Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Raising Black kids - and my white umbrella

Oy. This interaction has been stewing in my thoughts for several weeks....

So I'm at the school waiting to pick up the kids and per usual a group of moms are chatting together. Usually it is just the usual mom stuff - how much homework the teacher is assigning, who's kiddos is sick with what and so on. But not this day. It starts out innocently enough a mom talking about going to walmart just before pick up.... but then she starts in on a rant about black welfare moms with like 10 kids. Ugh. My neighbor quickly tries to change the subject - but this lady was not going to be derailed. Nevermind that in order to qualify for WIC (which is what I assume she was going on about - cause food stamps are nearly impossible to qualify for these days) you really really have to have a significant need... and really does anyone want kids to go hungry? and why do we pay taxes except to help those who are in a hard spot - because but for the grace of God.... 2 things were irritating me. One - 10 kids. Ummm what is wrong with someone having 10 kids? and frankly I doubt it was 10 - probably 4 or maybe even just 3 or the person in question was simply babysitting a number of kids. Why did she assume that they were all hers? just because the other woman was black? really? As for WIC - frankly I am greatfull that there are programs like WIC and free lunch so that kids don't go hungry. Any way in the next breath she looks at me and it dawns on her that I have 8 kids, and a bunch of them are black. And she is mortified. And I am furious. Furious that in this day and age someone could continue to make such racist assumptions. And furious that I wasn't better prepared with a reasonable response. Ugh Ugh Ugh.

Then just this weekend I was running out to the store and in our neighborhood a young man was pulled over... ( I am assuming for speeding - which is a huge problem right where the traffic stop was) and the cop had the teen (probably17 , probably a friend of my sons) sitting on the curb while he went through the car and the kids backpack. And it all jumped out at me because the young man was black. I wonder had it been my white teen boys how they would have been treated....

And the thing is that when my black kids are with me they get coverage from my white umbrella. I'm white and upper middle class white too - when we are out with the kids people buy us icecream and thank us for raising them.... Ugh. makes. me. nuts. Well the kids really enjoy the ice cream... and frankly it isn't just white people, it's blacks too, and that I really don't know what to do with. And those kind of racial assumptions are why my black kids don't go out to the store or McDs looking like they just rolled out of bed (and why I don't either). Society is stacked against them enough as it is. I have seen the suspicions looks my 9 year old black son gets when he is on the toy aisle alone.... and the smiles and indulgent looks he gets when he is with me. And I have been in Walmart with 7 or 10 kids and no one looks twice but if I were black they sure would and that is wrong.

So what to do - we live in a fairly accepting community but ingrained racism is everywhere - and as my kids get older we will be bumping up against it more and more. And as they get older my umbrella won't reach over them... and that scares me to death.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Miracle

I realize that it has been forever since I updated this poor blog - life with 7 kids at home and the start of school has been over the top busy... really I had no idea how easy life with just 5 kids was!

So we have had a total miracle here - if you had been to my house in June or July you would have committed to much prayer on our behalf as things were not going very smoothly with Alem (who we have renamed Sarah - but that is a different story). She was having meltdown after meltdown and the level of rage she was exhibiting was only increasing. There would be periods of calm but they were all marked by extreme manipulation on her part trying to get her way or a reward or what ever. I can honestly tell you that it was beyond anything we had ever expected to deal with - we didn't go into this with our eyes closed - but what we were living with was beyond hard. Therapy was hard - actually harder than hard some days... when she would rage at therapy there were times I despaired of actually being able to get her home, as in would she really get in the car or not?? Finally in the end of July we simply had to decide that parenting her wasn't going to steal the joy we had in our other children - we weren't going to let her behaviors rob the others of a fun time with Mom or Dad. And I had to let go of the idea that suddenly she would be healed that her behaviors would be fixed that her heart would be whole. The trauma from her earlier life was totally driving her behavior and apart from God acting on her behalf we were doing all we could for her... and the other kids needed attention too.

And then the miracle happened... one day she just stopped fighting us - stopped fighting the feelings of love and acceptance and started to press into them, seeking love and acceptance, talking about her big feelings instead of trying to punish us all for them. Almost over night she settled down to normal - just a normal little girl with normal little girl hurts and upsets, and some really big ones too - but now she trusts us with them and by doing so we are able to help her to be more regulated in her feelings and understanding. There is alot of pain, abuse and betrayal in her story... surviving it is a miracle in and of itself - but reaching the point of emotional healing - well no one but the Father could have orchestrated it. These last 8 months with her have been harder than I could ever have imagined - but what we see in her today is more beautiful that we could have imagined... truly He gives beauty for ashes and strength for fear.

I know that God moved on her behalf and I praise Him for it... but the fertile ground of prayer and all the work we did with her paved the way. I will try and write about some of the strategies that worked for us... but if you are in the middle of the battle and want advice or someone to pray for you - leave a comment (I won't post it - but would be happy to chat about it).

For those of you who have stormed heaven on our behalf - thank you, from the bottom of my heart thank you... I cannot wait to meet some of you in heaven (if not before) so that you can see what your prayers have wrought on our behalf - a beautiful, and healed, daugter of the King.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


I swear my kids have grown gills this summer! The ET kiddos all can swim now and swim quite well too! Becca came home swimming but this is the first year we have allowed her not to use floaties - seriosly folks she is only 2 inches over 3 feet tall and the shallow end of our pool is 3 feet! Alem and Estifanos had never been in the water before coming home but boy do they love it now!The kids buried Luke in the sand at the volleyball court - very little volleyball ever gets played but it is the best sand box in town.

The hard stuff

So this past week we had a visit to Children's to see our infections disease docs. The kids are doing pretty well on their meds - which is great and hopefully, pending results from the lab we won't be going back until Oct!! Which would be awesome.

Our amazing nurse practitioner there is an adoptive mom of 2 ET kiddos and really knows what is what when it comes to adoption, and the hard stuff... I filter some of what I say to the team we see because Alem is in the room with us, but I try to be as real as possible. This week the social work team asked if I'd speak to them in the hall - I sure did. And I know I gave them a fright as I shared more than usual about our challenges, but seriously how in the world are they going to help people if everyone sugar coats things? Any way at a social event later in the week our NP thanked me for being real with them... I about cracked up - because seriously how can I be totally real when I am talking to 2 young gals who have -0- kids between them? LOL - and one gal is just out of school. Anyway I guess I gave them things to talk about at the team meeting - and since more and more folks are adopting older kiddos - well maybe they will be able to put together some things that actually help.

As for our control issues - ugh. Really there is no other word for how the last weeks have been - if you pray we sure could use it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Life is...

CRAZY BUSY! I never really imagined that I would never have a moment to myself this summer - but boy oh boy I sure don't! I have tons on my mind that I'd love to get out... but I think it is going to have to wait a bit longer.... hope my brain doesn't explode.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Counseling part 2

Weeelllll - it has been several weeks and 2 more counseling visits since I last posted. All I can say is that if you are thinking counseling might be helpful - then go and commit to going for at least a month. These last 2 visits have really opened my eyes and been totally enlightening to some of the things going on with miss Alem. In fact both times our counselor has been able to get to the heart of our struggles in just a few minutes and give me pratical tips for overcoming and moving forward. The really hard part is that she has some seriously deep control issues and it is going to be challenging to overcome them. The other thing that was hard to hear is that she really isn't able to relate to people - she simply doesn't have the skills. Now those are things she can learn, and it explains why she can't really play with other kids yet - but it was hard for her to hear that she wasn't the same as the other kids in the neighborhood - but it motivates her to change and that is good.

Hang on for what promises to be a bumpy ride - we currently have to take all control away from her... ugh, not totally sure what that is going to look like, but I know she isn't going to like it....

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Well we've had several sessions with the counselor now... and the jury is still out as far as I am concerned. To be clear we are not going for attachment therapy - we really do see many positive attachment behaviors from her and while there is a long way to go neither the counselor or I think there is too much he can do to make it happen - time and prayer are what is needed. So then why are we at counseling you might wonder - Alem has some very serious fears... she is beginning to conquer them (and no the counseling has nothing to do with that, we have been working hard) but we felt that we needed some guidance in making the best choices to help her get over her fears and begin to trust that her new family was safe. This seems to be hard for her, in part because as some point in her past she was not safe. Older child adoption comes with many unknows - and trauma history is a big unknown. We have no idea what happened in her past or how it affected her, and there is no way to ask her... not because she doesn't have the language for it - she does (well at least for some of it), but because if she isn't ready to talk about it then she isn't ready. Either we aren't "safe" yet or she is choosing not to remember. It doesn't really matter.... except that we need to help her to manage her fear and conquer it so that she isn't held back in any way. So she does play therapy - she plays and interacts with the counselor and he makes observations and suggestions to me. We are going to give it a few more weeks and see if something good shakes loose.

The thing is that if she were the way she is now when she was home a month I wouldn't even think about counseling... but at a month home we were so falling apart... we have done alot of hard work to get her here and if there is any help or suggestions someone who sees traumatized kids on a regular basis can offer then we are going to take them up on it. Mostly he says that we are doing a good job - doing all the right things to help her - and that it takes time, we are expecting too much too soon. (LOL to that as seriously if he were living with her he'd be pushing her hard to get better and move foward too.)

We are believing that God will heal her heart and in the fullness of time she will learn to trust, to love with out fear, and to rest peacefully in Him.