things we deal with.  I know lying is from their survival mode, so we are faced with trying to build a bond of trust.  When one of them has come forward with the truth and they receive little punishment, like just a talk, I can sometimes see that they believe they can trust us.

This isn't all that we deal with.  There are good days too, but dealing with behaviors like those above really start to wear on you physically and emotionally.  We reached out to our super awesome adoption agency, Children’s House International, and asked them if they had any suggestions on what we might do.  

Our Case Manager put is in contact with the social worker on staff immediately and we scheduled a call.  It was such a relief to hear her say we were not alone in our feelings.  She told us it is not uncommon for her to hear that we had forgotten everything we learned in our pre-adoption training.  We basically had fallen back on the way we had parented our twins, it was easy.  It was also wrong for our new family and we would need to learn new ways to parent.  Remember when above I said the children should know better?  They don’t.  Their early life experiences have wired them differently.  The social worker gave us some recommendations on books and sent a DVD that deals with some of these issues and how to handle them.  She also sent a link to therapists in our area who specialize in dealing with adoptive children who have suffered from one form of trauma of or another.  

Over time we can change that so they will be better equipped to handle their actions and emotions.  With refocusing our parenting on the individual and not the behavior we have seen some improvements.  With further counseling and training I think we will start to better understand our children and how to teach them in these moments.  Our goal for our children is for them to become responsible and contributing members of our community.  

There is help out there.  Do not feel as if you are alone on a deserted island.  Please do not be afraid to pick up a phone and ask for help. I specifically did not go into further details of behaviors or counseling to protect our kids.  The behaviors that I listed are really things we deal with on too regular of a basis, but we love them SO much.  We would not trade this adventure for anything in the world.  It is hard.  it is difficult at times.  It is exhausting.  It is frustrating.  If all we focused on was the negative we would fail to see how awesome it is to be a family of eight.  It is fun.  There are a lot of laughs.  There is a great deal of LOVE! 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year

From our family to yours, we wish you all of the best in 2015!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Being Thankful and Looking Ahead..

We hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving holiday.  Our newest kiddos found the holiday to be quite a treat.  We started the day off watching the Macy's parade, which was a first for them.  It was so neat to see the expressions on their faces as they gazed upon these larger than life floats, performers and marching bands.  We also had discussed earlier in the week that we need to think about what we are thankful for, because at dinner we would each have a turn to express our thankfulness.  Everyone helped in the preparation of our meal, and it proved to be a good source of memories and laughs.  We have some excellent little chefs in the family!!

I think their eyes were much bigger than their stomachs (which is usually the case, lol).  We had quite a spread and enjoyed a wide variety of choices.  Best of all, the line wasn't too long and we ate on time!  Easy to do when the destination is where you already are!!  I really appreciated hearing each of the children express what they were thankful for.  Sometimes a child's view on the world is pretty simple, but in a very profound and awesome way.  We were touched to here them be thankful for us as we are SO thankful to have them home!

We are approaching Christmas, and Kim and I reflected how different it was this time last year.  We were always wondering how the children were doing, how they were feeling, etc.  We had sent over photo books for each of them and knew they would get them sometime around Christmas, but it wasn't the same as being with them in person.  We have always enjoyed our time together as a family on the holiday, but last year it was difficult to get into the "Christmas Spirit".  Sometimes, waiting is not only hard, but it causes you to start to lose a little bit of hope.  Fear not!  I can assure you things get better.

The kids are very excited for Christmas this year and so are Kim and I.  As we were putting up the tree and decorations, I stepped backed and basked in the noise and glow of house full of six beautiful,  funny and joyful blessings!  Our Christmas wish came true this year, we are all together, under one roof, as a family.  I pray it is a blessing we will remember and cherish more than just once a year.

From our family to yours, we wish you a Blessed and Merry Christmas!

Until next time...

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Things that make you go hmmm......

The other day I ran across a post on Facebook that linked to an article that described adoption fundraising as tacky and basically wrong.  I have been stewing on that article for a couple of days now and how I would like to respond.  But before I do that let's look at the articles accusation that fundraising for adopting is wrong.

The article draws its conclusion that "if you can't afford, don't do it".  Really?  Let's have a broader look at that mindset.  I do agree that being fiscally responsible is important, but sometimes the need is too great.  As a child my school had us sell candy bars to support the band, should my school, or any other schools who has done music fundraisers eliminate their music programs since they can't afford it?  Should schools quit having "boosters" raise funds for athletic programs since they obviously can't afford it?  Why do Girl Scouts sell cookies?  Why do Boy Scouts sell trash bags and popcorn?  Why does the FOP do an annual campaign to raise money for retired officers?  WOW, we are going to have to quit a lot of things.....because we can't afford it.  I almost forgot, the greatest generation bought and sold war bonds in a fundraising effort so that our soldiers fighting in WWII would have the bullets needed to defeat the Nazi's.  How wrong and tacky was that fundraising effort?  I guess by the writers perspective we shouldn't have fought the war since we couldn't afford it.  David, are you saying war and adoption are the same?  No.  I'm looking at the broader picture and not being narrow minded on how causes are funded, and some causes are worth rising up for, rallying people together to get the job done!

Adoption fundraising in some form or another is needed for most families who go through the process.  The statistics show that wealthy families do not adopt on a large scale compared to middle and lower class families.  They need theses fundraisers to cover essential costs.  They are "not" buying a child.  We all know governments cost money to run, they need money to provide essential services in welfare, immigration, the court system, etc.

Let me go back to some of the examples from above, is adoption just as important?  I would argue yes.  Think of a child growing up with no prospects, he or she is more likely to fall into situations that lead to bad life decisions.  Most of them will not have opportunities for higher education, they may have zero family to go to so in turn they must live on the streets.  I have read the stats that show those individuals who age out of foster or orphanage care put an even larger strain on the system because of the large number who fall into lives of crime and end serving time in prisons.  So what is that worth?  Having someone ask for a donation that could alter not only one persons life, but what about their children?  Studies show that the cycle is hard to break for children who are born to parents with criminal records and pasts.

So, if we treated adoption like school programs, war efforts and so on, then we could greatly diminish the epidemic which is being an orphan.  Most of these people are not doing this for fun, it is a call to be involved in something greater than yourself.  Regardless of your religious beliefs, these children ARE human beings!  They do not deserve the situations they are in, it is not their fault.  The next time you see someone fundraising or complaining that someone is, I want you to think of what your life would have been like without a family.  I have, and it makes me quite sad.  I am not wanting to pull on the heart strings and make anyone feel guilty.  My point in all of this is that we, as a whole, give so readily to causes like those I listed above very generously, but writers like the one in the article I mentioned treat adoption fundraising as taboo.  IT IS NOT.

Is it tacky to help a child find a forever family?  Is it tacky to take a child out of the crib they have been in for 3 years with little to no human contact?  Is it tacky to take a child from the dump they are forced to live in?  Is it tacky to take a child from a place where they are ostracized because of their skin complexion or class status?  Or, is it more tacky to buy cookies, candles, candy bars and bumper stickers and act like everything in our own little worlds is ok?