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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Serenity? or CRISIS!!!!

WHEW, just trying to catch my breath, and realizing it has been so long since we updated anyone on what life has been like around here!
I would like to be writing long, eloquent posts about how WONDERFUL life is on our little farm, and how quaint, quiet, and peaceful it is....
that is not our life.
I am one super-stressed out mama, trying to figure out how to mesh personalities, emotional, mental and physical differences and call it FAMILY!!!
SO far, it has not been good, and we are barely surviving.
We have spent most of the past 6 months in crisis mode, and while I feel I have been reeling from crises for the past 6-7 years, there have been some very REAL challenges the past few months that have left me empty, black circles under my eyes, an ache in my heart for dreams lost, and emotions so overloaded that I don't know a good day from a bad one anymore, they all run together, and they usually aren't very good.
Life is about surviving a crisis EVERY DAY!!!
The emotional crises that drive a person to their knees, or else makes you bitter and hard, and I have been heavy into bitter and hard lately.
The dream of farming along our children has not taken the route we had hoped for, as there just isn't enough of any of us to go around to do everything that needs doing.
Marriage woes, older child worries, young child issues, financial concerns, and you add it all up, and one would have to wonder, WHAT HAVE WE DONE????
Years of adoptions, selling farms, and moving have taken their toll on our pocket book, our emotions, and our physical and mental strength.
I have read that many marriages don't survive all the crises that we have been thru, and while we are holding on, and knowing God has better in mind for us, how to get there is unfathomable at the moment.
God seems distant, older youth are growing distant, newer additions are constantly adding challenges, most recently, continuous MAD cycles, where EVERYTHING makes her mad, and now she is mad at God for bringing her here from China.
The anger, somberness, orneriness, and lashing out at the little ones has us quite concerned.
The emotional peaks and valleys she goes thru are mind boggling to a parent, much less a sibling.
Then, there are the non-verbals, and how they interact, and how they seek attention, and how they DEMAND attention, in the midst of a crisis.
This is not a nice post to write, and it has not been a nice life to live.
This is not how we dreamed it would be.
But, this is our life right now, and boy, I want OFF!
I am venting, in hopes of getting some clarity as I write. Keeping it all inside has been a KILLER to my mind and heart this summer. But who do you talk to, when no one close has been thru anything like this?
I scour blogs looking for hope, for ideas, for inspiration.
yet, time is so limited, resources are quite minimal at the time, and desire is sorely lacking, as I have seemed to settle into a complacency that is kind of scarey-or maybe its got a medical term like anxiety or depression, neither of which I really want to deal with either.
I do know who is in charge, and I know He has a bigger plan, but how to get there from here is beyond the scope of my understanding.
Will you stand in the gap for us?
Will you pray?
Will you offer wisdom if you are btdt??
We are a family in CRISIS,  hurting, wanting more, but not knowing how to get it!
Thanks for listening.
Much Love


Heidi said...

Oh dear Chris,
You have written such an honest blog post that I'm sure many would be afraid to write for fear of judgement. I don't have near the number of kids, but we definitely face some major issues with our boy (age 9 adopted at 7) once in a while that are scary and hard. After 2 1/2 years of being home you would think we'd be past some of these things. He has definitely come very far compared to where he was then. I have to remember that. I remember thinking "what have we done" many times. Even yesterday we had an eruption in our house and I heard those very scary and painful words. "I wish you were not my mom" "I want to go back to China" He tore pictures of me and his dad out of a photo album we made for him and threw them in the garbage. (just bein real).
The difference??
He recovered more quickly. And by the end of the night we were cuddling on the sofa. And he was telling me he loved me again.
I say this to encourage both of us. Because I do think that over time we get little windows of encouragement with these kiddos. And we have to continually remember where they came from. And the fact that there will always be unanswered questions about their history which affect how we relate. And that we ourselves may need HELP!

November is adoption awareness month.
I have friends posting all kinds of amazing comments about adoption. I have also posted some. But, perhaps someone should post some "real" truths like your post. IT'S HARD!
This is one I actually liked.

"A child born to another woman calls me mommy.The magnitude of that tragedy & the depth of that privilege are not lost on me."
-Jody Landers

I actually wrote this thought on my mirror in my bathroom a few weeks ago to remind myself that the calling God has placed on us is a privilege. When I'm feeling overwhelmed and when I question what we've done I remember this wasn't simply something we "should" do...it was a privilege we took on because God called us to it. Deep breath in . Deep breath out.

I wish I could come over to your farm and sit and and coffee. I wish you had someplace to go for a few days of respite.
I actually sent my son to school last January.
Do I get to admit that some of the reason was for MY sanity? I need that time each day.
Do I think it's the "best" education for him? probably not and we are working out those kinks even now. But, we both needed that away time each day.
I also found that he was used to that kind of structure for the few years of school he had there and homeschooling drove him nuts. (it was just him and me tho)

I will pray you find some respite.
(if you want to come to Georgia...let me know...I have a spare room=) Just get here and I'll take care of the rest...=) hmm as in "the remaining" and as in "the being still"

That's a real invitation by the way.

Love you sister.
And I don't techincally "know" you...=)
I am praying today for a window of Peace for you and your family. I'm praying you will see God's goodness and Mercy.


A Swavely said...

So sorry that you and your family are going through this. Thank you for sharing your heart so honestly. It's wonderful to hear the core truth even though it's hard and even harder to live.

Wish there was a magic pill to make it all better instantly, but.... Just some thoughts...make sure your first focus is on God. Be open and honest with Him about your situation and how it makes you feel. But try to keep your focus on Him. Then your marriage. If the two of you aren't on the same page, everything will be monumentally harder. When you're working together as one, the children will notice.

I know that's only two things, but if those two things come together the rest will be a little easier to handle. I'm not saying by any means it'll be easy, but easier.

I'll be praying for you and your family.

kimjax said...

Ditto everything Heidi said. :) I will be praying for you, Chris, because I've felt that God was distant in a similar situation, but hindsight gives me the knowledge that He was near all along...He IS with you now - but the challenges and crises make it very difficult to see. I am sorry for the pain and real suffering you're experiencing right now - when it piles up, it's so hard to trudge on each day. I also sent a child to school for respite - just a year - but enough to give me time to breath and space to recover from her attachment related struggles. The next year she came home to video curriculum - with me - but taught by someone else - giving us the needed space at home and still lots of time to bond. Those days are a distant memory - but I still remember the pain and grief - and I will pray for your situation. Guard your marriage - there is strength in unity. Husbands can become despondent when they can't "fix" things for you. :( Call me if you need to vent - I"m hear to listen. Blessings to you all. Kim

Difference2This1 said...

Chris....so here in these trenches with you along with many others. You may feel alone and isolated in this situation and your feelings but I can assure you, you are not. There is no quick fix or nugget of wisdom I can pass to make it all better; but I can say I agree with our friend, Kim. Guard your marriage. And guard it above the kids...because you two have to stick together on this or else everyone falls apart. You have my prayers in this.... Jennifer

Hope Anne said...

Before a friend asked me to go read your blog, I posted a blog post of my own today: http://bringingkatyahome11.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-tough-times-of-parenting-child-with.html

I am hearing a lot of pain in your post, and am praying for you. Please reach out to good people in the adoption community for support and resources! I would be happy to help you with that! Get in touch with me if you like. phdfam@gmail.com

christieminich said...

Dear Chris,
I am so sorry that weariness and exhaustion has claimed a place in your family.

There most certainly is hope... even when our dreams are dashed and we are thinking, "what in the world have we done!" there is our Savior. He knows.

We too have a large family, just not all at once. :)
We have 4 married sons, and 4 daughters who have come from hard places. 1 from Foster Care at 5.
1 from Ukraine, but was in another family that disrupted. She was 5 too.
Her best friend from Ukraine, who was almost 8, and then 2 1/2 years ago, we adopted another girl who was originally from Russia. She had 2 failed adoptions before us. This makes us her 5th placement, if you include her bio family and the orphanage. :( We adopted her at 11 years old.
I don't know if you know who Karyn Purvis is, or not. She is a believer, and also the director for Child Development at TCU.
She has dedicated her life to children from hard places.

What she shares is very, clearly, in line with Christian teaching, and also in line with brain science regarding children who have been traumatized.

We also have a lot of personal experience that I share regularly.
I have had a family blog since 07, but just separated it to private because my girls are getting older and I wanted to protect their privacy more.
Instead, I write at:

There are links there under educational sites to Empowered To Connect.

Being overwhelmed,makes it so hard to process things, and shutting down, is not the answer; of course you know that!

You have been blessed with 7 children! And you have been blessed to have the Lord use you in their lives.
Everybody sounds like they are grieving. You are grieving your dream of a family that works together on a farm... your daughter is grieving the loss of her country and the promise of a happy child hood too.

Grief speaks VOLUMES and it shows up in despair, depression, aggression, and more.

It is NOT hopeless. You can start THIS moment... to allow the Lord to remove any bitterness, any anger, any idol that might be there, and then set to lead your family through the wilderness to the Promised Land!

You are your children's guide.

I am praying for your family.

Debberoo said...

Chris, I'm so sorry, thinking of you all and hoping you are able to access the help and support you all need.

Meg said...

This book has helped us: "Tired of Yelling" by Lyndon Waugh.

I am praying for you.

Amy Cubbage said...

Hi Chris!

My name is Amy. You don't know me, but I came across your blog post and can tell how hard things are right now.

I am also an adoptive parent of a little girl from China. She had numerous emotional issues and had a tremendously difficult time adjusting to life in our family. It's been five years and we are just now finding some equilibrium. It's a long haul for some of us.

It's very hard for these kids, and their grief, as Christie said, will manifest as despair, depression, aggression, and more. As awful as it is in the moment, in some ways this is completely normal!

I would very much encourage you to check out Dr. Purvis's resources, which should not offend your religious beliefs, and give yourself and your kids some grace. God is full of grace and love, but sometimes we forget to extend God's grace to ourselves. Be good to yourself. This is tough stuff. Keep reaching out for help!

Diane said...

Hi Chris. I am so sorry to hear that it's rough right now. I have heard Karyn Purvis speak and also recommend her. I have read a lot of posts lately of families who have adopted and are struggling right now so please know that you are not alone. I truly believe that God does not give more than we can handle and that by going through these struggles, we come out more like his Son. But, from personal experience, I know how hard and painful it is. To walk by faith and not by sight is so very difficult for me. I will be praying for you and Chuck. Thank you for posting how hard life is right now. We all want everyone to think that everything is perfect when it is not. Please vent away and keep asking for support. Have you talked to the adoption agency? I know in your case, there are several but they might have some resources to help. We have reached out to Gladney with some of our challenges and they have provided some helpful insight. Don't give up. Diane

Vicky said...

I am adding my prayers!

Anonymous said...

Chris, this is Tammy from Mississippi. You are not alone. I can't tell you when the struggles will stop, as we are 4 1/2 years into the adoption of a child with VERY similar issues. Every single time we offer her a path to goodness, she alters it to fail. If you can picture this: Failure has become her success. Our daughter feels successful if she tears down the house of wisdom, so to speak. The elusive "key" to stopping this cycle is unknown to me at this time. All I can do is live each day focusing on things other than the constant "success at failure" that the RAD kid has. There are absolutely NO consequences that ever work with our daughter. She really has to make her own decisions and follow her own path, and I have to stand back and let her. Have you tried to put the child in public school? I would start there. That will give you some breathing room. hugs, and prayers, Tammy

Penny said...

No BTDT wisdom, but this Jewish mom reading in Boston will be praying for you.

Lillie Family said...

I am sorry, you are right...adoption is HARD. And you have a lot of kids. and a hard job of farming.

Def. give yourself some grace and some time away. Whatever you can do to get through everyday. You need to protect yourself - your family needs you. I am praying things get better and you feel the peace of God during these tough transition times.

Annie said...

Oh my dear friend, Chris. I have not been blogging for months now due to just the business of life, but something told me to log in today and go and check your blog. I wish I had eloquent words. I wish I could give you advice or show you the way out of this exhaustion and brink of despair your are swimming in. Everything you said is honest and has merit. The one thing I CAN do is pray. I am going to be lifting your family up in prayer big time. I will start tonight by praying Psalm 91 over you all tonight. "....surely He will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence, He will cover you with His feathers so that under His wings you WILL find refuge, His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will NOT FEAR the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by midday, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday..."

We are all here for. Wish I could stop by in person!!

Chris said...

Chris, I wish I could offer you a bunch of wisdom, but all that I was going to say has been said here already. I really second the advice of being on the same page as your husband. And maybe a year or two of school by someone else (public or private) especially for your struggling students. Adoption is HARD...something like "extreme parenting". I will add you to my prayer list...wish we lived closer too. --another Chris

Anonymous said...

Hello Chris,

I have never posted to your blog before though I have been reading it off and on for at least two years.
First of all, I am so sorry to hear about your situation. Thank you for being so honest! It is really hard for me to know what to say. Although I know families who have adopted, we have not done so personally, and so I have no experience in this area. But I am hoping that somehow I can VERY humbly offer some advice that MIGHT help in some small way.
I was thinking that it might help if there were a sister in Christ or a close family member who would be willing to come to your house for one week to help with the cooking, cleaning, and child care to give you (and your husband) some time to really consider your options. It would definitely have to be someone who would be non-judgemental and a real servant! Also, as you sort out all the details and try to implement a new plan, it would probably be helpful to take a break from homeschooling until the new year. I am even thinking Kendall and your oldest son should probably help make some decisions (and you could speak to each one of them privately) since they contribute so much to the running of the household & farm. They might have some great ideas!
Next, as several ladies mentioned, it might be just what you need to have some "breathing room" by sending the younger children to some type of school. As things get sorted out during the rest of the school year, you could begin to plan on how to reintroduce each one to homeschooling. Or, maybe Isaac needs to have some type of tutor at home through some type of public assistance program while the rest of the younger children attend school.
I know this sounds scary, and since we also homeschool, public school sounds very scary, but I can't think of another way without spending a lot of money.
Is there someone who would be willing to help you out for a couple hours break on a regular basis for the rest of the school year after you set a plan in place? That could help you feel a bit more at ease--just knowing someone will be there to help sometimes? You might be able to do some one-on-one time with Kendall or your son during that time too.
I would love to help since we live near the Hudson/East Twin Cities border (and that can't be too far from where you are), but my husband would think I am crazy, and our schedule during the school year is hectic. Perhaps over the summer if you are still in need.
In the meantime, I will be praying for you and your family. You have a lot on your plate and I can't imagine anyone would find it easy to face what you are facing! I know it's hard because you do not feel like the Lord is with you, but just know He is! Don't give up the fight for you and your family! Keep crying out to God for the answers you need! I will pray He will answer you soon!


Robin said...

My heart is heavy reading about your struggles. I wanted you to know that I am thinking and praying for you all. You are an amazing mother with an incredibly hard path right now. My family adopted an older child with many struggles and it was hard on all of us. Speaking as an older child in that situation I really craved the old normal before the the chaos came. If you can bring some more "normal" back for your older kids I know that would mean the world to them. I read the suggestion that you take advantage of the public school system and think that sounds like a good thing for either a short time or as long as it takes to get some breathing room. Please post when you can.

rivendell61 said...

Chris, this is Colleen (we've met at the Hillsboro homeschool group). The Spirit led me to look up your blog this morning. I am going to be praying for you. I have not btdt! but since I know what it's like to raise a family without all the unique challenges you and Chuck are facing, I can imagine how messy it can get. If you need someone locally to do something specific, please get in touch. You know other moms from the Hillsboro group who have servant hearts--I'm sure any of them would help if they knew you needed them. cllnmanning09@gmail.com

Candace said...

I read this tonight and my heart literally hurt for you and your family. I just want to assure you of a few things. First, raising 7 children is an incredibly hard task... then add in that most of them are all fairly recently adopted and most need special attention because of their needs and no wonder you are always dealing with crisis. I think it is completely normal and to be expected in shoes like yours. I say this so that you may get a little relief or joy in the fact that things are probably fairly normal around your house. My 13 year old biological child is going through puberty right now and he is moody, angry, at times a bully, lashes out, etc. At first it concerned me until I talked to other parents who assured me it was normal and hormonal and would pass at some point. The preteen/teen years are already a confusing, roller coaster time for a child but add to that identity issues because of adoption and you can expect hard times. It WILL get better. I have had to learn to not take it personally and to realize much of it is beyond my boy's ability to control. I keep praying for a patient attitude, and one that understands, as a parent, how difficult this transition into adulthood can be.
I have faced some pretty desperate times in my life and the only advice I have to offer... the only way I came out on the other side... was getting on my face before God every morning. Before I even got out of bed, I would cry out and let Him know how desperate I was for Him. It didn't make everything easy and pie in the sky, but it did bring His faithfulness into the equation...daily faithfulness. It's not about what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow... it is living each day fully dependent on Him for that moment's breath. When you come out on the other side, you see that all along the way He had a plan and you look a little bit more like Jesus.
I wish I could offer a fix all to your situation. You sound desperate and I only know One place to go when I am at desperate... to the throne... constantly... until He answers. You need His guidance and direction continually. Feelings don't matter... God's truth is that He is NEVER distant. The enemy would like for you to believe that He is because that means he can further wreak havoc. Don't give him the satisfaction. Stay on your face before the throne. I know from experience... I promise that He will come through. It may not be tomorrow, but things will get better. He will lead, He will guide, He will show up. I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.
Praying for you as you face tomorrow... because He lives, you can!! There is ALWAYS hope. I pray He sends it to you moment by moment. With hope you can keep moving forward.

Candace said...

Also check out Ann Voscamp's blog. She is constantly encouraging me to find the things to be thankful for. If your focus can be the positive and the daily blessings of God, then everything changes. www.aholyexperience.com

The Stein Family said...

Dearest Chris, of all the blogs out there yours is one of my favorite because you are so transparent and real when you write. I will pray for you!

Parenting children from hard places is so---well---hard! Yes, there are blessings in the muck, but they are hard to enjoy sometimes because of the muck. I know you understand this, but even children who are adopted as newborns come with the trauma of abandonment at the very least. This alone is a huge thing to deal with! I highly recommend Dr. Karyn Purvis and her book Empowered to Connect. If you don't have time to read it right now, she has some very short and free videos on her website, www.empoweredtoconnect.org. We have two adopted children, both from China, one when she was 8.5 months old (she is 8.5 years old now),and one when she was 9 (she is 10 now and has been home 9.5 months). We have a son who is 9. We don't have as many kids as you--I can't even imagine how hard that must be right now--but I understand what you are going through.

Don't retreat into a shell. If you have people close by geographically who have btdt, go to them! Let them help you. They get it and I promise they will want to help. Love you Chris and again I will be on my knees for you, asking the Great Healer to give you and your husband strength, peace and even miracles if that is what you need right now.

K said...

Chris, I feel for you so deeply! There is no quick-fix answer and I'm sure you've tried so many things. Without knowing specific behaviors, I cannot give advice, but when going got so bad for my family, I did go to a highly recommended attachment therapist and she taught me many things that were immensely helpful. You are welcome to email me if you'd like her name because she does Skype sessons. My parenting style was similar to her recommendations, but taken a few steps further.

You are welcome to email and exchange phone numbers with me, too. Perhaps our kids can talk to one another in Chinese and gain insight and help from each other.

I'll be praying for you! If you possibly can, see if anyone from church can come over and watch your kids while you and your husband go out and get a little respite. Even if you just go for a drive or park and sit and enjoy the peace for an hour or two. Reconnect with each other first, then, as a united front, work on connecting with the kids. A lot of older adopted kids have divide and conquer techniques that put stress on marriages and other relationships. Don't allow it!

Set aside some time each day for each child to be in their rooms, quiet, if possible, while you take 5 minutes or more to sit and breathe. You'd be surprised at how a tiny little thing like this can help. My social worker put me onto this. And an older sister missionary who had 10 kids herself told me to turn on my music! I did and what a difference! It kept me at a pace I could deal with, even when I wanted to explode. If you're still schooling, take time off. Do whatever it takes to nurture yourself back to where you can feel things are just a little better.

Financial issues are hard and stressful and don't go away easily.

I'm sorry things are so hard for you right now. I'll remember you and your family in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you and hoping things are moving in the right direction.