Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pumpkins

Pumpkins were carved yesterday. 







TM made a hat, complete with feather, for his.

H. wasn't really sure she wanted to put her hand in the pumpkin to get out the seeds, but eventually did. She is pretty much thrilled with whatever activity we do and enjoyed the whole pumpkin-carving-thing. She has a costume for tonight, but is still a little fuzzy on what is going on. She will really like the candy.


Now it's back to having fun with my parents. 
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Wednesday is Kramer's day. This child continues to move me. Please, take a look at that sweet face.

Continuing to advocate for the children in Bulgaria. Their files were sent back which means that they cannot be advocated for on Reese's Rainbow or have any funds donated towards their adoptions. It means they are essentially invisible and unwanted. It tells the government and the agencies that yes, indeed, their initial assumptions were correct. No one wants a child like these. They are not worth it.

But they are! They are created by God in His image and we are called to care for them. They are truly the least of these. I cannot let them go; I think about them in nearly every free moment that I have. I'm going to post one of their pictures here at the bottom of each of my posts each day. Would you join me in praying for each of these children? Pray that a family would come forward who is willing to adopt them. Love them. Pray that they will know they are not forgotten? There is still hope for these little ones as their files can be specially asked for, it just adds time to the process.


This is Kramer. I can't think of a time a child has touched my heart like this little boy has. (OK, maybe I can, it was H.'s picture.) He is 8 years old and has CP. Because of the CP, he has languished in a crib without appropriate food, love, or therapy. How can anyone look at this little boy and think he is worthless? Not worth the effort and love to allow him to flourish and reach his potential? He needs a family. He needs a mother and father who will love him. Please...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Squeezing in a post

Whew! My parents are in town and we've been pretty occupied. For instance my mother and I spent most of the day Christmas shopping. Yes, it's true. She is now done. I'm not, but she is. Trust me, I'm an absolute slacker when compared with my mother. But that's what we were doing. I'll have pumpkin carving picture to share tomorrow, and then there'll be costumes, and then TM's birthday. So, lots of pictures to come.

In the meantime, I didn't want to skip a day of posting because there are six children still waiting for families in Bulgaria and I tend to post six days a week, so each child has their own day.
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Tuesday is Garnet's day.


Continuing to advocate for the children in Bulgaria. Their files were sent back which means that they cannot be advocated for on Reese's Rainbow or have any funds donated towards their adoptions. It means they are essentially invisible and unwanted. It tells the government and the agencies that yes, indeed, their initial assumptions were correct. No one wants a child like these. They are not worth it.

But they are! They are created by God in His image and we are called to care for them. They are truly the least of these. I cannot let them go; I think about them in nearly every free moment that I have. I'm going to post one of their pictures here at the bottom of each of my posts each day. Would you join me in praying for each of these children? Pray that a family would come forward who is willing to adopt them. Love them. Pray that they will know they are not forgotten. There is still hope for these little ones as their files can be specially asked for, it just adds time to the process.


This is Garnet. She is 10. Ten years old and lying in a crib. It's all she's ever known. How can we let this happen? How can we leave her there knowing now that she is there? Despite what she has lived through, she still looks as though she has life in her eyes. Imagine what she would look like with the love of a family.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Miracles

I am of the opinion that one reason we do not see so many miracles these days is that we are all so terribly self-sufficient. Why should God step in and do the miraculous when we have it all taken care of? It is only when you allow God to lead you into situations where you are in over your head and realize that there is really nothing you can do to help the situation that God shows up with a miracle.

And why I am mentioning this? Because I firmly believe we are having the incredible privilege of having front row seats to a miracle. That miracle would be the healing miracle that God is working in TM. And it is a miracle. But it took us getting to a point where we had to say that we were at the end; we had no more answers; we were not going to be able to fix this ourselves.

We have been seeing a therapist nearly weekly, and while that has been good, I just can't chalk up the amazing gains we have been seeing just to that. Even though I really, really like his (our?) therapist, they )TM and the therapist) haven't really done a whole lot of 'real' work. (I know this from discussions I've had with her.) They have played a lot of Uno, and as a result she is slowly gaining TM's trust, but it's not as though he has been opening up and they have been having deep, life-changing discussions.

Why do I maintain that this can only be attributed to a work of God? Because some of the things we are seeing (or are not seeing as the case may be), are so extreme that it is the only way I can describe it. I'll give you an example from today to show you what I mean.

We should have set ourselves up for the perfect storm of trauma-based behavior today. The compounding factors: TM's birthday is coming in a couple of days (anyone with an adopted child affected by trauma knows that this alone can be a huge trigger), my parents were coming into town after lunch (equals change of routine combined with anticipation), Gretel had accidentally gotten a hold of a robot which TM had made out of recyclables and destroyed it (this is difficult for the most well-adjusted child), we've been talking about costumes for beggar's night (NOT TM's favorite thing and he has often opted out of it), and we were doing some cleaning and organizing to prepare for my parents (helping to pick-up, especially when it involves his room, has always been very threatening to TM). That's a whole lot of triggers, any one of which in the past would have been enough to send us all over the edge into the abyss. I could feel my stomach tightening into knots at merely the thought of what was to come.

But my stomach was clenching for nothing. Nothing. Zip. Nada. Zero trauma-based behavior. Just a couple of times throughout the morning, he started down that path, but was immediately able to pull himself together, without my help. This alone is huge, but there's more. He had asked if I could laminate something for him, so I told him he could get the laminator out for me while I did some laundry. The next thing I know, he is coming to me and saying that he was sorry, but he thought he might have broken something on it. I looked at it, and he hadn't, but did you catch that? First he came to me and confessed that he had thought he had done something wrong. He didn't try to hide it. He didn't try to tell me someone else had done it. He didn't wait for me to find it and then deny any knowledge. He sought me out and told me he thought he had made a mistake. I nearly cried right there.

The whole morning (and parts of previous days as well) have been filled with incidents like this. Normal behavior. Calm behavior. We have heard jokes and laughter. We have seen smiles. We feel as though we are witnessing the birth of a new child. That's not to say the path has been completely smooth. There have been setbacks and frustrations, but isn't that true with all children? There is something to celebrate when we are seeing more progress than regression.

I don't know why God is choosing to heal TM now, but I will shout to the world that He is doing it.

Soli Deo Gloria!
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Continuing to advocate for the children in Bulgaria. Their files were sent back which means that they cannot be advocated for on Reese's Rainbow or have any funds donated towards their adoptions. It means they are essentially invisible and unwanted. It tells the government and the agencies that yes, indeed, their initial assumptions were correct. No one wants a child like these. They are not worth it.

But they are! They are created by God in His image and we are called to care for them. They are truly the least of these. I cannot let them go; I think about them in nearly every free moment that I have. I'm going to post one of their pictures here at the bottom of each of my posts each day. Would you join me in praying for each of these children? Pray that a family would come forward who is willing to adopt them. Love them. Pray that they will know they are not forgotten? There is still hope for these little ones as their files can be specially asked for, it just adds time to the process.


This is Chad. He is 9 years old and has always lived in an institution. An institution with severe neglect. No one has ever even asked to look at his file and now it looks as though they never will. Pray that God will not let this little one become invisible. Pray that his parents will find him and show him what it means to be loved.

There may be a family who is asking to view Chad's file. Pray, pray, pray that this is his family!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The more things change, the more they stay the same

J. and I were given tickets to see a local production of Shaw vs. Chesterton. We had a lovely evening and felt very pampered and grown-up. And the show was good.

It was actually very interesting. G. K. Chesterton and George Bernard Shaw, both famous writers in their own rights (Chesterton for his many books and essays and Shaw for his plays), were good friends and disagreed on about everything else. Chesterton was a Christian, Shaw an atheist; Chesterton believed in private property, Shaw believed in redistribution of wealth via socialism; Chesterton enjoyed food (a lot), particularly meat, Shaw was a vegetarian; and so on and so on.

The play was based on transcripts of actual debates which were held between Shaw and Chesterton. The topics were timely and sounded very, very much like the topics which are still being debated today, though they were held ~90 years ago. And while it was interesting to listen to each man's arguments for his view, what I found much more interesting was the relationship between the two men. We do not see a lot of examples of friendship between opposing "sides" these days. We see a lot of belittling of others, name calling, nastiness, and just plain meanness from all sides. There is very little respect happening.

And this is what struck me in listening to the debates between these two men. While they disagreed on just about everything, it was still very evident that they respected each other in spite of the other's views. The mutual respect made it much more interesting to watch and also made it possible to actually pay attention the arguments themselves, rather than focusing on the person delivering the arguments.

The thing which made this unique friendship possible, I believe, is that both men were so very similar despite their differences. Both men were highly intelligent, both were well-spoken and good communicators, both had healthy self-esteems, and both cultivated a slightly larger-than-life persona. They were equals in nearly every respect and they acknowledged the abilities of the other.

It has made me wonder about whether this is the only way a friendship like this is possible. Or, have we just lost the ability to acknowledge the humanity and value of someone who doesn't hold our own views? When did the lose the idea of civil discourse? Today it seems that we take it so personally if someone else dares to hold another viewpoint from our own, it is as if just the act of disagreement is a personal attack. Do we all hold our viewpoints so fearfully that they cannot withstand honest questioning and debate? You see, I have a lot of questions, but not a lot of answers.

Well, I have one answer. I believe that the ability to debate and discourse civilly in a learned skill which needs to be modeled for our children. I think it is healthy for children to see their mother and father disagree on something and be able to discuss the different sides of an issue without resorting to anger or name calling. It is important to see that merely disagreeing with someone does not mean that the relationship is in danger. Another place to learn this skill is at the dinner table. This is assuming that conversation actually happens at the table and people don't just sit down, eat, and bolt. Encourage debate among your children. Raise controversial topics and discuss them. Allow you child to suggest a viewpoint different from your own, but be sure to encourage them to support that view. I know some people consider this a scary proposition; a child disagreeing with a parent can be frightening proposition if the parent immediately jumps to, "If my child disagrees with me about this, then tomorrow she is going to throw over everything I believe in!" Relax, breathe, and create a safe place for children to 'try-on' different opinions. Train your children (and yourselves as you model this) civil discourse.

If you are in the Chicago area, you could go see the show yourself. There are two shows left (tonight and tomorrow afternoon), just call the Provision Theater. I recommend it. And now, I think I'm going to dig out my copy of Chesterton's Father Brown Mysteries. I read them before a long time ago, and am now wanting to reread them.
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These children still do not have families going forward to adopt them... keep praying!

Continuing to advocate for the children in Bulgaria. Their files were sent back which means that they cannot be advocated for on Reese's Rainbow or have any funds donated towards their adoptions. It means they are essentially invisible and unwanted. It tells the government and the agencies that yes, indeed, their initial assumptions were correct. No one wants a child like these. They are not worth it.

But they are! They are created by God in His image and we are called to care for them. They are truly the least of these. I cannot let them go; I think about them in nearly every free moment that I have. I'm going to post one of their pictures here at the bottom of each of my posts each day. Would you join me in praying for each of these children? Pray that a family would come forward who is willing to adopt them. Love them. Pray that they will know they are not forgotten? There is still hope for these little ones as their files can be specially asked for, it just adds time to the process.


This is Brandi. She is 6 years old. She lies in her crib and waits and waits and waits for someone to scoop her up and tell her how loved she is. Just imagine a grin on her face, her hair allowed to grow out. Imagine how transformed she will look when she is loved. Pray that she doesn't have to wait too much longer for her parents to find her.



Friday, October 26, 2012

Silly dog pictures and random thoughts


I told you they were silly. This is how Gretel sleeps most of the time. I can't believe it is comfortable. What is truly surprising about these pictures is not her ridiculous sleeping habits, but the fact that she is on a chair. In fact, I guarantee right now that my mother is probably calling my father to come and look at these pictures because seeing is the only way he will believe that we are allowing a dog on the furniture. I know I will never hear the end of it when they arrive in town on Monday.


This combined with what a mentioned earlier this week about G. and L.'s normal state of wearing fairly odd clothing combinations had made me think about how I've changed in the past 19 years. I will admit I was pretty uptight about certain things when M. was a baby, and for the next several babies as well. The things I was mostly concerned with were doing things 'right'. While doing things in the best way possible is not a bad thing, it can be when you are concerned more with what impression you are making on others rather than doing what is best for your family.


Our first dog, Simone, a big, black, hairy Bouvier des Flandres, was never, ever once allowed on the furniture. Because people don't allow dogs on furniture. Since plenty of people allow their dogs on their furniture, this wasn't exactly honest thinking. What I really was concerned about was how my home appeared, did it live up to other people's standards (whatever those were), how did it make me look.

How I appeared to other people played a large role in the decisions that I made. And having a nice home with nice things was important. Because of other people's opinions. Well, in the past six years, God has been working on me in this area. You just can't be a therapeutic parent and care overly for stuff. Well, you can, but it will make you crazy and not help your relationship with your child. Hurt children have a tendency to hurt things. Things break. Things go missing. Things become less-than-perfect looking. It happens, and not necessarily out of maliciousness, but for a host of other reasons, too numerous to go into right now.

I have learned that if I want my son to continue to heal, I have to let go of the stuff. I have to let go of worrying about the things instead of taking care of my son. I can't just say that people are more important than things, I have to act as though I really believe it. And I also have to let go of worrying about what other people think. How I need to parent my children may not look exactly like others think children should be parented.

And you know what? There is such joy and freedom in only doing what is really important. Life changingly important. God is the only one whom I need to answer to. Freedom and joy.

Besides, if the dog isn't allowed on the furniture, how could I take adorable pictures such as this? (That's Gretel's stuffed animal. Yes, we bought it for her. She loves them and it stops her from stealing the children's.)


And here's your bonus picture for making it this far. This is K. and P5, modelling their own version of twin-wear. We had just finished our history co-op and everyone was playing outside. Hard to get cuter than this, huh?

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Continuing to advocate for the children in Bulgaria. Their files were sent back which means that they cannot be advocated for on Reese's Rainbow or have any funds donated towards their adoptions. It means they are essentially invisible and unwanted. It tells the government and the agencies that yes, indeed, their initial assumptions were correct. No one wants a child like these. They are not worth it.

But they are! They are created by God in His image and we are called to care for them. They are truly the least of these. I cannot let them go; I think about them in nearly every free moment that I have. I'm going to post one of their pictures here at the bottom of each of my posts each day. Would you join me in praying for each of these children? Pray that a family would come forward who is willing to adopt them. Love them. Pray that they will know they are not forgotten? There is still hope for these little ones as their files can be specially asked for, it just adds time to the process.





This is Penny. She is 12 years old and has had her file sent back not once, but twice. Two times not one family said that she was worth being adopted. Can you imagine? Look at those eyes! And imagine that curly hair grown out and in adorable pigtails! The reports say that she still smiles, even after the years of abuse and neglect that she has endured. Please, can't just one family give her something to really smile about? Can one family share their abundance with this child?


Thursday, October 25, 2012

An afternoon at the zoo

Seventy degree weather in late October in Chicago is not to be taken for granted. So as not to be guilty of that, we and our friends the P Family and the H-S Family decided to head out to Lincoln Park Zoo. This seemed like a grand idea until we got stuck in horrible traffic and the 20 minute trip took nearly an hour, but we made it. It turned out to be a lovely afternoon. Some (well, quite a lot of) pictures.


H.

K. and P5

G. "hatching" out of an egg

The whole crew... minus one and not counting the growing college contingent, which made for 19 children

And it turned out to be a great time to get some pictures of G. and L. in their matching twirly dresses. If they're only going to wear something a couple of time, I have to make the most of it. Plus, they were looking particularly twinny. L. is on the left and G. is on the right.







On our way back to the entrance we found this sculpture-pavilion-thing. It made for some interesting photographs.

MY H-S and L.

TM and P10

P10, MY H-S, P9 and TM

G. (on left) and L.

TM

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Continuing to advocate for the children in Bulgaria. Their files were sent back which means that they cannot be advocated for on Reese's Rainbow or have any funds donated towards their adoptions. It means they are essentially invisible and unwanted. It tells the government and the agencies that yes, indeed, their initial assumptions were correct. No one wants a child like these. They are not worth it.

But they are! They are created by God in His image and we are called to care for them. They are truly the least of these. I cannot let them go; I think about them in nearly every free moment that I have. I'm going to post one of their pictures here at the bottom of each of my posts each day. Would you join me in praying for each of these children? Pray that a family would come forward who is willing to adopt them. Love them. Pray that they will know they are not forgotten? There is still hope for these little ones as their files can be specially asked for, it just adds time to the process.


This is Harvey. He is 3 years old and is the size of an infant. Harvey is extremely malnourished and also has some cranial-facial issues. This little one also touches my heart since K. was malnourished (at some points in his life, rather extremely) and two of my children have cranial-facial issues. It is something that sounds very scary, I know. But my children are so much more than their diagnoses. This little boy has never known what it is to be loved and cared for. Doesn't he deserve at least that?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Adoption fundraising

Adopting is expensive. That's how it is and there's no way around it. There are governmental fees for visa applications. There are country fees, orphanage fees, agency fees, homestudy fees, plane tickets, hotel bills, food while in country. There are gifts for government officials that must be brought. They pile up and never seem to end. At various points in our three adoptions I felt as though I was hemorrhaging money. (And since we are still paying off some of the expenses, it sometimes feels like a wound which won't quite scab over.) I understand that agencies have employees to pay, that "donating" to the orphanages which cared for our children is (in theory) good, and that the government will get their cut no matter what. It just all adds up.

And even though I understand why many of the fees are high, I will say it again and believe it just as strongly, adoptive parents should not have to pay for their children. Yes, yes, I know that's not what we're doing. We are paying the fees in order to bring our children home. We are not trafficking children at least knowingly... I hope. But it's what it comes down to, isn't it? Childbirth is expensive, too, but most people have insurance which can at least help with the expenses. (Don't get on me about this. We had several babies born when we had private insurance and I know how much we paid out-of-pocket for the fees. It was still less than what we paid for one adoption.) And really, the baby is going to be born regardless. The fees will have to be sorted out later, of course, but the baby arrives all the same. I have yet to hear of an adopted child arriving in a family and the fees being sorted out later.

If the fees aren't going away and I still advocate for people to adopt, what is my solution? I see the solution as the body of Christ. We may not all be called to adopt, but we can all help support those who are. Just imagine this... what if every person gave some small amount of money to every person they knew was adopting. To help out. Even it that small sum was only a dollar or two. It would all add up. I think we get stuck in thinking it's not worth it unless we can give "real" amounts. Real being amounts of money with a lot of zeros after it. And while it is wonderful if someone can do that for a family (and we have been blessed this way ourselves), there is no point in us becoming paralyzed and not do anything if those zeros aren't there. We have got to stop this! Ten dollars when compared to the $15 to $30 thousand needed for an adoption seems like a drop in the bucket. And maybe alone it is. But if one hundred people gave $10, that's $1000. And there are those zeros. There is no excuse for not giving a small amount to someone who is trying to give a child a home and family.

I know some people are opposed to fundraising for adoptions. They say that if a family can't handle the fees, then they probably shouldn't be adopting anyway as they don't earn enough money. Well, I can tell you that the added expenses of one child are fairly negligible in the great scheme of things. But who really has tens of thousands of dollars just lying around? Very few do. And if we put those rules in place than it will be only the wealthy who can afford to adopt. There are many of us who have much to offer a child, but we certainly don't fall into the wealthy in terms of cash category.

If fellow believers are not giving voluntarily and generously to families who are adopting, the adopting families have little choice but to try to raise the funds on their own. It is an added burden on them and one they should not have to take up. There is enough to do to prepare to bring another child (or children) into your home. So, the next time you hear of a family adopting, open your wallet and help them out. And I can say this freely as we are not in the adoption process and this can in no way be construed as a plea for money.

You say you don't know anyone who is adopting? After you're done weeping for your church, take a look at this list that No Greater Joy Mom is hosting. There are 51 families linked to this site. all of whom are working desperately to bring home their child. See what you can do to help one or more of them out.

Here's the link to see the list of families raising adoption funds.

And a little ps. I am also writing this to myself. I know a lot of people who are adopting. So many people that it sometimes seems overwhelming to try and help them all. But I am thinking in too many zeros once again. Later today, I'm going to go through my list and send them each something. It will have to be a small something at this point, but if they receive many small somethings, it will add up to something huge.
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Here we go 'round again.


Continuing to advocate for the children in Bulgaria. Their files were sent back which means that they cannot be advocated for on Reese's Rainbow or have any funds donated towards their adoptions. It means they are essentially invisible and unwanted. It tells the government and the agencies that yes, indeed, their initial assumptions were correct. No one wants a child like these. They are not worth it.

But they are! They are created by God in His image and we are called to care for them. They are truly the least of these. I cannot let them go; I think about them in nearly every free moment that I have. I'm going to post one of their pictures here at the bottom of each of my posts each day. Would you join me in praying for each of these children? Pray that a family would come forward who is willing to adopt them. Love them. Pray that they will know they are not forgotten? There is still hope for these little ones as their files can be specially asked for, it just adds time to the process.


This is Kramer. I can't think of a time a child has touched my heart like this little boy has. (OK, maybe I can, it was H.'s picture.) He is 8 years old and has CP. Because of the CP, he has languished in a crib without appropriate food, love, or therapy. How can anyone look at this little boy and think he is worthless? Not worth the effort and love to allow him to flourish and reach his potential? He needs a family. He needs a mother and father who will love him. Please...


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My big little girls

I have no motivation to write today so you get pictures of the little girls. I realized that they have been somewhat lacking recently. No doubt due to the fact that we just take fewer pictures of them. They are rarely still, and when they are still, one or both of them have become rather disreputable looking, so that my first inclination is not to get out the camera. (L. still walks around in various states of undress, sometimes joined by G. And when they are fully clothed, they have often changed their outfits to something "unique" and pulled out whatever hair arrangement might have been put in. There's a whole other blog post in there somewhere about how this would never have occurred with the first few.)

But on Sunday, J. captured these. We looked over to discover that G. was "reading" a comic book to L. It was very sweet. G. is in purple and L. is in orange.






They are just too, too big. I love them. They are wonderful fun. But where, oh where, did my little babies go?
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Continuing to advocate for the children in Bulgaria. Their files were sent back which means that they cannot be advocated for on Reese's Rainbow or have any funds donated towards their adoptions. It means they are essentially invisible and unwanted. It tells the government and the agencies that yes, indeed, their initial assumptions were correct. No one wants a child like these. They are not worth it.

But they are! They are created by God in His image and we are called to care for them. They are truly the least of these. I cannot let them go; I think about them in nearly every free moment that I have. I'm going to post one of their pictures here at the bottom of each of my posts each day. Would you join me in praying for each of these children? Pray that a family would come forward who is willing to adopt them. Love them. Pray that they will know they are not forgotten. There is still hope for these little ones as their files can be specially asked for, it just adds time to the process.


This is Garnet. She is 10. Ten years old and lying in a crib. It's all she's ever known. How can we let this happen? How can we leave her there knowing now that she is there? Despite what she has lived through, she still looks as though she has life in her eyes. Imagine what she would look like with the love of a family.

She is the last of the invisible children. Tomorrow I will start rotating through again. Theodore won't be included as I believe there is a family working on getting his file in order to adopt him. If I learn otherwise, I will add him back in. Do not forget to pray for these children. If ever there was a mountain worth moving through faith and prayer, it is the mountain of placing these children in loving homes.

Monday, October 22, 2012

I did a little sewing

A couple of weeks back, when I was (finally) putting away the fabric that friends had given me, I found a very large piece of very heavy fleece. It was too heavy to make clothing with, and the color was not what you might call inspiring.


Really, it just looked like a big, odd-shaped blanket. Hmmm...blanket. We could use more blankets. But would the material wash? Bedding around here really needs to be able to survive the washing machine. Figuring it couldn't hurt to try, into the wash it went. And it came out beautifully.

So, I measured and discovered I could get two throw sized blankets out of it. These are a particularly useful size because we often add throws on top of beds for really cold days. Plus, people can curl up in them to read books or watch a movie.

But, they were kind of dull. Useful, but dull. So I thought I would bind the edges. I really didn't have to because fleece doesn't ravel, but I thought it would look nice. I looked in my fabric stash and discovered two pieces of fabric I had found at the thrift store and turned them into yards and yards of binding.


And then I edged the blankets in them. I like how they turned out. I really, really like how they turned out. The fabric binding brightens up how they look and the prints make me happy when I look at them. Lots of other people really liked them, too, and there was much clamoring for a chance to curl up in one. Even though it was around 70 degrees. I'm pretty sure they will be well used.


Ironing yards of fabric to turn into binding and then sewing loooong straight seams isn't terribly complicated and it gave me some time to think. Would it be far-fetched to say that these blankets can represent all that I really love about homemaking?


First, I love being able to provide the things we need for our home. And we did need blankets. With three more people in beds this winter than last, our bedding was running a little low. These blankets fill a much needed hole. Next, I was able to fill that need with the best use of our resources. The fabric was passed on to us and I was able to use it in the way that made the most sense. Since the binding fabric came from the thrift store, I possibly spent a total of 50 cents on the whole project.


Third, at its core, I believe that homemaking is a creative endeavor. I loved finding fabrics that would work, figuring out how best to carry out my plan, and then actually making them. God is a God of creativity and I believe that one of the ways we are created in His image is that we are also creative beings.

And isn't there just something about an appealing, warm blanket that says home and safety to you? Being wrapped up in a blanket is comforting. Think of all the images you've seen of a person wrapped in a blanket. That blanket is a tangible object of someone else's love and care... a mother tucking in a child, a firefighter offering a blanket to a victim of a fire, a rescue worker caring for someone who had been lost. They are a powerful symbol. One that we look at and immediately associate with warmth and care.

I love that I have the opportunities to create these types of memories for my family. There are very few memories associated with these blankets right now, but I hope that someday, when my children are grown, the sight of them will trigger a series of memories... of being tucked in and cared for, of quiet moments reading while embraced of its warmth, of fun times together watching a movie together. So not only was I creating something useful, I was creating a tangible object by which my family can remember my love for them.
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Can't stop...


Continuing to advocate for the children in Bulgaria. Their files were sent back which means that they cannot be advocated for on Reese's Rainbow or have any funds donated towards their adoptions. It means they are essentially invisible and unwanted. It tells the government and the agencies that yes, indeed, their initial assumptions were correct. No one wants a child like these. They are not worth it.

But they are! They are created by God in His image and we are called to care for them. They are truly the least of these. I cannot let them go; I think about them in nearly every free moment that I have. I'm going to post one of their pictures here at the bottom of each of my posts each day. Would you join me in praying for each of these children? Pray that a family would come forward who is willing to adopt them. Love them. Pray that they will know they are not forgotten? There is still hope for these little ones as their files can be specially asked for, it just adds time to the process.


This is Chad. He is 9 years old and has always lived in an institution. An institution with severe neglect. No one has ever even asked to look at his file and now it looks as though they never will. Pray that God will not let this little one become invisible. Pray that his parents will find him and show him what it means to be loved.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Another update on H.

H. and I have made such huge gains recently, that I thought I would bring all of you up-to-date on her progress.

Medically, nothing much has changed (with the exception of having a lazy eye diagnosed, which has caused us to start patching two hours a day). We've had the three major tests done which the doctors needed (CT scan, EEG, and MRI), and right now we're waiting for the plastic surgeon to consult with his team and then he will get back to me with a plan. I have to say I'm not really in a rush to schedule surgery. Her seizures seem to be fairly well controlled. We have only had two within the last four weeks. I would rather her not have any, but they are fairly short and she doesn't have them frequently enough to really warrant a second anti-seizure prescription. (Her neurologist agrees with me on this... it's not just my whim.) I may change my tune when I have to actually start scheduling surgeries, but so far her special needs feel very minor.

We have noticed a huge jump in H.'s English language abilities. Her sentences are more grammatically complex, she is understanding more of what she hears, and is feeling more comfortable in her new language. The only thing really holding her back at this point is a sheer lack of enough vocabulary. I spend a lot of time trying to remember to use the actual name for things and not just pronouns. We have also seen a huge jump in the schoolwork she's been working on. She came home being able to write the numbers 1 through 10, but had no idea conceptually what they meant. She also couldn't name or write a number if it was given to her out of sequence. Even after doing quite a bit of work on say, "3", a minute later, I would ask her to name that number and she would look at me and shrug her shoulders. Let's just say it was a test of my patience.

This (testing of my patience) was true even though I knew from many other parents of adopted older children that memory for this type of work (number/letter naming, short-term memory stuff) is a real difficulty for this population. I expected it and even dealt with it in K. My plan of attack was to give her as many manipulative supports as she needed and to keep going over it. (Think about it, our biological children are exposed to their language and counting and print for years before we expect them to be able to remember it. If H. had no background in this in her native language, then we were really starting from scratch in a new language.)

We are currently working in preschool math books, which often involve counting objects and writing the number. Because she can count by rote from 1 to 10, I write out number lines to help her either identify a number or figure out how to write a number. It didn't take her very long to understand how to use this tool to get her answer. And it is (slowly) working. This past week as we were doing her math book, she never needed to use the number line to identify numbers 1 through 3 and with numbers 4 through 6, she often guessed correctly the first time and then checked herself with the number line. Numbers 8 through 10, she still needs to count up to the name. It may not seem like much to some of you, but it is really huge.

Reading is another big thing that is happening. We are on lesson 7 or 8 of AlphaPhonics and she is really getting it. Even the blending of letter sounds together she is doing herself. More often than not, if I am trying to help, H. will shoo me away saying, "No you, just me." She is thrilled to be able to do this and I am thrilled for her. The other thing I have noticed is that she is becoming aware of the words around her and is starting to try to sound them out as well. I love that moment when a child begins to transfer the idea that all words can be read and not just the ones in the phonics book. The day I hear a child starting to read street signs as we drive in the car is the day I know that real reading is just around the corner.

The other thing which is starting to develop is her sense of self... the ability to know what she likes and what she doesn't and the ability to communicate this to us. For instance, when she first joined us, she would eat anything set in front of her, including melted cheese. I always wondered about that melted cheese, because my experience is that children who first develop a palate for Asian foods before switching to Western foods, tend to really really dislike melted cheese. Or any cheese, really. I am actually pleased that H. is starting to tell us that she really doesn't care for cheese. If given a choice, she will never ask for it now and will say no thanks as she waves her hand in front of it. There are several other foods that she feels the same way about now.

Which brings me to food. A commentor on my birthday post about H. asked if she had gained weight. And she has. That has been a tricky thing for me. It's tough when your first experiences with your new child involve obscenely large breakfast buffets in large hotels. Even healthily attached children feel a bit overwhelmed and we all over-indulged (at least at first) at these buffets. For a newly adopted child, particularly one who likes food, never had quite as much as she wanted, and is so repressing her natural feelings that it comes out in gorging, those buffets are horrible. And for the parents, there was no way to win. You can't communicate with your child because of the language, all they see is vast amounts of food, and there is not relationship and trust enough yet to set the limits that need to be set.

H. would, we discovered, eat as many as four full breakfasts before being willing to stop. We took to allowing her seconds and then we would announce we were all done before the third plate could be filled and we dashed out of the restaurant. Other meals were just as tricky because (as we discovered) she was quite adept at communicating with waitresses and ordering whatever she pleased and we would have no idea until it all arrived. Who prepares you for scenarios like that?

This inability to feel full continued after we were home. Now, our other children do tend to eat quite a bit, but they have high metabolisms and are quite active. It has never been an issue and we've never needed to limit food. Suddenly, after a couple of weeks of being home, I realized that H. had gained at least 20 pounds. Now some of that she could really use. She was tiny. But, with her new diet and her inability to feel full, this was no longer the case. Plus, due to her insecurity in moving around and her concerning lack of muscle tone, the calories were not being used. The last thing we wanted to do was to make her feel as though everyone else could eat and she was limited, so we took to giving her smaller portions so that she could have seconds along with everyone else. Plus, we have continued to try to up her activity level and create muscles.

It is still all a work in progress. The best news is that several times recently, she has left food on her plate and also been times where she has turned down seconds. I think she is finally feeling secure enough to not have to eat every single thing and is more in tune with her body to know she is feeling full. I am confident that as she gains muscle and becomes more active everything will sort itself out. I questioned myself about sharing this at all, but I know there are people who read my blog who have adopted older children or are thinking about it, and I think it is important to share the realities of what life looks like. There are so many little challenges that I rarely see addressed when older child adoption is discussed.

One last item... how am I continuing to adjust and attach to H? This is so much better, I can't even tell you. There is nothing like feeling as though you are really starting to get to know this person, to begin to predict how she will react to something, to feel as though you are beginning to get a handle on what she likes and doesn't like, to make you feel as though she is really your child. There is a comfort with each other that wasn't there at first. And there is love. Real love and not just the "I'm supposed to love you" kind. Of course, it is still a work in progress, so that her repeated phrase of, "Are you sure?" (which is always said very, very loudly) is still like nails on a chalkboard and I am thrown back to my fake smile and deep breathing. But those moments continue to become more infrequent and my reaction is more often along the lines of, "Oh, that's just one of her endearing quirks," which is my common reaction to my other children's idiosyncrasies.

So, life with H. is good. As with everything, progress is not a straight line, but more back and forth with overall forward motion. I cannot tell you what a joy it is to watch this girl blossom. To shed off the idea that she is not smart or capable and to learn that she is both of those things. To watch her start to believe in herself, to begin to exert her opinions, to discover who she is.
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Almost forgot... please don't forget about these children


Continuing to advocate for the children in Bulgaria. Their files were sent back which means that they cannot be advocated for on Reese's Rainbow or have any funds donated towards their adoptions. It means they are essentially invisible and unwanted. It tells the government and the agencies that yes, indeed, their initial assumptions were correct. No one wants a child like these. They are not worth it.

But they are! They are created by God in His image and we are called to care for them. They are truly the least of these. I cannot let them go; I think about them in nearly every free moment that I have. I'm going to post one of their pictures here at the bottom of each of my posts each day. Would you join me in praying for each of these children? Pray that a family would come forward who is willing to adopt them. Love them. Pray that they will know they are not forgotten? There is still hope for these little ones as their files can be specially asked for, it just adds time to the process.


This is Brandi. She is 6 years old. She lies in her crib and waits and waits and waits for someone to scoop her up and tell her how loved she is. Just imagine a grin on her face, her hair allowed to grow out. Imagine how transformed she will look when she is loved. Pray that she doesn't have to wait too much longer for her parents to find her.
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