Thursday, September 29, 2011

Decided!

Thank you for all you responses!! We loved them! Some were so funny- isn't that the dogs name? And I can't quite get past the fact that it's your dogs name! They were very helpful such as looking up the meaning of the names to see which one we wanted to bless her with!


We also loved the name Lizzie that a couple people mentioned!


After much thought and prayer we have made a decision!


It feels good! It feels right!


And most importantly we prayed over this and ask God for guidance- what did he want his child to be named?


I sat down with my bible and completely randomly opened it- guess what page, out of all the many pages in the bible it opened to! Yes, 1 Samuel 23 where it talks about Abigail- she was a beautiful and sensible woman. Her name means Joy of the Father!


I wrestled with God all night and throughout the next day! God won- he always wins!


Of course one of the big kids pointed out the fact that Mia was at a disadvantage- her name is not in the bible but I am sure if that would have been God's choice he would have let me know one way or another!


To be honest "I" couldn't get past the fact that it was the dog's name! We tried for 4 months to call her another name- Maya, Fifi, Fifa, hey you get over here, and many more names! I knew that once our little girl was home we would constantly be making mistakes and she wouldn't really understand why her name was the same as the dogs!


To those of you that have a MIA- I love that name! Eight years ago we had no idea we would be traveling down this path of adoption so we named our cute little puppy Mia and we are now to the point of no return- now we can't undo what we did (we tried ;-)!


We also had a family vote and between Mia, Lizzie and Abby- it was unanimous- everyone loved Abby, Lizzie came in second. The big kids just don't want their new sister to have the same name as the dog- I understand now. It took me only 6 months to "get it"- Ima little slow and stubborn!



So here she is!

Abigail Elizabeth MuChun!

Our Abby!

Thank you for your help and words of wisdom!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I Can't Believe I Am Doing This AGAIN!

First I have to apologize- I'm sorry for my indecisiveness! BUT for those of you that like playing the name game ;-)  
here we go AGAIN!


It's between- 
Abigail Elizabeth-  Abby

and 

Mia Elizabeth- Mia

Younger crew would be-
Sarah, Emma, Ellie, Ava, Abby, Anna, Sam and Luke
or
Sarah, Emma, Ellie, Ava, Mia, Anna, Sam and Luke

I'm just guessing all this indecisiveness mean we need to go back for another girl!!

We need to decide NOW! It's time to fill out her paperwork!!
PLEASE leave a comment!!

Thank you and again, I apologize!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Somewhere Between

My friend and I went to the Twin City Film Festival and saw the documentary "Somewhere Between"!


It was incredible! A must see for all adoptive parents! Here is what is written about it!


Four teenaged girls live in different parts of the US, in different kinds of families, united by one thing: all were adopted from China, because all four had birth parents who could not keep them, due to circumstances colliding with China's 'One Child Policy'. These strong young women allow us to grasp what it is like to come-of-age in today's America as trans-racial adoptees. At the same time, we see them as typical American teenagers doing what teenagers everywhere do. Through these young women, and their explorations of who they are, we ourselves pause to consider who we are-both as individuals and as a nation of immigrants. With great honesty and courage, these four girls open their hearts to experience love, compassion, and self-acceptance.



Above is a link to a 3 minute clip on the movie!

It really opened my eyes to what our children will be going through as they get older. Right now there are so many things to think about, our focus has been just getting them home and acclimated to a new culture and family. I had hoped IF we do things the right way we would be able to avoid what we saw in the movie.

I know that's not right. No matter how good of a job we do raising our children from China they will have deep seeded feelings they will need to deal with. 


Often times I find myself dealing with things when we are "there" instead of ahead of time but adoptive parents need to be aware of this issue before they happens. The feelings are deep and they don't always make sense to someone (like me) who has not been internationally adopted.

Feelings of not belonging... in either culture, of being different than their parents, siblings and friends. Feelings of loss and abandonment. Of the need to overcompensate and always prove themselves worthy of love, of friendship, of value, of anything.

How does a child ever really get over abandonment and the views of their original culture. Even if they don't share those views and even if their new culture doesn't agree with it- they still carry it  deep inside.

We have planned to  teach our children how loved they are by us and God. How valued they are in this world. How special, unique and beautiful they are! We want teach them to be confident, to make good decisions, to be thankful, to be kind and love others and to forgive themselves and others.

Yes, it sounds lovely!
And that is still what we plan to do BUT the reality is all of this still will not heal them for their past.

Healing will be a process, a journey, an enlightenment that comes with time.

For many the scars are to deep and they will always have them but will learn to live with them. They will need to find peace at some point on their personal journey. Our at least a resting spot that somehow feels good to them.

When Sarah (home 2.5 yrs) went to Michael's funeral she did not cry. She showed very little emotion but went through the appropriate steps actions while at the funeral and visitation.


 I did find it a little troubling. I think she could not let her guard down. 

What would happen to her if she allowed herself to really feel the loss of a friend. A friend that adored her and who she was completely comfortable around... one of her few friends.

What would happen if she felt the pain of losing her birth parents. Was she unwanted and unvalued by her parents and a whole culture just because she is a girl and maybe the second or third child in a family?

someday the flood gates will open...
the tears will flow...
for all her losses...
for all of their losses...

I need to be aware of this. We need to be able to help her and our other children process all of this. It will not go away on it's own...

I do think that some adoptees will feel it more than others.
I also think that- to not feel it would be very unhealthy.

This movie was awesome and should be seen by all adoptive parents! Whether you adopted from China or someplace else it can apply to all international adoptees. 

It had many other great points of interest-
reasons to have your child learn/keep their birth language
trying to find their birth family
visiting their birth country.


It was eye opener for me!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fried Chicken

We love our children! They are wonderful and have been such a joy to us!

Except!


When they eat fried chicken!
Oh my goodness! It's more than my stomach can handle!


So what do we do?

We serve them up a full glass of cold milk, some fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy and then...


WE LEAVE THE ROOM!


It all started when Katie and I were in China meeting Sarah!
We were shocked how she licked the chicken bone clean and we were pretty sure if we did not stop her  the bone would have been gone too!


One by one the children came home... okay, it's been two by two but you know what I mean!

Each one has done the same thing(except Anna- she came home at 16 months)! They have licked the bone clean! Not only is the delicious chicken gone but so are the tendons, the little dark blood vessels, the fat and the anatomy list goes on! Even the cartilage is gone! Don't ask me where it is? I don't want to know and I don't want to share where I think its gone!


Last night I heard Ava crunching on something! I made her spit it out!


The truth is what they are eating is made to be eaten.
What they are eating is most likely good for them in some way.
In China they would be thankful for every morsel of food, not knowing what or if there would be more. A thankful attitude is always better then a picky attitude!
The Chinese diet is generally a healthier diet than the American diet.
So most likely my preferences are just plain wrong.

It just happens to be one of my irritants!
(which leads me to another post!)

I certainly can't encourage them to eat chicken like me- The only thing worse than watching them eat chicken would be watching me eat chicken!


Disclaimer- those are not paper plates! They are plastic plates that look like paper plates- just in case you were wondering!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Let The Truth Be Told- A Confession Session!

It's time to break my silence. I am mourning big time! Changes are coming and I can hardly cope... gulp!


For 41 years I have watched "ALL MY CHILDREN". Yes, I said "41 years"! I know, I know - you didn't think I was that old BUT I am! I'm 42! JK! I'm 43! okay JK again!


I heard last spring the show was cancelled. How can they do that to me... to us... to all of the ALL MY CHILDREN lovers!!


Erica, Kendall, Bianca, Brooke, Babe, Angie, Jesse, Tad, JR, Frankie, Ryan and Zach are household names around here! They are my friends- pretty sad... I know!


I would tivo the show and watch it at night- blissfully I would fall asleep while my soapy friend lives were often in utter turmoil! I knew somehow things would work out!


My Mom and I often watched it together. After she passed I would watch it and feel closer to her. So- I guess it gave me some comfort for awhile ;-)


They were supposed to keep it going until January but for some reason the moved the date up. Now there will be some stupid food show in that time slot. Don't they know I hate to cook!


Next were the rumors that the show was going online. I hope that happens but for now they are in salary negotiations... and it won't air until January! Come on guys do it for us! Everybody meet half way and let your viewers once again enjoy life in Pine Valley!


Things change and GULP, I guess it's time to say goodbye, for now. It makes me sad, as silly as it may be! I wish it weren't ending and I would have continued watching it and never have to fess up how much I love "ALL MY CHILDREN"!


AMC if you come back, I'll be back! Do we have a DEAL!


In the mean time, I think I'll name our next two children Babe and Tad! 


Is there anyone else out there that wants to join in my confession session!



Sunday, September 18, 2011

China Travel Over Or Near The Christmas Holidays?

By the looks of how things are going we will be in China for a big portion of December. I am little confused on how I feel about it- part of me wants to get Mia and Luke as soon as possible no matter when it is and the other half says what about all the children at home? Do we leave them over the holidays? What about the babysitter- how does she feel about this?


I had hoped we could be on our way to China in the end of November but that is looking unlikely. Everything would have to go perfectly and in the world of adoption that just doesn't happen! Flexibility is part of the journey- perfection is not!


Sometimes things happen and they are a blessing, although that may not be visible at first glance. Hubby is so busy at work BUT the one time that things slow down for everyone is over the Christmas and New Years Holidays. IF we were in China, he wouldn't miss that much of actual work.


Christmas is once again is getting out of hand. Hubby restricted me to 4 gifts per child. I made the most of it and but 4 gifts in every one package I wrapped- you do the math 4x4x now 13 (yikes)! The kids came out very well and now dear hubby knows what I'm up to!! He also knows the tendency is to keep doing more- he's just trying to protect me from, well...ME!  ;-)


It is Sam and Ava's first Christmas I would like to be home and with ALL the children if possible?? Not sure that it is possible?





I am thinking the highlight of this Christmas will be our two new treasures! Special gifts from God- Mia and Luke! Everyone will be so excited to meet them!!


I could have a few things ready- maybe 2 gifts per child and a dinner! We will go super light on the decorations! It will be a low key Christmas Holiday. Family time and praising God for his gift of Jesus our Savior. Actually this is starting to sounding really good to me!



Of course then we throw in jet lag and the expectation go even lower... rock bottom low that is!


Now I'm seeing a Christmas movie and half of us asleep on the couch! Hey that works!!


Have you ever traveled to China in December or do you know someone that has?? Have they gone over the actual holiday? How did it go?


EDITED!
You have all completely surprised me! I thought for sure you would say go! I am all ears and listening to you and we're already changing our minds!!!
Soooo, what IF we can leave at the end of November(29th)?? Go or not? We won't get back until the 17th of December and we will be exhausted?? We could leave the evening of Monday, December 26th!
I love your comments! They are so helpful!


One other factor... Luke really really needs to get to a dentist. He has many cavities. No dentist in China can work on him because of his heart- I am concerned about him...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Homeschooling This Crew!

I was feeling so blessed this morning as I was sipping my coffee and heading to the school room. How could it be that 6 treasures are home and 2 more are on their way! It is an incredible thought!


I have always been a dreamer BUT I never thought "they, the dreams", would come true to this magnitude! I figured my chances for many little blessing had come and gone. Little did I know that God had BIG plans for us!


We have had 2 weeks of school so far and the children have really settled into the routine. The are doing so good getting their school work done, asking questions, participating and having a good attitude.


After missing so many years with them I can't imagine sending them to school. My heart would break each day as I waved goodbye to them.


Homeschooling has been instrumental with attachment. With this number of children plus heading off each day- I would be nothing more than the Aunties they new in China.


Sarah is working on a separate curriculum/ grade level. Some of it is easy for her and at times I think we should bump her up a bit but it is so important to have all the basics to an education, be successful, love learning, feel capable, be able to follow directions, and be able to comprehend what she reads. There were so many many holes in her education in China she was unable to connect all the dots. When she went to school she was there in body but not in mind. Now she has so much confidence!


The other 5 children, I teach together. Ellie, Ava and Anna are all at the Kindergarten level and doing very well. By very well I mean- Anna is extremely active and knows most of what we are doing. Ava is learning and has potential to "get it". Ellie knows it but has trouble with recall, so we need to keep repeating it.


Sam is doing pretty good but really is a preschooler. He just needs more time to be a little boy before officially starting school.  I am planning on him doing kindergarten with Mia next fall. Sweet Emma is doing the work with us but learning is so hard for her. She seems to be happy being a part of the group. I know she is slowly making progress because now she knows all the letters, is working on her phonics and can count to 30 in english.


I have never had a toddler/ preschooler in the home while teaching the older children so if you have any suggestions please leave a comment!


I am thinking that Luke and Sam can do some preschool activities and then play together near us. I have also thought about putting them in preschool but Sam has his surgeries coming up and we need to find out Luke's health status. He also needs to bond with his new Momma- so we won't be doing that this year.


I love seeing the progress the children are making and knowing what they need to work on! The whole day becomes a learning experience!


I am finding that I am always evaluating what we are working on and modifying it to fit "us". We are unique and nothing is a perfect fit!



In the evening we turn into soccer fans and cheer on Johnny's team!


The kids love seeing Johnny play and will call out to him from the stands! He gets a kick out of it!
That's a soccer joke!


They were playing hide and seek outside! Anna was it! She had know idea we were in the porch watching her count! And BTW who taught her how to count? Her teacher! That would be ME!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Yay Cabins!!


All my life I have wanted a swimming pool!
 I am not sure why- I mean I love being outside, soaking up the sun and being active BUT my blonde locks could easily be turned green and... I never really get "in" the pool... so why have I always wanted one?? Only God knows!


I was pretty sure this year WE NEEDED ONE!?!
Summers in Minnesota are all about swimming and how on earth was Sam going to be able to go swimming? I envisioned us being kicked out of every pool because "leaks". (Sam has IA)


But that is not what happened... at all!


We became accomplished at colostomies and swimming AND the pool we just happened to go to over the summer was...


not at all crowded! I am please to announce they never had to empty the pool because of us!! (because of leaks)
Often we were one of a few families at the pool!!


People in MN tend to go to their cabin over the weekends!
We are ALL FOR IT!!
Because they basically left the city to us!


And the pool! And we loved every minute of it!


We had our own private lifeguard!


And any chair to pick from!


And diving boards and slides!


And IF we didn't like the other chairs we could pick from this row!


These wonderful people made us lunch!
We had a great summer! And we love that everyone else loves their cabins! Please continue to go to them!

I was so concerned AND look how GOD provided!
It was better than I could have ever dreamed of!

There was no reason to worry!

Thank You Jesus!
We had a blast!
(and so did the other one million people that were left in the cities)
Again, from those of us left at home-
 Yay Cabins!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sick or Not? UPDATED!

UPDATE: Emma has strep. She is thrilled to be getting medicine for it, it makes her feel special and loved!



Sometimes it is very hard to tell if our children are sick.
I think they have spent so much time not feeling very good.
In an orphanage where no one really cares and germs are spread like wild fire, or children have learned to keep quite about their aches and pains. 
Why tell anyone? What would they do?


I noticed a rash on Sam but figured it was due to heat or detergent or some unknown source.


It kept getting worse and was on his abdomen and back. I continuously asked and pointed  "does you throat hurt, does your neck hurt?"
Each time the answer was NO!
We brought him in anyways... after a couple weeks and low and behold he had strep!
No symptoms... just the rash...


Katie (big sis/ school teacher) called in the late afternoon. She is feeling awful- swollen glands, sore throat and a fever- I am guessing she has it too...


Sooo... about a week ago I called the Dr.
Emma has had 2 incidents of a rash on her back and stomach. 
Didn't think anything of it at the time- other than to remind her not to itch.
She so seldom speaks- it comes in waves- talkative and then nothing?


Tonight I started taking temps- even of those that had no complaints and Emma's is at 102!
I never would have known- she never complains.
I wonder how often she was sick in China and just carried on with life. (I also wonder how long she has had it?)


Tomorrow we go to the Dr. for Emma and a recheck of Sam (his rash is still there although a little better)!
I wonder IF strep tests are cheaper by the half dozen?

I am surprised that these dear younger children are unable to communicate when they are ill.
I will be more vigilant from now on!

So tomorrow before school, it's off to the Dr we go!

BTW- they are all cuddling and watching Mary Poppins!
For the last couple weeks- Little Orphan Annie was the movie of choice but now it is Mary Poppins!
I am just thrilled that they can watch it and learn the songs!

Progress!!



Sunday, September 11, 2011

When the older children don't want you to adopt again...

We have heard this question many times. 
I actually like answering it and have decided to post on it so it can hopefully help as many families as possible.
Each family is different. Our way of dealing with it may not work for you but maybe you can take bits and pieces of what we did and modify it for your family!


What do we do when our older child/children don't want us to adopt?
Did any of your older kids feel this way?
How did you handle it?
What did you say?
What was the outcome?
How do they feel about it now?


When we first began thinking of adopting we talked about it with our 5 birth children.
It was only a thought and before we proceeded we wanted to know how they felt about it.
We were so surprised and overjoyed that they were all on board! Johnny was the last one to go along with it. He was the youngest of the birth children and would be home with "that child" the longest- it mattered to us how he felt about it.
After a couple conversations he told us that he thought it would be great if we adopted a little girl from China.

Anna came home in August of 2007! She was 16 months old- the bio kids were 13, 17, 19,  21 and 23 when she came home.
They completely adored her and she has a bond with all of them that can never be broken!


The original plan was for us to adopt 2 children close in age and from the same country. We thought that would work well for our family and they would have each other to play with and to identify with- it was a nice thought don't you think!?!




BUT
things change and plans don't always work the way we think they will.

Our first adoption was just the tip of the iceberg and we knew God had bigger plans for us!
Our older children were not privy to the memo!
As our plans and conversations changed they were surprised.

Their feeling ranged from-

making jokes about our decisions
shaking their heads at what we were doing
feelings of displacement
feelings of replacement
some feelings of anger
jealousy
embarrassment of the size of our family
embarrassed of the new children and how they may or do act
threatening their security
fears that they would have to raise these children
fears that we would be worn out and not interested by the time they had children
concerns about our finances
concerns about our health
would we have any time for them(the older kids)?
Wondering if we could actually parent all of them?
Why were we doing this? What was the point?
Were they not good enough and we were looking for someone better?
threats that they would leave and not come back IF we adopted again...
And the list goes on...




Everyone of their fears, concerns, insecurities were valid.

Even though we did not share these same thoughts they were all said to us with complete sincerity.




They all needed to be discussed.
Everyone of our birth children needed to have answers that they could trust. Answers that calmed their fears, that reassured them of their value and their place in our family.

How do I know this? 
Because at first we dismissed them and their concerns and frustrations built- they were not going to be easily dismissed.
We needed to sit down and talk to them individually and discuss their thoughts respectfully.




** Very Important**
Do not sit down with all of the older children at once. Do it individually.




**Very Important**
They need to talk about "their" concerns not their siblings and not what they have all come up with collaboratively!


Yes, they will all get together and talk about it and the next thing ya know ya got a mutiny!

Kind of a gang mentality- we separated the gang and talked to them individually.

We had the rule that they could not say "we". 
It could only be "I" or "me"!






Some of their feelings, thoughts, and concerns were the same but we found that their main concerns were usually different and went along with their different personalities. 

Some of our conversation went on over time. They couldn't be completely settled in one sitting.

We found that some of the kids needed time to figure out their feelings and come to terms with them.
Maybe it had to do with their own insecurities. Maybe they had to dig deeper in their heart and realize that they didn't need to be embarrassed of a disabled child or a child that was different.

Many of their thoughts, feelings and concerns could be dealt with by us giving them more information- about the child, the disability, how we planned to handle the new situation/ family dynamics. They where not all upset at the same time they each voiced their concerns throughout different adoptions.






Both Hubby and I felt good about our adoptions so that the conversations in general went well.
We did not intend to change our minds about adopting, that was not an option that we even considered.

If you are not 100% sure of what you want you may find your conversations go differently than ours did. That's okay.
You may have to work through some of your own feelings about adopting before dealing with your older children's thoughts and feeling.
It is much easier to help your older children when you are peaceful about you decision.

As parents we have made most of the decisions for our family however our children have always had a voice and have influenced what we decide. We all share a mutual respect. They also have a fair amount of freedom as long as they are staying within the family guidelines/ rules. We feel this gives them the opportunity to learn from their own decisions- sometimes they are happy with what they chose and sometimes it doesn't work out as they had hoped- any way you look at it they own it and can learn from their experiences.

They did not own this one... we did! It was ultimately our decision. Yes we'd gather the input that we had heard but we would do all the deciding.
When we decide something we turn to God, at least we try to... 
Yes, we make mistakes and venture out on our own without our Fathers guidance but thankfully we have not made that mistake when it comes to adoption.
In our hearts- adopting our children was right and good and what HE and we wanted!

We let our kids work through their anger, frustration and lack of control over this- they new we were going to move forward either way.
We prayed for our children and for their many feelings.

Little by little, one by one they warmed up. They became peaceful with the idea that more children would be joining our family. The began to trust in our capabilities to parent many children. They trusted that we would still love and value each of them and be considerate of their lives.

They saw that they were able to pursue their dreams and that their parents should also be able to pursue dreams- not matter how old we were! 

I think they actually began to admire that we were doing something different and stepping out in faith.
It gave them freedom to do the same IF they should want to! Freedom to trust God and maybe try something they wouldn't have tried otherwise.




Yes- because of our size there are things we cannot do anymore. We have self imposed limitations but we sure have a lot of fun! We always arm ourselves with a sense of humor!

Our older children love the younger children and vice versa!!
The big kids love to come home and yell out- HELLO, as they walk in the door!
-only to here little voices calling back-
Billy, hello
Marky, your home!
Hi Johnny!
Yay Katie, is Penny with you!?!
Hooray, Matt and Caitlin are home!!


The benefits of adopting have far out weighed any negatives! Our older children have learned to extend themselves beyond their own desires and not be afraid of the unknown. They have learned that it is okay to open your home to a child that needs a home. To give of themselves- their time, their love, their words of wisdom. To accept that everyone is different and different is okay. To stick together and protect those that cannot protect themselves. 

They see so much joy in the laughter of their little siblings!

I hope this helps someone.
 If you have questions ask them in the comments!










Wednesday, September 7, 2011

HOLY BUCKETS, we just got-

Our LOA!

THANK YOU JESUS!


One step closer to this little boy!


And this little girl!


Hoping to travel in the beginning of December!!