Favorite "Meditation of My Heart"

Call unto me,

and I will answer thee,

and shew thee great and mighty things,

which thou knowest not. --Jeremiah 33:3 KJV

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Adoption Disruption: Real Help is Overdue

Ever since a "mom" let her child be returned to Russia by himself on a plane allegedly without notice, the adoption community is especially judgemental of adoption disruption.  We seem to now assume the worst of the family or the child or both.  As an adoptive mom, I certainly never want to see an adoption be disrupted, but I think we are too tough on families and children who are experiencing a disruption.  It seems that we rarely give the families the credit that they deserve.   

The adoptive community seems at a consensus that adoption disruption only happens to parents who are not committed to their kids or who don't work hard enough to make it work. However, what if these families are even more committed and are working harder than our own?  What is its not about commitment, but about their family's survival?  What if its not about the child or the parents?  What if we are judging simply out of our own fears about failure?  What if a disruption is not a failure, but a last opportunity for a family and a child to get the peace and healing that they need.

Ironically, the same adoption advocates, who will extend all respect and love to a biological parent who chooses to utilize the benefits of adoption, will condemn an adoption disruption without knowing the situation.  Is it really fair to an adoptive parent?  Is it really fair to an adopted child?  It is time for the adoption community to develop a less myopic view of disruption.  Parents including myself need to move beyond judgement to helping find resources for families facing tough decisions and for kids needing new families.

If we consider that  2% of the US child population is adopted  (1.8 million children)and that disruptions occur in between 1% to 10% of adoptions, then we would realize that this issue is too big and too damaging to ignore with judgement.  Plus the rates vary by the age of the child and type of adoption.  Needless to say, even at 1% that is 18,000 kids and families who are hurting and need compassionate help in healing.  There is an excellent government report that reviews the factors and frequency of disruption in the US.   One positive indicator from the study is that disruption rates have dropped since the 1980's and 90's.  However, one thing is for sure, condemning families and child(ren) who experience the tragedy and loss of disruption will not solve the problem or promote any one's healing. 

As an adoptive community, we need to be advocating for research, resources, support and better options for all families in crisis...biological and adoptive.  What if families facing these issues were given 24 hour support staff instead of removing the child or what if children were more truthfully presented by adoption agencies or what if adoptive families had paid adoption leave to promote bonding?  Would any of these ideas or numerous others help families?  I don't know, but I think a lot of families and children deserve some real answers...not judgement.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Day 78: Weight Loss Depression

Yes, today was weigh in.  Yes, I lost weight.  In fact, I crossed the 40 pound weight loss mark. 

So why am I depressed? 

Well, frankly it is because I have so much more to lose and my weekly loss was the lowest that it has been.  I realized that reaching 40 pounds is only 20% of the weight that I have to shed...the knowledge that I let myself get this heavy before taking action is disappointing in and of itself.  Just feeling a bit blue...

Adoption: Sibling Return Policy

A mom recently called me with a problem that she was sure was a sign of failure.  She cried as she explained that her son wants to send his adoptive sister back to her country of origin.  She tearfully went on with her story saying that her son says that his sister has ruined his life and had a list of true indictments including that she breaks his stuff and is mean to him.  So I asked a couple critical questions.  Did he call her his sister when complaining?  Is she actually hurting him physically?  Abusively?

The mother explained that he had called her his sister and that her daughter was too little to physically hurt her son.  However, she said that her daughter did seem to enjoy getting her brother into trouble and seemed to be pleased when he was angry.  I asked if this could be an intense sibling rivalry.  She said that is what she thought until her son started asking to return his sister.

Next I asked if their family had ever discussed the "Sibling Return Policy".  The mom immediately snapped back, "Well we aren't sending her back!  I just want to know what we did wrong? Why hasn't our son bonded with her?"

Now TRUTHFULLY, I almost laughed at her for thinking it was her fault, but I knew she was dead serious so I had to explain myself. I told her that I didn't know of any older sibling who hasn't wanted to return a younger one at least once in their life. It honestly doesn't matter how the family is formed, this is a part of learning to be a family. I explained that the problem comes in when these type of comments can do so much damage to an adopted child who is not secure in the permanency of their family. Some families simply forbid their children from making such comments. 

Personally, my kids aren't that well-behaved.  They would just make the comments behind my back.  Therefore, our family has a "Sibling Return Policy" which basically says, "once you join our family, you are here forever and so are your siblings NO MATTER WHAT.  Neither you or your sisters and brothers are going anywhere."  Now a word of warning, if you set a policy, it will be tested....creatively, multiple times!  I've had kids try to find loop holes like what if they run away or what if they wanted to go live with grandma.  One child once asked, what if they hurt a sibling.  I said, "You will be punished."  Then this same child wanted to know what happened if they killed a sibling...now that question will make your heart race...so I turned the question back, "what do you think would happen?"  The child had a better answer than I did AND I know this child AND I know how frustrated they were feeling so we focused on ways to deal with and cope with annoying siblings.  Another child once asked me if the policy still held if my hubby and I died!  Talk about looking for a loop hole!  (I'm hoping I didn't scare this mom who called.)

The bottom line is adoptive families have sibling rivalries the same as biological.  Its just that our kids can unleash the emotional equivalent of a nuclear bomb on siblings with attachment difficulties and the kids know it...at least mine do.  Therefore, the parent has to neutralize the threat in whatever manner works in their home.  Then, like any parent, we wait and watch closely to see if this is a serious problem that might require professional assistance or if this is a typical sibling adjustment issue.

Siblings are the people we practice on,
the people who teach us
about fairness and cooperation
and kindness and caring -
quite often the hard way.~~Pamela Dugdale

Monday, March 25, 2013

Honestly, we are prefect..ly flawed

After we reached adoption #3, other parents started calling us for resources and information.  Some parents were considering adoption and some had adopted children with challenging issues, but for whatever reason these folks decided to trust us with some very personal information about themselves and their families.  At first I was flattered, then I frankly got scared!  I mean to mess up with my own family would be tragic, but to lead another's family to bad decisions would be even worse!
Photo of our Nate by Angela Covington

I started praying before I answered parents' questions and decided to tell them the full truth about whatever they were asking, even if the answer was uncomfortable.  I would pray as I truthfully answered questions about bonding, behaviors, sibling rivialry, food issues, and loss.  As I offered resources and my experiences, I discovered that so FEW adoptive families do this with other adoptive and potential adoptive families.  Many adoptive families have gotten the message that not only should they keep their individual children's information private, BUT we have moved on to the idea that adoptive families need to act like we are better than biological families!  To hear many adoptive families tell it, their families are problem free, fun-filled and their adoptive children are all prodigies that have forgotten the early tramas and losses because of their loving care...to which I say, nonsense!  Either they are lying through their teeth or they don't know their child(ren).  While I certainly would never want a parent to publicly elaborate on individual kid's problems or behaviors, I would like to see some basic honestly..especially when they are discouraging adoptive families who are facing challenges by making them feel all alone in their issues.  Plus even more dangerous, the candy coated stories lead to adoptions by parents who frankly should not adopt!

When someone asks me about an issue that I don't have personal experience with, the first thing I say is something like, "That is tough.  I haven't experienced that but I know families who have."  Then I try to match them with a family farther along in that struggle who will honestly share their knowledge and resources.  I never want to leave a family feeling isolated because so few issues are truly unique, but with everyone keeping their secrets, so many adoptive families feel alone.

When someone asked me a question that I do have experience with, the first thing I say is something like, "I don't discuss this openly because it is so personal to me  and my family, but I know you are asking out of need and not nosiness so please keep this conversation between us."  Then I go on to explain what I know, how I know it and resources that helped me.

Through my honesty, it is always my hope that the person will realize that adoptive families have unique struggles, but we have unique victories too and most importantly I want parents to know that they are never alone.  God is in control.  He is soveriegn and He was there with the child when you were not.  He knows what they need and He believes in you.

Honestly, our family is not different from any other family.  Our family is perfect....perfectly flawed and striving to serve His purpose.

God places the lonely in families;
he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.~~Psalm 68:6a

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Day 71: Weigh In

The struggle to eat well and lose weight continues.  As of today at the TOPS weigh in, I have lost 38 3/4 pounds.  However, I'm feeling hunger again and having some cravings that are making this tough!  I cut back to be ready for a family dinner and I think I cut too much so now my body is letting me know.  I guess I'll have to be extra careful to eat all the foods that I'm allowed for the next few days to get my diet balanced again.

Leftovers inspired some creative crock pot meals recently...a couple of which we'll be having again.

I had some leftover pizza sauce and some mushrooms that needed used so I threw them in a crock pot with chicken and shrimp and olives.  Then it cooked on high for 4 hours and served with brown rice.  It was delicious!  (Sorry no picture because it went fast and I had no idea that it was going to be so tasty.)

Another evening I tossed chicken in the crock pot with some original Ott's dressing and cooked it until done.  It was yummy.  I have coated chicken and baked it before, but this tasted even better.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Family Easter Egg Hunt

Today was the Family Easter Egg hunt and lunch at grandma's. The kids were so excited!
Waiting to hunt

Thursday, March 7, 2013


My kids have been a special mix of orneriness and cuteness for the past few weeks.  Saying cute things and pushing the limits of mommy's rules have been the daily routine.


Matt wants us to buy a "hick-up truck" (a pickup truck).  I cannot help but smile each time he shows me a "hick-up truck" that he likes.

The twins currently say the most unexpected things and it always reveals something that they have noticed or a new "plan" to get out of trouble when they break a rule.  When Matt was at Grandma's, Luke let me know that Matt had pushed him.  When I told him that Matt is not home, Luke quickly said, "I meant Mark".  Mark had been drawing pictures quietly at the table (in another room from Luke) said, "Me got a paper. (It) Says me didn't."  (Get past the bad grammar and his alibi is pretty solid!)  

David went with me on a trip and told someone, "I'm with mom so she can drink and drive."  Now before you call the authorities on me, you should know what that REALLY means.  We had been to Happy Hour, BUT at Sonic.  David was handing me my Sonic ICED TEA from the cup holder on the floorboard while I drove so I didn't have to wait until a stop sign to reach it for a drink....unsweet tea in fact!  (Not breaking any laws and NOT even breaking my diet.)


Monday a kid was in the Principal's office for talking back to a teacher.  On Tuesday two kids talked back to a bus driver so they went to the Principal's office.  Then Wednesday, I discovered that a kid stole money from older sister, used the money and lied about it.  My fear of today...Thursday has been huge, but the kids are in bed and no teachers or principals have called.  I can tell that Daddy has worked several weekends/nights away from home because these things don't happen when the kids know that Daddy will be handling the discipline.  I'm ready for Daddy to be home for Spring break because a dose of Daddy time can end a streak of orneriness!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

40: Day 57 Weigh In

Last week our TOPS meeting was cancelled due to weather so today's weigh in is almost 2 months since I started this healthy life style change.  In two weeks I lost 4 1/4 pounds.  This brings my total lost to 32 pounds.  While I'm pleased with the weight loss, it is discouraging to think how much more weight that I need to lose. 

Corrine and Grace have now joined me at TOPS.  Corrine has now lost 15 pounds and Grace has lost 11 pounds. So as a group, we have lost an impressive 58 pounds!