Friday, December 31, 2010

Eyes Up, Insert Thumb

One of the red flags for kiddos with attachment issues is their inability to maintain eye contact.  Interestingly enough, in our American culture, not looking someone in the eyes is also seen as indicative of someone lying.  And continuing with the interesting thread, crazy mad lying is also another red flag for attachment issues.  (But I digress...)

Thankfully, neither of my kids seem to struggle with things that put them on the hard side of the attachment spectrum.  But I do have one who has struggled with eye contact.  The eye contact issue most generally arises if the child is mad at someone, is made to do something the child does not like, has been disciplined, or is being disciplined.   This child also uses thumb sucking as an avoidant behavior and likes to combine the lack of eye contact with the thumb sucking for an all out freeze out. 

It's not one of those things that is such a big behavior that we find ourselves pulling our hair out but it is a behavior we like to nip in the bud.  That means if you want some candy that is laying on the counter and Mama says no and if you react with a pout and angry eyes that won't engage, then you may have to spend some extra cuddle time with Mama.  That means if you were asked to sit on the stairs because you were fighting with someone over a toy, when a parent comes over to talk about the problem and work towards resolution, you must maintain eye contact.  Refusal to look at the grown up in the eye means the grown up will just stop talking and come back in a few minutes when you are ready to talk.  And it means if you are disciplined and must seek forgiveness from someone via an apology, you must look at that person in the eyes when you say "I'm sorry." 

The thumb sucking bit actually escaped me for a while.  For my little one, it is such a comfort behavior.  For every kid, regardles of history, thumb sucking is a self soothing/self comforting behavior.  And generally speaking, I'm of the frame of mind that it's not that big of a deal.  Most kids who struggle with breaking the thumb sucking habit will do so around first or second grade because the peer pressure to stop is pretty great.  (And I'm pretty sure most kids don't go to college sucking their thumbs, although I did see a snippet of something on A & E that featured a 20 something woman who sucked her thumb constantly...) 

For my kiddo, thumb sucking also represents control.  When this child feels unsure or unsafe, there is thumb sucking.  When the situation that surrounds the child develops into something the child doesn't like, there is thumb sucking  And the lack of eye contact almost always goes hand in hand with the thumb sucking.  I realized about 4 months ago how connected to two were and shared that with D so that we could parent from the same position.  This child needs to let go of the desire for control and that means letting go of the thumb when being disciplined or spoken to about serious things.  Sometimes all it takes is just a reminder.  Other times it requires a grown up physically removing the thumb from the mouth and instead ask the child to hold the adult's hand.  And often if that is the case, there is defiance and a reluctance to do so.

I suppose we all have our ways to maintain our perceived need for control.  For some kids, shifting the eyes down or just over the gaze of the other party or doing the fancy, darting eye dance is just one way.  For some, thumb sucking seems to work.  And the spiritual parallels are huge.  Thumb sucking and eye contact seem like such silly ways for someone to seek to control a situation.   But how often must I do my own version of those things with the Lord when I try to keep things safe and calm and manageable?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Circular Christmas

One 1 large circle from our house to D's dad's and step mom's to D's grandma's to my family's to home
We spent 6 days away from home and covered about 500 miles in those 6 days.  (We are so thankful we decided to board the dog.)

The short circle of gift giving and eating that occurred daily for about 4 days in a row
Leapster Explorers and stockings stuffed with candy and Cheetos.  Buzz Lightyear and Tinkerbell gifts combined with a new Italian resturant.  A day at D's grandma's with turkey, potatoes, and pie.  Doctor's kits, pots and pans, new games, rodeo figures, and pajamas while pies and ham and turkey and Bavarian mints spill out of my aunt's dining room.  Stick horses and cowboy hats, zoo/museum memberships, and new books paired with cookies.  So basically toys and sugar, toys and sugar.

And now, a very large laundry circle
You know-the one where it just keeps procreating in some strange asexual way.  Ahh it's so good to be home, even if the laundry is big and scary.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Visions of Sugarplums (well maybe just sugar)

I had this wonderful vision of doing drink mix themed goodie bags for holiday gifts.  Drink mix goodie bags complete with homemade marshmallows.  (Think hot chocolate and marshmallows.)  Around 4 p.m. tonight, I was questioning my sanity as my first batch of marshmallows tasted great but look a little like curdled cottage cheese.  Despite my previous failure, I decided to give it one more go with a different recipe and was delighted.  It actually worked and didn't require fourteen hundred steps or 2 hours of mixing.  And the mint version was amazing!  We may be finding little bits of marshmallow fluff all over the kitchen for days to come due to the extreme stickiness factor but I'm thinking it was worth it, if for nothing else, just being able to say I made homemade marshmallows.  (See attached photos for evidence of said stickiness.  If you look closely, you can literally see the sugar spinning itself into a spider web of goo.)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Excising Haiti

I knew it would happen sooner or later.

I knew that at some point, my kids would not like the story God has written for their lives.

Truthfully, it happens to probably every kid. You know, when your teenager decides your family vehicle is outdated and completely embarassing. Or when your 8th grader makes some comment about how all the other moms let their daughters wear shirts that show off their tummies. Or bra straps.  Or underwear.  Or when your boy is completely beside himself because you are making him attend youth group every week.

With kids who have come from hard places, coming to terms with the story God is writing is one of those "have to do" things. It has more layers than the basic teenage angst or peer pressure. It's about the questions of "who am I?" and "how does my story match up with everyone else's?"   It's about coming face to face with  why God allows bad stuff to happen and why He doen't always intervene in those situations.

And for kids who have racial differences between themselves and their peers or themselves and their family members, they have to come to terms with who they are and who their parents and peer groups are not.  For my kids, it means recognizing that they are chocolate and the rest of the family is peach.  That they are not the same as the bulk of the kids they see every day.  For my son, it will mean navigating the dating world where he might not be seen as an acceptable date for a white girl.  It will mean coming to terms with the fact that there might be people who will see him on the street at night and view him as an imposing black man.  For my daughter, it means having black hair in a white hair world.  It means knowing that there are some who have stereotypes of young black women as irresponsible, mouthy, and likely to become pregnant out of wedlock.  

This week, my heart sunk in my chest as my son took the first steps towards sorting out all of those big, grown up feelings. For some reason, he asked about a boy from school going to Haiti. I assumed he was coming to this question from the perspective that everyone's life is like his. (My friend, Lisa, calls this the mac and cheese moments in honor of a time in fifth grade when one of her friends reheated mac and cheese in the microwave by adding milk to it instead of water. Lisa couldn't believe her eyes because doesn't everyone on the face of the planet use water to reheat mac and cheese?)   I assumed Kenson was thinking that every kid has had the same experience and came to join a family via Haiti. As I explained that Kenson's story had Haiti in it but the other boy's did not, Kenson started shaking his head. The words "I don't want my story to have Haiti" rolled out of his mouth. And my heart started on a downward trajectory.

Oh how it is hard to hear him say that. Haiti is a precious story. One God gave just to Kenson. But once you start realizing that your story make you different, it can be very easy to wish that story would just go away. From before my kids were home, Psalms 139 has been a powerful prayer that I prayed for them. It contains such vivid imagery of a God who sees our children in our absence, of a God who created each person for a specific purpose, of a God who wants each person to believe that his story can be used by God.  And that continues to be my prayer for situations like these, that my kids would know that God saw them in utero, sees them now, and has His sights fixed on their futures.  That nothing that happened in their lives escaped His view.  That His love for them is visible in every moment of their lives.

From Psalms 139
"For you created my inmost being;  you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Need a quick Christmas or winter based project?

Christmas is a time for gift giving, for showing others we appreciate them by thoughtfully bringing them a gift, for remembering the gift of Jesus by sharing a gift with others.  And trying to keep your kids anchored to that message is a challenge.

I hope that my kids will always have a personal connection to the gifts they give so I am purposeful in including them in the gift giving process.  This year, we made our gift bags.  A little white tempera paint, some paper scraps, some fabric scraps, and some buttons.  The general process is simple enough.

1.  Paint the bottom of your child's sockless foot. 
2.  Use the foot like a stamp to make a snowman shape.  The heel is the head and the toes small snowballs at the base of the snowman.
3.  Dip your child's finger in paint and randomly make fingerprint snowflakes aroung the snowman.
4.  Once dry, use markers to add coal eyes, a coal mouth, a carrot nose, and stick arms.
5.  Last, use hot glue to affix a paper hat, buttons, and a fabric scarf.

I did ours on a medium sized brown craft paper bag but I'm sure you could use other colors.  I also had my kids do one each on regular paper with the intent of framing them to hang up next winter.  I used navy paper for that and that was a great color for the background.  I can see these snowman making appearances on thank you cards for the gifts received over the holidays or even as a great grandma gift by having all the grandkids use fabric paint on a sweatshirt, tree skirt, or pillow.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Thanks, Uncle Daniel!

We recieved our Christmas gifts from D's brother this week. The kids were so excited when the boxes came and I told them it was something from Daniel. They of course wanted to open it right at that very moment but I made them wait until after supper.

Conleigh's gifts were on top. Dan blessed her with a new baby to love and a kitty that walks, purrs, and meows. The baby has been named Conleigh and spent a good portion of today in a pretend bathtub for, well, let's just say, according to Conleigh, bathroom related messes. The kitty is an interesting story. Conleigh was captivated by it. Until she realized it moved. And then it freaked her out. It kind of just moves occasionally, without any reason, so I think she wasn't sure what to make of it. She would get comfortable with it, go to pick it up, then it would start moving and she'd shrink back and let it hit the ground. Or she would pick it up by the tail, kind of like someone might handle a mouse by its tail, and act like "I'll carry it but don't expect me to cuddle with it!"  By the end of the night, she'd had enough of it's crazy motions and she put it back in the box Dan packed it in with the instructions, "Go to sleep, Cat!"

I tried to get a good picture of her reacting to the cat but this is as close as I got.  You can sort of see her eyeballing poor kitty as if to see "I'm watching you, Cat!"

Kenson got his first ever, remote controlled race car. It's a Mustang, like Uncle Daniel's, but black not red. Our house is a bit cluttered so there's not a real good spot to drive it right now but he did get to see it in action. And he has repeatedly pulled the remote down off the buffet, trying to get someone to let him have at it. Our plan is to move the coffee tables out tomorrow and let him use it in a bigger space. And I think we're going to take it on our holiday visits with grandparents as several of them have nice open spaces in their homes for race care driving.

Thanks so much, Daniel!  We all enjoyed our gifts!  Hopefully we'll get yours sent out sometime soon.  (D's waiting for it to arrive.)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Some Christmas thoughts...

In case you've found it hard to capture the real meaning of Christmas...

I'd also encourage you to read this post, written by the same family. 

From that post, "How did our celebration of this day become so clean and crisp? Where are the smells and sweat and tears that were most certainly a part of Mary and Joseph's journey? It begs the question: Do 'Better Homes and Gardens' scenes with sparkling lights and gorgeous decorations reflect the Christmas story best? Are the experiences of a frightened and embarrassed teenage mother-to-be anything like that? Do the suffering in our world experience Christmas more like Mary and Joseph did - or do we?"

I love the juxtaposition of those who are blessed with overabundance and those who are blessed despite their poverty.  It's not a contest where one experiences Christmas in a better way.  It's about knowing that there is such a thing as a raw ,stripped down Christmas.  That it is our hearts that set the tone for Christmas.  No matter if you live in a world with stockings stuffed full or don't own a pair of socks.  No matter if you live in a world of trimmed trees or tree leaf roofs. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Our Version of Punk Rock-Locs Faux Hawk

I'm guessing this is as close as we will get to a punk rock look anytime in the near future.  (Who knows what the teen years will hold, though?) 

Conleigh told me a few weeks back that she wanted her hair with the sides all up so a fauxhawk is what we tried.  A fauxhawk with microbraids and cornrows to be more exact.  I divided the sides into three sections and then cornrowed each of those sections up the sides.  Then I sectioned off the hair in the middle into 5 separate ponytails and included the hair that I cornrowed in those ponytails.  Then I cut hot pink and black tulle into strip and tied it around the base of the ponytails.  After fluffing out the ponytails a bit, the last step was finding some really cool punk clothes.  (I'm pretty sure we will not win any awards in that department.)  The black tights with silver hearts did seem to sort of fit the bill so we built our outfit around that.   I wasn't sure how much I liked it but we've gotten lots of compliments.  (Maybe just because it's different?)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

3 and 4 year old Brains

3 and 4 year olds are a hoot, I tell you!  The things they do and what must run through their little brains that is actually never said or acted upon...

A few weeks ago it was playing school.  Apparently their preschool teacher has been working on the Pledge of Allegience with them.  They decided to use a pillow my mom made that has an embroidered flag on it and use it as the flag.  One person played teacher and the other was a student.  But it was not a one student school.  They took puzzle pieces and laid them out on the floor to be the nametags of the other students.  The teacher would stand behind the desk and hold the flag pillow.  Then he or she would pull a nametag for a helper to come and hold the flag while they said the pledge.  It sounded something like this.  "S-P-A-E?  Who name is dat?"  Then they would say the name of someone from school and the student would pretend to be that person.  My all time favorite moment was watching Conleigh act a the teacher and head out to the classroom to correct one of the imaginary students who was not saying the pledge correctly.  She took his little imaginary hand and quickly said in a perfect teacher voice, "Frank, hand on your heart.  Like this."

This week, my kids played going to Haiti.  The flight included Baby Julie (our black Cabbage Patch dolly) and a monkey.  Not sure how he managed to get onboard without being stuck inside someone's shirt as they went through customs but he was apparently well behaved on the flight.

They also came downstairs  one night this week while I was making supper in nothing but their underwear.  They were quite pleased with themselves.  Since our house is old and drafty (read-cold enough to make snot icicles), I told them to put their clothes back on.  When I went upstairs five minutes later to check on them, they were still in their underwear but when I heard their rationale, I resigned my previous position.  They were swimming.

I'll leave you with a few one liners...

D has started soccer conditioning so on the days where I work, I've been picking up the kids and heading to the high school to wait for the hour or so of conditioning.  The kids run in the gym, watch girl's basketball practice, and draw on the assistant coach's white board.  As we were leaving, the soccer boys just finished meeting and were dismissing for the night when one of them said something to D like "See ya later, Dawg!"  To which I replied, "Go home and get your homework done, Dawg!"  To which Conleigh loudly protested, "Dem people, not dogs!"

And overheard at Wal-mart today, an almost a joke but not quite via Kenson..."What you call a car with no lid?"  (The answer in case you're curious...a convertible.)

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Question

Is this adoption related or is this normal? 

I think that is the question every adoptive parent finds living at the edge of their brain.  (Or it might just be me.  I have a tendancy to get thing in my head and hang onto it.  Some people call it stubborn or not flexible...)   

This week has been one of those weeks where I've wondered that a lot.  We've been battling sickness for a month or so now.  Nothing major.  Just runny noses and some coughs.  But they don't seem to want to leave.  I just had the kids at the doctor in the middle of October for the same thing so I was reluctant to go back so quickly since last time it was chalked up to allergies.  The doctor advised using an allergy medicine from April to November so I did that and things seemed to clear up.  Once November arrived, I stopped with the medicine and I'm thinking that was a mistake.  We've got the same stuff now but it seems a bit worse.  Anyway, I digress...

My kids have been tired and crabby.  One of them has been especially that way.  There have been two pretty major melt downs that each lasted for 30 minutes or so.  Defiance.  Refusing to sit in a time out spot or with a grown up for extra cuddle time.  Lots of overreacting to very small things.  Today, after seeing a melt down coming, I asked this kiddo to sit with me.  I was met with refusal.  Child is forced to sit with me.  Child screams, kicks, fights me, etc..  Child then is placed in bedroom.  I sat down on the floor of this room, next to the child, waiting for calm. 

Finally some calm and a time for conversation. 

"It seems like you don't feel very good and that you are really tired?" 

"It seems like when you get tired and sick, that little things like Play-Dough start turning into big things.  And that big things that have been hidden in your heart start making you feel sad and mad." 

"Everyone has times where little things make us crabby or sad or mad." 

"I think you've got some pretty big things in your heart that might make you feel that way too.  Like that your Mama in Haiti left you and didn't come back for you." 

"It makes my heart sad that your heart hurts like that.  But you know what?  God saw all of that.  He saw a baby who needed a mama and a mama who needed a baby and He figured out a way to put them together.  He saw something that was a sad thing and He will turn it into something good."

Lots of tears from a kiddo who really has not verbalized too much about the losses in life. 

Who knows if it's adoption stuff or just preschooler angst or just a tired and worn down kid.  But it never hurts to cover all your bases and it surely helps to build a foundation of feeling like one can share anything with their parents.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dream Act

As many of you know, D and I are teachers in a school district that has seen extensive growth in the last ten years.  Much of this growth is due to the town's economy being linked to a packing plant.  This packing plant employs hundreds of workers, many of whom are immigrants from other countries.  This means that the classrooms we teach in are full of kids from a variety of backgrounds.  I've taught a student whose parents were a part of the original Vietnemese boat people who fled Vietnam after the War.  I've taught the children of white doctors, white farmers, and white factory workers.  I've taught kids who have literally told me how they walked across the desert to come to America.  I've taught kids who came to the US straight out of a Bosnian refugee camp.  I've taught kids who came to school not speaking a  word of English.  I've taught students who came to school with better English vocabularies than a lot of adults.  I've taught kids from Cambodia, El Savador, Mexico, and Guatamala.  And I love that part of where we work.  Maybe because it speaks volumes to me about how American is the land of opportunity and how our free public school system can be a great equalizer.

My husband also has a unique position as the boys varsity head soccer coach.  His team is the most diverse team in the school.  His team is often one of the most diverse in the state.  He does not just coach soccer; he coaches life.  Other coaches do too but it seems like he is always dealing with some unique situation that challenge him to love his kids in unique ways.  It's about ending a culture of mediocracy where if you're from a certain ethnic group, you shouldn't be getting good grades.  It's about getting kids to believe they can go to college and get a degree.  It's about getting kid to realize that there is more to life than themselves and making money.  And some days, it feels like a long uphill battle where he is pushing a 500 pound weight that keeps sliding backwards.

And now the political the suprise of probably a lot of people, I am actually a registered Independent.  I am not a fan of the two party system and find myself wishing for a party that actually embraced common sense.  I am morally conservative and believe that a nation must have some standards of what is moral.  And I am a big fan of personal responsibility and dependence on community rather than government intervention.  But I also believe that in some ways, we need to be a country that reflects situational compassion and not just a rigid adherence to laws or a "too bad, so sad" mentality.  (If that makes any sense?)

Currently before Congress is a bill called the Dream Act.  (Actually I think the House passed their verson of the bill yesterday so it might just be before the Senate now.)  It is one way to aid kids who are making positive choices despite their immigration status not being legal.  I know people hear it and think it rewards people for illegal behavior or that it takes away money from American citizens.  If you're somebody who believes that, I would encourage you to look a bit deeper.  The rationale behind the bill is that there are many kids who did not have a choice to enter this country illegally and who are working hard to be productive members of our country.  The actual number of people whom it might affect is unknown but the actual number of people who would realistically be able to take advantage of it is comparatively small.  (I say that after personally working with many kids who are facing many struggles, who realistically are just not going to go to a 4 year college.)  The current situation is actually cyclic. Someone who came illegally as a child (without a path to citizenship that makes sense) may very well end up using false documents to gain employment.  They are probably not going to return to whatever country they came from.  Illegal parents/undocumented workers=illegal children/undocumented workers.

I'm not out to start an immigration debate only to encourage people to consider how this legislation might make a difference for some kids who really didn't have much choice in breaking the law and how it might impact some kids who really are facing a lot of issues in gaining a college education.  It's hard for me to think about some of the kids our family has invested in and not think of how this law might be the hand up that would help them be not just the first person in their family to graduate from high school but the first person in their family who has graduated from college.

Read what the the proposed law would do for kids.  Read the actual bill.  Do some research that involves more than a coffeeshop or family dinner table.  And if your heart comes to believe that it is beneficial for the legislation to pass, use this form to quickly email your elected representatives.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Crazy Love

Paradigm shifts=disequillibrium=times of growth

In the last 15 years, I think the biggest shift in my views on God has come in terms of grace and sin.  Blame my parents, blame my church, blame my rules centered personality, but for me it has always been very easy to equate goodness and worthiness with one's ability to control their own behavior.  Oh how God has worked on my heart to redefine how His grace really works in the lives of people every day.

My latest conversation with Him is no different.  Getting caught up in what I'm supposed to be doing.  Believing that God is loves me best when I choose to follow the rules rather than when I simply love Him and fail.  I've just started Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan.  It's been on my list for awhile.  As I read the introductory pages today, I could help but take note of how what he writes describes my fascination with rules and the supposed tos and have tos of life.

Chan explains how God worked in his life to orchestrate a paradigm shift in this area as well.  He explains how he spent many years following a spiritual growth model that was essentially "Fight your desires in order to please God."  How I know that place.  Chan then goes on to write that his purpose in writing Crazy Love was to move people out of that viewpoint and into one that embraces the belief that "by surrending yourself totally to God's purposes , He will bring you the most pleasure in this life and the next."  In other words, obey God not because you love rules.  Obey God because you believe God's purposes are higher than yours and reflect a genuine concern for what is best for your life.

Smiling because I do believe God knows what's best for me.  Smiling because my teacher heart knows how much fun it is to watch a 'light bulb' moment as someone learns something new.  Smiling because God delights in those moments in our lives.

Monday, December 6, 2010

God and Me-But I'm Supposed To...

Weighed down by a burden.  That probably explains a lot about my week last week.  Actually a better description would be "weighed down by a burden of love."  Love?  As a burden?  The truth is-sometimes it is.

I wrote a few weeks ago about a person in my life whom I was having trouble loving.  Last week was kind of a culmination of that, a where the rubber meets the road moment.  Without going into the details, this person completely stressed me out.  She was illogical and emotional.  She was stubborn and demanding.  And I found myself needing to read 1 Corinthians 13 almost every day, just to remind myself of how I was supposed to be acting.

And actually I think that's one of the reasons it felt like a burden.  Those words "supposed to."  I'm supposed to love this person.  Last week, I felt like I was constantly having to beat my heart into submission.   It did not feel good.  Or happy.  Or peaceful.

Then I happened to catch a blurb on the radio.  It was part of a sermon on sexual purity.  But something the speaker said resonated with me.  He talked about that feeling of doing something because we have to.  In his case, he meant choosing sexual purity because we have to.  He wasn't saying that people should choose to live in sexual sin but what he did say was that we really need to let God out of the box a bit.  That He desires sexual purity for us because it is what is best for us.  And that when we come to see those boundaries as the result of the loving actions of a Father, it begins to shape our choices in diferent ways than if we see those boundaries as the result of some holy arm twisting.  Or because we see those boundarie as opportunities to measure up to a righteous standard and that by living up to high standards might somehow make us seem more pleasing to God. 

Sometimes loving someone feels the same way.  Like holy arm twisting.  Or like a chance to win brownie points with the Almighty.  But to think of loving someone who is hard to love in terms of this is what is best for me is an entirely different thing.  God doen't want to force me to love someone.  And He will not think any less of me (or more of me) based on how well I love someone else. 

I think maybe that last part was important for me to hear this week.  That I do not have to love this person perfectly for God to think highly of me.  God loves me because He made me.  He is united with me because I chose to accept His gift of grace, delivered in the form of His Son.  God does not look at me and see my ugly heart that is struggling to love.  He looks at me and sees the righteousness of Christ meshed with an opportunity to live the best life He has for me.  And what He desires for me is that I continue to live in Christ and that I continue to seek out God's best for all areas of my life.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

What Next?

Conleigh has continued to make great strides in adjusting.  The jury is still out on if I like how sassy and spunky she's turning out to be but I suppose she's just a smidge like her mother and it's all part of the giant circle of parenting kharma where you must have a child who repays you for all of the behaviors you had as a child.  She's sleeping soooo much better.  We did end up seeing a child psychologist who specialized in sleep problems.  She basically gave us two suggestions to try and either those little change worked or Conleigh's body/heart worked it out on her own.  She's actually started sucking her thumb less and less too.  That thumb is such an indicator of her anxiety level and while it's definitely her nighttime comfort, her daytime usage has decreased.

So now that Conleigh's adjustment has slid towards the "life is back to normal" end of the spectrum, what's next?   When Conleigh first came home, it was a weird feeling to not be waiting for someone.  Between her and Kenson, we had been paper pregnant for 3 years and 4 months.  (Wow!  As I write that, it seems incredible to believe that I have spent that much of my life continually waiting for children.  Crazy!)  We've now been wait free for almost ten months.  And I'm left wondering, "what's next?"  We came to adoption over five years ago because we believed it was what God desired for us, not really feeling a push from God to have biological kids.  During the past five plus years, we've explored a variety of things including domestic adoption, fos adoption, foster care, international adoption, and biological kids.  Obviously, at this moment in time, only one of those options has actually grown our family.  But neither D or I feel as if our family is complete.  So now what? 

D always teases me that maybe we should just get another pet.  And for a brief moment, we considered getting the kids goldfish for Christmas.  But he knows it's more than that. 

I think for me the real indecision is that I have never had a real desire to adopt from anywhere other than Haiti.  I don't want Haiti to simply be a "supplier country" who brought me my children.  I want to be connected to Haiti and her people.  I want my kids to be able to go back.  I want our family to be able to go back.  And I worry that if we pursue another country, that it will be difficult to maintain the ties to two countries, that it will be difficult for our family to be connected in meaningful ways to two places.  As of right now, Haiti is out for us.  Previously, the laws were adjusted by whomever was in office to allow for a greater number of adoptions.  However, due to the chaos that exists in Haiti right now, most agencies/orphanages have decided to only work with families who meet the strict 1974 requirements which include the age requirement of being 35 (which we are not).  And even if we did find someone who would work with us, I don't know that we would jump on it simply because the government has a lot of instability right now.  (Earthquake, cholera, elections which were just held but supposedly corrupt.)  But that doesn't mean we shouldn't consider another country.

Doing a domestic adoption would eliminate the worries about another culture/country but there are several things abou domestic adoption that I haven't quite worked out my feelings on.  (It doesn't mean I wouldn't consider it, just that D and I have a lot of thinking to do if we go that route.)  Most people don't realize that a domestic adoption can cost as much or more than an international one; I have a hard time with that.   In a domestic adoption, you also have to face a birth family choosing you to parent, a birth parenting choosing you to parent but then deciding to parent the child, and negotiating a relationship with the birth family.  Not things that are impossible just things that are unknowns.

As I mentioned before, we have looked in foster parenting, specifically with the goal of adoption, and what we learned was that the children whom we felt like we could successfully parent (based on age and needs) were often not available in the foster care system.  We also learned that straight up foster care was not a good fit for us.  That said, we only worked with our local HHS department rather than private agencies and if we did decide to explore that option again, we'd probaby do so through the private agencies that work in our state.

 And then someone shared this with me...

I was amazed and started researching HIV positive children a bit more.  Even if we never pursue anything down that road, the information I've learned from what I've found is amazing.  Did you know that many specialists consider HIV to be easier to manage than diabetes?  It's amazing, I tell you.

I think one of the big issues for us in the "what next" question is money.  We paid cash for both of our previous adoptions.  Money that other people might have used to invest or pay down a mortgage or to put into savings, we used to bring home two wonderful blessings.  That money was a available because we were two childless professionals who were working two full time jobs.  We are now a one income family, a family living on one teacher's salary.  We do our best to live within our means and tried to plan our lives so I would have the option of staying home.  But as I've said before, it's still tight.  (Especially since we've had a bunch of large bills in the last year.)  Regardless of what path we take to build a family, it will require money.  Money that we just don't have.

In all of the situations, I've mentioned, it's a lot about faith and believing that God can do immeasurably more than we can imagine.  But it's hard to reconcile God's faithfulness and provision with the realities of life.  And I think that's where I'm stuck right now-trying to see what God has for us next, what choice best fits are family, and what steps of faith we'll be asked to take.  It's being on the edge of somehing good, but knowing there are fears and obstacles that will have to be dealt with.  Would you pray for us, believing that God has great things in store?