Sunday, October 23, 2011

My Boys!!

  Since I started this as an adoption blog for those that were following Jonathan's adoption, I haven't posted lots about our other kids.  However, as I was just looking through recent photos, I found a couple that I'd never seen before.  One of the girls must have taken these.  Meet my "Huckleberry Finn."

This has now become my favorite picture of Justin.  It is just classic him!!  It wasn't posed.... he really spends many of his days with bamboo and his pocket knife, making some sort of fort or new invention.  And, this next one is almost as good.

Justin is a country boy -- 100%.  He loves creeks, ponds, the woods, the barn --  and the dirtier he gets, the better.  I don't love the resulting laundry, but I love watching him explore.  Justin has always been a mud magnet.  And, we're finding Jonathan following in his footsteps!

What started as a simple mud pie (or actually, I think he told me it was a "mud pizza").....

 turned into a mud party!! 

And, Leslie joined the fun.

While Leslie thoroughly enjoys tea parties and dress up, baby dolls and playing with cooking things, she still doesn't shy away from a little mud (or a LOT in this case!)  

Of course, I wouldn't let them back into the house like this,   ---  so I got out the hose..... 

..... and washed away their mud, but not the memories!!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Beyond Bringing One Home

    The number of orphaned children is the world is overwhelming.  When you hear the numbers and consider the enormity of it all, it just seems to be an impossible task to make even the least little bit of difference.

     When I first visited the orphanage where Jonathan lived, I thought that I would never, ever be able to walk away and leave behind the children that we were NOT adopting.... and trust me, --  it was not  an easy thing to do.  I was SO excited to be making a difference to this ONE, and yet heart broken for the other many that are still there in between those walls. 

     Once back in America, Shelley and I started talking about the institution itself. (I've mentioned Shelley here before.  She has adopted one son from this orphanage, and very soon will be going back to bring home a precious little girl.)  I had been so impressed with the way Jonathan was taken care of...  he was always neat and clean, and so were the other children.  He rode the bus to the next largest village to go to school.  And, as I've mentioned here before, 2 years ago, he had had a surgery on his leg to help correct the results of his Cerebral Palsy.  The director obviously did a really good job of meeting the kids' basic needs. 

     On our first visit, Dan and I asked the director what the biggest need for the orphanage was at that time.  We were planning to take back a gift to donate to the home as a thank-you for the care that they'd given Jonathan.  Her answer actually surprised us.  She said, "Paint!"  For several years, it had been obvious that there were basic maintainance needs of the building itself, but she said that the money in the budget just never stretched far enough.  She was using the budgeted money for all the right things....  for the children.  However, if the building crumbles around the heads of the children, then obviously it directly affects their lives!  Dan and I did take back a financial gift that would help with paint.  But, Shelley already had a bigger plan in the works, and we told the director that "more was in the making!"

     In about 7 weeks, Shelley will visit this orphanage again.  She will be there for the very thrilling task of walking away with her sweet little daughter!!  Between now and then, we are getting the word out about the way that we'd like to impact more  children than the ones we've been able to adopt....   We'd like to raise enough money to leave the ones left behind with a refurbished play room downstairs, an activity room upstairs, and new flooring in at least 4 bedrooms.

     Would you like to join us?  Shelley has just posted the plans on her blog--- complete with pictures and videos of the things that need to be done.  Go HERE to see it, and read about several ways that you might could participate in the fund-raiser.  If you'd simply like to help by cash or a check, let me know, and I'll give you details!  I'm so excited to see how BIG this is going to be.  The goal is set for $2500, but I'm praying for even bigger and better ways to stretch the blessing!!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

   PROGRESS---  that's what we've been seeing around our house the past 2 weeks.  It is always good to make progress....  but it can often seem bad in the process, and honestly, in these past 2 weeks, it has often looked  ugly.  There is absolutely no reason at all to try to convince anyone that adoption of any sort is a breeze.  So, I won't try to smooth over the wrinkles and pretend that all has gone extremely well here lately.  Some things just have to get worse before they can get better.
   Now, when we are in the middle of an ugly tantrum or a battle of the wills, I don't reach for my camera to document the moment!  So, most certainly all of the pictures that I post will be of the "good" rather than the "bad" or the "ugly."  But, I will still let you know that those times without smiles on our faces are there.
    However.... would I change it for even a minute????  Not a chance. 
    Have we been blessed beyond measure in ways that we didn't even think of?   Absolutely.

    I almost titled this post, "The Way it Should Be" because -- when you really stop and think about it  --  it very honestly should  be difficult for a child who has lived 9 years in an institution to have difficulty learning that he is a very welcome member of our home, and that all of the members of our home work together, have responsibilities, have requirements, and must work together to keep things going smoothly.

    Progress --  lots of steps in the right direction.  Jonathan is learning some of the boundaries both inside and outside our home.  When he first came home, he needed someone with him all day long to ensure both his safety (so that he didn't head outside alone and get hurt doing something dangerous) and to ensure that he understood what was an "OK" thing to do (play with toys in his room) and what was not  an OK thing to do (take all the things out of his sister's closet or dresser drawers).  It was very necessary to have a permanent "chaperone" all the time.  That is very understandable, and it was a really good thing because we had countless opportunities to communicate.  He and I talked about everything we were doing.  He learned LOTS of English because there was constant interaction.  However, soon we realized that he had gotten used to the idea that he had someone who was sort of a "captive audience."  He had a constant playmate!!  While I certainly enjoy spending time playing with him (I've climbed more trees in the past 7 weeks that I had in the past many years put together! :)  ) and it is extremely important in encouraging his attachment to me, ---there were a couple of drawbacks.  He got to the point where he wouldn't entertain himself very well (which we knew he had been capable of doing!), and he wouldn't respect the times that I was trying to talk to someone else....  he was used to my (or anyone, for that matter) talking to him, listening to him.  So, we've had to work on those types of things.  There is progress in that area now, and more will come with time.

     More progress has come with Jonathan's being able to express emotion.  He was home for over 5 weeks before he ever cried when he got hurt.  And, trust me, he had been hurt countless  times while learning to ride the bike.  We doctored scrapes, cuts, bruises, etc.  -- all while he was keeping up a nervous sort of laughter.  We knew that those things were hurting him.  But, many children who have been raised in an institution have long since given up crying about things.  When babies who have loving parents start to cry, the parent takes care of their needs.  When babies in orphanages cry, they find that the caretakers do not generally respond....  there are just too many little ones to care for.  So, after a while of crying with no response to their needs, they give up the effort.
    About 2 weeks ago, I was outside playing with Jonathan, and he fell really hard.  I knew that it had to have hurt very badly.  I ran to him immediately, and he started to cry.  He let me hold him and soothe him.  He didn't cry for long at all, but it was SO huge.
    Other emotions have been coming as well....  anger coming on stronger and stronger.  Each week that goes by, he expresses his anger in a more definite way.  When Jonathan is needing discipline, we never use "time out."  He has lived his life isolated in many ways from examples of what appropriate behavior is.  He needs "time IN"...  which is time spent in a chair near me (not being sent away from me) while he considers what behavior needs to be improved upon.  However, now that he has started expressing his anger so loudly, he and I have to go to his room together for his "time in," to keep him from totally disrupting everyone else's school time, meal time, or whatever.  One day while we were there in his room, I drew pictures of faces showing different emotions.  This seemed to actually get through to him.  The first day he wouldn't point to which emotion he was feeling, but the next day, he did.  And once he "told" me how angry he was, he started to get over it.  I'd much rather him let his emotions out than keep them wrapped up inside where they eat away at him.  So, now the challenge is teaching him to properly express those emotions and learn the self -control necessary to choose to do that.

    So, the progress is good, and we just live by faith through the bad and ugly parts of it ....  hanging onto the faith that one day, it won't look so bad and ugly anymore!!