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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! 🙂

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! 🙂

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! 🙂

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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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 supervisor  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 called  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! 🙂


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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! 🙂

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The Storms of Life

Today was a day filled with storms, and not just the kind with thunder and lightning.

My husband and I took a couple days to get away at a cabin in OK after Easter. We decided to go to lunch in town because it was raining and there was nothing to do at the cabin.

After lunch a tornado warning was issued while we were driving. We stopped at the nearest building, which happened to be a Subway restaurant. The employees were the only ones there and they were visibly shaken up by the tornado sirens going off and the weather warnings on the radio station playing in the restaurant.

One was worried about her kids who were in a storm shelter with one of her family members and she kept wanting to leave to drive to them–weather be danged.

The other was earnestly trying to get her to stay because it was not safe to drive. Their manager called and said everyone in the restaurant should get in the hallway behind the freezer because there was a frame around that wall. So, when the power went off and the drive thru window started blowing open, we went behind the freezer! It was cramped, but okay. My husband and I got to encourage the employees and help them calm down, having been through many tornados between the two of us!

What was interesting is we are also going through an emotional tornado, and it picked up speed before we took cover from the physical one.

We received a message from the state our kids are in that they will not contract with a private agency, and therefore we would have to start the adoption approval process all over again with our state agency.

When this emotional storm hit us we could have freaked out and wanted to run away from the situation, but we didn’t. I picked up the phone, called the lady in our state, and started the process anew. I had to yell to answer her questions over the tornado sirens, but I will do whatever it takes to get my kids and that was what it took.

Someone asked me the other day how I am holding together and so calm through all this. I have my moments, but the calmness comes from our relationship with God. These are the kids He has made for us to raise, and He has been in control of this process from the beginning–and He still is! God never promises we won’t have storms, but He does promise to be our anchor and shelter through the storms of life. I know that if this is happening, it is happening for a reason and to ensure we get these kids at the time He has appointed for His glory. We just have to be faithful and hunker down behind the freezer until the storm blows through!

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Will Trump Run?

The question a lot of people have been asking lately is the title of this blog, “Will Trump Run?” I am going to give you my answer based on my psychological opinion.

I believe Donald Trump is definitely going to run for president and I feel this way for a couple reasons.

First of all, Donald Trump’s personality is such that he likes to have things to brag about–and those things all have his name attached. Trump Tower, Trump Golf, even Trump Water. He likes his name to be synonymous with “the best,” and what is “the best” job in the world? President of the United States. He has conquered everything he has set out to do in the business world and now I believe he is bored and is looking for the next challenge. What could be better than running for President?

The next reason I believe Trump is running for president is he is courting the Republican base–the new one, not the old-schoolers. He spoke at a Tea Party rally this past weekend in Florida. He is also aiming his message at evangelicals with his interview with CBN where he said he is a Christian, believes in God, attends church, is against abortion and gay marriage, etc.

A final reason I believe Trump is running for president is too many people say he won’t. Me thinks they protesteth too much. I think the people who have said he won’t run are “old-school” Republican establishment folks who are just as out-of-touch with the electorate and what they want as the Democratic “elite” they loathe.

The “folks” I read and talk to seem to want the opposite of what these so-called “experts” have experience in–politicians and politics. Psychologically, the people seem to be done with politics as it has been known and want something unconventional. There are no “experts” on unconventional, and that is why I think they are going to be proven wrong. Trump, if nothing else, is definitely unconventional.

So, for these reasons alone, I think the psychology points to a presidential run for Mr. Trump. Either way, we will soon have the answer from Trump himself.

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What is Psychology in Real Life?

Welcome to the first post of my new blog, “Psychology in Real Life.” I have wanted to have a WordPress blog for a while, but just haven’t gotten around to it until now. I believe that psychology is the best education a person can get because it helps you see what is really going on in the world, no matter where you are or what you’re doing (work, school, parenting, etc.). It has certainly helped me greatly!

In this blog, I will use my psychology education to explain how I see the real world–specifically my real world. That world right now revolves around adoption.

My husband and I are in the process of adopting a sibling group of three kids ages 3, 4 and 5 and it has been a long process to this point. We started out getting approved to adopt from our state, but the kids we found are in another state. We are almost done with the process, and of course, something else has come up.

As a psychologist, I have worked with many children in the foster care system, as well as many parents in that system and the system itself. From the counseling side, working within the system is extremely frustrating. CPS doesn’t do what you think they need to do to protect kids and families when you want them to, and when you don’t want them to do anything, they go ahead and do it.

Now I am experiencing that inefficiency from the other side–as someone trying to adopt some of those kids out of the system–and it is equally as inefficient and frustrating as it was as a counselor. We have had so many road blocks and silly actions we have to take simply because the system is flawed. For instance, we have been waiting on our home study to be sent back to the state we are adopting the kids from, even though that state has had it since October of last year. When I asked why this was necessary, the answer is, “that’s just what the government says we have to do.”

Now our state has sent a request to the state the kids are in to ask their permission to allow them to use our home study since it is done by a private agency in our state that has a contract with the state. They told me they had to send the request because the kids’ state may not work with private agencies, and if they don’t we will have to start the approval process all over again since that state retained jurisdiction of the process. Ugh!

We are still waiting on the answer because the way these people communicate is through an antiquated e-mail system that sends the communications through the state capitals before it reaches the actual people they are making the request of. Again, ugh!

So in this real life experience, I am using my psychology education to know when to push the people I am working with, and when not to. I also use it to help me calm down and hold my tongue in frustrating times where everything in me wants to scream and yell and explain to them the error of their ways. 🙂

It is not easy, but it helps. Even before I use my psychological education, though, I always consult with my Heavenly Father and he lets me know which psychology techniques to use and gives me His peace that passes all understanding. After all, He is the Counselor of all counselors!

I will keep you posted on this and other events in my “real life.”

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