Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Thankful

Thank you to each and every one of you who listened to yet another fit via my last blog post. Thank you for your prayers and your support and your kind words. This journey is hard ... exceptionally hard. It brings with it extreme joys and great hope, but it also brings with struggles and heartbreak not only while waiting but, for many, even after they are home. After a lot of struggling and wrestling with this whole situation, I finally came to the realization that God is on the throne. Not the Bulgarian or United States governments, not the MOJ or the IAC, not any agency ... We have turned this over to God. We've asked Him to lead and guide the IAC and MOJ. We've asked Him to "surround us with favor as a shield" (Psalm 5:12), and He has done all of those things. I don't always understand the timing, and I will continue to daily, hourly, moment by moment bring our requests before His throne knowing that He hears me, and He loves us. I can rest securely in that knowledge.

And now I want to take a few minutes to talk about something else. :) You see with all we've been through I sometimes forget to say what a blessing this kid is.



Statistics say he shouldn't even be here, and at the very least, he should have severe brain damage. But we are a family that doesn't pay much attention to statistics. If you've followed this blog for any amount of time, you've probably figured that out. 

Andrew is seven and a half now. He's one of the sweetest kids you'll ever meet. He talks incessantly. He loves superheroes to the point of obsession. He wants to either be a Texas Ranger or Colossus when he grows up. The jury is still out on that one. He sings constantly. He loves Jesus. He has strong opinions and can be stubborn. He's funny ... really funny. He is my buddy and my pal, and he will make an amazing, albeit bossy, big brother one day.

I know what a blessing he is. I know what a blessing being a mom is. Even on those days when I'd like to take a vacation to an island in the middle of nowhere, that knowledge sits squarely in the back of my mind. And for all the moments I wish I could stop time and keep him young, there are a million more where I am amazed at the little miraculous person he has become. 

"The days go so slowly, yet the years go by so fast ... "






Thursday, April 16, 2015

Delays

If our adoption story was a novel, at least one chapter, quite possibly two, could be dedicated to delays in the process. It comes with the territory.

Right now the Bulgarian government is working on making sure that all of the agencies on the Bulgarian end have their accreditations up to date. They will be focused on this for about the next four weeks which will delay the releasing and issuing of referrals among other things. There's no way around it. It has to be done in order for these agencies to facilitate referrals, but it is frustrating . . . understatement of the century.

Here's the thing ...

There have been referrals issued in the past few weeks that have not been released. We know that much. We also know that there will be more referrals issued in the coming weeks because the IAC, the committee that issues the referrals, will still be meeting (as far as we know).

There are kids living in orphanages that need homes. There are families ready and willing to adopt these kids.

So here I go with the prayer requests again. Anyone sick of my prayer requests yet?

Pray that we are in the group of referrals issued but not released.
Pray that in spite of all that's going on that they are still able to issue and release referrals over the next month.
Pray that things pick up in Bulgaria. It's been quiet and slow lately.
Pray for the families waiting for kids and the kids waiting for families. This is hard on all involved.

Pray that I don't pull all my hair out or lose the last ounce of sanity I have left. I'm. Over. Waiting. Like way over it. In my head, I feel like we shouldn't even be here right now. Like we went backward instead of forward, and I am not happy about it. Sorry if that doesn't sound very sweet and holy, but I'm being honest. I need to be given an extra large dose of patience right now. I'm very thankful I serve a God who loves me and doesn't give up on me in spite of my fits and impatience.

As always, thank you all for every single prayer and all of your support. It means the world to us.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Empowered to Connect

This past weekend Patrick and I had the opportunity to attend The Empowered to Connect Conference that is put on by Show Hope (the adoption foundation started by Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife Mary Beth).

About a year and a half ago a fellow adoptive mother recommended a book to me called The Connected Child, a book written to give hope to adoptive families and those parenting kids from hard places. One of the main authors of the book, Dr. Karyn Purvis, has spent years not only researching but putting into practice her ideas and methods to help kids from hard places all over the world. In 10 years of teaching, I went through numerous trainings and informational sessions, and I taught numerous kids with very extreme and severe emotional needs and deep trauma in my classroom. It seemed like we always worked to modify behavior, but we didn't get to the heart of the issues (which was very hard to do in a classroom with 22 kids many of which were high needs, high risk). I knew a lot about the issues, but I didn't know a lot about how to deal with the underlying hurts and traumatic experiences that led to these issues in the first place. This book offered answers that made sense, and that meshed well with our Christian worldview. Then around November, I discovered the Empowered to Connect website, and I realized that not only did it offer numerous resources, but they were hosting a conference in April in San Antonio where Dr. Purvis and her team would be teaching and speaking. I hate conferences . . . I couldn't wait for this one, and it did not disappoint.

I will not reinvent the proverbial wheel by going into all of the strategies and methods Dr. Purvis taught. I am sure that I would do her and her team a great injustice by even trying. I will tell you that this isn't a new way or method of disciplining. It is actually living day in and out in such a way that we build strong bonds of trust with our kids. (I am going to list resources at the end of this post so please look into those for more info on the exact details.) 

After thinking about and processing everything we heard this weekend, I wanted to talk about a few things that stuck with me:

(1) These children can heal. I think this is one of the most encouraging and important pieces of the weekend. These kids are not hopeless, but we must meet the needs of the whole person: physical (good nutrition, balanced blood sugar, etc.) and spiritual needs are not separate from one another. These kiddos are not doomed to a life of just barely getting by. They can heal, but if we don't, with God's help and guiding, help to facilitate that healing then we will at best end up spinning our wheels and at worst end up moving backwards very quickly. Dr. Purvis spent some time discussing the brain and how it heals, and it is very important that we connect with these kids in such a way that helps the brain to build new healthy pathways. Yelling, demanding, punishing, separating, inducing shame . . .  it just doesn't work with traumatized kids (and it's not awesome with bio kids either). They cannot respond to these types of discipline because their brains literally cannot handle it. And yes, even babies can and do experience trauma.

(2) This whole process, however, is not dependent as much on the what the child brings to the relationship as it is on what the parent brings to the relationship. We have to look at our triggers and ask ourselves why they set us off. We have to look at our ways of attaching to others both as a child and now, and deal honestly with anything that needs to be dealt with. As one presenter put it take a good hard look at and own "the good, the bad, and the ugly". Then let it go, forgive if needed, and move forward. We can't help these kids heal if we haven't "owned" our own issues. Healing is a journey but we need to let God make us whole in order to help our children be made whole. Also, and this was reiterated numerous times throughout the weekend, we need to avoid feeling shame for mistakes we've made. Change is possible. Shame is not helpful nor does God want us living in shame. 

(3) Every child is precious, and they need to know it in both the "sunshine and the rain". That seems like such a given, but when these kids mess up and we berate them, we lecture them, we tell them they're bad, they feel far from precious. Do we need to be firm? Yes. Do we tolerate disrespect? Never. Are we permissive? Absolutely not, but we need to let them know that even in the midst of a meltdown they are loved and precious.

The things on which I am currently working with Andrew: (1) I need to play more. I tend to get caught up in what needs to be done around the house, and I neglect play. (2) Along with this, I need to be present in the moment. I need to take the time to snuggle on the couch and listen to my child(ren). I do not want to in any way be dismissive of my children. (3) I am researching how to create a sensory rich environment. I'm not entirely sure how it will look right now because I want it to meet the specific needs of my child, but I am researching. (4) I am going to stop expecting "perfect" from both myself and others (this one is more from the book than the conference). 

There was so much more to this conference. I can't even begin to tell you all the things I learned. I encourage, again, to check into the resources. Read the book. Watch the video clips. 

Resources (these main resources will lead you to more resources than I could ever list . . . click for more info):


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Day 3

The Resurrection!

We serve a Risen Savior! 


Matthew 28 (NKJV)
He Is Risen

28 Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door,[a] and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.
But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”
So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.

The Women Worship the Risen Lord

And as they went to tell His disciples,[b] behold, Jesus met them, saying,“Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”


In Christ Alonelyrics by: Stuart Townend


In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My comforter, my all in all-
Here in the love of Christ I stand. 

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
‘Til on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev’ry sin on Him was laid-
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine-
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
'Til He returns or calls me home-
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Day 2

Silence

Jesus was crucified on Friday. Because the Jewish Sabbath began at sundown, Jesus was hastily laid in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. Pilate, in order to be sure that the body wasn't stolen, place guards at the tomb of a dead man and sealed it with a large stone.

Matthew 27:62-66 (NKJV)Pilate Sets a Guard
62 On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, 63 saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.”
65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.

Can you imagine the absolute despair felt by the followers of Jesus on this day? They felt alone, forsaken, afraid, heartbroken, and hopeless, and heaven seemed silent. How many times do we cry out to God to hear us? How often do we think that heaven is silent? Do not despair. He is listening. The resurrection is coming!