"We are all handmade people created by a God who is not safe or small." Rend Collective Experiment

Monday, October 29, 2007

Food~

Dianna asked me about food issues in adoption..

An important thing to keep in mind when adopting from overseas is the type of cuisine served, and the method of eating in the country your child is from.

Ethiopian dishes are very unique. I don't know of any thing we eat here in America which compares to the flavor and heat of traditional Ethiopian dishes. It is very delicious, and the Berbere used to spice the dishes can make it very HOT. Little ones of all ages eat the delicious food. Food which would have me in tears would not even register on our Ethiopian children's radar as spicy.

Also, strong coffee and tea are consumed by many Ethiopians including young children. Our son who was 3 at homecoming would go crazy for coffee. He still loves it, and I ignore the odd looks we receive when we walk into Target and he asks for the coffee the Starbucks sells. The aroma speaks to him still :o) and we do let him drink decaff on occasion.

Sweets are not a regular part of the Ethiopian diet. Our Ethiopian children had no taste or desire for sweets. They would turn their little noses up at them when they first came home. That has since been remedied.. and now they are full fledged sugar lovers. Not that that is a good thing. ;o)

Ethiopians do not typically use utensils when eating. They eat with their right hand. At AAI's Layla House they do practice with utensils in preparation for coming to America. Our son was from Kidane Mehret and he ate with his hand. It was really quite amazing to watch him eat a bowl of rice and not drop one grain. It took several months before he got the hang of using a utensil. At one point he would put the food on the spoon with his hand lift the food to his chin, and then pick up the food and place it in his mouth...I really wish I would have videoed more in those days. Mealtimes were hectic, but we laughed so much.

Also, when adopting small children it is good to ask caregivers what the feeding routines are. The nuns at Kidane put sugar in the baby bottles to fatten up the little ones. Our little guy did not like his milk without sugar at first. We weaned him off the sugar slowly.

Food can be a very emotional issue. We all have strong feelings about food. We often center holidays and traditions around it.

We also turn to food for comfort. There are times it brings us comfort, or reminds us of a fond memory.

It is no different for our children from overseas. Food can be a huge struggle to adjust to. The food will seems strange and different. It will look funny, and taste funny, and smell funny. Many Ethiopian children have not had dairy and pizza and mac and cheese are just foreign to their little taste buds.

We made sure we had rice or pasta, bread, and fresh fruit at every meal. These are things we knew they would like. Then they could try the new American food if they liked; which they usually did.

Our 3 boys had very different food adjustments.

The Wee Babe struggled with food. His struggles were due to his prematurity and it took him time to learn how to swallow. He is doing really well with eating now.

Our son who came home at 14 months adjusted wonderfully to food here in America. He didn't skip a beat. He ate very well, and has had no food issues.

Our 3 yo sons was very malnourished upon arriving into the orphanage. Many of us will never know what it feels like to be hungry. Truly hungry. We can't imagine what it would be like to have no food for days, and to not know when or if food will come again.

Our son did struggle with gorging and overeating until the point of sickness. It was not unusual for him to finish a meal only to dive under his chair and eat any crumbs which may have fallen. There were times where we would catch him eating out of the trash.

He was a survivor. He was still in survival mode, and his little mind couldn't comprehend a world where food was constantly available. His experience thus far had proved otherwise.

We made sure that he had 3 meals and 2 snacks every day at the same time. We could literally see him panic if he began to feel hunger pains, so we tried to make sure he never got that hungry. He needed to learn that food was going to be there. It took TIME to instill this.

God has brought him out of his compulsiveness for food. He still loves food more than your average child, and I think he always will, but he stops when he is full. He doesn't eat things he doesn't like anymore for fear he won't eat again. The day he left the crust on his plate from a sandwich was a day we stopped and thanked God for healing him.

A very interesting documentary on hunger some in Ethiopia face is
Living With Hunger

Here is a synopsis

In an unprecedented mission, Sorious Samura set out to understand the real stories of people living on the edge of starvation. He moved into a remote village in Ethiopia far away from the range of the UN and most NGO's. Between August and September Sorious lived in a hut and survived on the same meagre diet as the rest of the villagers.
It is a hard documentary to watch, but we felt an important one for Jim and I to see.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

2Corinthians 3:18~

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18


It never ceases to amaze me how AWESOME God is. It is amazing to think that my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is always there and is always working. He is the God who never sleeps and who is always faithful.

We had a lovely week. God blessed us with some real answers to prayer. As a mother, I think one of the hardest things is watching your child struggle. One of our children has dyslexia. For years this child has worked so hard and so diligently. Little fruit was seen for the many hours put in.... There were moments of tears and utter frustration, but this child has never given up, and has never lost the sweet spirit which characterizes them.

Two weeks ago I started a new program (Reading from Scratch) with this child, and I have been utterly amazed at the progress. God has used this program to answer our prayers. We have seen confidence and joy of learning restored. We are so excited for our sweet child.

God could have not allowed dyslexia to afflict our child...yet He allowed it. It is not because He is a harsh or unloving God. God is good. I heard it best put this way..many times God will allow an a trial in one's life as a teaching guide or tool. The trial or affliction will make one stronger and more like Christ. I see this in this child. The time of trails are not for naught.

Here is another answer to prayer..



The Wee Babe is wearing pants!!! Why is that so exciting?? Because this is the first time he can. Up until now pants would literally fall off of him because he is so tiny. He had to wear shorts or overalls. He has grown so much! He is now 24 lbs..which is small for a 2 and a half year old, but considering he is now 12 times his birth weight; We are thrilled!

We had a good school week. We had a lovely afternoon with friends. We had several appointments..

At a dental appt. this week the air conditioning was not working. In my spirit I did not have a good attitude about it. I came home and complained to Jim.. It is no accident that later I read this Blog Post which completely showed me how petty I am. Our 5 yo son is from Soddo. This is where he spent his first years of life..my dental cleaning with no a/c hardly compares. I am thankful for a God who continually shows me what is really important in life. Oh, that I may listen and remember.

Finally, we had a wonderful evening at our Church's Fall Fest. I love our church. I love the sweet fellowship and love that emanates from it's members. We are truly blessed that God has given us such a wonderful Church Home.
Funnel Cake Faces..

Larry and Bob from Veggie Tales were there. Wee Babe found Larry to be quite frightening in living color. I can't say that I blame him. Life sized talking cucumbers are just not something you see every day..

And of course, there was Cotton Candy..
This was definitely a case of love at first taste.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007

1Thessalonians 5:18~

5!!~

Our sweet boy turned 5 on Saturday.

What a blessing he is! 1 Thessalonians 5:18 sums up his little heart perfectly... In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you....

A more thankful person I have never met than our sweet son. A day doesn't go by when he doesn't thank us for reading him a story, or saying prayers with him, or taking him to church, or making a meal...or a multitude of other things. He has the sweetest spirit and a heart of gold. He loves his brothers and sisters so much, and he just knows his Daddy hung the moon.

What a fun, sweet, energy filled little treasure from above!

We asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday and he said he wanted to go to..

McDonald's
CiCi's Pizza
The Park
Sweet Tomatoes
And
The Grocery Store

He's so funny. We went to CiCi's, the Park, and the grocery store. He chose a farm theme for his birthday, and we had a wonderful day.







Happy Birthday!!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Psalm 68:5~

A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation. Psalm 68:5


Scenes from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia..What a blessing to see how God is working.
Thank you Donna for sharing.

Friday, October 19, 2007

1 Thess. 5:11~

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. 1Thessalonians 5:11..

The only thing that shocks people more than us having 9 children..is the fact that we have 5 boys..4 of whom are 5 and under. If they find out that we are adopting two more boys..well, we just prove we are certifiable.

I have noticed somewhere along the way little boys have gotten a bad "rap". Perhaps it started around the time when someone came up with the silly notion that boys and girls are the same. Any parent could have told the "experts" that that is absurd. Boys have a wonderful energy that is unique to them. They tap and hum and rap and run. I have often heard it said they are "Noise with dirt", but I think they are much better than that.

Our boys are a lot of fun. They can be noisy, and they can be dirt magnets, and they can make a competition out of things I never imagined could be a race..

I love watching them, and I know that God is going to use these energetic little ones for His glory. Today, they are trying to encourage one another to do the best trick or run the fastest, but one day they will move onto bigger things........

I pray they will encourage one another and propel one another to share Christ with a lost world. I pray they will encourage one another to let God use them as His hands and feet. I pray they will encourage one another to be godly men. I pray they will hold "each others arms up" as Aaron and Hur did with Moses. I am so thankful they have each other.
















And I am so thankful God has blessed me with them.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Attachment~

I had honestly never thought much about attachment before we began the adoption process.

Knowing now what I know about attachment I see how God designed babies and their parents perfectly to have loving attachments. By their nature, babies need a lot of physical touch and cooing and cuddling and care giving. Scientifically this has proven to release hormones in both the babies and their parents. Every time a babies needs are met the attachment grows and deepens. It's a beautiful and God ordained cycle.

However, we live in a fallen world. Things are not perfect, and sadly poverty, illness, and death can separate parents from their children. Young children separated from their early care givers through traumatic events will have experienced a time of their needs being unmet. I am not speaking of a delayed diaper change, but of something more serious. A baby who is hungry and there is no food. A baby who is scared and their is nobody to hold them. A toddler who is sick and there is nobody to rock him. These early experiences shape a young infant/toddlers view of the world. The world is not a safe place. It is a scary place.

When you bring your child home it is important not to forget that your child has a past. Even the littlest ones may be affected. You can estimate that you are at least the third caregiver in that child's life. #1-Birth Parents. #2-Orphanage #3. You.. this is actually a low estimate as caregivers in orphanages usually work in shifts. It will take time for your child to learn that you are now THE caregiver. Up until now..caregivers were temporary.

Here are ways we worked to promote attachment..
1. Prayer- God is so faithful. He wants you to come to Him. He is the healer of the broken hearted and the lifter of our heads. He can and will heal your children. It is never too early to start praying for them.

2. Regression- Now this is such a foreign concept to us as parents. We push our young children to be independent. We want them to sleep alone. We take away the Binky, we take away the bottle, we encourage them to do it for themselves.

This is a good and normal process for children who have always been in a loving home. For a toddler coming from an orphanage situation it is different. A lot of times children who have spent their early years in orphanages are too independent. They do not need anyone at all. This is not healthy. The best way to promote attachment is to spend a lot of time holding rocking and feeding your little ones.

We gave bottles to all of our toddlers and fed and rocked them at nap time and bed time...even the 3 yo.

We allowed our little ones to sleep with us until we felt like they were bonded enough to feel safe in another room at night. This was a blessing when our 3 yo was grieving . We were there immediately.

Play, play, play with your child. Enjoy them and tickle them when they are getting dressed. Be silly and sing to them and dance with them. Connect with them in positive ways as often as you can.

Toddlers love to help around the house. If you are dusting give them a little cloth. If you are changing loads of laundry let them help. Keep them close to you and in the same room with you as much as possible.

3. Meeting them where they are- Having expectations that your toddler is going to be just like your neighbors 2 yo or your nephew who is 3 may be setting unrealistic expectations for you, and for your child.

One of our children had no idea to play. Imaginative play was non existent. We would hand him toys and he would wing them across the room unsure of what to do with them. We put away the blocks and the cars and gave him baby toys. He loved them and soon learned how to play.

Potty training was something we chose not to enforce right off. It can be a highly charged issue with children who are not in the middle of adjusting to a new family. If your child is potty ing regularly great. If it is a battle put them in Pull-Ups and be low-key for a few months.

4. Routine and Limits-Your toddler will be under a tremendous amount of stress at homecoming. The different language, different food, different smells, different sounds can be scary and overwhelming. Our children found great comfort in sticking to a routine. It gave them security to know what was coming next.


Your children will need limits. If you don't want them pushing buttons on the TV then don't allow them to do it form the start. It is not fair to change rules on them. Consistently and lovingly enforce them. They need to know what is acceptable and what is not.

5. Don't freak out- Reading the books on attachment is important, and it will make you aware of attachment issues your child may be facing. Don't let it incite fear, however. If you go to the store and your toddler is trying to be indiscriminately friendly don't panic. It doesn't mean your child will have an attachment disorder. Make note of it and pray about it and work on it at home. Next time put your child in a sling or carrier so they are facing you.

I can remember taking our children to the store and our 3 yo would point and say "Daddy?" at every male he saw. It took me a few times to realize he wasn't looking for a Daddy he was looking for the word for man.

Which brings me to another point. We had our little Amharic cheat sheets stashed throughout the house so we would know what our little guy was saying. It took us a few days to realize the reason we still could not understand him is toddlers mispronounce words in other languages too. To him, bread (which is Dabo in Amharic) was Babo. We eventually figured almost everything out...even if we didn't know what he was saying we knew by the emotions when it wasn't good. We knew that his "Imbe" with a shoulder shrug ,albeit ADORABLE, was not a happy thing.

Time is on your side..every day your toddler will be growing closer to you and you to him. God will knit your hearts together. It is an awesome, and wonderful, and miraculous experience.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Toddler Adoption~

-j asked me in the comments about what kind of carrier I was using with Sweet Pea. It is an Ergo

I have used a lot of baby carriers, and the Ergo is by far the best for little ones past the newborn stage. The weight is distributed to your hips rather than to your shoulders or back making it extremely comfortable.

I do love my pouch slings for the newborn stage up to 20 lbs.. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Hotslings are now being sold at Target.

If you are adopting an infant or a toddler I highly recommend investing in a good baby carrier. It is an excellent tool for attachment purposes. Your little one is going to need you to hold them a lot.

I wore Wee Babe the whole time in a Sling on our Ethiopian trip. I don't recall seeing any sidewalks in Ethiopia (outside of the Hilton). Most of the time you will be walking over dirt and rocks. A stroller is not practical to use for traveling around Ethiopia. I am guessing it is the same for Ghana. Your will want a hands free way to carry your child...also it comes in handy for the LONG trip home.

I frequently am asked advice about adopting toddlers. I am far from an expert on the topic, but we have adopted three children in the 1-3 year age bracket. All three are attached and doing very well. I can simply share what has worked for us with our boys.

During the waiting process is the best time to read books on toddler adoption. You will not have time once they are home ;o). Our library carries several of these books as well as others on attachment.

With Eyes Wide Open is an excellent book to start with. It is not geared specifically to toddler adoption, however it gives a very realistic overview of the challenges adopted children may face while not being overly "scary".

Mary Hopkins Best's Toddler Adoption the Weaver's Craft is the most well known book on toddler adoptions. I did not love this book, but I will say it is a MUST read for those adopting children under the age of 5. There are some hard things in this book, and some stories which honestly frightened me, BUT it also motivated me to be extremely vigilant and intentional in promoting attachment and bonding.

Attaching in Adoption is the best book I have read on attachment. It gives the facts about attachment and practical steps to facilitating attachment. It is an excellent book.

Mary's Ethiopian Adoption Blog is an incredible resource for adoptive parents. She writes quite a bit about attachment and bonding.. along with all things pertaining to Ethiopia and adoption.

A Mother for Choco is a book for your children. This is one of our children's favorite books. It is a sweet, sweet story about a little bird who need a Mother..and how he found one who didn't look exactly like him.


Two books which deal with the Spiritual side of adoption are The Strength of Mercy and Fields of the Fatherless
I can't say enough about these two books. They were a huge blessing during our journeys to our boys.

Next time I will share on ways we worked towards attachment with our boys.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Psalm 31:24~

O love the LORD, all ye his saints: for the LORD preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer. Psalm 31:23~

My little "doers" this weekend have been so busy and such a blessing. We had our community yard sale and they baked and set out goodies to sell. It did my heart so good to see them working together so nicely and working so hard. We had a lot of fun and met some really nice new people...and the dc made a little bit of $ for their industriousness.






Below are the two best little salespeople EVER.. It was so cute, and totally unrehearsed. If someone approached the table they would start..

"Do you like cookies?"

"Do you want brownies?"

"They are very NUMMY?"

"Would you like some?"

And then people would turn to go with their purchase, and our three year old would say, "Thank you for coming!!"


And then the Wee Babe would give them a HUGE "BYE! BYE!" It was too cute. Wee Babe also helped by sampling the merchandise Someone has to be in charge of quality control. ;o)


Towards the end of the Sale some friends stopped by and a game of Tag ensued.. it went on for the next several hours..It was fun to watch and conflict free ;o)



There were a few breaks for story time with our sweet little friend ..Miss E... I adore this little girl, she makes me laugh with her funny stories about her family of 10.
Jim has been out of town since Thursday, and we are so excited for him to be coming home tonight!!! We got up and ready for church, and as we were getting ready to head out the door poor Sweet Pea became sick. We ended up staying home which was good as Wee Babe fell ill shortly after. I am so thankful this happened at home rather than at church. Poor little ones have had plenty of cuddle time ...
and received some loving by their sibs. It really is the best medicine.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Nehemiah 8:10~

........The joy of the Lord is my strength. Nehemiah 8:10..

Thank you all so much for your kind words, prayers, e-mails, and phone calls. They have blessed us! We have definitely felt the grace of God.. The storm seemed to grow bigger and darker today, but we know He is faithful, and His ways are best.

As the song goes..

God is too wise to be mistaken.
God is too good to be unkind.
So when you don’t understand,
when you don’t see His plan,
When you can’t trace His hand, trust His heart.

It looks as if the soonest we could go to court is mid December. There are some complications particular to our case, we are praying God will smooth the way...and that we will be able to go to court then.

We are praying the Lord will be with Ebenezer and Joel as we know the wait is hardest on them.

If you are adopting from Ghana please don't let our situation discourage you. We hope and pray that many of you will be going to court very soon and receiving your adoption decrees..Chanda
we are praying for you! We know your case is due in court soon, and we know God is going to bring those precious boys home.

In other news..

Our sweet 5 yo is spending the weekend with Grandma and Grandpa.

As he was leaving his 7 yo sister told him to "Make sure you are happy, and show everyone your dimples." Somehow I don't think that will be a problem with this little guy.



This morning when I went in his room I had to smile at how he left his beloved giraffes..

He put the 3 yo in charge of feeding them while he is gone..
God blessed us with a BEAUTIFUL day! We spent most of it outdoors, we went out for pizza, and then hit the grocery store.












Thank you Jesus for a very blessed day.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Romans 8:28~

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28


Thank you all for your prayers. We learned tonight that court has been postponed. We appreciate so much everyone praying, and we will let you know when we hear we have a new court date.

I was reading today in John 11 earlier the story of Mary and Martha and the death of their dear brother Lazarus. In their eyes Jesus was late.. too late. Jesus saw the whole picture though, and He wasn't late.. He was right on time, and they received a glorious miracle when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

Jesus' plans and timing are perfect. It is so hard when we don't see the whole picture and we question just as Martha questioned.."Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. John 11:21.. Jesus didn't rebuke her for her words. He understands when His children question...and ask why.

I hated telling our children tonight as I knew they would cry. I hate it when my children are hurting and crying and Jesus feels the same...only deeper I am sure. He wept with Mary and Martha over Lazarus' death. We cried tears here tonight, but we know Jesus knows when the perfect timing is for our boys to come home.

He is a good God and His timing is perfect. He sees the whole picture. His ways and His timing are best. He is working and we praise Him in the sun and in the rain...when we see and when we don't see; we know He is good and He is at work.

I know this is just a SMALL storm along the way of our journey to bring our boys home..

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Lamentations 3:21 (b)-26~

I have hope.
Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“ The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,

“ Therefore I hope in Him!”
The LORD is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the LORD.


The rain has ended...The sun has come out... We have laughed and played during these warm days.. The children have been twirling around the cul de sac on their skates..

As always, God is at work...

We learned yesterday evening that our case is scheduled to be in court THIS Friday in Ghana.. If you are led please pray that the judge will see fit to give us a full and final adoption for Ebenezer and Joel..

I pray that their rainy season of life is ending and that.. they too.. can spend some time in the sun...

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Hebrews 13:15~

It has been a week of heavy and soaking rain.


We baked..

We ate..
We had book discussions..
We crafted...

We got our "Fall/Winter Clothes" out..Our 3 yo was sure we were leaving for the cousins at any moment and carried his jacket around all week.. Thanksgiving can't come soon enough!
We played games..
And with cardboard TP tubes..
There were times of stir crazed children and a Mama who yearned for the sun :o) Yet, it was a time of of fruitfulness, a time of tying hearts a little closer, a time of laughter and fun..

It was a BLEESED week...

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. Hebrews 13:15~