Friday, November 30, 2012

The Faces she makes

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The faces that Zoe makes when she eats an orange crack me up every. single. time.

She is so intense, that even when I pulled out my camera to take pictures, she barely noticed I was there.

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Zoe loves her fruit. I want to give her an orange once a day, just so I can laugh a little.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Applying to University

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So the time has come for Abby to apply to some Universities. Yikes. How did I get this old?!

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Home Sweet Home

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Tim is home, safe and sound.

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Once again, he had an amazing trip. His team is often a lot of the same people year to year and he enjoys connecting with them once again. Plus, his dad is also on this team and it is pretty awesome when a father and son can do this together, year after year.

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There are always so many patients they have to turn away. Never enough time to help them all.

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

A bit of Psychology: {Romanticizing}

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I was talking to a friend yesterday who recently adopted a four year old girl and is having some struggles with her. We were discussing how to deal with both keeping communication open regarding our children's adoptions (and past) but at the same time not romanticizing the whole thing.

Her daughter told her she didn't want to be adopted, but when asked if she wanted to have a different family she adamantly said NO.

It is interesting to see the different stages our kids go through as they process their past and their present situations. You can see that they think a lot about these issues and are trying to figure it all out in a toddler mindset... where do they belong? What is family? Who is my true family? Will I always be a part of this family? Would my "other" family be better?

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As a mother of an adopted child, we can get very protective, of both ourselves and our children. I know I am not the only one that has to hold her tongue when her adopted children start talking about their "other mother and father" and how their birth country is their true home, etc.

How much do you romanticize it all? How great their birth country is? How much their parents loved them and wanted to keep them?

How do you teach them how different their lives would be if they had not been adopted, without making is sound like you are the saint who saved them?

Don't get me wrong... I love my children's birth country, it is beautiful and the people there are beautiful and their lives there (had their birth parents been able to keep them) wouldn't necessarily have been bad, just very different.

Where do you draw the line?

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I struggle with this with Lilah the most because of her struggles. She had one of her meltdowns yesterday (which is always great when you have company in the house who must think I am torturing her!). I feel that Lilah out of all the kids, will feel her life would be better if she had been left in China with her foster family, because here she so often seems to feel so hard done by.

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Any advice, thoughts and personal experiences from those who have already gone through this would be great!!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

In China

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Tim has been in China on his annual medical mission trip now for ten days.

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He loves this trip. He gets to what he loves to do, without all the politics and paperwork.

But I can tell he is starting to feel ready to come home.

They work very very hard and have very long days.

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I am missing him! Maybe I shouldn't have made him stay that extra day in Beijing to do some shopping for me!

But I know he will come home full of stories, feeling rejuvenated and exhausted all at the same time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A bit of Psychology: {the siblings}

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One of my bloggy friends asked me how the rest of our children have dealt with some of the issues that Lilah has caused in our home.

First of all, my kids are true siblings. The love, they play, they fight, they yell, they like to be together and they need time a part.

Seven kids will always cause chaos in any home.

My bio children love adoption. They love the little ones as much as they love all of their siblings. But I would say that they have even more compassion for the little ones, out of some understanding of where they have come from and what they have been through. My older kids read my blog, they listen to our conversations regarding the issues we have and we try to keep them in the loop, so that they can understand why the littles sometimes behave the way they do and why they are sometimes treated differently.

Lilah's behaviours have affected our kids. Anytime there is any sort of stress in a home, it affects the kids. Our reactions to some of Lilah's behaviours may not have always been great, we haven't always dealt with her the right way, but we are learning and trying. We also try to keep the older kids out of the discipline part of things. This doesn't always happen. Abby is 17, almost an adult and she deals with things the way that we deal with things. She sees things in a more mature way.

The process of older child adoption, is a learning one. Every child is different and deals differently with what they have experienced in life. Personality plays a large part in this. I feel Tim and I dealt with things the best we could, we tried to take our time, to be understanding, we tried to deal with one issue at a time. Honestly, when a child causes this much stress, it is really hard to attach to them. I do find our therapy very helpful with attachment on my part as well. I have attached very differently to each adopted child.

Overtime, the other kids have learned to ignore Lilah's constant crying and drama. They are sick of it, just like Tim and I are sick of it. I don't think this is a bad thing. If they ran to comfort her every time, that would cause more problems. If they were the comforters, while Tim and I were the disciplinarians, that would cause more issues.

One thing we have to watch every time we adopt is that the littles will often try to go to the older siblings for comfort when they are disciplined. They are mad at Tim and I, so they try to go to the fun ones who don't discipline. We often have to tell the older kids to back off and even at times, to back off completely. Meaning they take a break from picking them up, carrying them around, cuddling them on their laps. Lilah tended to do this the most, she would hold a grudge for hours and hours.

The little ones don't seem to be overly affected by Lilah's behaviours. They seem to be fairly oblivious and maybe somewhat too self absorbed to notice.

The one time it can affect the whole family is when we have to WAIT for Lilah. This happens often. She will do things on her own time. Taking forever to eat, taking forever to get dressed, taking forever to just do those daily, common sense things that I have already talked about. This can be tricky to deal with, unless Tim and I are willing to divide and conquer... meaning one of us will stay back with her and she misses out on that activity, which means that one of us, also miss out on that activity. Very frustrating. I was at the school today as the kids were getting ready to leave for the day and noticed that this happens at school as well. The teacher had to constantly tell her to hurry up and get ready.

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I guess my answer to this is that even though there is stress and chaos in our home often, the kids are learning to deal with it, as we are as parents. They have compassion. They see adoption as a blessing. They are proud of their siblings. They have never shown any regrets about us adopting three times (except for Micah when he was five and told me to take Lilah back to China!). And I think as they see us working towards healing the hurts that have come with our littles, they learn as well, how to deal with stress, how to ask for help and more than anything, they see that the BLESSINGS far outweigh the hard times.

Adoption is so worth it and our kids have learned and grown in ways that other children will never experience.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A bit of Psychology: {One Month}

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Lilah still shows her anxiety in her forehead and behaviours at times that she is uncomfortable, such as being put on the spot, being the centre of attention and when she is disciplined.

There is some improvement. Her skin is rosy and glossy and she has better balance.

She is still not quite where we want her to be. She still needs to bring her mind and body to the present and stay there. She needs to remain in the relaxed state more consistently and recognize when her anxiety is rising.

We are consistently doing our therapy. We continue with yoga each night before bed, we do our deep breathing and we do the nightly massage. We have tweaked a few of these things to try to get them to work more efficiently.

The Ball:

The girls seem to see the ball as a play thing, so in order to get them to sit on it properly, we now do our bedtime stories while they are sitting on the ball. They are distracted enough by the story, that they don't fool around, but have to concentrate more on the balancing.

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Deep Breathing:

Lilah hates doing the deep breathing and letting go of that control. So now when breathing, we place her hand on her belly so she can feel and focus on the breaths.

We will also use a exercise band and I will wrap it around her shoulders tightly for a few breathes (this limits her fidgeting) and then wrap it around her under her armpits for a few breaths and then lastly, wrap it around her waist for a few breaths. While she is breathing, I run my fingers up and down her spine so she can feel how long she should be drawing her breath in and out.

I then ask her to send her breath to the right side of her brain where her emotions are stored. This is to calm her. I touch her forehead and tell her to close her eyes and send the breath to my hand. You should be able to feel more heat on that side of her head.

I then ask her to send her breath to the left side of her brain (where anxiety is stored). She must first be calmed before she can release her anxiety.

I then ask her to send her breath to the middle of her head, at the back to integrate the two sides.

Our goal is to build more brain cells. This all may sound a little strange and out there, but hey, I am not a Psychologist, I am just trusting that our Doctor knows better than I do, what works!

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Yoga:

The girls love their yoga! And when they CHOOSE to cooperate, they do quite well and I can see them relax and balance better.

We are using a new book which I highly recommend.

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The Psychologist also had Lilah play in the sand table again. Lilah gets four minutes to pick from hundreds of toys that she can place into the sand and make a scene. At the end of the four minutes she has to tell why she chose those toys and what they mean.

Lilah picked the same toys as last time. A couple of little houses, a bunch of little people. Tim and I lived in one house, with the boys. Lilah, Abby and Zoe lived in the next door neighbours house with Auntie Kelsey and Uncle John. Cousins were mixed up with siblings.

This is part of her dissociation.

The Psychologist sees this as her starting to figure out where her place is in her family and what her family consists of. She is starting to see herself as a part of our large extended family, but still doesn't grasp being a part of our immediate family. A month ago, she didn't even distinguish neighbours from family, so there is some improvement here. We need her to see herself as a part of our intimate family unit now.

When asked if she had bad dreams at night, Lilah said no, she doesn't have bad dreams. She did open up a little bit and said that she dreams of a room with green curtains and lots of Chinese people.

I have had a lot of people ask about the constant repeating of bad choices regarding everyday, common sense issues in adoptive children... so I asked about this and how to best deal with it.

Remain consistent. Anyone, who deals with this in their children, knows how exhausting and frustrating it is. This is all a part of dissociation and once we can get Lilah understanding what her place is in our family and into a more consistent relaxed state, this should improve. Remain consistent!

The Psychologist said she thinks this is not a choice at this age... not sure I agree. I never dealt with this with my bio kids at this age...

We will see the Psychologist a few more times over the next few months and see how it continues to go.

*On a side note... I was told to continue massaging Zoe, even though it makes her laugh. This releases her anxiety. It frustrates me and makes me laugh, all at the same time!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Two Years Together

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Two years ago today, we met Zoe.

This little girl had a rough start. But oh, how she is loved and how that love can change a child amazes me every single day.

How is Zoe doing after two years in our home and family?

She still has food issues and likely always will. She is still concerned with when the next meal is coming, is there dessert, can she have another snack? We continue to try to teach her to listen to her body, that when her tummy says it is full, she should stop eating. She still will not stop eating as long as there is food in front of her. We are trying to encourage healthy choices and are thankful that she loves her fruit!

She is very black and white. When she is happy (which is most of the time) she laughs and we can't help but laugh with her! She is very dramatic and animated, again causing us to laugh often. And she also loves to throw a good temper tantrum when she is not happy, which can be amusing, and yet, makes me want to pull my hair out. She loves to grunt and flop down on the floor, kicking her legs and anything near her. But she does respond to discipline and shows great remorse when she acts this way.

She is extremely affectionate. She loves to cuddle. She loves to hug and kiss. She tells you that she loves you... all the time. And she is so easy to squish.

Zoe is showing some signs of ADHD. I hate labels and won't label her, but I am watching her closely and using some of our therapy techniques to teach her how to control some of her impulses.

This is carrying over into school now that she is in Kindergarten. The school does an assessment and Zoe showed some signs of concern in many areas. I am hoping that these are just developmental delays because of her late start and that they will work themselves out, but in the meanwhile, she is seeing an Occupational Therapist at the school, as well as a Speech Therapist.

I am so thankful for the support our school offers. That her teachers and the Principal love and adore her (even though she can be a bit of a handful!) that they show such compassion and understanding towards her.

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I LOVE this girl with my whole heart.

By choice, we have become a family, first in our hearts, and finally in breath and being. Great expectations are good; great experiences are better. -- Richard Fischer

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Captain's Dinner

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Our family was invited to the Captain's Dinner at our local fire station on Friday night. This is something that never happens. Families aren't invited to the fire stations for dinner, even the fire fighters families aren't invited to the station for dinner, unless it is a holiday dinner.

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We have known the Captain of this fire station for 20 years. But haven't seen him in years. He recently had a mountain climbing injury, where he ended up with shale in his leg. He was waiting for surgery for three days and kept getting bumped by emergencies. Tim ran into him in the hospital stairwell on the third day and decided to take him into the clinic to remove the shale. Doug was so thankful that he invited us to the fire hall so the fire fighters could cook us a meal.

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We got the full tour of the fire station, the tour that they never give anyone. I mean... we even got to see the bathroom and dorms! We were shown the trucks and where everything is stored in those trucks.

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Josiah was chosen to put on all the fire fighting gear.

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They even turned on the oxygen tank. You can see in the one photo that the alarm is going off on Josiah's chest because he wasn't moving.

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We may have a fireman (or four) in the making!

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They cooked us an amazing meal of grilled asparagus, roasted squash, pork tenderloin stuffed with dried tomatoes, goat cheese and spinach, garlic bread and for dessert they mixed up chocolate ice cream with chocolate chip cookies.

These fire fighters know how to cook!

We feel very honoured to have been invited by these men to join them for dinner.

And the kids were super excited when the fire fighters received a call, the alarms went off and they got to watch them change into their gear and the trucks leave, sirens on.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Adoption Awareness Month

Orphan Sunday 2012 from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.


November is Adoption Awareness Month and Sunday, November 4th, is specifically Orphan Sunday. I love that this day is not only a day for promoting adoption, but it is a day to celebrate adoption.

As Susan and I have travelled around speaking at different engagements for Spirit of Adoption Alberta and meeting some amazing people in the adoption community, we have learned that promoting adoption can be very difficult.

I have spoken to woman in large churches who have started up adoption ministries (advocacy, information nights, support groups) within their churches and yet, they too are struggling with finding open doors when it comes to orphan care ministries.

A friend of mine posted on Facebook this week, her frustrations with promoting adoption within churches. She referred to Matthew 19:13-15. Where Jesus is teaching and along comes a group of children and the adults try to ignore these children and get rid of them. But Jesus gathers those children close and says, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

We will never end the orphan crisis or fix the legalities that surround adoption in countries where so many children need families, but we will continue to fight for the orphan.

I do think we are going to see a big movement within church families within the next few years, much of this in part because of Focus on the Family and their End the Wait campaign.

I believe that adoption is often "catching" and as families see the blessings it brings, more people will begin the process. Let me say here, that the media often talks about adoption being a "fad"... but anyone who has gone through the adoption process, will tell you that with both the emotional roller coaster ride and the overwhelming amount of paperwork, adoption is something you must really want!

I find this to be very exciting, to see God's plan -- which is always so much bigger than ours-- unfold.

I am going to post some photos of my children, before and after... oh, how their lives have changed! Oh, how loved they are!

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