Friday, April 30, 2010

April Kids' Quotes

"I found a bunch of non-biteless ants!  There's a row going up the tree, and another row going down."

“Mom, my feet are getting wilty. They are so tired!”

“My daddy worked ALL NIGHT LONG. He made like a billion dollars!” (Tax night; she told this to our neighbor after overhearing us say that it was a long night, but worth it. We got a good return!)

“I don’t think I need sunscreen…..I’m warm-blooded.”

"Do you see the fishy Mommy?  I think he's not home.  I think he died or went to church." (the fish in their fish tank was hiding)

Andy: "Keandre, where did you get such a wonderful Mommy?"
Keandre: "From Papa!"

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Supporting Others Through the Adoption Journey

Adoption Support 101

Chances are, you know someone who has already grown their family through adoption, or who is in the process of adopting.  The choice to adopt takes commitment and support from others, and when adoptive parents gather together, they sometimes talk about how their family and friends supported them well, or the things that were said or done (often unintentionally) that were hurtful during the adoption process. 

If you are new to the world of adoption, it can be easy to mean well, but do something hurtful.  And none of us want to worry that we are hurting a loved one at such a pivitol time in their life!  Here are some thoughts on how you can be purposeful in supporting those in your life who are on the adoption roller coaster....

~Please don't treat the adoption journey like it is second best.  There are many reasons that people choose adoption. Some families adopt because they've struggled with infertility.  Others choose to not get pregnant for medical reasons.  Some are passionate about providing a home for a child who needs one.  Adoption is a meaningful way to grow a family, regardless of the reasons.  It may be different than how some families imagined having a child, but it is not second best.

~Please don't share all the adoption horror stories you've heard.  Families in high risk adoptions usually know exactly what they are committing to before the child comes into their home, and it's a risk they chose.  Those stories are not respresentative of adoption as a whole, and they are much rarer than the media would have you think.

~Don't tell the new parents how wonderful they are for adopting, or that you 'don't know how they do it'.  Adoption is just one way to grow a family.  Adoptive families don't like to think they have 'rescued' their child, and wouldn't ever want their child to feel that way, either.  Some may initially approach adoption as a ministry, but once their child is home, they are just a family raising their children.  (Someday I might actually reply, "Oh, I think it's wonderful the way you're raising YOUR children, too!" ;) 

~Don't assume that a child's birth parents chose adoption because they have horrible issues.  Assume that this child is cared for by many people in her life -- including her birthparents -- and it was a huge sacrifice for them to give up the parenting role.  Poverty and other difficult life circumstances are often primary reasons that someone cannot parent their child.  And even birth parents who DO have serious personal issues still grieve the loss of their child and care about them in their own way.

~Don't share details of their child's adoption story with others.  Those are private details that he or she should have the right to keep private.  Rather, speak in generalities about the reasons a birth parent may choose adoption.

~Don't introduce the parents as 'adoptive parents' or the child as 'their adopted baby'.  This is unnecessary and hurtful.  They are a family, period. :)  (For instance, you'll never hear us say, 'This is Destany, our adopted daughter.'  We introduce her as our daughter.  We happened to adopt her -- past tense -- that's just how God brought her to our family.)

~Get excited with them about their adoption journey. They know the risks, and need to feel free to get excited anyway.

~If the adoption falls through, allow them time to grieve. Let them feel the pain over losing the chance to parent that particular child. When they are ready to try again, support them and remind them you are there for them and the journey will be worth it.

~Ask them occasionally how they are doing, and how they are feeling about the adoption process. Acknowledge what they are going through, but don't ask a lot of questions if they don't seem eager to talk about it.

~Support the type of adoption journey they have chosen: international or domestic, agency or attorney, open or semi-open (closed is rare these days), private or through foster care, etc.  Trust that they have considered their options and done their research before making this life-changing decision.

~Take the time to learn proper adoption terminology. Refer to the biological parents as 'birth parents', 'biological parents', or 'expectant Mother'. 

~Support the family after their baby/child arrives home. Throw a baby shower or 'welcome home' party.  Provide meals.  Offer to run errands for them.  Adding a new family member is always a big transition -- no matter how the baby or child joins the family.  This is your chance to celebrate with them! :)

~Above all, talk openly.  Ask your friend or relative how you can support them.  If you sense you've unintentionally hurt them, talk with them about it.  Most adoptive families are sensitive to the fact that they are learning a lot along the way and that their family and friends will have a lot to learn also.  They will appreciate your honesty and desire to learn.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sierra's thoughts on adoption

I suspect that every family contemplating foster care or adoption -- as well as those who have already walked that road and have added to their family -- occasionally worries about how their child(ren) will adjust in years to come.  I find it's encouraging to hear from adoptees about their journey, and how they view their lives.  Their stories may not be my child's story, but I love hearing the perspective they've gained over the years -- and imagining the conversations they've had with their parents and the prayers said over them -- to help them reach this point.

Sierra, adopted at age 8 and now 15 years old, shares her advice for adoptive parents here.  I love it!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Soccer - Keandre

As Lucas and Destany's number one fan, Keandre deserves a post all his own.  He enjoyed going to as many practices as possible, and never missed a game.  Dressed in his own soccer 'uniform' -- with either mini soccer cleats or a pair of Harley Davidson boots -- he was always ready to go on time.  His siblings loved having him along.  And he loved cheering them on, playing soccer with Daddy on the sidelines, and joining in for team snacks! 

(holding Aunt Maggie's hand)

Soccer - Destany

Destany loved her first soccer experience, and it was exciting to watch her learning a new skill, making new friends, and thriving in her new role as part of a team. She likes to talk about how both her Daddy and Nichole played soccer, and now she does, too!

The difference between her first game and the last two games, which were the ones I was able to attend, was actually quite humorous. At the first game, she and the other girls were very social, both on and off the field. They were quite a distraction to each other!

But it didn't take long for Destany to get moving, and by the time I went to her last two games, she was running up and down the field very confidently, and was much more focused while still having a great time.  Now she can't wait for the next season!

Getting some love from Aunt Maggie after a game.

Soccer - Lucas

This was Lucas' second time playing soccer, and it was exciting to see how his confidence has gone up, along with his skill level.  He played a lot of defense, and although there was not an actual goalie for this particular league, he played the position most like goalie for part of every game. 

I missed all of Lucas' practices, and all but three of his games, due to bedrest.  But I was there during his second-to-last game, when he pulled off an amazing play, all on his own.  A player from the opposite team was coming down the field, hoping to score a goal, and Lucas was defending the goal.  He got the ball away, and with one kick, he managed to send the ball all the way down to the opposite side of the field and make a goal!  Pretty cool move, Son. :)

(One disappointment?  We took more video than pics, so no great action shots of Lucas.  We'll try to pull a couple from the videos at some point. :)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Caught in the Act - Photo Flashbacks

I can't wait to have a baby in the house again.  Even though I know she'll soon do things like this...

(It was too quiet.  We found her hiding behind a chair in the family room, eating an apple!)

Toddlers.  You gotta love them! 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Newborn Cloth Diapers

Are these not the cutest little diapers?!  My latest hobby has been purchasing a variety of newborn cloth diapers from Diaperswappers.  We didn't start CD-ing our other kiddos until they were a few months old and the one-size diapers would fit them better.  This time around we'd like to start from day one. 

These diapers are mostly All-in-One (AIO) diapers.  Until diapering my niece, Khiana, I had no experience with AIOs.  Now, I may be sold!  They are so easy and convenient, and the colors and patterns are really cute.  They are not as cheap as the prefolds and covers, but they still pay for themselves pretty quickly.  And like all cloth diapers, they are environmental and will keep chemicals off our baby's bum, so it's worth it to us to have diapers we will enjoy using.

The other fun side of buying your diapers through is the 'fluffy mail'.  For a while there, we were receiving packages every day or two, and when the kids would see the mail truck coming down the street, they would scream out, "Fluffy mail, Mom!  Can I open the fluffy mail this time?"  I think our various mail persons are rather confused by the excitement over the packages.  One of these days we'll have to fill them in. ;) 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mother-Ease Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers have changed a lot over the years.  Prefolds with safety pins and a plastic diaper cover are definitely not the standard option anymore!

I purchased my first stash of cloth diapers when I was expecting Lucas.  I was a bit overwhelmed by all the options, especially because I didn't know anyone using cloth diapers so I couldn't hear the pros and cons of the different options first-hand.  After reading a few reviews I settled on Mother-Ease (ME) One-Size cloth diapers with the Air Flow covers.  Later, I threw in a few of their small Sandy's diapers since the one-size dipes are a bit big for the first few months.  ME diapers were touted as virtually leak-proof, reasonably priced, and they hold up well for using with multiple children in a row.  They may not be the cutest or most stylish diapers on the market, but they served us very well for several years!  In fact, since Lucas and Destany were just 21 months apart, they were both in diapers at the same time for quite a while.  I loved that I could literally grab any diaper in the changing table and put it on either child.  Only the covers were different sizes, but I marked them well and they were easy to grab also. 

Keandre is using our old ME diapers for naptime and overnight now, and I have to admit that although they're getting a little worn out, I feel a bit sentimental about these dipes. My sister and both sisters-in-law here in AZ are cloth converts now also, so I'm looking into fun new options for this next baby, but I'm having a hard time thinking about getting rid of our tried-and-true ME diapers, at least for Keandre. Poofy bums are in, right?

If you're interested, here is one Mama's story about converting to cloth diapersThere are lots of other fun stories on that site, too, so if you're a CD mama, or are interested in becoming one, check it out!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

15 Things That Make Kiara Happy

1.  God's grace, new beginnings, worshipping Him.
2.  Realizing all over again that I have the family I always dreamed of having.
3.  Date nights with my amazing hubby.
4.  Snuggling with my children and reading to them before bed. (Preferibly a new chapter book vs. the books I have memorized!)
5.  A clean and organized house. (That's probably every Mama's dream, isn't it?)
6.  Time by myself in my clean & organized house. (Okay, I admit...that rarely happens.)
7.  Home projects....or should I say completed home projects.
8.  Family walks in the evening.
9.  Family gatherings at my parents' house -- everyone together. 
10.  Keandre sneaking into our bed in the morning and falling asleep snuggled up next to me. 
11.  Hiking on a beautiful day -- me, God, and my Ipod. 
12.  Burying myself in a good book at the end of a long day. 
13.  A big, yummy salad.  Lots of fresh fruit.  A big cup of water.  (Yes, I'm pg.  And these are my cravings lately. :)
14.  Feeling strong and fit.  (I can't wait to be allowed to work out again!)
15.  Peaceful evenings hanging out in the front yard while the kids ride their bikes and scooters.

If you want to see the kids' posts, check them out here: Lucas, Destany, & Keandre

I'm still working on Andy, but I'm sure he'll post soon.  And eventually we'll move my post and his to be right after the kiddos' posts. :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

evenings with the neighbors

We are blessed to live in a wonderful neighborhood, with several families with young children.  A few evenings a week we play out front, where there are spontaneous games of soccer and football, riding scooters and bikes, playing in the sprinklers, writing with chalk, and the occasional argument.  It's always an adventure!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Adoption and the Census

We recently completed our 2010 Census form.  Although some adoptive parents in a Yahoo group I'm in were offended that they had to specify that their child was adopted and what ethnicity their child is, Andy and I saw it differently.  We're thankful for the way God has grown our family.  We would not want to deny, or hide, any part of our family story.  And we doubt that our children would want us to hide their story or ethnicity either -- even on paper. 

Adoption is not the same as it was in years past.  Many families proudly choose to adopt, whether they struggle with infertility or not.  Birthparents are more likely to openly share their stories of choosing adoption for their child, and they long for others to understand it was a choice made out of love (wanting to give their child more than they had, or more than they could provide at that time), not just a painful necessity due to life circumstances.  Many children grow up knowing their birth families and feeling comfortable with their history, specifically because they know their story and there is no more guesswork or imagining the worst about their birth family or about themselves.  This lets them see that adoption was chosen for them for good reasons, even if they were painful ones.  Adoption long ago was treated as a shameful secret.  Not so today!

Another reason we appreciated those questions on the Census is because the number of multiracial families is growing steadily, including those families grown by adoption, and the Census is a great way to track that growth!  Someday, there will be accurate statistics that show that our family is not that unusual.  (In the early '90s, for instance, approximately 8% of all adoptions were transracial adoptions -- meaning the child is of a different race or ethnicity than the parents.  I suspect the numbers are a bit higher than that now!)

Interesting info.:
The majority of Americans are personally affected by adoption. In 1997, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute conducted a benchmark survey of 1,554 adults to examine public attitudes toward the institution of adoption and members of the adoption triad. The survey found that 6 in 10 Americans have had personal experience with adoption, meaning that they themselves, a family member, or a close friend was adopted, had adopted a child, or had placed a child for adoption.

We love our open adoptions.  We love knowing our children's birth families.  We are proud to say we are an adoptive family. :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

baby hair

With Destany, learning to care for her beautiful curls was a journey that I enjoyed, but was also worried about.  I understood how important it was to take good care of her hair, and knew I was doing fine, but I also overanalyzed it! 

Now, with my niece, I just have fun with hair.  When I babysit for Khiana, I like to get my hands in her hair and come up with something new and fun.  And since she doesn't live with me, I don't have to worry about how it holds up, or whether that one crooked part will drive me crazy.  Her mama loves it, too, so I pretty much have free reign!  Thanks for sharing your cutie, Sis'! :)

(You got your picture, Auntie Kiara. 
Now can you pick me up already???)

7 months along

Destany is still taking her big sister role very seriously. 
She can't wait for her baby sister to arrive!
Thank you, Annie, for taking such beautiful pictures for us! 

sweet siblings

Keandre had a rough night, with a croupy cough, throwing up, etc. (a cough + congestion + reflux = lots of fun when sick!)  That also means Andy and I were pretty wiped out by morning. 

The kids were all up by 7am, and Keandre was coughing pretty hard, but Andy and I were in denial and weren't moving very fast.  Without a second thought, Lucas set to work getting the nebulizer ready, and the three of them cuddled on Keandre's bed and kept him company while he took his medicine.  It was so sweet listening to them hanging out together that I couldn't pass up the opportunity to snap a picture.  Oh, how we love our sweet kiddos!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

it's been one of those weekends

Strep x 4 = four bottles of two different types of antibiotics. 
And a chart to keep track of who has taken what, and when. 

Andy tested positive on Saturday before lunch. 
Lucas and Destany on Saturday late afternoon. 
Keandre tonight. 
They gave me a prescription because I felt like I was getting sick, but I don't think I actually have strep so I haven't started taking it yet. 
We love urgent appointments needed!

We're thankful we caught it early and didn't get it too bad.
Now we're just praying we didn't pass it along to any of our beloved family and friends!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

rain in the desert

When you live in the desert, rain is not just a natural is an event in and of itself!  (Hence our this post where we celebrated all things rain. :) 

We have a 'river' running through our city that supposedly fills up when it rains, and carries the extra water away.  We pass over it fairly regularly, and the kids have never seen more than a trickle of water, so they had become skeptical that it was ever truly a river.  But with all the rain we had this spring, we finally had our chance to see it in action. 

In awe at the sight....
Look at those trees!
"This is really cool!"
Keandre was a bit nervous about the fast running water and
needed some reassurance.
Soon a project began.....building a dam.
Daddy was as into it as the kids were!
Keandre finally relaxed and enjoyed throwing rocks into the river.
One last attempt at catching a fish before we left the area. 
(His one disappointment about the day.)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Can you imagine...?

Can you imagine a world without orphans?
(According to UNICEF there are 143 million orphans in the world.)

Can you imagine a world where foster care was only a temporary solution, and not a way of life for thousands of children?
(In the US, there are close to 750,000 children in foster care at any given time. More than 120,000 of these children are currently waiting for adoptive families to give them a chance at a new life.)

Can you imagine if every Mama who chose life for her unborn child, but was unable to raise him or her, had someone waiting in the wings who wanted to adopt that child?
(It is a myth that it’s impossible to adopt an infant in the US.  In reality, there are many babies that adoption attorneys and agencies struggle to find a family for – for reasons such as a lack of birth family health history, poor prenatal care, or the child's ethnicity/race.)

Can you imagine how things would change if God’s people stepped up and cared for the widows and orphans – something we ALL have been called to do?
(If only 5% of the 2 billion people world-wide who call themselves Christians adopted a child, 100 million waiting children would have a home.  If the others committed to supporting those who actively minister to widows and orphans, the impact would be incredible!)

Oh, how this grieves our hearts...that there is a ready solution, yet very little being done.  Why do so many feel they are exempt from being a part of that solution?  Not everyone is called to foster or adopt, but we can ALL do something.

Please consider praying with us about this.  Please consider loving and supporting a tired foster family, helping an adoptive family that is raising funds to bring a child into their home, or adopting a child into your own family.  Please consider our modern-day widows, who need our loving support as they raise their children alone.

Love is an action word.  Let’s act!  Let’s make the choice to not let fear, the unknown, finances, etc. stand in the way.   We are meant to be Christ’s feet.  We are here for a reason….  And we are privileged to be able to serve our Lord this way.

What are some ways that we can support today’s widows and orphans?  Do you know and love an organization that reaches out to orphans and widows with the love of Christ?  Please tell us about them!

If you are a foster family, how can we support you? 

Do you know of a family that is saving to adopt, and would welcome us coming alongside them?

~*~ Please share your ideas in the comment section. We'd love to hear from you! ~*~

 If you want to do a little more reading about this issue, and feel challenged to do more, check out these blog posts:

Love is an Action Word by Courtney, at Storing Up Treasures

Abortion, Racism, and Adoption by Cate, a friend of ours

How to Blow Away One of the World's Darkest Clouds, by Tiffany, at The Lighted Path

Saturday, April 3, 2010

bonding in adoption

I'm in an online group for families who have open adoptions, and adopted their sweeties at birth.  A couple days ago Nicole, a prospective adoptive Mama, posted a question to the group.  She and her husband have one child by birth, and now they are considering adopting.  But she is afraid that she will not love her adopted child as much as her birth child.  This is a common fear!  I responded to her question, and Anna, an adoptive Mama who has started a blog to share the ins and outs of domestic adoption and provide a forum for discussions about domestic adoption, asked if she could re-post my email here.  Since then, I've been encouraged to talk more about adoption on our family blog.  After all, for most people adoption is a big deal, but for us it is just normal life. :)

Here is what I emailed to Nicole, on the open adoption group: 
Hi Nicole,

I'm so glad you felt comfortable enough to ask that question.  Many parents who are considering growing their family through birth and adoption worry a little about whether they will love their children the same.  It's an important question to ask, and one that my husband and I are asked about fairly regularly (not in front of the children, thankfully).  We have 3 children already, plus one on the way.  Our son by birth is 7, daughter by adoption is 5, son by adoption is 3, and I'm pg with our 4th, another daughter.

Before we adopted, I worried at least a little about this myself.  Now my husband and I speak at our adoption agency about our experiences with open adoption, transracial adoption, etc. during their required education classes.  The way I explain that part of our journey to people is that the end result -- the deep, intimate, protective love for our child -- is the same for each child.  But the journey there is a little different.  For instance, when a Mama is pregnant, that love usually grows, slowly but deeply, during the pregnancy.  And when you meet your child, it's kind of like that love is solidified and then continues to grow in new ways as your child grows and you get to know each other more.

In adoption, you look forward to, care about, wait for, and plan for this child, but until he or she is in your arms, the experience is not real enough for that incredibly deep "I would kill a bear, would lift a car, would die for this child" protective love to start growing.  For some that deep love may come pretty quickly after baby is in their arms, and for others it takes time, and that is perfectly okay.  We had fairly last-minute matches, and although I instantly cared very deeply for each of our children from the time they were in my arms, I found that the deeper, settled-in love grew over time.

For instance, I remember a distinct moment with my daughter when she was a couple months old and I realized I *really* felt like I was her mom.  (I didn't feel like I wasn't her mom before this, but this showed me that feeling must have still been growing.)  We were at a big park, and our toddler son was playing in a splash pad.  My sister was with us, and she offered to push baby around in the stroller to help her go to sleep.  I said sure, and my sister said she'd be back in 15 minutes or so.  Well, 20 - 25 minutes went by and I realized she wasn't back.  In my heart, I started to panic!  I was really worried something had happened to them.  (A couple minutes later, she was back in sight – my sister had just gone further than she meant to.)  I remember that at that moment it struck me how fiercely protective I felt, and that I was ready to run all over that park to find them!  My love for my daughter had grown deeper, without me even realizing it. :)

I think the main thing is that in adoption it's important to realize that the actual bonding journey is different than with a child you gave birth to, and that's normal and doesn't reflect your long-term love and commitment to your child.  You will probably not feel the same toward your adopted child at 2 days old as you did toward your bio child at 2 days old.  But as time goes on, your love grows in leaps and bounds.  Before long you will probably feel very little difference.

In fact, for at least the first half of this pregnancy, I worried I wouldn't love this little girl as much as my other kiddos.  I *adore* my kiddos, and it drives me crazy that people think our family will be more complete now that we're expecting again.  Some have outright assumed I will love this child more, or more easily, but in reality I was worried -- just like I was with each of my kiddos before the next one joined our family -- that I wouldn't love her as much as the children already in our home.  I think it is a very normal Mama fear.  I have also worried about whether she'll be cute or not, will fit in, etc. LOL  Now that I'm nearing the end of the pregnancy, I don’t worry about that at all, and I cannot wait for her to arrive!

That’s not to say that some things won’t be a little different about raising both biological and adopted children, but it's not a love thing.  For instance, when my oldest son behaves a certain way, I can sometimes look at his behavior and say, "Ugh -- I know about that. He is acting just like I did – or my little brother did – at that stage", or "I remember having a passion for that exact same thing!"  But with my daughter, who is very strong-willed, feisty, verbal, etc. (and I know her birthmom well enough to know she gets ALL of that from her, LOL) I don't feel that same familiarity with her behaviors.  She has an outgoing confidence that I, my husband, and our bio son did not have at 3 - 5 yrs. old.  (We were all shy.)  And I love it!  We adore that about her, and it is now a great part of our family make-up, but it does not feel like a familiar family trait.  I hope that makes sense.  It's something that I've heard a few moms of bio and adopted kiddos talk about, so I thought I'd throw it out there also. :)

Okay, enough of my rambling.  Please feel free to keep asking questions!  And I'd love to hear from other moms about this, too.  I’m curious whether others' experiences match my own.


If you have considered growing your family by birth and adoption, have you had these concerns?

If you have children by birth and adoption, does this match your experience?  How is it the same, and how have you felt differently? 

If you have biological children and then adopted another child at an older age, is the bonding process dramatically different than what I described here? 

I'd love to hear from you. :)
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