Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What every adoptive/Foster family needs-Post placement

I have been home for 5 months with our new Ghana kids. Just now finding a little bit of normal, oh wait we are moving scratch that! It was a very difficult (and that is a true understatement) summer transition. I have been asked by families and friends what they can do to help, when we just got back. I kept telling everyone, I don't know what I need! I have had some time to process those months and I am now able to share what families need when kids come home or have been placed for foster in your home. Or what you will probably need bringing your child home so when people from your church or friends and families ask you can say this. Or friends and families and church body we can all come together and surround families with support this way as well.

1. Newborns:
No matter what age the child is, think of it as though you brought newborns into your home. This summer I brought home twins! So now imagine what a new mom of two twin babies would need and start there. Meals sign ups, people to watch other kids while they bond, someone to help clean, bring a few bags of groceries, bring a cup of coffee, with much understanding and a big smile and hug is very necessary. They want to feel loved and supported through this transition period, they need space to bond, but they need to know family and friends are there and sometimes they don't know what they need so offering something would be the best solution.

2. Compassion and understating.
The adoption process has JUST begun when the kids come home. Its not an instant bond right away for some of us. There are tons of adjusting these kids are NOT typical and so the last thing any adoptive parents need in a lack of understanding or compassion to a new family. These kids you can bet your cowboy boots are much younger emotionally and developmentally than their age, so compassion with that will help families. Don't look at an 8 year old with 8 year old expectations. Rule of thumb 1 month for every years so for 8 months my 8 year old girl will need around the clock compassion and care, before I can even look to see her as even close to an 8 year old, right now to me she is 6. Also a listening ear, some times families need the chance to vent, without the feeling of ''I told you so, you are way over your head'' looks. Knowledge is power, if you are very close to a family and will be apart of an adoptive family it would be beneficial to get educated on how to help adoptive children and families transition home. Here is a link to a good start. It takes a village!

3. Couples need to connect:
Adoptive parents, even though the mom is not pregnant does have hormonal changes and need to go on dates with her spouse. It WILL change your marriage no matter how strong you though you were before. This is time consuming more than you probably though it would be so time away for you as parents is much needed.

4. Prayer and support:
Families need to know that they are being prayed for around the clock, this time of transition is EXTREMELY fragile! If families felt the support of a loving arms around them and felt like they could turn to a community when they needed to is much help.

5. Not a time to be critical or insensitive:
Save the drama for someone else during this transition of a family being home. Already the mother is having emotions she probably never was prepared for of even knew she was capable of feeling, so do not add to the complexity of the situation by adding any negative comments, to get a point across. This is a time of love and healing, no need to add any other components in there.

6. Learn to use the right terminology for adoption.
People are unaware of the words they choose to use when speaking of or to adoptive families for example. Which one are yours? They are ALL mine! Which one are the real ones? They are all REAL. People really are not being mean or insensitive, they just need to be taught which words are okay to use and which ones can be inappropriate especially around the family. My 10 year old is very sensitive to these words, bless his little heart.

7. You have not been forgotten!
I can imagine(maybe some of my friends or families feel this way) sometimes people may feel forgotten. Perhaps you were very close before the adoption or saw this family more often and now the kids are home you never see each other or hear from them very often. This is a HUGE life change, for a family, You are not forgotten. BUT most families do seek refuge in other adoptive families because there is a commonality there. Just like when you get married you seem to shift away from your single friends, or when you have a child, you slowly become surrounded with young families and all you do is talk about color of baby poop and car seats. Adoption world is no different.

8. Love. Love. Love , love is all you need!
It breaks my heart when I see that adoption tears a family or friends apart. Breaks my heart that there are oppositions to something this amazing. People do have their own opinions great and dandy and all, but when a family brings home a child those feelings do not need to become apart of the relationship. Let it go. I have seen it in some families lives and it really makes me so sad to see. Some friends of mine have had to really let a relationship go because the grandma could not love on the kids because of the color of their skin. IGNORANT. I can't even imagine that! I don't have that issue but that would really make me sad. Perfect Love cast out all fear. All you need is Love!

9. All children are created EQUAL.
Treat the adoptive children the same as biological as best you can. Trust me, it can be a challenge with older children, but the biological kids need to see you treating the adoptive kids just in the same way, and looking at them in the same light.

10. Still human, not saints.
I love how much encouragement I have had with our adoption, it outweighs the negative by ten fold. BUT, I feel like someone is watching for me to fail somewhere. It can be pride, yes. It can also be that we are not saints. This is a HUGE thing and yes amazing but we are human, so, these families are Not saints for what they choose to do. They are simply following something God has mandated to do.
11. Respect this families need to keep the child's story to themselves:
These kids have experienced so much more than your normal typical American child. These stories belong to the families and children. When people pry to get information even just out of curiosity you are putting the family in an awkward position to share something that's not even theirs to share in the first place. Some families will only share with very close familiy memebers or friends. Our kids stories are know by a select few that we choose to confide in. Two reason why kids are orphaned or given up for adoption. 1. death of families 2. extreme poverty.
12. Celebrations! (via@Chris B.)
When babies are born there is a celebration of some kind, shower, a party celebrating the new birth. When older children come home or even a foster child that can be overlooked. Chris B. mentioned taking the mom out to lunch even would be a treat to celebrate the families union. Same thing goes for when a family announces an adoption. For that family its just the same as saying, I have a positive pregnancy test! I have a friend when she told her parents she was adopting the mom shouted it from the roof tops she called all her friends and shared the GOOD NEWS. This is what we want as parents. Trust me, anything other would really break these families hearts.

I have some foster friends and I am in awe of what they are doing. When you foster a child you have no guarantee that the child that has been living with you that you have been calling yours will end up staying. They get to nurture a baby/child, and then many times return them to a situation they don't feel good about. Its heart wrenching, but its Gods love! This is something I have noticed and would like to share on how we can help them.
1. When a child is placed in their home, they become their child, they fit right in. My sweet friend Amie has had 18+ children in her home over the last few years, she has pictures of ALL of them. They are close to her heart. I have seen her bring them in, and they are instant family. Its amazing. So when they have a child in the home the same thing applies.
Meals, calls to check in, bonding, and even a baby shower!!

2. Yes life goes on BUT do not bombard these foster families with anything extra. Even though these kids are from the US they need hands on like you can't even imagine. These families need to be the ones being taken care of not the other way around.

3. They need to feel the support of church and family and friends. Feel that people are praying for them, encouraged in ways through the process. If the church can provide respite care for baby sitting while the couple connect, or someone to come and do laundry, I am serious here, why are you laughing?!

Foster parents (the good ones) are really amazing, get to know them. My friends Amie, Darbi, Dottie and Lorna. Erin M, I watch them love on these children I have cried with my friends as they have seen the children they have nurtured go to someone else, or worse back to an unstable home because of the law. My friend Amie has fought like a Lion for some of these children, she has shed tears, and have bruised knees from praying for them. Some she gets for a very short time, and some longer, and still they leave her home. I guarantee its a huge difference even when she may not feel like it is. She has been a safe place and a refuge for these children when the alternative is unimaginable. Its a love without guarantees, who does that remind you of? If you are in her community, PLEASE care for her she has a heart of gold, if you go to her church surround her with prayer and words or kindness.
Get to know the foster families in your church!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Crazy Teabos

Yeah the chief and I have been talking tats for a while now, its just been one of those things where we say ''yeah that would be so cool, right?'' A couple of weeks ago we talked about it again. Chiefs cousin who is such a sweet guy and an amazing artist works in a Tattoo Parlor in Centralia Washington. We left the kids with grandma, which was a little awkward to do. Here watch our kids so we can do something totally young and crazy and get tats, she was very gracious about it though didn't tease us or anything.
We both wanted to get something that would never change in our lives. EVER. Mine was the word adopted. Because I am adopted into Gods family, because that day I accepted Christ was the turning point and changed me from the inside out, because my adoption inspires me to adopt.
Frank got his life verse James 1:27
''Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.''
He feels like this verse is exactly what God meant by religion. We are religious but only in a way that our Father accepts and that is Pure and Faultless to Him, nothing less. The world may try to pollute us to think religion is something else but this is it. Its there black and white.
Yes it hurt like a mother, yes I am sure people will ask me if I was adopted, I am hoping that they do, because then I can share with them my journey and my walk. NO we are not the type of people who think God does not want tattoos...obviously!
We are the typical Christians. You know the ones that drink brewsky, gets tats and nose piercings, and even cuss when we stub our toes. Thats us.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What is it like.. a daughter from another mother?

My biggest fear about adopting an older child was that she would not be able to see me as her mom or bond with me. Never, not once, did I even question my ability to bond with her. I am the adult after all and I know where she comes from.
I know a small part of her story. It would be a piece of cake for me to have compassion and understating. This summer my preconceived thoughts proved me very wrong. I felt ashamed for my lack of bonding not at all on her side, she was ready arms open wide for a mama. For sure there were many situations that allowed me to fell ill equipped, but I began to take her attitude and adjustment personal. She would begin to push and I allowed her to push until I had a dis-connect. I had a hang up, I would find myself unable to comfort her when she needed it, because I was still upset about the last episode of battles. I felt ashamed, I know this is what I was suppose to do, but wasn't this suppose to be a little easier on my end and my emotions, I am the stable one here right?~! Dr. Karen Purvis lecture at the Together for adoption conference a few weekends ago made me realize I had hang ups from my past. I needed to look at the past, heal so I can parent much better. I get so many compliments of my ''goodness'' for adopting an older child so many ''that's great that you can, I don't think I can'' the ''wow your a saint''., people mean well when they say these things. In Reality I am no saint. I am a selfish individual, I get very grouchy at the loss of me time, I get very upset when my kids disrespect, I loose my temper, I get critical, I am dismissive often, I get frustrated and show no mercy or grace when it could be so easy to do so. BUT....
Gods Grace is so sufficient for me. I am growing, I am learning that older children adoption does not mean you get all this baggage, It means that God shows you all the baggage YOU HAVE, helps you to heal from them to help your fragile child become whole again, and through it guess what you become whole again too.
What is it like... a daughter from another mother? LIFE CHANGING.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The stinking mess....EVERWHERE!

I offically can't stand packing. I want it to be over. I want to be all done. I am so far from it. The moving truck come this Thursday and we keep it for a few days before it leaves, on the 2nd. We take off the 8th and our renters move in pretty much right after that. SO, here is what I have to figure out help me out here. I have no car and no beds from the 2 or 3 so for about 6 days we are going to sleep in our sleeping bags and eat on paper plates for a few days, I can do this no problem. It the getting around I may have some issues with. SO...if you are close to my home during these days, come see me I will be stranded and will need some coffee! I may sneak over to Chiefs mom and dad and sleep under their roof for a few days too...I may just surprise them with my whole tribe ;)!


When your international adopted child enters the United States (depending on country) they come in with legal immigrant status under you, they are ''unofficially'' US citizens. In order to get full status and have the kids get your name officially they must be readopted in an US State court. Bunch of silliness if you ask me because you are still a family if its official or not. BUT, it is what it is and before we moved out of state we had to do it, otherwise we would be paying to have a new home study in the new state and that's a pretty penny!
We drove to the court house in Port Townsend, our paperwork helper Mrs. Little lives there and made it very easy for us to provide her with paperwork and she did all the work! As great as this was, I was a little annoyed that we had to do this in the first place, hey I have TONS of packing to do still.
Our entire family came for the ride. We arrived and waited for Mrs. Little and walked into the court room, we were the only family in the room, the judge walked in and we were asked to stand up. The judge has a deep voice that reminded me of the Santa on the Polar Express. He asked all of us to walk up to the podium little Roo on chiefs arms and all the other kids quietly staring, there was a plaintiff next to the clerk and he had a gun on his side, I think the kids were mesmerized and a little scared to move...awesome. The next part was very emotional for me, I had to hold back tears because I was about to bust out into ugly cry.
He asked us if we both understood what adoption was about ''For life, no give backs, for life, we are responsible for the kids, for the actions they do (crap) for the nurturing, we are their family''...we both looked at each other and looked back at the judge ''yes, yes we do understand'' Then he looked at our biological sons and said ''Are you ready to take these kids on as your own brother and sisters, these are your brother and sisters, are you willing to share your life with them?'' Our boys looked up at them and said ''yes!'' He looked at our family and walked down and shook Franks hand and mine and said ''thank you and congratulations on Your family, you!''

It was beautiful, but it made me think of my adoption. My ADOPTION, my acceptance into my Fathers family, FOR LIFE, NO GIVE BACKs. It made me think of the day I was welcomed by my daddy, the day I felt my life had purpose, the day I felt wanted, treasured, accepted.
Adoption is a snapshot of our Salvation, everyday I am reminded that I am by Grace a daughter of a Mighty King. I am reminded that I am ACCEPTED just as I am. I am reminded that I walked into a court room (not literally) and looked at the judge in all His Mercy and HE CHOOSE ME! I am reminded that I am worth more than rubies. I am reminded that I have brothers and sisters who are so different than me and still they are MY brothers and sisters. You know from reading my blog from knowing me personally why I talk about adoption so much, but today I ask you to do me a favor, close your eyes, wait don't close you have to read...so think about the day (if there has been a day for you) that you were called into His family the date of your Adoption. Think about the Welcome you got, we all have had different experience, some more exaggerated that others, but we all remember the feeling of having a daddy welcome us. You got the feeling? This is Adoption. This is what God wants for his little ones.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Good Byes or See you soons!

Its been a roller coast of emotions as we are packing and meeting with old and sweet friends to say good bye. I think I have 5 girl outings with different set of friends, and we have a few good bye parties. This last weekend our neighborhood gathered at the end of our street for Octoberfest. Our sweet neighbors new the way to Chiefs heart... beer. They had sampling of beer and playing beer games ( I make him sound like a lush huh!) We both Love Jesus, AND we enjoy a good brew! The afternoon was so special for Chief and I to enjoy the company of our neighbors and it was bitter sweet. It hit me right in that spot in your throat that makes your eyes water, yeah, that one. I think about five times last week, I asked chief are we doing the right thing. This year I LOVE everything about our kids school teachers. They have the best teachers we have ever had and go to the best school they have ever been.
Someone told me that when you are moving everything seems nicer and things you never appreciated before you are now looking at.
For now I am saying I will see you soon, makes it sting less.

New doo!

I walked into my hair Salon and I will miss my hair lady very much :(. She is the best at curly hair ever. So if you are in the Puget Sound area and have curly hair visit Naomi at Marie Alice Salon. I walked in with the intention of a trim, a boring old trim. When the girls behind the counter always make me feel so out of style, just by their sheek hair and snazzy boots. Naomi had bangs, I commented on how much I would love bangs but my crazy curl hair and bangs no combo right? Naomi looks at me and says you are so funky and cool you can pull it off. Peer pressure sheesh. I walked out with bangs. I giggled at my hubby because he had a school boy gaze at me, I remind him on Winnie Copper from the Wonder Years. Thats good right?!
Tomorrow morning it will NOT look this good, trust me.
When you think of us tomorrow by the way...we become official our family will go to court and re-adopt all 3 kids tomorrow afternoon at 1 we all will have the same last name!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I almost missed out...

I almost let fear over take my heart and not step forward for these kids.
I almost let the voice of others become my voice of reason.
I almost let my selfish ambition and dreams destroy this life.
I almost listened when some people called us crazy (to our faces) and wanted to become sane again.
I almost let the world's ideal become my reality.
I almost coward from the courage inside placed by a King mightier than ever.
I almost let joy be stolen from my plight for my kids.
I almost chased a life not set out for me, to be ''liked'' again.
I almost believed it when I was told I was being selfish.

Friday, October 8, 2010

T4A- Tom Davis from Hope Chest International

I signed up for my friends Tom Davis session on child trafficking this last weekend at T4A. Sat right down and began to listen as he shared his story on how he became involved with Orphan care and the beginning of Hope Chest International. The room sat still as he began to talk about the children that are trafficked every year.
  • 1.2 million children are trafficked every year; this is in addition to the millions already held captive by trafficking
  • Every 2 minutes a child is being prepared for sexual exploitation
  • The average victim is forced to have sex up to 40 times a day
  • The average age of a trafficked victim is 14 years old
  • Sex trafficking is an engine of the global AIDS epidemic
  • By 2010 Sex Trafficking will be the number one crime worldwide
  • The astonishing number that kept ringing inside me was that for the World Cup there were 40,000 people trafficked, That was one world event, ONE.I am sure most of them are under age and they also not alarming that most of these children are orphans. Why orphans. They are the target, no one cares about them. No one will realize there is one less orphan in this world. The stats he shared were alarming, but these girls have a face each of them matter to our Abba. If they matter to Abba because of their status ''orphan'' then the need to matter to us, the Bride of Christ.
    If you check out the number of children trafficked from your own back yard it will also be alarming. Most of these children have BOTH parents, they get baited in through the Internet and sadly fall victim to horrible crimes. If you live in Seattle and Portland guess what your number 1! If you don't believe me just Google it read the articles. Its sick and wrong! What made me open my ears also is that when "men or women get hooked on pornography they are fueling the child trafficking industry'' -Tom Davis. Sick.
    Tom played a video where girls who had escaped the traffic ring in Moldavia Russia had spoke about the experience. Watching these girls speak about the captivity they had been in and are healing from made my heart pierce. This is what Religion is to set the captives free! How on earth can we even ignore this situation??

    He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

    to proclaim freedom for the captives

    and release from darkness for the prisoners Isaiah 61

    Yeah that's our job!

    Hope Chest International fights trafficking and has safe homes set up in some of these cities, they have been successful in rescuing girls from the grips of this horrific evil. The rescues are not only taking them out but setting them up with counselor for helping healing of these girls and providing safe place for them.

    We were in Tom Davis Q&A where we got to ask questions and Tom and Vince Giordano Outreach director for Hope Chest, were very helpful in answering these questions. One person asked how much these rescues cost $2300-2600. This includes everything to help the girls get out, and help them receive all the things they will need. We were all done with the Q&A and I am sure I can express what everyone in that room was feeling like we were hit with a ton of bricks. The gentleman that asked the question about the cost stood up and asked if he can say some things. This is what he shared in a nutshell

    ''I am sure that everyone here wants to do something, Now we can, we can all walk out this room and come Monday morning we may not think about these girls! I have counted us in this room we are 80 if we can all give 30$ we can rescue one girl, think about it like your own daughter. I have a 4 year old daughter and I can't even begin to imagine this! Whatever you give I will double, please don't walk out without doing something!''

    We began to open our wallets and people writing checks and placing all the money on the podium, hoping that we will at least fund to save one girls lives. Look at what happened here.

    Tom has a new novel out called Priceless. Check out this website to see how you can be engaged in helping set captives free!

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    T4A- Together for adoption-Karen Purvis

    I spent the weekend in Austin Texas at Together for Adoption. My friend Jenn and I arrived to Austin Texas at midnight! I meet my friend Erica for the first time, and we just hit it off! She is one of those people you can meet and you don't feel like you need a lot of background your just buds right from the start! We found our way after 5 turn around to the hotel and woke poor Suzi up from her slumber. 3 am lights out and bright and early the next morning we were up and ready for the conference. In the hotel lobby you look around to find many people wearing Adoption love T-s. 147 million, Africa shirts, sporting some cute orphan loving gear. I felt connected with everyone. I meet some super fabulous women! The funny thing is I felt so small with the number of kids in my family. When I would ask how many kids these women's had, moms were telling me 8,9,13! When I said 5 in normal circles I have this side snarl I do, because I am anticipating the other persons response which in most cases is "WOW YOU HAVE YOUR HANDS FULL!'' So saying I have 5 felt like saying I have 2!

    We drove to to Hill Country Bible Church in Austin all anticipating the teachings we would have. Would they be beneficial, or would I feel like I do with most conferences a bit challenged and ready to change my pare ting ways, or even broaden my views to go back to the not so challenged again in a few short weeks.

    We grabbed our seats and the music began Aaron Ivey was at the piano, the room was full with music and sound, I closed my eyes for worship, it was amazing, the band was lively, God spirit filled my insides.

    The first break out session I listened as Karen Purvis a developmental psychologist from Fort Worth Texas who works with foster and adopted children from 'hard places', began to shed light to the immense depth to the pain my children are carrying. She would speak in her oh so sweet motherly Texan accent and I would want to crawl on her lap and have her whisper to me my preciousness. I felt like I had been hit by a book, my stomach was in knots after listening to her first session. I knew my children had come from hard places, I had to do research and listen to hours of videos and we had to read books before our children came home. Yeah we got it. Now, I GET IT. I have not been nurturing the kids as they would need, I became a love and logic parent as I do with my other children and It was not working with them. There was no connection, and things were not changing they were just existing in nowhere land.

    These are quotes I remember Karen saying "You must never get into a control battle with your child, never, its not worth the win'', ''Your child has been bleeding before he came to your home, the bleeding must stop you do not need to add to it.'' ''Your children are survivors, you know what that means don't you?'' ''Never challenge their survivor skills, they are doing what they know how to survive.'' My kids were doing well, but there was a connection I was missing with my oldest especially. Sad to say some days I was feeling left on feeling connected to my bio kids.

    She shared the phych of the brain and how it didn't matter how old the child was before he/she came to you. She said many of the kids that ended up in her care, kids that end up in her care, come from REALLY hard situations, the parents were in the delievery room when they were born! The 9 months that you spend growing a child, nurting yourself to grow your baby does a HUGE diifrence in a child. HUGE. The next three years you spend comforting that baby when they cry, feeding, tending to basic needs, even if that child did have this care, it was not from you. There has been severe trama to this child, and yes there is a way to bring this child to healing. There is a DO and a DO NOT list and I think we have mostly been checking off Do Nots :(.

    I am going to tell you, if you are adopting, have adopted or will foster or are fostering, this is a MUST to read and watch her videos. I am even trying it with my bio kids, Karens program.

    Let me tell you a little about it I have been doing it for the last 5 days and have seen an IMMENSE change in my older 8 year old. Cradle every two hours, I know this sounds so strange, but while she is in my care every two hours, I give her a snack and water and cradle her yes in my arms. I rock her back and forth and I whisper precious words to her.

    The crazy thing is its helped with my son with special needs. HUGE! She is a miracle worker for sure. I just need to find the strengths for those times where I am rushed and I need to take a moment to connect. Also to give up all the other methods I have hung on to before. Methods that were learned for our biological children can not be used for our children that come from a hard place. Simply can not!

    I will let Ya'll ( My new word for my Souther friends) know how connection goes in the future.

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    Pray for sweet Abby Riggs!!