Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How DOES she do it?

I can't tell you how many times I am told "I don't know how you do it!  I only have 1 (or 2 or 3) and I can't ever seem to..."  So with 2 new kids entering our family, it seems like now is an excellent time to convey just HOW I do this.  The secret is pretty simple actually.  My house is messy and I wouldn't want it any other way.  We don't always eat the healthiest food because somedays are filled with too much crying, tantruming, homework, after school activities or illness to take the time to cook for this many people.  In other words, sometimes I just have to let it go.  But perhaps the real secret to how I do it is family and friends.

I do not do this alone.  I have a couple of gals that I hired that come in 2x a month to help power scrub the bathrooms and the kitchen - I am not ashamed to say I love them.  My husband sometimes cooks, my kids load and unload the dishwasher (only after being told) and some of them even wash their own laundry.  When we were surprised with a weekend visit with soon to be K8&9, K6 showed up and cooked meals and cleaned the kitchen so that I could focus on the kids.  I couldn't have done it without her.  K4 showed up and helped soothe K8 when she was scared and couldn't fall asleep for her nap.  K2, K3 and K5 jumped in and rotated 30 min turns to help supervise so K8&K9 had 100% supervision while I tried to do laundry and other household chores.  K1 took K8&9 outside to play ball and wear them out on the trampoline.  They spent over an hour rough housing in the yard.  My parents stopped by for a brief visit with their newest grandchildren.  The same grandparents that once a year come to stay with my motley crew and let my husband and I get a weekend getaway.  As parents we sometimes forget to be a couple.  I am bless with parents that remind us of the importance of reconnecting.

Then there are my friends.  The ones that remind me that "mom" time is important and make sure I do a nearly weekly girls night out.  Sometimes we just sit and talk and sometimes we watch our favorite shows.  Always we support each other and brainstorm.  Everybody needs friends like these and I really hit the jackpot with my friends.  Last May as I was sitting at K2 & K5's middle school graduation, my iPhone (couldn't survive without this wonderful organizational tool) reminded me that I had a dr appointment in 1 hour.  Who knew middle school graduation would be longer than 2 hours!?!  Anyway, a quick text to my best friend, and she was calling the dr's office for me to cancel so I didn't have to leave the ceremony to make a phone call.  This is the same friend that showed up to jump start my car in the rain one morning to help me get my kids to school on time.  Then there is my husband's best friend and wife (honorary Aunt and Uncle to my kids.)  When things took a sudden scary turn with K5's adoption, they were there for us.  They held our hands while we cried and rejoiced with us when K5 was finally home safe in our arms.  When K7 appeared on the scene, another friend started passing on her son's clothing, high end brand name stuff!  I haven't bought a single outfit for K7 since he moved in!!!  When my son had foot surgery and his wisdom teeth pulled, and my daughter had throat surgery and my MOTHER was having shoulder surgery all in the same week, my friends showed up with meals.

No, I don't do it alone.  It is because of my family and friends that I can continue to reach out and love these children.  I can't say it enough, but once again, thank you my dear family and friends.  From the bottom of my heart I appreciate your compassion, your time and your love.  You mean the world to me.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


We delude ourselves.  We think we can carefully plan and control our lives.  We think we know what is good for us.  We believe that life is our play ground and we can do what we want.  I guess from certain perspectives this is sort of true, but sometimes we have to accept that things just happen because one happens to be in a certain place at a certain time.  And if we accept THAT, then we have to accept that maybe we control our life's direction....but not it's destination.

Robert did his annual volunteering with the Adoption Exchange on Wednesday.  Children currently in foster care waiting for an adoptive family are invited to this event to relax and have fun.  Many activities are set up for the children to engage in and many volunteers are there to help supervise the kids.  Volunteers also help introduce prospective adoptive parents to social workers and foster families praying that some connections are made and more adoptive parents will find a child to love unconditionally.  Every year Robert comes home and talks about the amazing kids he was blessed to spend time with.  I smile and love him all the more for his big heart....then I raise my eyebrows and say "no.  You can't adopt them all" and he smiles sadly and says "I know" and then we are usually interrupted with one of the many children currently in our home.  This year was different though.  Robert returned home but was more subdued then usual.  I asked how it went and he chuckled and said he didn't play football with the teenage boys this year (the ONLY day a year he DOES play football) but instead was given the privilege of managing duck food by the pond.  This year he was mobbed by youngsters excited at the prospect of feeding the ducks!  There was one little girl that could actually quack in a way that sounded like a duck.  He told the story and was clearly taken in by this little girl.  He was convinced that given the number of people following this adorable 4 year old around that she was going to find her forever family sooner rather than later.  It wasn't until much later that he started talking that I started to understand his strange mood.  He spoke of watching the prospective parents follow the younger kids around.  Being the analytical person he is, he started watching for people to take interest in the older kids.  Apparently not playing football leaves him with more time to observe people's actions...at least during the occasional calm between duck feeding mobbings!  What he saw saddened him. Several older kids wandered about sampling the various activities, their social workers giving these teenagers some space. The volunteers would interact and help them, but the prospective parents would only smile and pass them by. In particular, a girl of about 16 was just sitting watching her 10 year old sister play in the creek.  Robert sat and chatted with the worker and the teenager, while all of them joked about the strong possibility of the younger girl falling into the creek.  All of the prospective parents missed the careful patience of the younger girl first just feeding each duck a single pellet to make them last, and then her utter joy at being shown how to feed them a whole handful so that their nuzzling bills tickled the palm of her hand. They also missed how her older sister was content and happy for nearly an hour just to watch her play. Robert was devastated by the observation that these charming, beautiful girls had no one interested, and that they almost certainly recognized that no one was interested.  What usually happens to similar sibling sets is that they are split up to give the younger sibling a chance of making a match. But, at age 10, the younger girl may still be left bouncing from home to home until she ages out with no one to count on forever.

So I did what I always did.  I said "we can't adopt them all" and he said "I know"...but then none of our kids interrupted us like they usually do.  So I said, "did you get the social worker's name?"  And he said yes.  Turns out these kids are in the same county as the other kids we are wanting to adopt.  Ya...don't forget we have another sibling set that we are currently waiting to hear back on.  The 3 & 4 year old I wrote about in my last blog.  Oh how their smiles haunt my dreams.  It has been 4 months since we set out to adopt them.  Yes we were asked to meet them 3 weeks ago, but it seems that still no decision has been made and we have lost hope that we will be their forever family so I tell my husband, "fine.  Let's talk with the social worker and see if we might be a match for these girls"...both of them.  Because each other is all they have right now and they should have the chance to stay together.

So that brings my story to Friday, Aug 4.  As I packed my suitcase minutes before leaving for the airport for a weekend of R&R while my parents turn my home into some sort of super secret grandparents playground (which apparently involves lots of laughter, silliness, video gaming, shopping and trips to iHop) I got a phone call.  I glanced at the phone and immediately recognized the caller.  A social worker.  The social worker.  And in my heart I know what is going to happen if I answer that phone.  I actually hesitate because I know my husband will be walking in the door in the next 5 min and I so desperately want him there when I answer this call...but I can't ignore it.  This worker has had too many unanswered phone calls to other families, too many unreturned messages.  Besides, it has been 4 months since we first made contact with her.  I can't leave her hanging so I reluctantly answer the phone but I know what she is going to say.  Somehow, the words still shock me, somehow I went on automatic and made plans, agreed to meetings, asked questions and now, suddenly, we are the parents of 9 children.  God has blessed me once again and entrusted me with a precious gift to love and cherish while helping guide them through their healing process.  I only pray that the choices I make will serve to teach my new children that they are loved unconditionally and that I will protect them so they no longer have to feel afraid.  12 years ago, Robert and I set a course in our lives that would include loving children we had not given birth to.  K3 was our first adoptee and gave us our direction...to this day, I wonder where my final destination will be.

Robert and I are extremely excited and proud to announce that we are the proud new parents of a beautiful 4 year old girl (K8) and her 3 year old brother (K9) and rest assured, we won't forget the girls at the creek...