Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Summer Fun - Horse camp!!


(Obviously, I am doing a little catching up with posts- 
usually I am  not able to get so many done so quickly.
But, I want to share and document our summer fun!)


Mia and Melissa went to horse camp!
(It was right after the 4th of July)
They were so so so excited!


Sarah and Ava take lessons at the same stable!
As it turned out Mia had Sarah's horse- Whiz!


And Melissa had Ava's horse- Gilbert!


This fall Mia and Melissa will be joining Sarah and Ava in horseback riding lessons!


I have always loved horses…
Sooooo, I am pursuing a childhood dream and I will be riding this fall, too!
Yikes, I can already feel it in my thighs…
I am hoping it will be away for me to relax and just enjoy these beautiful animals
along with some special time with 4 of our more capable children.
But I am concerned that
I will be sitting on top of one of these beauties making our latest grocery list and thinking of all the other things I should be getting done
; - )
Praying to relax and enjoy!


The stable is only 2 miles from our home!
And the teacher says she'll go easy on me!
I'm hoping my 56 yr old knees can handle it!


Whiz is such a gentle horse BUT he has very large teeth!


Next year there will be a few new campers at horse camp!
Sam, Anna, Ben and Ellie would like to do it too!
We will see who is ready (mature and confident enough plus we need to see how the can accommodate some of our special needs)!

My dream would be for us to have a couple horses
BUT
we will see…
Not sure if the reality of having horse is as good as the dream!

We will see what God has planned for us!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Bonfire and Picnic!


Such simple pleasures!

It has rained a lot in MN so the wood is a bit damp, which made it hard to start the fire.


But we were patient and tried twigs, cardboard moving boxes (I hope that means we will be staying here for a long time) and what ever else we could find!


We had a determined crowd!
Nothing was going to get in the way of our fun!


Everyone got to roast their own hot dog!


And put on their own catsup!
As you can see by the looks of Madeline's top and plate!


We had a few casualties but we had extra of everything!


Watermelon, baked beans, chips and all sorts of other healthy food were served ;-)


And gatorade for everyone!
Thank you C*stc* for selling bulk!


We all had so much fun!


It was a perfect evening in the front yard!


Ava is styling- she matches!


Potato chips count as a veggie right?


And last but not least-
 Smores!


Pre req is to be sure to get it -
all over your face!


Luke wanted to enjoy every morsel!


Mia loves them!
Even hubby and I couldn't resist smores!


Good job Luke, you are following directions!


And Ben loved them, too!
Here he is, studying his smore!
He is planning his next bite!

So much fun right in our front yard!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Late… again


I knew I was a bit behind for my appt. but once I got into the office and saw I was 10 minutes late, 
I was bummed.

She didn't even look up.
She just said,
"Next" 
"what time was your appt at?"

Right away I said,
"I know I'm late. I'm so sorry."

And then she looked up and her eyes right away saw my t-shirt.


She smiled
and said,
"I love your shirt. What verse is that?"

Isaiah 1:17
learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow,

And I knew instantly who had intervened and that all was well!

Thank you 
Wild Olive Tee's
I miss you!

(Wild Olive tees closed shop about 6 months ago. When I wear my Wild Olive tees I feel clothed in God's word!
Wishing they would start making tee's again.)

Praising HIM!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Longing For A Family!

This sweet boy is here in the USA for only 3 weeks…


The family that hosted him is unable to adopt him.

Everyday he looks at the calendar and begs not to go back to China…

Sadly, he only has 2 more days left here in the USA.
His new family would need to go through the traditional adoption process.
But, that also means he could be home within 8-9 months!


He longs for his very own forever family…
(Above, he is in the green shirt and light shorts.)


He is 7 years old (IMO a perfect age to be adopted)!
He is engaged and interested in everything.
He loves all types of American food!
His only special need is a slight ear deformity.


If you are interested in adopting this dear child - the contact information is below!



He is the cute little guy in the green shirt with the grin from ear to ear!
Praying his family will find him!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

For 36 hours!

I snuck away and visited our kids in Colorado!

It's hard not living near our grand baby, Emily.  
So I am going to need to take some quick trips to see them... as often as possible!


She has changed since our last time with her- just 4 weeks ago.
She is smiling and smiling now!
Her sweet face lights up with joy and her whole body wiggles with delight!
She loves to study faces- especially her Nana's face!
She likes bling!
Earings, bracelets, watches and Nana's glasses!


Mr and Mrs Mulvahill-
more commonly known as Matt and Caitlin came over for the evening!
They are as happy as can be!



It was so wonderful being with my 2 bigs, my son and daughter in love and baby Emily!

I could listen to them chat and laugh all night long!
It brings me such joy and peace when I see my bigs get together!



The view form their deck!!



It was Caitlin birthday just a couple days ago so we had a mini celebration!!



I am enjoying every minute of our sweet baby girl!
Praising God for His many blessings and for this moment in Colorado!


Katie, Andrew and Emily are in their home now!
It's not easy being in limbo due to an international move but they have handled it very well!
Their furniture should arrive this weekend!
I brought a blow up mattress to sleep on and slept like a baby 
(this is my idea of camping)!


So thankful for this treasured time with our grand baby Emily!
(Katie, Andrew, Matt and Caitlin, too ;-)

Soon it will be time to head to the airport...

I am always excited to return to our children at home but also so thankful for a moment away-
it's a bit refreshing!

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Myths and Truths of Older Child Adoption

From my point of view…

There are two different age groups of older child adoption (probably more).

There are those that are nearing aging out - that's the 10 yrs - 13yrs 364 days group.
and
the 5-9 yr old crowd.

I don't really think of the 3-4 yr old as an older child.
Yes, their brain has been fully formed through the first 3 yrs of the lives and from their past experiences. Compared to an infant and toddler they are older. 
Yes, they may have struggles but they are still "little" and easier to nurture and (gulp) easier to love. 

Our children came home at these ages-

1. Anna- 17 months

2. Sarah- 8yrs 9 month

3. Emma just turned 10 and Ellie just turned 8.
We think they were probably a year or two older than the age we were given.
Both girls had a full set of adult teeth.

4. Ava at 5 yrs 10 months and Sam at 4 years 6 months.

5. Abby at 5 yrs 10 months and Luke 
at 3 yrs old.

6. Mia was 11 yrs 3 months, Melissa was 7 yrs 2 months and Madeline was 6 yrs 3 months.

7. Ben came home at 7 yrs 7months and Joey at 5 yrs 5 months

For each one of them, I mourned the time we missed.
The time that they grew and experienced life (a not so good life) without us.

So, Anna came home as toddler. We loved it and so did the big kids!
It was the right time in our life to bring home a young child!
She has "grown up" with Johnny, who was 13 when she came home!
Mark was still at home too and he was 17 at the time.

Sarah and Ellie came home at the 8-9 yr old stage and Mia and Emma came home at the 10 and older.
I am including them in the older category because they were quite challenging.

That means 8 of our children came home at the 3yrs - almost 8yr stage.
We love this age group!
They are mobile, they are potty trained (unless that is their special need), they want to interact and play with you and the other kids. They watch the other kids and learn how we do things at our house and in the USA. You can reason with them and they usually desire to please.

Obviously the words above are a bit of an over simplification 
but the point is we like adopting in this age bracket.


Adopting Sarah, Mia, Emma and Ellie was much more challenging.
That does not mean I don't like adopting children a little older it just means that it came with more challenges.
Had they been even older, I am guessing it would have come with even more challenges.

Challenges are not bad
We grow from being challenged.
We rely on God(and less on ourselves) the more we are challenged.
So challenges are GOOD!

BUT
if you are adopting older 
meaning the 10 - 13 364/365th yr olds you need to be
EQUIPPED and PREPARED!

So equip yourself and prepare yourself properly!
Don't jump out of the plane without your parachute!
And even with your parachute you will still experience surprises and challenges!

The truth is I love a challenge!
And I have not been a bit disappointed with the challenge of adopting older!
It makes me continuously work on...
ME!

I do not want to discourage anyone from adopting an older child.
There are many families that have successfully adopted older children and they are doing very well. 
If you feel God's call to adopt an older child- you should listen and act.
Because God will equip you to do what HE has asked you to do…

My Thoughts-

When adopting an older child do consider birth order and how this may change your family dynamics and the roles of each child in your home.
Discuss it with your social worker, other families that have adopted older and read books on this issue.

Our older birth kids where not effected by birth order. They were much older and we got the go ahead from each one of them!
(Johnny was the last one on board and he decided it would be much too quiet in our home after everyone but him left.)


Myth #1
I am saving this older child from an uncertain and horrible future.

Maybe?
And most likely they will have a better future with a family and people to love and support them.
But don't glorify yourself…
Don't think it's half God and half you doing this.
It's NOT…
It's ALL GOD!

Myth #2 
They will be happy that I saved them.

This is a tough one. 
Some kids are thrilled to leave China and let the past be the past while others
find it very difficult. Even though China may not have been good to them, it's still part of who they are. 
It comes home with them and the more you try to move them away from it the harder they may resist.
It depends on the child.

Myth #3 
They will think of me as their Mother and my husband as their Father.
I love them already!

You love a picture. 
You love the dream of what you think life will be like.
The older child does not always appreciate new parents wanting to "parent" them.
They have lived without parents for many years and they thought they were doing just fine.
So now, here you are trying to tell them what to do?
How do you think they are going to react?

With time they may think of you as their mother and father. 
But be prepared- your blessings may not happen for many many years.

Even with birth children the teen years are challenging.
We have found many of our blessings happen once they are into their mid twenties.
At that point you can share a mutually respectful relationship.

Myth #4
It will be beautiful. 
We will hang out together and do things together.
Watch movies, play catch, shop, or read together...

Early adolescents is the natural time for a child to try to break away from rules and parental controls.
They want to get their feet wet on their own so to speak.
They would rather fail themselves than have you tell them what to do (even if you are right).
And this may happen over and over and over again...

Myth #5
They will be friends with the children that are already in our home (bio, adopted, foster).
They will enjoy being a big brother or sister, a son or a daughter.

Maybe? And that would be great! 
But consider that they may have no interest at all in
"being friends"
with their new sibs.
Adolescents usually want to pick their own friends based on their own interests.
As far as being an older brother or sister-
 that may happen as they can find their "younger identity" in them and actually enjoy some time with younger sibs.
It can be freeing to an older adopted child that is torn between the biological age and their personal maturity.
But they may not want or appreciate the responsibility of being the older sib.

Myth #6
We can give them a good education!

If they are healthy, smart and play an instrument… you may want to reconsider…
Most likely they are not a "real orphan".
Do NOT be mad at your agency, your social worker, your husband or the prospective child.
Most likely you will never know or meet the person responsible for the gross misrepresentation.
It is sad but fraud does happen even in adoption. 
Be thankful that you found out in time and that this child can continue to stay near their biological family in China.
Then go quickly
and find the real orphan that is waiting patiently for YOU!
There are so many that wait.
Surely, your child is waiting among them...

Academically your child will come to you many years behind in their education.
It has been a struggle for many families.
And we are also challenged by this issue.
The schools want to place them in the grade according to their age, but they are no where near that grade emotionally.
Homeschooling could be a perfect fit…
except they are an older adoptee who really doesn't want to spend that much time with you (nor you with them) and may be a bit embarrassed at the lower educational level they are at.
Plus they are learning a new language which they may or may not want to learn.
Educating the older adoptee is prayer worthy…
It can be challenging.

Myth #7
Since they are older we will not have to deal with any of the "younger child stuff".

NOPE, They will come to you in a larger body with the mind of a 7 yr old.
They will have ingrained orphanage behaviors that will slowly drive you crazy.
You will do all that you can to purge these behaviors and then you will grow weary and decide to just pick your battles and while letting go of some of the behaviors that need correction 
because you can't correct them 
all. day. long...

But you will become more dependent on God.
You will ask him to take some of your more recent concerns and as long as you actually give them up…
HE will take them!
(and yes, I find myself praying through BKF as everyone is chomping and enjoying their cereal!)

Truths #1
Adoption is a beautiful thing.

Yes it is, in theory and in reality, but its hard work and will put you on your knees.
We are all adopted by God.
It's good to open our hearts and our homes to others in need.
This is pure truth…
BUT, that doesn't mean we are going to have the perfect happily ever after family…
It means we Love and trust you Lord.
We know you will not leave us alone.
You will be with us through the good times and the bad times...

Truth #2
This is tough

It is tough…
It may be the hardest thing you'll ever do…
But, if you are called to do it you know God will be with you every step of the way.
Sometimes we don't let God in and instead try to do it ourselves.
Don't do it alone- you need HIM!

There does come a time when you need to let you child do it on their own.
You cannot control, constantly look after or make their decisions for them.
You may need to free yourself from this and give it all to HIM.

Truth #3
Their dreams of what an American family is 
and 
what it means to move to another country 
and 
be part of a family- that they have just met… 
is completely different than yours and mine... 

Most likely their thoughts and dreams are completely inaccurate.
They have been told many untruths about America and families in America.
We will not buy them what ever they want, whenever they want it…

I don't know how to cook Chinese food and I'm not planning to learn how.
We have cereal in the morning 5 days a week and we love cheese!

Truth #4
Do NOT buy them an iPad or an iPod or a tablet or a computer, etc right away.

They lose themselves in those things and you may may not get them back…

I would love to insert another category here- so please add to my "do remember" list in the comment sections!

Do Remember #1
realize that even though things seem challenging they probably will grow up and be just fine.

Do Remember #2
God loves us unconditionally. Try to love your older adopted child as God loves us, unconditionally.

Do Remember #3
Give yourself a break. Do something special for you and give time and attention to your marital relationship. It has to be a priority in your life… if the parents are happy there is a greater chance that the children will be happy!

Do Remember #4
If God calls you to serve Him- do so!
HE has a reason, HE has a purpose- find out what it is!
BUT be patient.

Do Remember #5
Have a sense of humor! With them and with some of the issues you are facing!
Humor heals and smiles are contagious!

I am sure there are so many more Myths and Truths and Do Remembers to add in - 
 we all have our own bucket full.

I want to end this post with my personal TRUTHS…

Would we do it again?
Absolutely, 
I would, we would and we have had this conversation.

Are we challenged?
Yes, we are… and I have shared some of our challenges in the past and will be sharing more.

How are we coping?
I would say we are doing well.
We have a few challenging days but mostly there are good days.
We are good at discussing our challenges, working together and finding solutions/ options and opportunities.
We work with all of our children as a family unit to help the child that is struggling.
Our kids do much better with a known schedule- so we will be starting back to school as soon as possible.
We pray ALL OF THE TIME!
This is bigger than us but not bigger than 
HIM!

We do feel that having had 5 children go through adolescents has been helpful to us in parenting our new crew…
Our 5 older kiddos were great kids but they weren't perfect!
We had many challenging times with them too!
Now we can look back and laugh at some of those moments!
Someday you will be able to do that too!

Adolescent is filled with twists and turns whether it is your bio child or your adopted child.
They will try to take you on an emotional roller coaster.
Whatever you do… 
DON'T get on the roller coaster with them!
Stay peaceful and close to GOD and watch from a distance!
At some point they will want to join you in peacefulness!

Adolescent children/ teens will disappoint you, frustrate you, hurt your feelings, outsmart you and make you wish you could start the day over or give up and go to bed early…

BUT, the reward of having a child grow up into a well adjusted adult will make you forget all of those awful teen years…

This is why I would love to have mentors(parents with adopted adults in their 20's) that have made it into the adult years.
I'd like to know how are they doing?
What is their greatest challenge?
What would you do different if you could do it all over again?
What did you do, that you are glad you did, when raising your adopted child?

I believe that our older adopted children will grow up to be healthy productive adults.
I just think the path that some of them will take my be a bit different than the norm,
that's okay.

Worrying about our older adopted children is not helpful to us or to them.
Love them and give it to God!
(I know, easier said than done… but I'm still trying!)




Thursday, July 17, 2014

Diagnosed and Then Re Diagnosed and Then...



For this post lease click on the link below!
http://www.nohandsbutours.com/2014/07/15/diagnosed-and-then-rediagnosed-and-then/