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Back to School!

Well this year all 3 kids are in school!! K, 1st and 2nd grades. Whew! You know my thoughts on K (projects for parents that the kids can’t do themselves) so I am glad this is the last year I have to do it!! πŸ™‚

We still transfer the kids to another district in our town and I still love it! Z no longer needs a tutor because she is finally caught up and taking school more seriously. It’s amazing what maturity comes in the second grade! More than that, though, it is a blessing to see the maturity that comes once your child makes Jesus their Lord and Savior! Yeah, Z!! One down, two to go! πŸ™‚

K is still going strong on peeing her feelings instead of discussing them. The washer and her room she shares with Z started smelling so horrible we had to put K downstairs in a sleeping bag. Then that room started to smell so we finally just started buying diapers with her allowance money and she gets to work for us to pay off her debt each week on her allowance (diapers are expensive so since she has chosen to use her money to buy those, she doesn’t have any left to earn). It is nice having someone to fold the towels and help pick up leaves each week! πŸ™‚

She is still doing well in school although she gets her color changed more often this year-surprisingly enough for talking! She is usually so quiet but she has started to open up a lot more. She wets her diaper about 3 times a week now. Mostly losing allowance money for color changes. Two years into the adoption if this is all we have left to deal with for her that is fine with me! I keep telling myself and my husband this will stop when boys become interesting! πŸ™‚

M has started school and is doing well! I got him into 504 right away (helps to have been a school counselor and know how to get stuff done and what they have to do) to help with his fine motor skills (he gets a pencil gripper, large crayons and more time/help with writing, scissors, etc.). His stroke that caused the Cerebral Palsy at birth does not effect him cognitively but it does effect how he sees words on a page and his muscle strength. His docs say he has to memorize the letters facing the right way and then he will be fine but it just takes time. Right now he turns the paper upside to write his name. I think we are finally getting to the point where he knows where to write it. One letter is always backwards but this week I saw some progress in the right direction on that.

His teacher says he is one of the smartest kids in her class. Whew! He does well with his behavior in school and I think that is due to the structure we implemented at home, but also our decision to put him in day school as soon as we adopted him to catch him up developmentally and get him used to school. Now if we can only get him to realize the bus is still school…

The kids still Skype with their foster grandparents whenever the grandmother asks, which seems to be once every three months or so. The kids do not mention them anymore nor do they ask to speak with them but when they Skype they do ask them to come over just like they would any other person they talk to!

We have been able to start taking family vacations, especially over Spring Break. At first the kids were nervous about going somewhere and wondered if we would come back but now they are used to it. We LOVE to stay at a 2-bedroom, 2-bath Staybridge Suites room with a kitchen. We can eat a lot of meals in the hotel and there is plenty of room for everyone. When K was still peeing everything it was also nice to have the laundry facilities but now that we have diapers it is even easier.

Well that is all I can think of for now! Please keep praying for our family and that K and M make the same decision Z has to ask Jesus to be the boss of their lives!

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Happy National Adoption Day!

Well it has been a while since I have updated this blog–AGAIN–but lots has happened! My friend asked me the other day to add another post so this one’s for you, girl! πŸ™‚

Last time I wrote we were going to move. Well we didn’t. The foreclosure we put a contract on took too long to get the title cleared so we were able to withdraw from the contract and get most of our earnest money back. We did not want to be in a situation where title clouds could come up later and we would have to spend money on legal fees to get rid of them. Want to know how I know this? Because of this experience and the fact that all the kids were going to be in school, I decided to do real estate! I studied all summer and passes my exam at the end of August. I love it and the schedule has been great!

So we decided to remodel our house instead and transfer the kids to a new school district. We put the girls upstairs together in the big room and made the smaller room their playroom. Then we made my middle daughter’s old room into a guest room and put a double bed in my son’s room so when both grandmas come, we can put my son on a pullout twin bed in the study, which is now his playroom. Separate playrooms has made a HUGE difference in arguing and fighting! We remodeled our kitchen cabinets and our stairway and added a pool, hot tub and deck to our backyard. Whooo hooo! πŸ™‚

The kids are learning soooo much in the new school and I am very pleased with their progress. We had to get my oldest a tutor to help her catch up since she did not learn what she was supposed to in K at the old school. So frustrating for her and us but it has gotten a lot better. The tutor is a lady from our choir who is a retired school teacher and offered to help us for free. God bless her and people like her!

My middle child is doing amazingly well in K, which I knew she would. She did not want to go, though, so two weeks before school started she decided to start wetting the bed every night and has not stopped.

She thinks this will change the fact she has to go to school but it has not. It is her control thing. The only thing she can control is where she goes to the bathroom so she holds it in when she is supposed to go before bed and then wets the bed. I knew it was on purpose because for the six months before that her bed was dry. Just to make sure I had the doc check at her yearly check-up but he concurred that my hypothesis was correct–on purpose!

So in order to make sure she was the only one to suffer from this attempt to manipulate us, I told her she could wet the bed as much as she wanted but it was her responsibility to clean it up and once I wash the sheets, she has to put them back on. All her. She is an EXPERT in making beds should anyone want to hire her out! πŸ™‚ She quits for a couple nights when she wants something (Halloween candy; special dessert, etc.) but then starts up again. Whatever. Eventually she will get tired of it and quit. For Thanksgiving we are taking a sleeping bag for her and will put a trash bag under it just in case.

My youngest is doing really well in school and at home. He is often the only one to get special rewards each day and week because he follows the rules and doesn’t lie–unlike his sisters! An amazing turn around from his control efforts when he first came to live with us, praise the Lord!

The kids still get to Skype with their foster grandparents but we have discovered it’s best for the kids not to see them in person right now. It makes them regress like crazy for weeks after which is no fun for anyone. I think they realize now that when they made the decision to give them up it meant they were giving them up. Hard to realize, but they have asked to Skype with them less and less and the kids don’t seem to care if they talk with them anymore. They will when they call, but the conversations are shallow and very brief.

So, on this National Adoption Day, I wrote to give you hope. Eventually, you do become a real family and everyone settles down and settles in. Hang in there and if you feel called to foster or adopt–what are you waiting for? Get after it! That kid or those kids are waiting for you!

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Blessed to be a Blessing

So sorry it has been 10 months since I last wrote about our adoption, but getting three kids at once has kept us pretty busy! πŸ™‚

The six-month period where a case-worker comes once-a-month to monitor you until the adoption is finalized stinks. I hated it and so did the kids. I know they do it to protect everyone and make sure the transition is smooth and working, but it stinks!

First of all, the agency doing the monitoring switched the caseworker after the first month, so my oldest totally freaked out because she thought the new one was there to take them away since this had happened every other time she got a new caseworker. The worst part was they never explained why they were there or what happened to the kids, despite my begging them to, so it was rough each time they came.

We finally told the kids to act normal or they would lose their daily reward that day. This finally worked by the fourth visit. Last couple were okay but we were all grateful when they stopped!

Our adoption was finalized January 9, 2012 and it was such an awesome experience! The Judge gave each child a teddy bear to adopt and they have loved taking care of those bears, especially my middle child who is such a mother hen! We have constant conversations with her about the right order to do things in: meet a wonderful man, get married, get to know each other a couple years and THEN have kids. Her birth mother wasn’t the greatest role model for this, as you can imagine, so re-training!

Once the kids got our last name they could not stop telling people who they were! So sweet! πŸ™‚

My oldest girl just had her Kindergarten graduation and we are so proud of the progress she has made this year having not been to pre-school. She is reading above grade level and her teacher is amazed and so complimentary of her progress. She asked her how she learned so many words and to read so well and she answered, “My Mom worked with me.” That is true. We worked hard every night because the teacher expected her to learn sight words, but had not taught all the blends, phonics skills, etc. to help the kids learn the words so I taught her all 100 by teaching her the skills. Frustrating experience and one of the reasons we are moving.

So in January we put our house on the market. You cannot move during the six-month monitoring phase unless you want to do another home study (which no one wants ever!) so as soon as the adoption was final we called our realtor! We need one more room since the grandparents come to visit a lot more, and having the kids all at home made me realize we need more indoor play space, as well, so we started looking.

It took us finding a foreclosure and being in a multiple-offer situation to get the right house for our new family, but we finally got it and now have to sell the one we’re in! We have an open house this Sunday, so please pray it sells!

The kids love the new house but moving with adopted children has been an interesting journey. They have never moved with a family–only away from their family in a situation where they didn’t get to take their stuff with them, so they have lots of questions. “Do we get to come, too? Are we taking our food? Can we take our clothes? What about our toys? Are we taking the cars?” Lots of questions and lots of answers, but I think they finally understand we’re all moving to the new house and all our stuff is going with us! Whew!

My middle daughter has thrived since I switched her from her original MDO to the one at our church. The other one was a little shady and she hated going and once I saw how they spoke to her I let them have a piece of my mind and moved her. Don’t anger Mama Bear!

She is VERY smart and creative but pretty shy. She has gotten a lot more confident as the year has gone on. She used to throw huge fits that lasted over an hour where she screamed at the top of her lungs and destroyed her stuff, but when she finally realized she would not get rid of us that way and we would not let a 4-year-old be in charge, she quit.

Some “wise” well-meaning person tried to tell me if I was just consistent with the time outs, she would stop. I told her I am a child psychologist who knows that time-outs have a limit and the Bible says many things about spanking as part of discipline and when she is mine, it will be utilized in a fair and safe manner! That lady and anyone else who does not have an adopted child would best serve adoptive parents by nodding their head rather than trying to give us advice. Just sayin’.

Anywho, as soon as the honeymoon period of the adoption finalization wore off (about a week later) the kids got their first spankings. Let me say this: spank with structure and it works like a charm. Don’t spank in anger and don’t use your hand. We have a three time-outs rule. If you get three, you get a spanking. That’s all I will say but I disagree with people who say it should not be an option. Our adoption worker told us most parents end up spanking their kids on the way home from the courthouse after the adoption is final! This is simply because time-outs only go so far. Period.

Okay, off my soap box and back to the progress. Our middle child has not thrown another fit since the adoption was finalized, has stopped trying to be in control and has started spontaneously hugging us and telling us she loves us and loves living here and going to church. Praise the Lord!

This happened sooner for our oldest. She was quicker to realize the difference between us and her birth parents and so she was saying “I love you” and hugging and kissing us before the adoption was finalized.

It took our boy until after the adoption finalization to say, “I love you” and hug us, but he does so freely now! He has had the hardest time giving up his fight for control–mainly because his foster grandparents treated him like he was a baby and let him run the house. When we got him, he was three, but could not potty in the toilet, could not eat on his own and could not walk very well. He does have cerebral palsy, but he had a brace and they did not work on anything with him so he got carried everywhere.

His pre-school has been a huge help. They helped us get him potty-trained in 2 1/2 months, and he now eats on his own and is walking so much better! While he was fighting for control, though, especially before the adoption finalization, he would give his teachers huge fits with screaming, throwing his shoes at them, kicking and hitting them and trying to bite them. They hung in there though, and we worked together to stop this behavior. After his first spanking, it stopped almost immediately. His foster grandfather would spank him all the time, but neither we nor the school were allowed to and he knew it and took advantage. He is very smart!

Now he does so well in school and has grown up so much! He comes home and tells me about his day. So sweet!

Due to his cerebral palsy, we got a great pediatrician and pediatric optometrist who take Medicaid (hard to find) and the pediatrician referred us to Scottish Rite, which is this amazing not-for-profit hospital that exclusively provides free treatment for kids who have orthopedic issues like our son. They have the top doctors and treatments in this field and we are blessed to be able to take him there. They gave him a new brace that has helped tremendously and we meet with the neurologist later this month there to plan for his future treatments.

Before I close this update, let me speak to those adopting or thinking about it. Adoption is a calling. It is not for everyone. It is not easy and there will be many times where you want to give the kids back and go back to your other life.

Do not feel guilty–that is normal! Even parents who have their own biological kids feel this way, but it gets better. “This too shall pass,” as the Bible says. Just remember that love is not a feeling; it’s a commitment. You have to make the daily choice to love your spouse and your kids. People who don’t make that commitment to love don’t survive their marriages or as parents. The only way to succeed in this commitment, as I have continually learned over the last 10 months, is prayer. Talk to God–He’s your only hope and the best parenting example we could ever have! I have enjoyed watching how He parents His people in the Bible and felt less guilty when I am doling out punishments for my kids’ hair-brained schemes! πŸ™‚

Please keep praying for our family and thank you for your investment in us! The kids participated in our church’s baby blessing this past Sunday (my first Mother’s Day and my oldest’s sixth birthday) and did great! Praise the Lord! The oldest two have asked Jesus in their heart to be their Lord and Savior, but we do not think they are ready for Baptism yet, so we are waiting. Praise the Lord!

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Adoption in Real Life

So we have had our three beautiful kids for two weeks now. It gets better every day, but it was really hard at first on everyone. It was overwhelming to have three people who can talk and tell you things and ask for stuff and need constant attention show up all at once. The mornings were and are especially hard for me since I am not a morning person. Our boy was getting up at 5:30am and that did not work for anyone! One of my friends who I call my “expert” told me to tell them they can’t come out until the clock has a 7 on it. What a great idea! We went a step further and set the alarm. First it was set for 7, but I changed it to 7:30. I don’t think the neighbors appreciate them playing outside at 7:30 once they’ve eaten breakfast and put their play clothes on!

My husband is a wonderful father and a great help. I definitely could not do this without him! He takes the morning shift and I take the day. Then we both do dinner and bath and bed time when he doesn’t have to go back to work at night. The routine is going great and everyone is starting to get used to each other–except one of our dogs. He has decided he does not like all the noise and attention so he spends most of his day under the bed and the other part peeing on the floor. Rough times! I had a talk with him about that yesterday, and so far he has not done it today.

Our boy has always had trouble going to bed, but now we have got him getting in his bed at the same time as the girls and staying in it until he falls asleep, praise the Lord! He is also sleeping through the nights now without waking up and screaming, which again, is a welcome change for everyone! πŸ™‚

The oldest has had the hardest time because she remembers the most. She is much better now, though, and responds to what I am teaching her about being a good person, so praise the Lord for that, too!

The best decision we made was to put our boy in preschool at our church each day. The girls are older and were leaving him out and I could not play with him all the time, either, so now he is with kids his age every day and learning new things. He has grown up significantly because of this, which is a great blessing.

Our middle girl goes to MDO two days a week which is good for her and her sister. They need a break from each other every now and then!

Our oldest starts Kindergarten in August and I am working with her on writing her name and her letters and numbers. She was resistant to the idea of school at first, but gets more accepting of it every day. She asks to drive by the school every now and then so that helps.

We also have a little girl they met who is now coming to play with us four days a week. I am so glad they haveΒ  some friends now. It really helps them and me. Thanks for praying for us and please keep it up!

 

 

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Free at Last!

Well, if you have been keeping up with our adoption saga on this blog, then you know we were still waiting on paperwork and final visitation so that we could take our kids home, even though it was supposed to have happened a couple weeks ago.

Well I am happy to report the paperwork was approved and sent last week and we scheduled visitation for July 5, 6, and 7. The adoption worker and I got along really well as she came each day to observe our interactions with the kids.

Then on Thursday, she said, “Okay, so you can take the kids home anytime you want to tomorrow.” The grandmother started crying and I hugged her but my husband and I were very happy, as you can imagine!

Well, today is Friday and we took our babies home! It was a long car ride filled with “Are we there yet?” and the youngest one crying for a good 30 minutes for his grandma and some crackers, pit stops for gas and food and then the youngest saying the word, “booty” as many times as he could because grandma taught it to him. Ugh!

Anyway, when we got home they were very excited and of course wanted to try out all their toys and the swing set. The awesome people from our church had a sign on the back door welcoming the kids home and there were balloons and a basket full of snacks and toys for the kids. They were very excited about that, too!

Then some wonderful people from our Bible Study class brough fajitas to us for Fajita Friday and the kids loved them, so that tradition will continue! Yeah! Then we had clean-up time, followed by Skyping with the grandparents, an injury of my oldest’s nose from the bunk bed, three time-outs for the youngest, wetting of pants of the middle child (who asked if I would still love her even if she wet her pants. I assured her there was nothing she could do to make me stop loving her and that everyone has accidents. She came in triumphantly not too long after that and said she had made it to the potty on time! Yeah!), bath time and then brushing of teeth followed by bed-time stories and prayers.

All the kids were in bed and asleep by 8:15pm, praise the LORD! The youngest boy, every time we have taken care of him and every night at his grandparents’ house, would cry and scream at bed time until he made himself throw-up. He threw-up on me the first time we took care of them. So, youΒ  can imagine that is what we expected. Instead, my husband told him, “listen, son, this is my house and in my house, we go to bed at bed time without throwing a fit.” And he did! Praise the LORD!

It is really hard to get three kids at once and very overwhelming to say the least, but I know these are the kids the Lord made for us to take care of and we will all get used to each other in time. Please keep praying for us. Thanks! πŸ™‚

 

 

 

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Free My Kids! Part 3

When last I blogged about our adoption process, I said we were waiting on the adoption worker to let us know when the paperwork would be ready for us to review for full disclosure. Well, it was not ready on Monday, June 20, 2011 as we asked for and were told by the foster care supervisor it could be. What a surprise!

I got an e-mail from the adoption worker that morning saying that she was sorry, but she did not have the paperwork ready and it had to be approved by her supervisorΒ  in the state capitol before we could review it. Needless to say, that step in the process had not been discussed with us the previous week when I talked with her many times. We had stayed in town after our vacation in order to review the paperwork, and she knew this. I was very frustrated at this point, so I e-mailed her back and asked if there were any other steps in the process she had neglected to tell us about that we needed to know. She never answered.

So, after a phone call with our friend in the state capitol who gave us her supervisor’s contact info and offered to call (we said we would do it, but thanked them for offering) we calledΒ  and spoke with her supervisor’s assistant (the supervisor was in meetings and her assistant pulled her out to get an answer on how to help us after we told her our story). That supervisor, through her assistant, told us that the only person we could trust is this adoption worker. That the foster care department and the adoption department in the city where our kids are have issues with one another (no kidding!) and that now our adoption worker was having to clean up their mess. She said there was no deadline for the worker to get the packets completed for us to review, so we would have to wait and then she would review once the worker completed them. Until then, we could not do anything else. She also said she could not guarantee us the worker would keep us up-to-date on the process. Nice. She did apologize for our frustration and how we had been treated up to this point. That was appreciated.

Well, this was obviously not what we wanted to hear, but there was nothing else we could do, so we drove back home to wait. I sent an e-mail to the adoption worker that night, after calling the kids and letting them know we were coming to get them, just not that day, and apologized if I had been abrupt with her and told her the things the foster care worker had told me about her that made it hard for me to trust her. I thanked her for all her hard work and said I looked forward to a more open and productive relationship with her in the future. I wanted to call her and tell her all this, but their phone system does not allow any calls after 4:30 pm, which is when we had heard the final word from the supervisor.

So, the next day when we got home, I called her that afternoon and told her verbally what I had said in the e-mail. She thanked me for saying what I said and apologized for not letting me know sooner when the paperwork would be ready. She said her supervisor had just changed to the lady in the state capitol. Her previous supervisor had been in another town only an hour away and so he could have reviewed the packets and given final approval so we could have gotten the kids this week. However, once she remembered her new supervisor was in the state capitol, she knew she was to meet with her the following Monday, and that could be the only time for her to review the packets. I accepted her apology and asked about the next steps in the process.

She said the packets were done and once her supervisor reviewed and approved on Monday, she would mail them to us. She said we get to keep them and they are so thick, it will take a couple days for us to review them. Then we sign and mail back a form saying we reviewed them. Once that is done, the final visitation, which has to be three days and nights in the kids’ state, could be scheduled at our convenience. At the end of the visitation, she said we would be able to take the kids home. Well this conversation was definitely an answer to prayer and made us feel a lot better.

So, we are praying the paperwork is approved on Monday by the supervisor and that she also approves us doing the visitation three consecutive days, rather than having us do three separate visits. Then we are praying the paperwork is mailed next week and we can schedule the visitation. Thank you for all your prayers and please keep it up! πŸ™‚

 

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Free My Kids! Part 2

Well, as you know from Part 1 of this post, when I talked with the kids’ caseworker’s supervisor, I gave him the deadline of June 20 to get everything done so we could do full disclosure that day and then visitation so we could take our kids home after vacation.

Well, Monday of our vacation we were told by the adoption worker that she could not say the paperwork would be done by that date, much less by the end of that whole week. Then she said visitation had to be three pre-adopt visits, even though we had already discussed since we live out of state, we could do the visitation consecutively and then take our kids home.

Needless to say I wasn’t pleased with any of this information. I reminded her of our conversation about consecutive visitation, which she admitted she did say and backed off of. The problem was she wasn’t backing off of the paperwork getting done by the deadline.

So, I emailed the supervisor of the caseworker who was supposed to make sure the packets got to the adoption worker and said, based on what the adoption worker was saying, it was time for me to call the state capital to get them some help.

Lo and behold by Wednesday morning, when I asked for an update, he said the packets had been delivered to the adoption worker that morning. She confirmed this when I emailed to ask her about it. Little did any of them know we had already called the state office Monday evening.

The adoption worker then told me that even though she had the packets, it would take her a long time to audit them and document the information we would have to read for full disclosure and that it would not be done by Monday.

I reiterated that my husband had taken off work for this and that he could not do that again so I asked if we could help her. She said that was not an option because we are not allowed to see the files until she is done with them.

So I asked if there was anyone there we could ask to help her. She said if she needs help, she is fully capable of asking for it and would not need my help. I told her that was fine, apologized it had taken so long to get the packets to her, but that I had done everything I could to get them to her that day, and then I said the best help I could give her was to pray and let her know there were a lot of people praying for her.

The next email she sent was astounding. She said, “No offense, but i would appreciate it if you would not use your religious beliefs or practices in any of your future professional interactions with me.” Wow! I was offended and then I was sad for her. I also sent out a request for even more prayers for this woman. She obviously needs them! That email explained a lot about her cold, careless attitude towards this whole process. Sad.

As of today, we still don’t know when the paperwork will be done or when we will get out kids, but we know God does and are still praying it will be next week. I invite you to join us in this prayer, especially that the adoption worker will get everything done by Monday. I know she will appreciate it! πŸ™‚

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