November 18, 2012

Balance and Encouragement

I was recently asked to speak at our annual women's retreat.
On balance.

*hysterical laughter*

Balance? Me? Surely you have the wrong person. Not only am I sure you have the wrong person, when I mentioned it to my husband, he nearly fell out of his chair laughing. And he's really more of a deep chuckle kinda guy.

After a few days, I felt pretty convicted that I should speak, but if I were to speak on balance, it would have to be more along the lines of "Saying 'No' So That You'll Be Ready for the Big Yes."
It turns out that that theme wasn't what they were hoping for.

I didn't speak at the retreat.
Nor did I go.
I'm balanced like that.

When I talked with a friend about it, I got more of the story. Turns out that if I said no, my back-up was an adoptive mother. And her back-up was another adoptive mother.

I sense a theme here.

Do you know what we all have in common?

It isn't balance.

None of us is overly involved in stuff. There's nothing to balance when out of self/family/child protection survival you have to cut out everything that isn't a necessity.

Our "balance" is, you guessed it, saying no because you said yes.

The idea of doing a retreat/bake sale/VBS/birthday party/dinner party/Sunday school/Wednesday night dinners/sight words/fund raisers/competitive ball teams/musical/choir/talent show/Christmas gift exchange make me suffer panic attacks so great that I consider home schooling and house church just to get out of it.

Which leads me to my second point: my church wants me to write about My Christmas Miracle (a.k.a. The Adoption) for our newsletter. Because it's such a great story.

"But keep it encouraging."

OK, I spent Christmas in Africa.
That's third world, for those of you not in the know.
I ate goat entrails for my Christmas meal.
My judge said, on court day, "There's a problem."
My child would not acknowledge my presence.
And still often won't.
And I have no friends.
Because I shrank my world down to four walls and a roof.

That sounds encouraging.
And balanced.

Incoming panic attack in 3.....2.....1.....

*duck and cover*

October 24, 2012

That post where I offend lovers of the term "orphans"

I hate the word "orphan".
I just hate it.

I can't help but notice how it's been used in the past few years to evoke an emotional response and cause people to MOVE on behalf of children... but I am just DONE with the word.
I'm done with t-shirts and posters and special awareness days using the word "orphan".

Here's the thing, folks...
I've noticed that the people who are pushing these orphan souvenirs (t-shirts especially) are adoptive parents themselves for the most part. Let me get this straight. You go out in public, WITH your adopted child, wearing an "orphan" t-shirt?? Why?? So you leave no doubt in anyone's mind that your child is adopted? So that they look at you like the local orphan-guru, know-it-all, expert-on-all-things-adoption? So that you look better than anyone else?
Yes, we've adopted children. And you know what??
They aren't orphans anymore.
They are my children. MINE.
They have a family.
They have a Mommy and a Daddy.
They are cared for and provided for and most importantly - - they are NOT my ministry. 
They are my children.
They are not YOUR ministry either.

So, we won't be standing under any "orphan" banners in a few Sundays proclaiming the "good thing" we've done.
We won't be showing our former-orphan children off in front of the church and talking about all the kids who we didn't choose who are still waiting.
This is personal.
Their former-orphan status is personal.
They are real children with real stories!!

Shame on us for pimping our our children to further the local orphan ministry.

And what of our biological children?
Are they somehow less important since they've never lost their parents?
Are they somehow less special?
Maybe we need a shirt that says "7 Billion people on Earth. I am one of them." just to seal the deal.
It's like a world of Sneeches. We could get stars tattooed on our foreheads and have a universal code letting people know how many kids we have and how they came to us - just so everyone knows we've survived both forms of family enlargement.

Does this not seem self-serving to anyone else?
I understand wanting to advocate for children with no family of their own... but there HAS to be a way to do this without all of us adoptive mothers (and fathers) looking like a bunch of pride-filled, orphan divas.

October 10, 2012


I lost a niece today.

Her mother is heart broken as are the rest of us. She was supposed to get on a plane to go meet her in three days.

I mourn a world that doesn't understand why this is devastating. I mourn a world that doesn't value her children. I mourn a world that doesn't know that this child, whom we have never met, is still in our family. I mourn.

I go to the library and am asked how I am. "Doing alright," I lie. My niece died. Oh dear! Which one? She's the baby girl we planned to welcome home next month. Oh. I play the conversation out in my head and opt to keep it to myself.

I make the calls and scrape my heart off the floor to play Tomas the Train with my son who doesn't understand why mommy can't stop crying and I even question it myself.

For those people who don't understand adoption, who don't see it as anything but a chance to grow your family should you desire more children, who don't know that if we don't value the next generation all hope is lost, who don't see the value in a soul with special needs (be it chromosomal, color, age, birth defect, or otherwise), they might not understand why we are all crying.

Thank goodness you hadn't met her.
You really dodged a bullet. Imagine if she'd come home and then died.
All things work together for good.

I mourn a world that would see this as anything other than the loss that it is.

Yes, we are mourning a child we never knew.
She died without her mommy.
But she went to Jesus loved.
Her mommy said yes.

October 6, 2012

But for the Grace of God Go I

I found out this morning that a fellow adoptive mama of a child my child knows was arrested for child abuse.

As I read through the articles about the situation I was sick that I didn't know. Or didn't do. Or something. And the other part of me just keeps thinking, "What if it were me?"

We visited online and she would ask how things were for us and then she would ask if my child did some of the same behaviors and I might say yes or no. We'd promise to pray for one another. We'd say God will get us through this hard season. We'd agree that we knew it wouldn't be easy. And I guess I thought her situation was like mine. Hard, but doable, with many sunshiney moments.

Adopting is kind of like bootcamp. It doesn't matter if you would have been friends if you met on the street, you are bound by your experiences. And we adoptive mamas share our experiences. Probably more freely with one another than with others who haven't been there. I have a whole group of them that I would trust with a lot more information than most others in my life.

And I didn't see it coming.

I mean, you say stuff. This kid is driving me crazy. I'm so, so tired. I'm waiting for the beautiful. Can you believe he tried to pull this? When will they learn to use toilet paper? Another meal rejected. When will they eat my food without fake vomiting? I say it. Others say it. But mostly it is a momentary thing and you move on.

I haven't talked with this mom in several months and hadn't really thought about her, I'll be honest. But as I read through the list of stuff charged against her I could itemize most of it against some known older child adoption behavior and wonder....was it simple discipline gone wrong? One behavior, one consequence might not have racked up charges. The compilation of many could. At what point should she have called in crisis management and said, "I can't do it?"

I am fortunate. My children irritate me, but their behavior is generally manageable. And when it isn't, we all go to bed early. I might raise my voice. I might make threats of no playdates ever again or other things that I'll have to reneg on. We might all cry. But my kids are just kids. Some are more hurt emotionally than others because of stuff that happened to them before me, but they are generally emotionally healthy. Generally well behaved. Most rottenness here is just "kid," not "adopted kid."

What if they hadn't been? What if they'd come to me having rages, spitting food, refusing to use a toilet, hitting, kicking, biting, threatening, pulling knives, killing animals, breaking windows, stealing, lying, damaging and who knows what else? You go to conferences and you hear that this stuff happens. I don't know about you, but I hear it and wonder how I would handle it. Would I handle it?

When you choose a child off a photolisting, you have no idea what you're gonna get. You have no idea how your family will react. You have no idea how the chemistry will work out and whether the child will love you or hate you. You are throwing complete dependency upon God and hoping for the best.

Could it have been me?

But for the grace of God go I.

October 1, 2012

The Motions

 A sibling group of seven came available for adoption in my state last week. Ages 15-3. To look at them, you'd think they'd fit right in to my biological family. They would "match."


I need seven (more) kids like I need a hole in my head. Even if we did intend to have a baker's dozen when we were young and ignorant of how all consuming children can be.

The thing is: there are seven kids that need a mama.

It's not about me.
It never should have been about me.
I think that's what people don't get.

My child has been home with us for five months now and it has been a rough five months. Some, many, days we are like sandpaper to each other. It's been hard, hard, ridiculously hard, crazy hard, hard. And I have thought, more than once, What have I done to myself? I had a nice life. My kids all liked me and I finally had everyone eating my food (most of the time). Why did I think I needed to add another child who would clearly rather be living on the streets than with a woman who has rules, for pete's sake?

But this week, I again heard The Motions, like I've heard hundreds of time since it came out and I heard the words again like I heard them the first time when they struck me dumb and tearful. And I remembered....I remembered how empty I felt four years ago. How I would ask, Is this all there is to life? This self-serving, good Christian mom and wife, nothing remarkably different than the masses but Clean Livin', Scratch Cake Bakin', Bible Study Goin', Biblical Disciplinein', Don't Let Anyone Catch You Sinnin', unremarkable suburban lifestyle?

I was empty and I felt....nothing. The living dead.

This life we have chosen is HARD. In more ways than the adoption, but the adoption sure factors in. It HURTS. I cry. A lot. And I'm ANGRY. And people don't get it. They don't get me.

But this? This feels like a whole lot more something than the nothing I felt before. And on my hard days, when I hear The Motions and I want to throw my rolling pin at the radio and smash it to pieces because it pisses me off that I wasn't happy dead, when life was easy, I'm still glad we went for it.

The Motions, by Matthew West

This might hurt, it's not safe
But I know that I've gotta make a change
I don't care if I break,
At least I'll be feeling something
'Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life

I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

No regrets, not this time
I'm gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love make me whole
I think I'm finally feeling something
'Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of this life

'Cause I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

take me all the way (take me all the way)
take me all the way ('cause I don't wanna go through the motions)
take me all the way (I know I'm finally feeling something real)
take me all the way

I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

take me all the way (take me all the way)
take me all the way (I don't wanna go, I don't wanna go)
take me all the way (through the motions)
take me all the way

I don't wanna go through the motions

September 10, 2012

On Expectations

It's been a rough few months since our newest came home and apparently, out of my whole family, I'm taking it the hardest. I'm just spent, ya know? And my husband keeps asking me, "What did you expect?"

I expected this.

But I hoped for better.

I hoped for a smidgen of gratitude.
I hoped for more flexibility.
I hoped for more affection.
I hoped for less strife.
I hoped for what most adoptive mothers hope for: an instant connection, instant love, the picture perfect ending to the horrid wait.

I knew it wouldn't be perfect. I didn't even expect perfection. But I hoped for it. Or something resembling it. Or something that looked like a glimmer in a reflection of a dirty mirror on a foggy day.

Now I'm just holding out and hoping for something beautiful on the other side of this.
Whenever that is.

September 5, 2012

To My Dear Darling,

Do you remember when you first came to live with us and you would only eat a single item of food for weeks on end? One item of food. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack. One. Item.

Yeah, last night, I served tacos.
Tonight it was burritos.
Completely different foods.
Hard shell, soft shell, no beans, beans. Different foods.

So your very whiny "agaiiiiiiiiiiiin?" didn't go over well.
Not. Awesome.
Kinda like smelling your dinner type food at breakfast all those weeks.
And utterly not believable. 
I'm on to you. I know you will eat the exact same thing over and over and over.
And this was not the exact same thing.

I love you,

PS: the bitter me wants to make tostadas for supper tomorrow. And taquitos for supper the next night. Don't test me. I'm kinda hoping for pizza.

You Overestimate Me

Don't call me good and don't tell me I've done a good thing.
I'd rather not hear that I'm doing a fabulous job.
I'll feel like I have to correct your assumptions.
I'm barely holding on here.
It is all I can do to make it though the day, one day at a time.
If I have to try to balance on a pedestal, too, I fear my failures will only be magnified when I fall off.
And I will.
You haven't seen me lose my temper.
And you can't see into the dark recesses of my heart.
You don't know how frustrated I get when I've corrected the same bad behavior for the 37th time of the day.
You can't even comprehend how googlie-eyed I go when it is hold-your-breath or scream-your-brains-out make your choice time.
How I fear that holding-my-breath when I'm enraged might give me an aneurism. 
Feel free to pat me on the back and ask if I'm OK.
Feel free to offer prayers I will never know about.
Feel free to drop by with deserts.
But if you feel like telling me how great I'm doing with my new child.
Please keep your opinions to yourself.
However, if you want to offer to take them off my hands while I go get a massage.....

September 4, 2012

For This Child I Have Prayed

For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me the petition I made of Him, but He forgot to give me any affection for her.
My husband seems to like her quite a lot, which is good. Every child should have a parent that thinks they are half as fabulous as they think they are, but which brings out the only emotion I can conjure up anymore:
I tell myself that his affection for her is a good thing. She needs more than a fake it till you make it parent. She doesn't know this. She thinks she doesn't need a parent at all. She likes having a cleaning lady. And a short order chef. She likes having a personal shopper and a credit card handy and if the only way she can get that is to take me along, she'll do it. But she has no need for a mom. She did just fine before I came along, thankyouverymuch.
The thing is, I'm not over fond of only being useful to her. Particularly when I fail her and present her something hideous to eat like steak or garlic biscuits or double chocolate muffins.
God forbid I serve anything but plain old bread and the occasional strawberry. One. No more than one. Good Lord, why would I serve three, or a bowlful?
She shrugs off my hugs and she shrugs off my gifts and she shrugs off my food and if I do her hair, she immediately leaves the room and redoes it.  She shrugged me off from day one. After the initial, "Wow, you really came for me?" life in her presence has been like hugging a cactus.
The rejection is killing me.
So I turned off my emotions and serve as if I am household staff, but I am noticing that this isn't particularly healthy or helpful, either.
The resentment builds.
I'm on edge from the moment she wakes until the moment she sleeps and when she is sleeping, I'm on edge that she will wake sooner than I'm ready to face her.
Today, for this child I have prayed that the Lord would fill me with love.
And Jesus? If you could make her like my baking, too, that would just be tops.

September 1, 2012

My New Normal?

You spend months and years planning, preparing, praying and hoping/wishing/dreaming about bringing your child home and then BAM that day arrives.
Suddenly (in our case) you have these older children in your home.
They think they run the place, think they've had it better, think their former lives were a literal Utopia where the houses were made of gumdrops and the rivers ran orange with Fanta and they had the biggest straw around.
Your bed isn't nice enough.
Your clothes aren't the right style or color or fabric or... whatever.
Your food is crap and yet there isn't enough of it offered.
With a handful of English under their belt, they interrupt your directives
with a raised hand and "I know."
I beg your pardon? You most certainly do NOT know.

You DO NOT know how furious it makes me when you make that vomit face when I serve oatmeal.
It makes me want to blend it up and pour it down your throat with a funnel like one of those ducks they make into Fois Gras.
But I show great restraint and instead offer to reward you with an apple or banana if you finish. Instead, you say you want mango.
Fresh out of mango.
You push your bowl away.
I grab the bowl and toss it across the floor, sliding it like a hockey puck until it reaches the wall where it lands with a thud... so the dog can enjoy your breakfast.
Sorry, maybe we will try lunch.
I decide not to make oatmeal - against the wishes of every bitter bone in my body.

This is not what I pictured.

I didn't envision growing bitterness toward my children.
I didn't hope for a sinking feeling of dread when I hear their feet hit the floor in the morning.
I didn't wish for a son who talks like Caillou and acts like a 10 year old girl.
I didn't dream about whining/tattling/entitled little brats demanding to play on the laptop - then slamming the laptop screen shut out of anger and shattering the display.
I didn't see myself becoming a screamer.

Their quirks are annoying. The ridiculous way they overuse words in their broken not-yet-learned-English sentence structure or doing the tongue-click noise mid sentence like a Valley Girl... it's annoying. A 7 year old boy who twirls like a ballerina on tippy toes, plays with his hair, and giggles like a prom queen at Justin Bieber on TV while sitting with his legs crossed...not endearing.
It skeeves us out.

The way I feel at this moment... just shy of 6 months into this...I hope it goes away.
I hope I find their "preciousness" as Dr. Purvis says.
I see glimpses of it... but they are quickly overpowered by crappy behavior or some form of stupidity.

I'm ready for the normal.
And this better not be it.

Moving from Impossible to Difficult

I really like the quote, “I have found there are three stages to every great work of God: first it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.” - J. Hudson Taylor

And I have been anxiously waiting for impossible to turn to difficult.  Impossible is just...not fun.

This absolutely looked not only impossible when we began but outright foolish. Yet somehow, as soon as we committed to the girls, we knew we had stepped over some invisible line, one that we hadn't known existed, into a whole other realm of obedience.

Six Month Stats

I posted Blake's amazing 6 month stats here.

But lately I have been thinking about how the rest of us have changed in the past 6 here's a rundown of what I've observed so far.

1. Leah has had more playdates at our house in the past 6 months than in her previous 6 years. 

2. Autum can take her diaper off all by herself with her pants still on.

3. Autum has developed some great arm muscles from working on her food-throwing skills at dinner, thanks to her big brother!

4. I have changed from a multi-sport endurance athlete to a sprinter.  Sprinting as in how many times I can get around the block running before the baby monitor sitting on the mailbox begins to light up and squall at naptime.

From a 12 Year Veteran

This isn't a secret thought, I've said it many times, but it stands to restated.

When I saw the above photo on Facebook this morning, it stopped me cold. I think my heart stpeed beating. I certainly lost my breath.

That, above, is my son. My firstborn son.

It kills me.

August 31, 2012

Why I Can't Be "Real" With You

I was told today "you should write on your blog like you are in real life!"


I thought I WAS writing on my blog like I am in real life...
but the more I thought about it, maybe she's right.

I can't tell you the gory details about my life.
I can't tell you how frustrating it is to try to decipher a child's barely-knows-enough-English-to-be-frustrating rant while another child is crying and feeling wronged and you have no idea what is the matter. I can't tell you because you'd think "well... you asked for this!"

I can't tell you how SICKANDFRICKAFRACKINGTIRED I am of my half-bath looking/smelling/feeling like one of those gas stations where you have to get the key that's attached by chain to a big block of wood because, Lord help us, someone wants to get into that bathroom without permission! CHAIN UP THE KEY, Floyd! Someone might get in our bathroom without our knowledge! I don't know why it is... but the floor is gross, the toilet is gross, the light switch is nasty and I don't even want to go in there. I'm considering having a port-a-potty delivered for the under-10 crowd to use exclusively. Maybe the port-a-potty people have a gift registry online! Dear Santa...

Here in Whopperville

My daughter had a huge in-ground pool at her old house.
And three wind turbines, the kind like they have in Nebraska.
She's seen HOP hundreds of times. As well as all the other movies he hasn't been allowed to see.
She had 12 cats.
And three dogs.
Three goats.
Three cows.
And chickens.
Twelve pair of shoes.
A big bed. Bigger than mine.
Oh, and she had 12 shots, too. Which I sure wish they'd recorded so we could have skipped this shots every week nonsense to get her into school.
She likes the number 12. And 3.
She loves to brag to her brother about all the spectacular stuff she used to have and he totally buys into it.
One of her friends had a TV as big as his wall.
Another had several cars. Nice ones. Like my neighbors'.

All things in Ethiopia were awesome. America is a downgrade. She's now living in the depths of poverty.

How Things Go

".. And how are Things going...?"

The all famous question, newly adoptive parents hear all too often.

We then feel the slight urge (which we control), to blast: "Don't you see the circles under my eyes, I haven't slept in weeks", and things like, "I'm at my wits end in all this!", but we gracefully announce "Things are well here, how are you?"

As newly adoptive parents we feel obligated to inform you that things are ‘going great’. After all, we are humbled that our Lord had allowed us to adopt, children are a blessing from Him, and yet, we feel overwhelmed, discouraged, drained, name it, we are it.

If we do inform you (which barely happens, remember, we're grateful), about our real state of condition,  we could easily live without those  comments like, "Yeah, they come with a lot of baggage", "You wanted it that way", "Oh, you'll be able to manage", to well meant practical advice as " Well, just force her to wear that jacket, shoes, eat that food, etc", and "Be understanding and give it time". HAH!

August 29, 2012

Who We Are

We all have them. Moments of regret. Moments of overwhelmed. Moments of, well, wanting to claw someone's eyes out for something stupid they've just said. We have moments when we are overcome with love for our little non-biological and we have moments when we....aren't.

We have secret thoughts, us adoptive mothers.

The first one I remember during the wait was, I hope we don't get a dud.

Oh yes I did.

The first one I remember within a few hours after we got a keeper? What have we DONE?

For the LOVE he wouldn't sleep. Did he not know I'd been up for three weeks praying his mother wouldn't change her mind? I needed to freaking sleep! GO TO SLEEP! IT'S 2 AM!

Now we are in the throes of adjusting to a seven year old daughter who has seen more first hand tragedy in her short life than most of us have seen on Netflicks.

Do I have secret thoughts? You betcha. But I also have a safe place where I can say, "Do you ever mourn the nice quiet life that felt so empty last year?" Or, "Do you sometimes want to go back and shake your impatient self and tell her to sit down and eat some ice cream in peace?" And, "Good gravy, she's pulling her permanent teeth for money! Help!"

Sometimes you might find you are asking questions you never thought you'd ask yourself.
Upon seeing that your daughter is missing her uvula (that dangly thing in the back of her throat): what else has been mutilated?
Upon seeing that your 11 month old baby has a five inch scar across his chest: have his organs been harvested?
When your four year old spazzes out about nothing: was this the drugs?

We intend for this to be a community, a safe place of encouragement, where we can share our stories and help one another through.

We like to laugh, too.

Email us your stories. We'd love to post them up. Maybe someone needs to hear what you have to say. If you want to stay anonymous, let us know, and we'll leave you anonymous. If you'd like to link up to your blog, we can do that, too. Be forewarned: don't tell us you want to kill your kids. Anonymous or not, I'll send a psyche counselor and the popo after you. Nothing of that sort will be posted.

Encourage. Laugh. Share.

What are your secret thoughts?