My Family

My Family

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy ThanksLiving!

When I was younger I had my life mapped out.  Especially my Norman Rockwell holidays.

I would be sitting at the table beaming with pride over my five children in matching holiday attire. They would be sitting (two boys three girls) down with my husband in his tie looking on in anticipation over the golden turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and other holiday appropriate festive items.

Last week reality collided once again as I sat in a gi office with my son and listened to childhood IBS.  Gluten, lactose, and fructose intolerance.  Yippee. Seems like his bio fam has a lot of gi issues.

It also hit hard the week before when an independent feeding therapist re-evaluated my daughter and brought up concerns on her oral eating.  They told me I needed to primarily use her g-tube for now and offer her oral feeds but keep a close eye on it.  Aspiration is scary business.

Both kids also seem to have a knack for saying "Hey, it's the holidays, let's contract the plague!!!"  So I've had two sick kiddos on my hands.  It's enough to drive anyone bats.  Or make you want to run screaming for a one way ticket to someplace more peaceful.  Like say, Beirut.

And a couple of years ago it probably would have bugged me more.  Lots more.  I really wanted things to be so much different.  But the reality is that unless you are a TV show, sappy holiday movie, or a very good book things very rarely wrap up neatly with a bow.

When we were growing up we often went to my grandparents for the holidays.  My sister and I sat in the back seat and tried to kill each other while mom and dad weren't looking.  We also probably drove them crazy.  Then we stayed in hotels and I had to share a bed with my sister which also resulted in us trying to kill each other.  I can't imagine my mom thinking that this was just how she wanted to spend time making memories.

But despite it all I'm so thankful.  My life will never be Norman Rockwell and frankly I'm not sure that I want it that way.  My life is a whirlwind of doctors, therapists, learning to make special dietary items, tube and med bolusus.

My life is also filled with joy.  For years I wanted children.  I begged for them, I miscarried them. Holidays just hurt so much.  My two children came from broken places and made my heart whole again.  They filled empty spots in my life and made me a mama!

For two abandoned and abused children they have no visions of what holidays should be like.  Right now Marvin is happily playing with cars while sipping ginger ale and my poor little girl is knocked out cold sleeping in her dah's arms after a night of pain and crying.  For them life is pretty good right now.  They are safe, loved, and despite having the plague, pretty darn content!

I've learned to be thankful because no matter what life throws at me, I've learned to adapt.  I borrowed my post title from a sermon series.  But for me it's more than a series.  It's a way of life that I am making a choice to live.  I'm not perfect and I don't pretend to be.  I'd rather be real.  But I'm proud of what our family is and what we have fought against.  Of the inch stones we have celebrated. Of victories won, lost, and called a draw.

We still have a long way to go.  But no matter what my family is living proof that sometimes all you need is each other (and a good gluten free sugar cookie recipe, I can honestly say that this last batch isn't that swell) and lots of love.  So hold on tight to that.

Thank you too for following our journey.  You guys have been an amazing support to us as well.  I hope that you and your family find your own ThnksLiving.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Broken and Beautiful

"A broken soul is not the absence of beauty, but a cracked and torn soul reeks of the sweet incense it contains.” 
― C. JoyBell C.

I love that quote.  It's almost like you have to be broken to see what you are made of.  

This last week I watched my son be broken again.  I didn't plan on it happening.  It wasn't on my calender of events or to do list, but it happened.  

It started out with a visit for some services.  I try not to discuss my children's needs in front of them. Especially Marvin.  Not because I go out of my way to hide them, but when you have anxiety issues you have to be careful on how they are revealed and unfolded before them.  So I made a list with all of his current diagnoses.  The list grows and grows.  Sigh.  

So we went in and sat down, I gave my nice polite speech about how I don't talk about all these things and handed the woman the list.  Marvin plays happily.  But soon the play stops.  The woman reads the list aloud.  She insists that we do it this way.  Did you ever watch a piece of your child die in front of you?  We made it through the appointment and into the car.  My normally happy bubbly son was quiet.  He looked out the window and the tears streamed down his face.  

"Son?  Are you OK?  Do you want to talk to mama about it?"  

"Why, mama, why me?  Why did God put me together this way?"

I managed to hold it together until we got home and then I cried for the rest of the afternoon.  

The next day as we sit in another office the topic turns to Marvin's biological family and the abuse he went through.  He is still trying to process this.  He still thinks that he somehow deserves the abuse that happened to him.  Once again my child is broken.  

What Marvin doesn't see yet is that he is amazing.  He idolizes Shannon and me but I idolize him.  He is my hero.  He is proof that you can live through all of the crap that he did and get a million different labels and and still be amazing.  That you can be beautiful in your brokenness.  

I hope some day that he understands that even though he was "put together this way" not by a divine hand by by broken people that he will know just how wonderful and strong he is.  But until that day comes I'll be there.  I'll be there to meet him where he is, comfort his aching heart, and help him make beauty from brokenness.  

Monday, November 10, 2014

National Adoption Month

I bet you can guess what subject is near and dear to my heart and my life:).

I know every month has 8 million awareness causes.  November is also national novel writing month (because I know you are dying to know that).  But I am not planning on writing a novel (yet) so let me get back on topic.

If you follow my blog you know I'm adopted.  When I was dating my husband I made a point of telling him I wanted to adopt.  His response, "no problem".  But he wanted to try having our own kids first.

Well the years passed.  So did the miscarriages.  I watched other people around me get pregnant and have families.  It was hard.  So I broached the subject of adoption again.  This time I got the green light.

So I did the research.  I was all ready to hop a plane and fly to a foreign country to get a baby.  But then I looked at the cost.  It was staggering.  My every practical husband suggested that we "adopt local".  So we did.

It wasn't easy.  It took three long years and lots of broken hearts.  Long nights and days of crying. But then Marvin came home to us.
He was 18 months old and had special needs.  But looking at him made those three years worth it.  So very worth it.

So the years passed.  We still felt that our family wasn't complete.  So we went through another couple of years of paper slogging.  And then Cary Lynn came home.
It hasn't been easy.  Choosing to adopt can be a challenge in itself.  Taking a leap of giant faith and adopting two children with massive special needs has added to the challenge.

But it has been an amazing journey.  The bumps in the road have made me a stronger person.  These two little people took my world and turned it upside down.  They are my all and my everything.  My heroes.  They have made me the person I am today.  

But right now there is a growing need.  There are over 397,000 children in the US who are living without permanent families.  Out of those 101,666 are legally free for adoption.  But nearly 32% of these children will wait 3 or more years for a mama to bake cookies with them and a daddy who will tuck them in at night.  Every child needs a place to belong.  There is NO such thing as unadoptable.

Children are our hope and future.  Children who age out of the system are more likely to NOT finish school, end up in jail, and even worse repeat the same cycles that they lived through.  That is not OK. They deserve more. Adoption is a powerful way to bring permanence to a child's life and to let them know that they do matter.  

So this month whether you choose to celebrate national novel writing month, tree awareness week, world vegan day, or national maintenance week keep in mind that there are so many waiting children who want nothing more than to celebrate these special times with family.

It's not an easy road to take, but it is one of the most incredible journeys and rewarding experiences that you will ever have.  Trust me on this one.