Friday, August 30, 2013

Unexpected Blessings

I have had many unexpected blessings lately.

When in the midst of crisis or grief, one can become hardened, or live in a state of fear that another difficulty is right over the horizon. I was there just a few weeks ago, tearing up daily, dreading another heart breaking event.

Fortunately, those times pass, and healing comes. Ms. D and some other teen girls graduated from their group therapy Tuesday night. As I looked at the faces of some of the other parents, I could see a difference between the ones who were newly joining the group, and those of us who were ready for the next phase of therapy. I saw the hurt, the wiping of silent tears from the eyes, on the faces of the parents who were new to the group. The rest of us were smiling and cheerful. I realized then how much we have healed.

After emerging from the time of crisis, I have a better outlook on life. Instead on focusing on what is difficult or annoying, I've been searching for the good. It is getting easier and I have received blessings that I haven't expected.

Mr. D and Ms. I were very well behaved during our vacation. They were helpful and courteous, despite being stretched beyond their comfort zone. Ms. D hiked to the top of Multnomah Falls and Mr. I helped clean up, not only after himself, but others too! Their behavior was better than I could have hoped, and I was able to get some real rest.

I went to a gathering of my old homeschool group yesterday at a park. The families blessed me and my former co-leader with cards, gifts, and touching words of encouragement and thanks. I have tears of joy just thinking about the time and the awesome women of our group.

We had our anniversary this week. Both Hubby and I, because we were on vacation schedule, didn't realize that our anniversary was Wednesday until my sister sent us her greetings. So yesterday Hubby and I went out on a date. We went to eat adult food at a Thai restaurant. We were able to eat brown rice and spices! If you have children who are picky eaters, you would understand what a blessing that is! Afterwards, we walked through town and were unexpectedly blessed by a dance on the streets of Morgan Hill. What's even more special is that the band played 1970's music, which was the era we were in high school and married. We sat on a park bench nearby and were able to to listen to the music and the sound of a splashing fountain as we talked. We didn't expect the concert, but it added to our festivities.

There have been more blessings, and I'm trying to focus on those. It helps me to enjoy life and love those around me. I am happier when I acknowledge the blessings, both large and small.

Monday, August 26, 2013

I'm Back!

I've been quiet here for over a week. No, I didn't fall into the sea, though we did visit it. Our family went on a vacation to visit the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

View from the in-laws' farm

I was able to truly relax and recharge, even though we were quite busy with visiting relatives and sightseeing. Ms. D and Mr. I had a taste of farm life, which included being able to drive!

Oh, I have already written more about our vacation than what Ms. D has written for her first day of school! Even homeschool kids can't get out of the writing prompt, "What I Did on My Vacation." I had to do the same when I was young and so do they!

We are starting our homeschool today in the midst of unpacking and cleaning. I have a ton of mail to sort through, bills to pay, and laundry to do. We got a late start this morning because we arrived home at 11:30 last night and I was to wired on caffeine and driving to fall asleep right away. I can't find the math book, and Mr. I is about to wake up at eleven o'clock to Hubby hammering. But I am determined to get some schoolwork started!

I plan to write more in the coming days as we settle down in a rhythm and I collect pictures from the other people on our vacation. But now I have to get some things done!

Friday, August 16, 2013

What a Week!

This week was a roller coaster, with beautiful highs, terrifying falls, and unexpected turns. We had a child who did some dangerous things, who also ran out of the building during a therapy appointment, yet was calm and regulated by the end of the week. I was blessed with a daughter in law, friends, daughters, and therapists who talked to my teen and reinforced what we parents were saying, even when they didn't know the whole story. The change of behavior and attachment has been amazing.

I had another teen who was disappointed we couldn't send him to a private school at this time. He seemed to take the news better than I had anticipated. I am amazed by the maturity and insight he has had lately. He even made some chocolate covered strawberries for the family this afternoon after a hard morning of taking care of children who woke him up with their screeching.

All this happened while we were preparing for a vacation, planning for the coming school year, watching extra children, and getting the house and garden clean, repaired, and organized. We also took friends and family to the airport for early morning flights, and stayed up much to late talking about life. This week was full of anger, fear, love, avoidance, and difficult choices. I had migraines and insomnia, and had to eat a dinner alone at a park and pray with friends one evening to keep my own sanity. We had a gamut of emotions and experiences, yet it is all working out in the end. I haven't handled everything perfectly, yet others have filled in the gaps. There are parts of this week I'd rather not repeat. But if those events can be used to teach and keep my children safe, then it will be worth it.

This week been a crazy ride, but it is ending more peacefully. I am so ready for our vacation!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Under My Skin

I am not going to let Ms. D's latest escapade get under my skin. I am determined not to get depressed over bad behavior. I am not going to worry myself over something I have little control.

Yesterday Ms. D made some pretty bad decisions. Fortunately Hubby caught her in the act and took care of things. He has shielded me from the worst, knowing that it would be too much, too soon for me to handle. He is right. I haven't recovered sufficiently from the last few months. This just crushes any hope for a quick healing.

I knew something was up yesterday. Ms. D was pushing me away in all the little ways that a mother of an attachment disordered child understands. There was a lack of eye contact, a darkness to her features, an inability to make conversation, and a dislike for hugs. She also tried to contact an older birth brother, but his number was out of service. Then, when she asked to walk the dogs in the hottest part of the day while I was busy with cleaning, I knew she had plans to do something destructive. The problem was, I didn't know what that something could be. Hubby came home soon after, so I told him my concerns. He went out and found her doing something I can't describe here. Yes, it was that bad.

I am perplexed that she chose a time so soon after the last crisis. I wonder if she was doing it because she wanted the attention of the birth family, or out of frustration that her older brother either changed his number or lost his phone and didn't contact her. I am having trouble discerning how much she understands, how she thought she could get away with such things, and how much she cares about herself and our family.  I am amused that she did this thing on the front steps of the local Mormon church. I have to find humor somewhere in all of this! We certainly will have something to talk about in counseling tonight and tomorrow.

Right now, I hate fetal alcohol. I hate how it takes away common sense and the ability to make good decisions. I hate how it causes people to be impulsive and have difficulty understanding cause and effect. I hate how it is overshadowing the good in Ms. D, her nurturing, loving, and sweet nature.

I hope we can all heal. I pray that we will be able to keep Ms. D safe and parent our youngest children well. I hope we will be able to make it through this time as a strong family, that we will be united in our marriage. I know it won't be easy, but I hope we will have the strength to not only endure, but prosper. We can't do it alone. This mountain is a big one, too big for me to climb alone. But I am determined to get to the other side.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Sister Adventures

I was at my limit last week. Well, I was stretched past my limit, and the whole family realized it last Sunday when I had a meltdown. I needed a break, and Microbio Daughter stepped up to the plate. I got the rest I needed while she entertained the younger kids. I am so grateful!

She took Ms. D and Mr. I to a 49ers game Thursday night while I got to play with Grandson at home.
They had a great time! So did I!

Friday night after a long day at work, Microbio Daughter took Ms. D and Brewster on an impromptu beach trip to see the sunset. 

Afterwards, they went on a hill in San Jose to see the city lights.
Ms. D loves sparkly things!

Yesterday, they went to church in the morning and on a hike in the afternoon.

They also have had campouts in the living room for the past two nights.

People had been telling me I needed to get away for a bit because of the events of the past few months. I knew, and everyone who knew me could see, that I needed some respite. Yet I have had so much work to do at home and didn't feel comfortable leaving the teens. I suppose a lot of moms feel the same way, even the ones who have typical kids. The pressures of life happen, yet we feel guilty for taking a break.  But there is a reason God gave us the Sabbath. We aren't made to work and worry all day, every day. Microbio Daughter's help enabled me to get rest. She gave her time and energy without me asking for it. Her gift has helped me, and has helped her little sister. 

I am blessed.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Would I do it Over?

Someone asked me the other day, while I was in a puddle of tears, if I would bring Ms. D and Mr. I into our home if I knew how hard these days would be. Would I do it over if I could?

Of course! I love my kids!

It's not like I didn't know there would be difficulties. Although we didn't know the extent or the full impact of their background, we knew it would be a challenge when we signed up for foster care and adoption. We made decisions along the way, and those decisions were made in love. Ms. D and Mr. I are worth every tear and every sacrifice. They are incredible young people!

Oh, I sometimes think that I'd love to do it over and not make some of the mistakes in parenting. But who doesn't wish they could have made different decisions, knowing what the future would hold?

It bothers me that I didn't do everything perfectly. But I need to push those regrets aside, and give myself the grace I give to others. I've beaten myself enough lately, and it's getting annoying.

I saw this video yesterday of Tom Rinaldi and his daughter, who was born with Down Syndrome. Though I never felt like getting rid of my kids, the lessons this father learned are lessons that I am learning, lessons of love, joy, and what is perfection.

I am glad we have Ms. D and Mr. I in our family. It hasn't been easy, but it has been good. No, not just good. Loving them was, is, and will always be awesome!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What are Duck Lips?

After reading the last post, one friend asked me, "What are duck lips?"

Here you go...

I don't know who created this picture. I got it from the Art and Design facebook page. Whoever made it is creative. I wish I knew where the credit is due. 

Can you see why I don't like duck lips?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Beating the Odds

The past few months have been difficult, to say the least. I've had to deal with situations that are fairly common with kids adopted from traumatic backgrounds and have been affected by fetal alcohol.

The statistics are pretty frightening, but like any parent, I thought we would beat the odds. I hoped that being an experienced parent, reading, learning, praying, and having good therapists and support would be the keys that would heal my children and help them to have a happy life. I was a mother hen who protected my children and tried to shield them from the heartache their birth family has suffered.

I tried. But it wasn't enough. And now the whole family is suffering.

I am finding that I can't shield my children from bad choices. I can't keep them from hurting, or acting out in their hurt.

I am becoming a bit cynical and defeated. One friend has been posting pictures of adopted children with bright eyes and smiles. I look at those pictures and notice those children don't look like my daughter, with her eyes full of pain, heavy makeup, clothes I have to ask her not to wear in public, and the duck lips. I hate duck lips! So when I see those pictures of the other children, I think, "Just wait until they are teenagers!" And then I kick myself for thinking such thoughts. Maybe those other adopted children will beat the odds. Maybe their teenage years will be more like my birth children's, not without challenges, but bearable and sometimes enjoyable. I hope they will live happy lives, love God and their family, and not go through what we are experiencing.

No one should have to go through what we are going through as a family. But people do. We are. It is harder than anything.

I hope we can heal and do better from now on. It doesn't look good from here, but there is always hope.  Maybe we will beat the odds from here on out...Maybe...