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We are glad you stopped by, we hope you are blessed, and enjoy your stay. We discuss a little bit of everthing here, from homeschool, parenting, adoption, farming, our faith, and our plain lifestyle. May God Bless Your Day!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

When Delays become Disabilities--Part II


Our 7 gifts from God!!
I will say something up front--this has been a harder post to write-it has been on my heart for a LONG time, yet, to put it out there, for the world to see, is hard!
BUT, this last adoption has been hard from day one, and for those of you who read this blog, or correspond with me via email, or know me in real life, you already knew that, so, here goes...

Our last 2 additions to our family, Lili and Rose, came home at much older ages than our other children.
Even though we had done the parenting seminars, and read the books on attachment, and re-read the stuff on orphanage delays and scoured the web for blogs about older child adoptions, and "thought" we were ready, we were extremely humbled to find out, we were NOT ready for what was about to transpire in our home after returning in Jan, 2012 with an almost 7 yr old and a 14 yr old.

I suppose we went into it all with some pretty vague assumptions/hopes/dreams that they would be ready to be parented and become part of a large family.
After all, they had both been in foster homes, instead of orphanages, and we had been skyping and connecting with Rose for some time, so we HOPED there were some bonds being formed already.

Truth be told, I don't think either girl had a CLUE what being part of a family was really all about.
Lili was mainly an only child in her foster home, but the foster parents were more like grand parents, and seemed QUITE permissive, and of course she came home very sick with a months' old sinus infection, so I was not too sure she was even getting the best care she could have, being she was the only one in the home.
Rose was in a loving foster home, and for that we are thankful, but it was only for a couple of her years, not MOST of them, and where she spent most of her years is largely a mystery, although we do know it was MANY different places, and so, knowing how to give and receive love was not something that would come easily for her.
Lili did not like being in a large, noisy family.
She was a loner, liked her space, and wanted ALL the attention.
Rose was used to a quieter home, although there were many with more severe needs than we had in our home, yet we were there, IT WAS MUCH QUIETER than our little boys ever were.
Rose was scared, and although she put up a good front, the fear really came out when it was time for goodbyes. And who can blame her?
Just saying goodbye to our guide in China put her into a tail spin, and she had only know him for a week.
I learned very quickly that Rose hid lots of pain behind a false smile and though she was very eager to please, she also wanted lots of control, and soon became quite manipulative, pouty, and emotional.
We had bouts of both girls wetting the bed. We had kicking and clawing and refusing to do what they were told. I expected to see some of this with Lili, I was totally unprepared to see it in Rose.
We tried havimg them sleep together, but that was a disaster, because Lili would be the most impish little thing when my back was turned, or the lights went out, and that would IRK her sister to no end, causing a whole morning of bad behavior.
Then we put them in different beds, but the 3 girls were all in 1 bedroom-another mistake.
Rose seemed to want to bond with Nick-she had a couple foster brothers she was very close to. Nick had lots of compassion on her, yet soon became weary of the drama, tears, lack of cooperation, and feeble attempts to learn english. Since she had been with english speaking Americans for over 2 years, we hoped she had a better "basic" understanding of english, but we figured out that she would not respond to the english very well in the foster home, so then they would relay everything in Mandarin, and then she was happy.
We had been told Lili had speech delays, and since both boys had apraxia, I didn't think a speech issue was a big deal. But, as we got closer to travel, we got a rather scary video of her, that sent up huge red flags as to the extent of her delays, but what to do?? We were traveling soon, and I had read about parents leaving children behind after meeting them, and DID NOT want to be that parent ( no offense to those who did this, I TOTALLY GET IT), it was just my pride, you know!!!
We had been told Rose was "slow".
HOW I wish I had inquired more deeply into this.
I was prepared for being behind in school, for "slow" in school, yet I was NOT prepared for the social slowness, the actual physical slow moving, eating, talking, the emotional slowness, or the behavioral issues that came with the whole package.
Rose wanted BADLY to conform to our ways, and FIT IN!!
She put on a head covering without any hesitation, and I know she still has no idea why we wear one.
She wanted to dress like Kendell, and quickly shed her skirts and tops she came with.
It took me a couple months to see past the eagerness to conform into a heart that had NO parameters, and wanted NO boundaries put on her.

Even though she was in a fairly strict Christian home when we got her, she was compliant, went with the flow, and did what was expected of her, without any real "drive" to do better. She just did what she did, because that's what she always did!
Once she came into our home, lost her mandarin fairly quickly, failed to acquire english for a LONG time, and lost all desire to 'fit in' and became quite controlling, rebellious, and manipulative.

Well, DUH, you may be saying, she was 14, that's what happens with 14 yr old adoptees, MUCH of the time.
Yes, DUH, How could I have been so ignorant, thinking it wouldn't happen to us?
They came from HARD places.
It's called trauma parenting.
I had read about it, but I hadn't LIVED it, and once you live it, it's called SURVIVAL!!!

Soon, blogs like ONE THANKFUL MOM and Urban Servant and Emppowered to Connect became my lifeline to moms who had been there, done that!!!
Another HUGE lifeline for me was an email group of adoptive mamas of children from hard places who homeschool. Talk about a MAJOR bonus for me!!! I could connect with many other moms almost instantly after sending out an SOS email-it was HUGE when we were in crisis!
And it was incredibly helpful to have those other moms in that email group that had so many of the same issues, and could give me instant support, help, and prayer.
There is nothing like someone who is walking the same walk, to be able to come along side you and lend a shoulder, or an ear, or a prayer, suggest a website, a book, or a possible professional to seek help from.
This is getting long enough, so I will have to continue this into Pts III and IV.
I will get into the actual delays/disabilites of our girls next time, and then, in the final post, I will discuss what we are doing now, and what our plan of attack is to make life work with our 4 special ones!!
Until next time
Be Blessed
Chris




Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Saying Good-Bye to an old friend

Our beloved boxer Sadie passed away 2 weeks ago, Friday night.
She had been sick since the week after Mother's Day, and we suspect cancer, altho the blood work showed MANY things wrong with her, probably all stemming from a tumor inside.
She was such a wonderful, trusted, reliable, loving friend.
We miss her terribly.
I still look at her rug by the door and wonder where she is.
She has been with us for 10 1/2 years, and for boxers, that is a pretty long time.
We are thankful she was happy and healthy up until the last 6 weeks, and I am very thankful she did not seem to suffer or linger at the end.
I suspect our hunting cross is missing her, but the 2 young boxers are really showing her lots of attention and keeping her busy with their 2 yr old antics:)
We are no longer the crazy family with 4 dogs, now we only have 3, and who ever heard of having a hunting dog in the house???
Ever since we moved, Reggie has not adjusted to sleeping outside again-so, we deal with it, as she is 9 too, and someday, life will only consist of the 2 "nuts" as we affectionately call the younger 2.


Only in OUR home would you find 4 dogs sleeping on the kitchen floor!!
Or penned up when there is company here.
Sadie, we miss you, Boxers are such great companions, and they LOVE children.
She would never have hurt one of the children, no matter how obnoxious they behaved to her.
She got a proper burial the next day, between 2 trees.
Nick said he is saving a spot next to her for Reggie someday:)
(I'm not too sure what Reggie would think of that???)
She almost made it to her 11th birthday.
We miss our old friend-even our special kiddos have asked where she is, although it took them several days to notice she was not around. Zaya still asks about her, but the beauty of growing up on a farm is that they do experience life and death more often than children in the city, so it is a fact of life, animals do die.
AND, there are no plans, at all, for adding to our brood of dogs.
THREE is more than enough, especially when 2 are "the nuts"!!!

and Part II of the series will be coming shortly, its in the works now:)
Blessings
Chris for all 9 of us

Saturday, July 5, 2014

When Delays become Disabilities--Part I


My Precious Blessings!!
I never in a million years ever expected to be a mama to 7 treasures.
When our infertility issues lasted for so many years, and we didn't become parents until well into our 30's, and most of my high school friends had children graduating when I had baby showers, I would have thought, 2-3--

But God!!

When we first began the adoption process, our farming was our lifeblood, and we insisted on "healthy" children, because we were sure, due to the demands of farming, that we NEEDED healthy children...and were tremendously blessed with Kendell and Nicholas-both have had excellent health, they both have tremendous minds, and came home at 1 1/2 and 2 1/2, both within 365 days.
They got all the snuggles, all the bedtime stories, all the room decorating, all the bazillion toys and all the showers of attention from extended family and our many friends that any biological child would have received.





I was an instant mom of virtual twins, and loved it.
They were TOTALLY loved and accepted, instantly, and there was never a question about their future. They were bright, they were healthy, they were joyful, they were FUN to be around, and our little picture of "NORMAL" was as we envisioned-

Then we moved, and didn't think any more children were in the plans, when all of a sudden, both Chuck and I had just a HUGE desire to add to our family.
Kendell was baby nuts, at  8 yrs old, and we began the process again, this time with a different agency, and a different country.
After MUCH prayer and seeking God's direction, we selected an infant program in Taiwan, thinking a baby was surely in our future.
Within a few months, altho there were many referrals to other families of very little babies, we still waited.
Until a wonderful day in early Aug, 2007, when we got a call about a little lad who had JUST turned 3, and had JUST been relinquished by a very young birth mom. "Would you consider a 3 yr old?" our agency asked us???
Almost without hesitation, because the NIGHT before, we had prayed for God's direction, and to hear Him clearly, we KNEW this was for us, and we began the wait to bring home Tyler, our totally joyful, healthy, and creative now almost 10 yr old!!!

Surely, our parents thought, we were done now!!!
I guess we thought, "Well, maybe???"

And then, I got a HUGE yearning for a baby girl, and we thought, OK, maybe one more???
As we perused the internet, considering available children, we both began to feel something different this time.
We felt so blessed to have 3 such wonderfully healthy children, what if God was calling us into a special needs adoption?
We fell in love with a little face, and our journey into the world of Special Needs was off and running.
We bathed this decision in prayer, we sought godly counsel from godly friends, we begged God to make this clear for us.
And everything went so quickly-the placing agency in Taiwan said YES to our request in 1 day-unheard of!!!
Funds fell into place, in the midst of one of the WORST years of farming we had lived through!!!
We searched the internet about brain injuries, and heart issues, as our treasure had a baby brother who had a supposed heart condition, and we waited an excruciatingly long time to finally get a picture of our littlest son,

Who had no diagnosis, other than tachycardia-an extremely fast heart rate, and he was on HORRID meds to correct that.
We knew so little about them, but we knew the birth mom had issues, so we were prepared (or so we thought) for more cognitive issues for both boys.
In the beginning of this adoption, I had agreed with God that 2 boys were for our family, and I readily laid down my dreams for a baby girl. If this was what God wanted for us, then I was on board with Him, 100%.
Once we traveled in May and June of 2010 to bring our boys home, we found an extremely TINY little baby, who could not even sit up yet at 16 months old, without support, and who could not tolerate many food textures and who had no idea how to receive love and attention.
Isaiah was a sweet boy from day one, very gentle, very quiet, very compliant, while his baby brother was, definitely the poster boy for the slogan, "Dynamite comes in small packages"

We did have reservations about his delays, but without any concrete diagnosis, and virtually no medical info other than about his heart condition, we resolved to give both boys the best home we could, and hope and pray for the best.
Well, Isaac made little bits of progress over the next year, but was quite delayed, and we finally agreed to take him to a neurodevelopmental clinic his second year home to determine the extent of his delays, and see when he would "catch up"
Isaiah had been diagnosed with cognitive issues from the same clinic a few months earlier, as he had a double whammy, a piece missing in his brain, and a brain injury. He would proceed, slowly, to hopefully a 12 yr old level, and we hoped Isaac would fare with a better test result.
However, we were quite shocked when his chromosome test came back abnormal.
Our little man, our baby, was going to receive a label too, with cognitive impairment, severe speech apraxia, extremely small stature, and extensive delays of motor skills, like dressing, potty training, etc...

A brain MRI showed no similar damage as Isaiah's, so we had to begin attributing all of his behaviors to the chromosome disorder. The ADHD, the obsessive, compulsive attitudes, the extreme LACK of impulse control, the poor oral motor skills, including eating and speaking, the obsession with throwing things, and spinning things, and WATER!!!!(probably not an official diagnosis for this, but it sure ties into the lack of self-control our little man has!!)
As we sat in with the Dr's when they gave us all their findings, we were floored.
Not because we didn't know something was off kilter, but because they made it sound SO BAD!!!
They said he could easily be the most impacted by disabilites (as they had already met our 2 girls, but we didn't have a diagnosis for each of them yet).
Our heads were spinning, our emotions were on overload, and all we wanted to do was scream, NO!!!
Not Isaac. He will grow up, he will speak, he will stop some of those incredibly insatiable habits of his-someday!!
Now, 2 years later, we see things a bit differently.
We see that many of his quirks will only get more intense.
His impulsiveness gets more alarming the bigger and quicker he gets.
Although he is learning many things, he is probably on a 3 yr old level for many skills.
He is learning simple things like the letters, and their sounds-and I think his love affair with an ipad is having some huge impact on this-his cuteness is still carrying him through many rough behavioral days, Isaiah's laughter is still overriding his need to hit Isaac.
They are still little, they are still cute.
But what will the future hold for them, and for us?
To be continued....


Our 3 Little Buds!!!
Tyler is soooo good with them, and loves them, no matter what!!


Blessings
Chris



Sunday, June 1, 2014

A disability meets a duckling


We have 4 children with disabilities. Some days it seems to go smoothly, some days it doesn't.
Since Rose had her surgery, Lili has been filling in on the chore end, helping Tyler with calves and chickens, and she also has to fill up the silage cart with silage so the milkers can feed the cows.
The first 10 days, she did a FABULOUS job. The last 10 days, NOT SO GOOD!!
In fact, each day has had some sort of ISSUE with her chores.
Mostly, she is just lazy, and doesn't want to do much, but still, we always require a certain amount of chore help from all the children-it builds character:)
It seems that she has gone backward in comprehension, as well as desire, and almost looks for ways to be difficult. Dawdling would be a very KIND word to use-and I do have a purpose in all this, so bear with me!
We also had a set of ducklings born about a week ago, and we are so thrilled to see them waddling all over the yard with their mama.

Lili's cognitive impairment ranges quite a bit, as does Rose's, and so sometimes, we just get commplacent and forget that inside, there is a brain that wants to be independent. Most of the time, we see the total dependence on us for SO MUCH, like bathing, washing and doing hair, instructions in most daily tasks, issues with vocabulary, etc...and then there is a day when she tries something totally out of character, and we are flabbergasted.
Like trying to catch a duckling...and they DO NOT want to be caught-it is a real challenge for any of the bigs to catch one, so how she actually chased one down and was able to pick it up, we will never know.
All we know is the outcome was a squished, thrown down, dead duckling. And so now, instead of watching the mama hover around her 7 babies, she now has 6, and we were all quite sad.
And yes, Lili was supposed to be doing a job when she decided to tackle the duckling, and no, she was not having a good morning already, as NOTHING was getting done well, even with supervision.
SOOOOOO,
My question to all my bloggy friends with disabled children,
How do you handle their laziness, their lack of direction even when doing simple chores, and their lack of comprehension that they did something really wrong????
Lili has been showing SO MUCH language lately, using words that just floored me, and then, she just goes TOTALLY backward.
All of a sudden, even simple things evade her.
I look forward to some help here, as it is an issue that kind of runs through all 4 of them,
the serious ups and downs in comprehension, ability, desire, etc...
But, this is the first causalty, and we really hope to keep it that way:)

My sweet little girl, almost 9 years old, I so wish I could get inside your head and see what makes you tick!!!
We love you, we want to guide you to as complete a life as you are capable, but we are stumped sometimes.
Blessings
Chris for all 9 of us!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A bit of a scare...

Tuesday night, I was sure I was the worst mother that ever walked through a bone graft surgery with their child!!!
Rose told me she had pain in her front gum, and when I looked, I about had a stroke!!! I saw LOTS of white, and after last week's Dr's visit, when he said most of the sutures were dissolving and would be gone soon, I never expected to see any at almost 3 weeks post-op!
I was sure the tissues were separating over the bone, and she was running her tongue over it alot, because it hurt, but, still not something you want to do.
After a very sleepless night for me, I called the clinic right away the next morning. The surgeon got us in that afternoon at 1:30, and....
He was thrilled to report that the tissue was looking FINE, it was simply some badly deteriorating sutures that should be gone, or almost gone by now, that were mushy, and getting infected. There was even a little pocket of pus above the sutures that he opened up. He then proceeded to remove all the remaining mushy stiches, and Rose feels like a new girl now:)
And I am one happy MAMA---She is on antibiotics, and we will go back to softer foods for another week, which she is NOT happy about, she is dying for a tortilla chip!!!
We are all smiles, as we see God's protective hand in this, as I really was sure she was going to need new stiches, or something, to pull the tissues together again over that bone-ya know, sometimes, our minds are our WORST enemies!!!
Rose has been doing SO well, and with limited activity, still able to be a part of our farming operation, even if it only involves watching the little boys, but she is outside, walking around, picking rocks in our new garden, and today, she wants to help plant the potatoes.
Her hip has healed so nicely, she is walking completely normally now, and even picking up the pace from her original protective shuffle:)

She is all smiles, and I am feeling blessed.
Have a great day friends!
Blessings
Chris for all 9 of us