Thursday, February 26, 2009

Baby dedication...

This past Sunday Jeremiah was dedicated at church. As Baptist's we don't baptise infants but we do stand up as parents and publicly recognise them as a gift from God and make a series of promises and acknowledgments relating to them and recognising the larger Body's role in that process.

As his parents.....

We released Jeremiah to the Lord and relinquished all worldly claim upon his life. (We don't own him.)

We pledged to raise him (with God's help) in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

We promised, through God's blessing, to provide for his physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

We promised to seek Gods help in wisdom, love and strength to serve Jeremiah and not use him.

We promised to pray regularly for his salvation.

Then Pastor Dan spoke these words of dedication over him: "Jeremiah, together with your parents who love you dearly and this people who care about the outcome of your faith, I dedicate you to God, surrendering all worldly claim upon your life in the hope that you will belong wholly to Jesus Christ, forever." And the congregation said "Amen."

Ten times I have stood before our church family and had these words spoken over my children. Each of the promises is etched into my heart, and I am so relieved to know we don't walk this parenting path alone.

(thanks to Jan/Joby/Weldon for working to get us a photo of the dedication - sometimes it takes a team to get these things done!)

Quick construction update.....

Weldon has made great progress on the bathroom this week. The tile will all be in tomorrow and I think he may even get to start grouting. It's amazing to see the change. This is the view of the nasty set of pipes. They are now a nice architectural element......

Today we tried out the new sink so we could determine a good tile height. It's such a tiny space that everything is a puzzle. Just the thing to keep us occupied on a February day with 8 inches or so of new snow!

This is the complete shower wall. I think the new tub will fit right in with the classic tile look.

Construction has left the kids much more free time than usual.
John has taken up reading to the three little girls. Everyone but daddy has fleecy jammies and stays in them as long as possible in the morning. Even me. : )

Monday, February 23, 2009

Buy a bow and help Sarah's Covenant Home!

Here is the first fun idea that has come out of our blogging circle for supporting Sarah's Covenant Home. A friend who's adoption fundraising is now complete is going the extra mile and shifting over to fundraising for SCH.

Excuse my laziness, I copied the photos and text from Kendra's site because I just don't have the energy to think this through on my own. Link below and you will go directly there and can buy them for your own Treasures and help provide for Sarah's Blessings at the same time! So it's decision time at my house ....matching bows for my girls or a different one for each?

Click here to link to her page and order...

"Since the Lord has provided all the funds we need for our adoption, I am excited to now branch out to other orphan projects, the first official fundraiser being for Sarah's Covenant Homes in India! Thank you Shawnda for partnering with me to help these children! Now, readers, we need YOU to partner with us to get this going! :)

These butterflies are approximately 2.5" x 2.5" and are attached to an alligator clip. This clip will stay in even the finest of infant hair, and these buttterflies are perfect for newborns through older girls! They make a great gift item for any age girl, so think of upcoming birthdays, baby showers, Easter, a sponsored child, or "just because" gifts. I have gals that buy a few at a time just to keep in their "gift stash" because they make a sweet gift for any age child.

$10 will buy 1 butterfly, or 3/$25. (Add $1.50 per butterfly if you want the double set of wings--the bottom row in the picture) Tax and shipping included. I will ship your butterflies as soon as payment is received, either by check or through Paypal.If you have a girl with no hair, the butterfly can be clipped on to an interchangeable band (stretch lace or stretch cotton blend material), or a crochet headband or beanie.

All proceeds will benefit SCH! Once all the donations have been received and tallied, I'll send in one big (hopefully!) check to SCH. I hope you will keep up with SCH--it is worthy of attention, publicity, donations, and prayer!"

Blessings to all.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Painfull parenting....when you don't 'feel' love for a child.

The phone rings, my email fills, a friend approaches and time after time moms with breaking hearts, confess to me that they don't 'love' their difficult children as much as they wish they did. I can see it coming, it's harder to talk about than dealing with lying and stealing. It's more burdensome than feeding the family when dad is laid off and it's more exhausting to consider than all the other things we fail at as keepers in our homes.

It's hard to hear the reasons why moms feel this way. Pre-teens who spew hate and destroy parental property. Grade school kids who throw entire households into chaos and disorder. And toddlers who regularly turn away from their mothers with screaming fits and only want to be with the father. I listen and grieve the loss of innocence with each mom. No longer can that mom say that "Love is enough." Because something changed along their path and the sweet, simple and natural fellowship that they visualized is gone.

When we talk further it usually comes down to them finding a new foundation for their relationship with the child. One based on the belief that God built the family on purpose, that this is no mistake and that emotional abandonment is not an option. From there they look into their own hearts and see the space between where they want to be and where they are. It's a hard place and not one that we go into willingly. After all, how many of us secretly think that our kids are here to meet our own emotional needs? To build us up and sustain our fragile adult egos by returning our investment with a sweet and docile obedience. And if they don't..... we retract our love, restrict our involvement and begin to separate ourselves from them emotionally. I've done it - I admit it and I confess it. There came a day when I needed to change from considering my first difficult child my adversary and move into the seat beside him as his best and most faithful supporter.

It wasn't me against him - it was us against all the challenges he was going to face in life and no feelings of 'love' were deep enough to keep me faithful. I'm not that strong. I get frustrated and tired. Disappointed and selfish and I hate to have a negative light cast on me by his behavior. I needed a different type of love that wasn't based on how I 'felt' but on what I believe. I have found that and want to share it with other moms who discover that they really don't have the strength to keep the feeling of love alive. Because we can't.

So how do I answer my friends when they get down to the nasty fact that they don't feel very much love toward a particular child? I encourage them that it's normal, and that they don't have to feel it every day - but that they have to live it 100%, and that they are in good company (myself included) when they have to face the awful truth that they are only offering conditional love to the children in their homes when we need to go further and love them with the unconditional love of Christ.

And that's the end of it. I can't love my children with my feelings - it's not enough. But I trust and claim the love of Christ over us all and from there I see a future that isn't filled with angry guilt over my failures and frustration over the children not meeting my needs. It's filled with hope and the promise that our families are built on purpose and that I do not stand alone - regardless of how I feel in a particular moment.

It's ok to say you don't feel very loving - in fact I think it's a great place to begin looking at relationships and testing to see what they are based on. Is the foundation feelings which are as changing as the wind? Or truths established long before any of us was even born?

Hugs to all you failing moms - I love you unconditionally - because Christ first loved me.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

One thing I love about my husband.....

Last week Robert and I celebrated our 14th anniversary with chips,salsa, guacamole and a pair of Corona's on the couch. A lot has changed in the 14 years since we moved to MN and many of those have been for the better.

Money (and our attachment to it) is one of the things that has improved. The year we moved we were both working as professionals and pulling down good salaries. Then I 'retired' to be a mom and he took a few career twists and turns which significantly affected our resources. It's only in that last few years that we have matched that original salary level though now it supports 12 of us rather than 2, and 14 years have changed the cost of living significantly. But it is still more than enough to care for us as well as sharing beyond our normal tithe. Not rich by most US standards - but warm in winter, safe in our home and well fed.

So what is that thing I love best about my husband today? It's a little convoluted so bear with me for a minute... When he and I are back together at the end of a workday we often take turns filing each other in on what happened when we are apart. ( Chase the children away for a few minutes and just reconnect as I finish the dinner.) Yesterday he came home and said that he was surprised to have had another department assigned to him to manage as well as his own. It had been suggested, but no solid decisions seemed to have been made until an email came through announcing it. That was cool - he has established himself well in his position and they are recognizing his leadership ability. But that's not the big thing I am thinking about.

After his news I shared the burden I have had to write a post about the surgeries that the children at Sarah's Covenant Homes need and how the $250, $500, or $1000 are really insignificant amounts to many US families and would amount to nothing more than a tithe out of their tax returns or part of a property tax rebate. Compared to vision, working fingers or tonsils removed what else are people doing that can change a life so dramatically?

Then it was Robert's turn again.....and the part that deepens my love for him. He said something along the lines of "Yeah, I don't know if we are getting any extra money with this new responsibility, but if we are let's invest it there. After all, we would just fritter it away - we don't need it." This from a man who feels the responsibility of providing for 10 growing children and who lives with few luxuries when compared to his peers at work.

So that is one thing I really love about him - that he can catch a vision and take it one step further while still encouraging me to write the post and share the thought with all of you.

Our spheres of influence....

Sometimes I wonder if I am investing my life in the best way possible. My daily ministry circle is pretty small, the 12 closest to me, then the 20 or so in the next ring and who knows how many readers, followers or stalkers in the cyber world.

I could earn $100,000 a year (I've had offers to jump back into the pool) and that I could speak on a larger platform about FASD, Adoption and Community Policing. I also know that I'm called to this smaller, simpler ministry in this season as the one who rocks the cradle for these 10 children. But it doesn't mean that I don't care, love, pray over and support in any way possible those who we are called to embrace the world over.

Earlier this week I shared my 'discovery' of Sarah's Covenant Homes ministry in India and my heart has been with them ever since. Peering into their lives changed my outlook on the day and sharing that with you had a rebound affect in Sarah's life also. Here is a post comment she left today (it was public Sarah so I hope you don't mind if I share it! Forgive me if you do.) My purpose is to encourage other moms who are in the 'cradle rocking years' that we are being used in many ways that bring God glory - some that we might never know about.

"I'm in tears, Dorothy. You don't know how much you blessed me. The day before you linked my blog, I had one follower. I was getting discouraged, because I pour my heart and soul into it. It's not about money, it's about solidarity--feeling that you're not alone and that someone understands and is pulling for the kids alongside you. That night I had a dream that a famous preacher was preaching on a stage and was promoting our children's homes wholeheartedly. Woke up and saw that my hit counter was more than quadruple what it had ever been. You are that famous preacher, with your tiles and toilets and bathtubs and huge, wild, happy family. Now about four others have linked to me. A thousand blessings on you! "

A thousand blessings on you Sarah and 10,000 on each or your treasures. May we be faithful to pray over and support you so that you are never alone in this precious task you have been given!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Special gifts for the Special Family and todays bathroom progress....

Suffer with me on the photos for now. I can keep you updated with words and blurry photos until our COSTCO rebate comes and then it's going to be invested in a new camera. Until then we can pretend I don't know any better (sorry Dad!)

Sunday at church I was given an envelope with these bills and a check in it to help cover the Special Families March rent shortfall. Like the widows mite this was a significant thing for them and my heart is thrilled with their offering and the encouragement that the Special Family is not forgotten.

Today Weldon framed in the shelf and set the tile 'shower tower' - I don't know what else to call it. :) It's so much better looking in real life - I will try to get a photo tomorrow in the day light so that you can enjoy what a great job he is doing!

Pain in the parenting of kids with hidden disabilities...

Life can be very wearing when you are living with children who have disabilities. Many things that come naturally to other kids seem impossible. From understanding two part instructions to following through on the most basic self care tasks (like pulling up their pants), the smallest part of a day can become a raging battle or weeping failure. And then there are the unpredictable, out of left field things that happen in life that leave you reeling.

Last weekend I had a near-encounter with one of those events. After karate I took the oldest 5 kids to do the major COSTCO run - we filled three carts and were settling down for a hot dog and soda reward when a mom and her teen son asked if they could share our table. Sure, no problem. We spent a few minutes chatting about the weather and general things and then turned back to our own lunch partners. I was next to the mom and her son was across the table next to my boys. Our table mates were engaged in a serious and sort of unhappy discussion about a boy in his English class who was highly disruptive, smelled bad and just ruined everything for the others. My mommy radar flew into high gear when he explained that the boy had Asperger's and that's just the way 'they' were. WAIT! STOP! You sitting next to my very tender son who also has those tendencies (we still haven't 'officially' diagnosed him) and you are ripping on a group of people that includes him!

Thankfully we were almost done with our meal and my kids were more focused on who was going to get the last sip of their shared sodas to pay much attention. But it gave me an insight into how it might feel to walk around in life with a hidden disability - always vulnerable to the unknown (but still cutting) barbs of other peoples comments. Always needing to be just a little bit on guard because the pain is real, whether it is intentionally or innocently inflicted.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Photos salvaged from the sad camera......

Here are a few photos I managed to salvage from the camera. It's not totally broken but it has a nasty new issue with it's focusing, or actually not focusing capabilities.

This Friday marks a month of Weldon and Patty's amazing blessing to our family as he has torn out and is now rebuilding our main bathroom.

The tub unwrapped and chilling in the garage. It's going to take a few good friends to get this cast-iron baby into the house. :)

The background tiles for the inset shelves went up today.

The new tile floor is in! It's so clean and level it seems strange after the old one.

Weldon with Lily sneaking in the back door to help him tape the joints. Good thing he is used to little ones!

14 year anniversary tulips from Robert.

10 kids in 14 years almost sounds possible.

Today was a great day for Jerry.....

Jerry is the baby - at 13 months he has spent the past 4 of them finding his place in our family and getting used to what we do and how we do it. Today was a major milestone for him. First he slept all night long - until 7:00am. (Yeah Wahoooo!) Second he ate some solid food at all the meals and third he responded to his name when I spoke it.

The responding to his name was the one that thrilled me the most. I was sitting on the kitchen floor feeding Joe and Jerry some left over noodles and Jerry wandered away from me. I said 'Jerry' and he looked at me and grunted. I said it again, he grunted again. I tried saying something else (to see if he really was responding to his name) and he just looked at me. I said his name again and he responded with a grunt, tilted his head and smiled. In my world that's encouragement. I wasn't sure how much he has been processing lately and this is the first forward progress that I have seen in a while. In the world of 'outside the norm' his responding to his name made it a great day!

(There will be more photos when I get a new camera...mine fell prey to curious hands and most things are out of focus now.)

When your child is just not 'normal'.......

For my first few years of parenting I was intolerant of parents who were always thinking there was something 'wrong' with their baby or something terribly 'different' with how they were developing. My attitude was abruptly changed when I was blessed with one of those kids who fell outside the realm of 'normal' and had to face the intolerant and judgemental attitudes of those I went to for help or diagnosis. I had become the one that was considered irrational, hyperactive and paranoid - the irritation that wouldn't accept that there was 'nothing' wrong.

I read this morning on Sarah's blog about her first trip to the doctors office with the seriously neglected children that were just placed in their home. In my heart I am there with her. Humiliated because strangers think that I did this to these children, suffering with the child because I know that there is some unrevealed issue that needs to be addressed and angry because I live in a fallen world with no promise of relief or an answer.

Adoptive and biological Mom's call and email me all the time. Asking for prayer, for encouragement, for reassurance that they are not crazy and needing above all things a hug from a mom who has kids who fall outside the norm. My heart breaks as they talk through all the realities of their new life. Watching as the recreate their lives around words like autism or FASD, cancer, CP or brain damage. We all fall apart (you can ask Carrie - I sure do!) and are crushed when we look at all the angles at once. But when we stop spinning and wait for the Lord to speak into our hearts, then, and only then can we begin to rebuild around this new reality.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sarah's Covenant Homes......a special place for disabled orphans in India.....

I love the Internet! How else would I find out about a ministry like Sarah's Covenant that is receiving severely neurologically challenged orphans from the Indian government and bringing them into their home/care family. I'm laughing, crying and cheering all at the same time as I read back through their posts and see how God has met their needs and challenged them into even deeper waters than they at first stepped into. I'm following their blog on my bar now and plan to pray regularly and give as we are able to help cover their needs.

This is the list of surgeries that they are hoping to provide to their children this year. Things we would schedule and manage so easily here in the US.

This post brought my heart into line with how they are living do you go into an orphanage and 'choose' which ones you will bring into your home. How does your heart discern one hopeless life from another? And how can you turn and walk away?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Monday morning laugh for all of reason God seems to keep us in the entertain the neighbors!

Sunday night and I should be upstairs heading toward bed. But it's quiet down here and still, and I'm running on a bit of a high from putting that scrap-book project in the done pile. Here is the laugh of the day............

I dress fairly conservatively, especially on Sundays I combine function with the reality of many little people so my clothing tends toward black (goes with anything and I never get to think about what I am wearing so that helps.) Today I was in the process of changing from the black calf length boots and long dress pants into my freshly washed favorite jeans when a neighbor called in a panic. "Dorothy!!! (she said) There is something wrong at Dennie's house. The door is open and there was a light on inside last night. Go check it out!"

Now Dennis was a bachelor neighbor who she watched over for several years and he died almost exactly a year ago. His house has been vacant since then and we think that it has gone into foreclosure - it's hard for her to let go of the thought that it's 'Dennie's house!' and we should be protecting it for him. Anyway...I didn't have any good options for what to wear as the little ones were all asleep upstairs and my jeans were the only things in the basement - that's what I get for putting my laundry away! So I, um....squoze into my jeans that had spent a little too much time in the dryer, zipped into my calf high black boots because they were the only shoes that were not put away in my closet (and they had to go over the pants because they are a narrow leg) grabbed the only coat that was clean as my usual North Face parka was in the washer. No mirror to check, but it was a little form fitting, a tad fashionable and not my usual, "go check out the strange situation" attire at all!

Covered for the season(in a, fashion error - hope no one has a camera, sort of way), I darted between the houses and Pam's girls (who know my usually conservative outfits) see me in this Friday night - bar hopping like attire and do what teen and pre-teen girls do - they noticed! No hoots and hollers - they saved the teasing for later on but I sure gave them a good laugh as I slid across their back yard to go investigate.

Good thing I checked, Joyce was right and the house was filling up with water from either a burst pipe or stolen copper. The basement was totally filled and it sounded like the first floor was deep also. I did the necessary calls, to 911 in case they wanted to be involved and the city emergency water number to request they turn it off at the street. Then I stood out on the sidewalk, at two on a Sunday afternoon, looking like I was waiting to get picked up for a date, which I sort of was, but I was waiting for the cops to come so that I could go home and get out of this outfit! Of course I did have to walk past Pam's windows again...and bring those smiles back to all the girls faces.

Happy Monday! I'm posting from the road as the fashion police are still hot on my trail!

Caught up on one thing!

Yeah! Wahoo! Mommy Happy dance going on here! I just finished catching up on the big kids scrap books - the oldest 5 are updated now to October 2008. The younger 5 are still in baby books and they are a breeze compared to the gathering/sorting/managing that the older ones need. Once a year in January I order all the photos, sort all the 'saved things' and dive into creating order from chaos.The littles books are this weeks project and that feels SO manageable with the older ones out of the way!

(We do simple Anne Geddes baby books for the first 5 years and then start keeping scrapbooks for the school aged ones - 4 pages per year max. At least that's been the plan so far. :)

Toto Toilet details (because they were requested!)

The Toto that we purchased is their 'low end' gravity assisted "Drake" series through Performance Toilets (that's really their name!) There are two versions - on with tank lid locks and one without. I think that I will buy the one with locks for the first floor if I choose to put another one in that bathroom, because the lid doesn't have much lip to it so it may fall casualty to little curious hands. It's cost was $248.50 with free shipping and it came in a week.

If you are interested in how much these can flush without clogging (how much is 1000 grams in real life?)there are U Tube videos out there as well as clips on the Performance Toilets site. There are even more high-power ones we could have bought but they all use technology that makes them much noisier then a regular toilet and I didn't want to think about repairing them when I looked at the mechanisms.

So far I am very happy with this choice - I will be sure to let you know if anything changes in my opinion!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Dorothy and Toto...?

You can tell how tired I am when I start dredging up the jokes from my childhood. As a Dorothy in the 70's there were plenty of Oz comments flying around my social circle. Yesterday, after almost 41 years of waiting my Toto finally arrived.

It's sure not a dog (John is fairly allergic to things with hair so that's not going to happen) and it came via UPS. Not a very happy UPS man, since it took two of us to get the thing into the house. So what is my Toto? It's a super capacity, plumber recommended, almost impossible to plug, toilet for our second floor bathroom. Hu? Second floor? Oh yes. As we so clearly demonstrated to Weldon last week by sending toilet water down into the basement, remodeling the first floor bathroom isn't going to last long if we are flooding the walls and ceiling regularly from above. So I did the research, ordered the best gravity assisted toilet I could find, and prayed that we would make it without another 'incident' until it arrived.

It did, we didn't and Weldon very graciously installed it on Thursday night. Wow...there is no swirling in the bowl it goes ....."swurp" like a straw and then is gone. No double flushing and no question about the water backing up. All for about $100 more than a cheap toilet at Home Depot - it seems like cheap insurance in our world of questionable flushers!

The 'in-home' delivery team did a good job moving it from the front door to the kitchen.

At which point the inspector checked the packages thoroughly and found them complete.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Deliveries and photos of life.....

The bathtub came yesterday. It was impressive to watch this large truck navigate our narrow city alley. The tub was so well crated that it looked like a coffin - and in our old Italian neighborhood there were a few jokes about Uncle Eddie being delivered.

I was really glad that Weldon was here to help the driver get it situated in the garage and it was fun to unscrew the top and inspect it for damage (there was none.)

The pipes are gone - forever!

And this cool built in shelf has emerged from a dead end wall.....

Joe and Jerry love all things they are sorting and stirring the boxes of screws.

The sink came also this week - here is a similar one at the local tile shop..

I went shopping over the is what the basement paper goods look like when we throw them all over the gate for mommy to stash in the store room. It felt good to be ahead of the game rather than one step behind for the first time since Jerry came home.

Everyone has gotten into the construction mood. I have a crew of happy helpers who don't mind the dirt and chaos.

Even Lily has taken on a nurturing role...she's telling Joe the Car's story and they both loved the snuggle. (Lilly is 3 Joe is almost 2)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Closed adoption - is it still possible?

As an adoptive mom who has had many strange things go awry in our placements and post placement situations, I don't believe that a truly closed adoption is possible anymore. I know a lot of people don't agree and that's fine, but if a family is banking on an adoption truly being 'closed' they should know where things might just break down. Mistakes happen - crazy ones that you don't think are even possible and that there is no way to prevent. Things that a family might never know about until the day a note arrives in their mailbox or a message comes through on Face Book. In a moment, a confidence that was held about a door being tightly closed is gone and uncharted ground lies ahead.

(Side note: As I type there is a good chance that one or more of our children's families are going to be reading this. Not that I know they are, but if so, it's fine with us and it's OK to either keep lurking or to chime in on the conversation. We wont freak.)

The reality is that if you search 'Dorothy 10 kids' on the Internet you are going to find out an awful lot about me. It doesn't even have to be that specific. Simply searching 'Dorothy Robert adopt' will bring up links to an announcement made years ago when we adopted our 6th child - not hard to find us once you know his profession, position and where he worked in 2003. Not hard at all.

Most birth moms today are looking at profile books to choose a family for their child and in the front of them is a letter from the prospective parents - with the parents first names at the bottom. Within the body of the letter is usually enough detail to figure out what region of the country if not what state the family lives in, what any other children's names are, what professions the parents are involved in and so on....unwittingly families are providing enough information to track them down if a birth relation ever really wants to. Those are the things we control. We don't control human error by social workers. Post-it notes on the outside of files that state things like 'call Miller's' or mailing envelopes paper clipped to notes from the adopting agency with return address labels. And then there is my personal favorite....check out the back of your photos that you have sent for updates. Depending on where you upload, sort and organize your digital photos I have had some with my last name printed on them in that identifying code -so many ways that information gets out.

Those are not even the strange ones. We have had the state send one child's revised birth certificate (with her new adoptive name and all of our information on it) to her birth mothers address, another state revised the birth certificate but kept both the birth mothers name and mine on it along with the birth moms address (it was a home birth.) We had a judge at finalization state "This child's original parents were....and ....from...." all information that we had no clue of before he told us. And then he (the judge) handed us the entire court file and asked us to take it down to the first floor clerk of court. ACK! That was one of our more 'closed' adoptions, until the court decided to ignore it's own rules.

Usually the slip-ups are simple, missed names or birth dates on 'sanitized' paperwork or additional things included in a file at the last minute. I have to assume that since we know so much about all of our birth mothers that was not meant to be shared, that they also have much more about us then we know about.

So how do we deal with that? To be honest, as moms we automatically jump to the worst case scenario where the child is snatched out of our front yard by some desperate and dangerous biological relation, never to be seen again. Nasty thought isn't it? Not very helpful in the whole adoption discussion either.

Over the years I've had reoccurring nightmares that run along those lines, I have lived through the court struggles when biological family members have come out of the woodwork months after a child has been placed in our home and I have at times wished we lived a more private life so that we would not be so easy to find.

But God has dealt with each of those fears very specifically. We have been called to live in a neighborhood with all sorts of people: sex offenders, drug dealers, seriously ill mental health patients, the homeless and who knows what else. So living where we do, why would I be more worried about a birth family that chose adoption over abortion, trying to harm my child, than I would about the neighbors?

My bad dreams are always a good reminder to trust and pray. And the court battles have strengthened our commitment to the particular child - through disabilities and challenges our roots of faith ran deeper when we had to wait and pray to keep her. Our public life has encouraged many families to adopt and we have been blessed with the opportunity to partner is some truly amazing situations as God brings beauty out of ashes.

To date, we haven't had a birth family show up on our doorstep, but it might happen. I haven't had any strange emails or letters through the post. But if they do come we know that the same strong God who built our family can see the end from the beginning and will never leave us nor forsake us. If that day comes we will deal with it because we know that no door is ever truly 'closed' unless the Lord seals it and that the Bible promises that all things work together for the good of those who love Him. We love Him and so we trust in Him.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Praise God for longer days in February!

It's 5:25pm and my kiddos are all out playing in the DAYLIGHT in the melting snow. I suppose it's more like twilight, but it isn't pitch dark! There are even enough neighborhood kids out that we haven't met that we will need to review the rules for our family and paying attention to the signs of danger.

Spring is coming - I have hope again.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Does anyone toothbrush holder?

As I look around the new bathroom I doubt that there is going to be a place for my cool toothbrush holder from Lakeshore anymore. I love it but it's time to share it forward. It's main drawback is that is it too short for adult sized toothbrushes. Our solution was to either use the shorter child sized ones or to cut the long ones down with a hack saw. If you would like it let me know......quick before I get weepy over the days when everyone was small and no one needed deodorant!

Adoption Questions and a few thoughts.........

Below I have copied a few questions that came out of a post I wrote last week after our trip to the Fetal Exposure Clinic at the UM. I will try to answer them as an adoptive mom and advocate for those who are without homes........ but remember! I am in no way anything but a stay at home mom with a a whole pack of kids.

"We would love to foster/adopt, but sometimes I wonder if we would be up to the challenge. Did you ever feel that way? We are already seasoned parents and have the compassion for these special children, yet I wonder if love is enough. I don't feel that a day goes by without my heart aching for children that need a safe home and loving parents.I have a couple of questions, if I may.

What would you say are important qualities of parents who want to foster/adopt these special kids?My husband and I only have high school diplomas, and all of these challenging "diagnosis" are intimidating. I ask myself, will we be up to the challenge....will love be enough?

We've dealt with ODD with our teenage daughter, OCD with two of our other children, all of which we've sought professional help, so we've had only a small taste of the challenges special kids have.How do your other children manage with the behavior/needs of your special kids? How do you support them? We have two young sons at home (7 & 10) and while they are very compassionate, I am certain that having special needs kids would be challenging to them and we would need to know how to best meet their needs also.God bless you guys :o)Joanne"

Dear Joanne,

I don't struggle with the question of begin able to parent these kids in my own strength any more. I am 100% sure that I can't. I have a bad temper, a selfish nature, I am prone to pity parties and I don't even like babies! That being said, I trust that the God who called me to live a life that is so different from what I expected won't leave me adrift and alone.

You are right to wonder about love. Love isn't enough (though it is an essential thing) I think that more than the feeling of love - commitment is the thing that holds the family together on the hard days. We are committed. Come horrible days and sleepless nights I don't have to 'feel' love for my children, but I must be committed to living their lives with them 24/7 and suffering with them as they face their own challenges. Adding that to the rock solid assurance that God, not me, built this family, I can face the next thing without thinking about failure or plotting ways to escape.

Adopting special needs kids is a family commitment and not something that a college education really helps with. As the parent or foster parent to a kid with challenges you know you will become the expert advocate for them. Thank God for the Internet and Google!

You have a heart of compassion for those without families. As I type I am praying that God would show you what part of the adoption circle you are are being drawn toward. Adoption, foster, advocate, outreach, respite care, prayer partner or something else.....every piece of the cycle is important. Finding your place in it can be so much fun!

Blessings on your family - let me know where you end up!

What's been going on besides the flu this week......

John and I spent a good amount of time working on his Science Fair project. He had three total failures and needed to modify his testing procedures. What saved the day? One of my mom's wedding presents that she passed on to me a few years ago (thanks mom!) - a metric scale with heavy lead weights from the 60's. We needed the density + size of those weights to test the firmness of dried beans soaked in various test solutions.
Here is the happy boy with his research plan, entry form and abstract ready to mail - with a day to spare.

Construction has been flying past as we are limping along. The bathroom is wired and insulated, the fan duct is installed and Weldon started handing sheet rock yesterday. Today I should see the last of those pipes....the end of a season in my life for sure! This is the view from my kitchen - total intrigue for the kids. "What is he doing up there? What's that noise? Can I help?" We have the gate up but that doesn't stop them from sneaking in or looking for excuses to climb over. :)

Last night I picked up the floor and accent tiles - the tun, sink, toilet and other pieces should start arriving next week....this is an amazing process. I regularly stand and look at the changes that Weldon is making , understanding that this is not something we could have done outside of he and Patty following the Lords leading in their lives. Sacrifice for the sake of the body, joyful giving in the face of a recession.

Pastor John preached on this topic this weekend - offering another way to think about the shift in the US economy - He identified 5 things that God may be doing through this change and helped us to consider ways we can react not in fear but in hope. This is a paradigm shifting sermon in my life - the link is here.

This photo is the Ergo ad for the week - too bad I don't look like a fashion model. When two little boys are sick there is only so long that they can allow themselves to be comforted by the older kids. Eventually they both want their mommy and it's usually right in the middle of dinner prep.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

13 diapers in an hour - a new personal best for our home!

It's to the point of absurdity here. That 88 pack of diapers I bought on Monday is almost gone and I'm thinking we might not make it through the night without a supply run. Nothing to do but laugh and keep count as a family. "Here's another one mom...!"

Free antique tub....any takers?

Updating our 1900 era house always leaves a confusing pile of 'leftovers' to be shared, sold or taken to the dump. This weeks project is to find a home for the 1929, 5 foot long cast iron bathtub that is currently lounging in my garage. If you (or anyone you know) might want it is here for the taking. Double apron, really good shape and I even have the cool faucet and standing waste drain that goes with it (in reasonable shape.) Free...the market on these things is slow right now and I refuse to send it to the dump. It will become a fish pond in the yard long before that would happen!

Sea Turtle hatching vicariously through my cousins blog.......

Winter in the Midwest seems to go on for much longer than necessary, at least according to my coastal-raised, temperate zone loving, heart. My cousin Natalie is providing a much needed break from the reality of ice and snow this year by journaling her travels and adventures through the Middle East on her blog "Sand in My Latte.." Today's post on watching the sea turtles lay eggs and the hatchlings emerge is particularly fun.

Large Family Rule # 2 - Beware a jealous diaper genie....

Yesterdays special offering to the laundry god caused a backlash with the diaper genie. Not one to be neglected or short changed he (the diaper genie) pushed the boundaries of probability and the action with the sick little ones suddenly shifted from the top to the bottom end. 20 stinky diaper changes in one day is a record for me, and that isn't counting the ones that were just wet or that daddy did before or after hours.

Doughnuts don't help this situation much...but thank you God for Auntie Carrie's special homemade apple sauce that I have been saving in the freezer for such a time as this!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Large Family Rule #1 - Never turn your back on the laundry gods....

Tuesday morning, 5:30am, two below zero and I am headed out to the store in my fuzzy jammies to purchase the required offering to the laundry gods - industrial sized laundry detergent.

Don't feel bad for me, I did it to myself. Yesterday I said (out loud and in front of witnesses) "I'm taking the day off of laundry!" Followed by a foolish smirk and sassy toss of my non-laundry bearing arms.

Not a problem in itself, except that I had taken much of the weekend off also so I was already 7 loads behind......midnight came and one child threw up in their pile of winter blankets, which added two and a half more loads. Five o'clock came and a second child joined the fun..throwing up all over their bed and blankets and pillows. By 5:15am I realized that my supply of laundry soap was not going to tackle 12 loads of laundry (plus whatever else the day might bring) and that my planned COSTCO trip for the day was cancelled. The laundry gods won. at 5:45am I was back in line, both with my attitude and my physical self- standing at Rainbow with laundry soap, a cup of coffee and a box of 16 doughnuts to feed the kids who are not sick. Two points for the laundry gods, one point for mommy for making the best of it and thrilling the other 8 with unexpected treats.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Tax wrap up..........

We've been having a touch of trouble with the electronic filing options at Turbo Tax this year but I have a few answers to share.....if you are filing a MN return using Turbotax it may lockup on the 'you must provide a licence number for your daycare provider" edit test. Funny thing is that many of us who have been wrestling with this block don't have and never have had day care providers. The answer for now seems to be to enter 7 zeros (0000000) and it accepts it. Turbotax is going to fix it (so we are told) but the state has been accepting forms with these numbers on them - I will let you know if mine bounces back.

The other issue that friends have been having is with 'another' program that stated the adoption tax forms were not available yet. They are out at the IRS site and TurboTax has them functioning so I would be wary of whatever program that was that said they weren't out yet.

In the end, we used $297 of our $57,000 that we have in adoption tax credits. I wish we could donate those credits to families who could use them - wouldn't that be fun?!

An update on the Special Family .................

February first. Through God's grace and provision the February AND March differences have been paid on the Special Families rent and are safely in their landlords hands. We are still praying over the remaining $1500 that will cover the April/May/June commitments and would love to have that sitting in the same account as a blessing to them. We trust that their needs will be met, but in our humanness sure understand their discomfort with the uncertainty of relying on strangers to meet their family's needs - often times sight unseen. Of course they are not really trusting us, but God working through us.

For all of you who are wondering how they are, here is a link to M's blog. The last two posts are specifically relevant to how the Lord has been meeting their needs in the US as well as Germany. For those of you who gave financially or physically toward their settling in it is an encouraging read and I recommend it.

Blessings to all of you readers. I challenge you to take the chance and seize the opportunities this recession has provided to truly place our trust in the Lord and love the stranger amongst us in overwhelming ways.