Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Worry about yourself!


Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Matthew West - Family Tree

This song is the perfect encouragement for all of us, but especially for kids from hard places... This is the message I want to instill in my son's heart every day of our life together.
Stop the music on the player at the bottom of the blog and take a listen...

Monday, March 05, 2012

Long Time, No Post... Important Info

I haven't blogged in forever, I know.  Honestly, I took a break initially because our computer died...  then Christmas came... then travel hockey season was well underway (which means we were NEVER home) ... then I simply got into the habit of not blogging.

Recently, though, I have felt the pull once again.  I have heard too many horrible adoption stories lately that just break my heart.  Disrupted adoptions because parents have lost hope that their kids can be helped... kids hurting their siblings and parents because they are so hurt/broken/defiant/angy... parents saying they cannot find love for their child.  I have hope that there IS real HOPE for these kids and I need to share it.  Just yesterday, I heard another story of a family struggling.  I was asked to compile a list of resources I feel are/can be most helpful to a family dealing with attachment issues.  I know most adoptive families know about all of this already... but what if they don't?  What if they don't know there is hope?  I feel I must share this E-mail on this blog.

There are several resources I strongly encourage ALL adoptive families to read / look
into.  These resources have changed the ways in which we parent C and have given us a
depth of understanding we would have never had without them.  Lack of early care (and in
many cases abuse mixed in with that lack of care) impedes the development of trust,
self-worth and self-efficacy.  We are all hard-wired from birth to reach out and to seek
comfort / connections with caregivers.  This, in turn, allows strong bonds/attachments to
form.  If  connections do not form or are disrupted, brain development and chemistry is
adversely affected and normal development does not occur.  It floored me when I first
heard out loud that my son's brain is not normal and is severely underdeveloped...  hard
to hear.   Believe it or not, the critical period (8-12 months of age) for this
development happens so early, most orphans are still in orphanages while it is silently
passing them by.  

An orphanage is never even close to being a good environment for a child.  In fact, it is
most often the absolute WORST situation for a child to be in.  Unfortunately, most of our
society is completely unaware of the horrors these kids face.  C had 16 babies in his
group and 1 caregiver.  In most cases (C's included), the kids are drugged daily and
spend 16 hours a day in their cribs.  When they are sick, no one cares for them.   When
they are scared, no one comes for them.  They are often tied down in their beds once they
are mobile (we believe C was).  They are disciplined harshly if they have accidents in
their cribs... C remembers this happening to him  and relates the story with a look of absolute terror on his face (they do not wear diapers in the orphanage).   Clearly something bad happened to him that day.  Many other kids we know of even have physical scars to validate their stories of abuse.  I have seen my own child misbehave for us (as any 25 month-old toddler will do) and then freeze and become spiritless the moment he is reprimanded by a caregiver whispering in Russian in his ear.  These kids are given very little to eat and are given just a few minutes to eat it before it is taken away.  This is so they don't play at mealtime and so there are no messes.  At 25 months of age, C could finish a grown-up sized meal in 2-3 minutes flat AND drink out of a regular cup without dropping a single crumb or spilling a single drop.  Have you ever seen a toddler do that?  If he ever saw someone else drop any food, he would gasp and scramble to get it and shove it in his mouth in a flash.  It has taken 3 years for C to take his time at
meals and to stop crying constantly for food.  All of this to say, these kids are abused
in every sense of the word and every single child coming from an orphanage should be
considered special needs... they will most certainly all have long-term difficulties once
they are finally home with their forever families.  These kids are haunted by
overwhelming feelings of being unloved.  These feelings are particularly confusing and
difficult to work through for a child who has no real memories of the abuse.  And this
history does not even take into account things like Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which is
present in a large number of Russian orphans, and which only further compounds the
problems stemming from this early abuse.

The resources that are critical to gaining an understanding of all I have just detailed
are the following...

1) The Connected Child (the book) / www .empowered to connect.org - Dr. Karyn Purvis (TCU) is absolutely incredible!  I know many parents who have made the journey to have their child evaluated by Dr. Purvis.

2)  Help for the Hopeless Child / www.drfederici.com - Dr. Ronald Federici (located in VA and father to 7 internationally adopted children)  Dr. Federici is THE therapist to
evaluate and write a treatment plan for these kids.
3)  Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control /  Dare to Love /www.beyondconsequences.com - Heather Forbes, LCSW (mother to 2 internationally adopted children)  often does training workshops with Dr. Federici.

4) Attaching in Adoption / Nurturing Adoption / www.deborahdgray.com - Deborah Gray, MSW, MPA  The 10 tips article (under 10 tips tab) is wonderful... even if your child has been home for years.  We still focus on these daily.

5) RAD support group on Facebook to connect with other parents who face the challenge of RAD daily.

6) www.fetalalcohol.blogspot.com

The other critical piece to promoting wellness and healthy attachment ( I very strongly
believe) is speaking words of truth and affirmation over your child daily, both through
prayer and through speaking directly to your child.  Even if a parent is not feeling like
saying these things, it is crucial that the parent pray to see the child as Jesus sees
him/her.  Through Jesus, it is possible to tell your child he IS precious... he IS
smart... he IS loved... he IS cherished... he IS perfect just the way he was created. 
Parents must remember, it is our job to break down the walls of pain and distrust and to
dig through all of that rubble to find that precious child God created.  When C is trying
to fight us and push our love away, we must recognize this and  fight all the harder for
him to let us in.  This requires constant prayer, a huge amount of time and patience, and
a steely determination that can only come from


there is real hope.

Praying for hope and healing,

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

A New Adventure :0)

The day came... despite all of my best efforts to stop it.

Caleb started kindergarten.

And so, I swallowed my tears/panic and mustered a smile.  My smile was encouraged along by Caleb's infectious grin and excitement.  The boy was downright giddy waiting for the bus :0)  C has been watching his brother and sisters go off to school for 3 years and has been waiting for his turn for what seems (to him) like FOREVER.   He has cried countless tears over being left behind.  Funny, because as he was thinking...

Today is FINALLY here!...

I was thinking...

How on earth did this happen so quickly?

I have spent 3 years pulling him close, all the while so concious of super important things like BONDING and ATTACHMENT.  Trying to make up for what was never established during the first 2 years of his life. 

It felt so wrong (crazy almost) to let him go on a big yellow bus and spend all day away from me. 

I breathed a silent prayer... "Lord, please help me to know he will be O.K.... did I do enough?  Will he be able to go to school and not feel like he is back at the orphanage?"

I felt a calm come over me, and in that moment I knew...

God has done the work of opening Caleb's heart.  He KNOWS he has a forever Mommy and Daddy who love him so very much.  He knows he has a friend in Jesus wherever he goes.  I knew he was ready.... and so I prayed I would be too.

I can't say it was super easy to let him go, but I can say that as I watched C climb onto that bus, I was overcome with a feeling of JOY that God had brought him to this place and to this moment.  It may seem like a truly ordinary thing... a child leaving his Mommy and climbing onto a bus to go to school, but it is far from ordinary for a little boy who was born in Russia and spent his first 2 years of life in an orphanage there. 

And so, I witnessed yet another miracle. 

I watched my baby go off to kindergarten :0)

The big kids (A and R in 4th grade and Andrew in 5th)- these 3 are back together in the same school again :0)

Being silly!

C and his best bud are in the same class

Super excited before the bus came!

The end of the day- kindergarten was a success!!!!!  C wore his Bears jersey just for Uncle Myrick :0)

C loves his bus driver and had to wave goodbye :0)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dasvidaniya Adoption Paperwork!

Last week, we completed our court proceedings for Caleb's readoption and finally said dasvidaniya to ALL paperwork regarding C's adoption.

NO.  MORE.  EVER!!!!!!! 

I was super nervous and emotional before walking into court... entering the courthouse brought back a lot of memories of walking into the courthouse in Russia.  As soon as we walked in to the courtroom, though, my feelings quickly shifted to pure JOY.  In Russia, Andrew wasn't allowed in the courtroom, and Caleb was still in the orphanage.  This time, however, Caleb and Andrew were sitting right next to D and I... and we were sitting in a courtroom in our very own beloved country (God bless the USA!!!!!).  It was so special to have them with us, and to know that this time, C is already ours :0)  The thought made me downright giddy!  Obviously my feelings were quite evident, because Caleb just beamed lovingly at me the entire time (sooooo sweet... just melted my heart!).  We had explained to him beforehand what was going to happen and why we were going to court, but it really shocked me that he really seemed to understand.  I loved that C got to be a part of it this time around, and that Andrew insisted on being there with his little brother... that boy makes a momma proud :0)  What an incredible big brother he is!

Anyway, of course the court proceedings went off without a hitch, and afterward, C was invited to sit on the judge's bench for a picture.  That just made his day :0)  We decided to top it all off with a round of cokes afterward, which put C in absolute heaven. Despite all of his best begging efforts, C NEVER gets such a treat! 

The best treat for Mommy and Daddy?  We won't have to ever travel to Russia to get another copy of baby boy's birth certificate. 


C is still talking about this

Wish this had come out...

So handsome!

My sweet baby with sucker goo on his face :0)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Wedding Time!!! Part One...

Well, the much anticipated day finally arrived!  My little sister got married to her high school sweetheart!  We traveled to Maryland just a few days before the wedding and stayed at my parents' house, along with my brother, his wife and my adorable niece and nephew.  My kids were soooooo happy to see their cousins again!  They just love one another so very much :0)  Our trip was wonderful and the wedding was absolutely beautiful!!!!!  Only a few minor hitches...

like Andrew's forehead draining and being INCREDIBLY swollen (the front teeth of a 14 year-old boy slammed themselves into his head on the Fourth of July)...
Ashley coming close to vomiting about 20 times over (starting at the rehearsal dinner and ending the morning after the wedding)... 
Oh- and there were a few other things too...
like the best man being in the hospital during the wedding (I'm happy to report he is O.K. now)...
one of the bridesmaids being involved in a minor fender bender just before the wedding...
one of the bridesmaids dresses thought my sister was bringing her dress for her, so she drove the 3 hours to the coast with no dress on the day of the rehearsal, only to find out that her dress was still back where she started from (a guest was kind enough to go pick up the dress and bring it to the wedding location the day of the wedding).
Overall though, the wedding itself was incredible and the reception was awesome- including the 10 minutes or so the power was out b/c the reception building was hit by lighting right in the middle of the reception- LOL!!!  The kids and guests said this just made the reception MORE awesome.  Even more awesomeness was added to the mix by an INCREDIBLE lightning storm.  Even the wedding photographers were out on the porch just snapping away... can't wait to see these pics!

Did I forget to mention that I could not fulfill my duty as the matron of honor of fluffing and arranging my sister's beautiful gown just so during the ceremony due to the gale force winds from the impending storm?  Seriously, at one point her dress almost took me out, so I decided to save myself and give up.

Oh!  And the best story of all...

I had to rip my sister's gown (unbeknownst to her) just after she arrived at the "alter" (gazebo) because the crinoline had caught on the top concrete step (see the second-to-last pic of Andrew standing at the top of these steps) and the dress unraveled so that my sister was still attached to the top step as the ceremony began.  She didn't believe it until she saw the pictures.  Thank goodness that was captured on film so I am saved from living the rest of my life as the sister and matron of honor who ripped the beautiful bride's very expensive and beloved wedding gown!  Phew!!!!   What a relief!

Anyway, here are the pics taken leading up to the wedding.  You'll have to wait for the wedding and beach pics.  This post is just too long and my children are starving to death (their exaggeration) :0)  :0)

Happy that rehearsal is over :0)
Riley, Trevor, Caleb, Chloe, Nia and Ashley

Lighthouse Sound was a beautiful setting for the wedding

My hubby and brother ready for a delicious crab feast!

Mom and Dad :0)

The kids were HUNGRY!!!!!


Rob was kind enough to pose for me before digging in!

Caleb loved watching the boats and jet-skis

Wedding Day at the beauty parlor for my 2 little beauties

My girls with the beautiful bride

Cousins :0)

Riley and Trevor entertaining one another after pics and before the ceremony

Andrew and Myrick's son, Tristan

Andrew posing with his super swollen forehead :0(

Brothers looking handsome

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Gotcha Forever!

First Gotcha Day- May 30th, 2008
Forever Family Day, June 12th, 2008

First full day home (we actually landed just before midnight on June 11th, but we don't really count that!)

Has it really been three years?  This year, we stuck with tradition and set-up/filled the pool in the backyard, just like we did on the very first day all 6 of us were finally together.  Thank goodness the weather cooperated :0)  The kids had a blast together and we topped off our celebration with a cookout and cupcakes... YUM!
The miracle of C being here with us never escapes me... I always get a little teary-eyed when I think of our journey.  It hasn't always been easy, but I wouldn't change a single detail of the road we have traveled to get here.
We're so glad you're here Dimka-Doodle!!!!!!!!!  We love you so very much!!!!!!!!

Oh my goodness... they were SO little!

Three whole years later...my big boy still loves being in command of the hose.  Still sticks his tongue out too... just like the very first day he ever got ahold of that thing!
The kids just LOVE to play in the pool while it is filling up!
Ashley and Caleb racing across the pool on boogie boards

Waiting for Riley to referee the next race

Ashley and Riley plotting

Ashley taking the race VERY seriously :0)
Cupcakes for Forever Family Day