Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Preach It Sister!

a dear friend, with three home grown boys and a daughter that she brought home from the Philippines about two years ago keeps a great blog .... i always love the way she writes ....

today, wow!  she hit the nail on the head!  

please read her blog .... about the bigotry and the ridiculous system that australia embraces ..... this has gotta change!  honestly .... we went through the system when it was hard .... but the barriers that people face today make ours look minuscule.   we need to speak out loud on this injustice .... at the end of the day it is children who are suffering

love you nicki .... you keep it up sister!

Monday, November 21, 2011

christmas .... filipino style

just a few words today.  making our first family parol and realising how much i love this side of the year .... Christmas is an amazing time for the love of our Lord, family and friends and it our house it also means taking on filipino christmas music and decorations and parols ....

a parol is a christmas star.  in the PI these parol's take many shapes and forms and are ... well .... stunning.  in the past, we have hung one in our front window ... i wonder where it will go this year in our new house?

here at home we also make a child friendly version .... for the kids to enjoy and be part of making and to take to their classes and give to friends.  our season's first has been done ... i wonder how many we will make this year?

JJ show's off mum's first parol
of the season!
this will no doubt be the first of many christmas tradition posts.  and with each one i am happy to share ....

Malagayang Pasko!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

waxing nostalgic

i have been feeling a bit nostalgic of late.  in spite of the utter chaos and anarchy that exists in our household right, now i am realising that my children are growing up .... and it's ... well ... tugging at my heart-strings.

my youngest will be going into preschool three days a week next year.  and then big school the year after.  i am getting a bit melancholy as i think about loosing the last of my kids from the baby years to focusing on learning and relationships that are outside my immediate sphere of influence.  <sigh>

don't get me wrong .... i am loving how they are growing and all the joys that accompany that ....but the need for massive cuddles and kisses is long gone, instead being replaced by a need to discuss and talk (come on honey .... can't i just give you a kiss and cuddle BEFORE we work on your homework problem???)  i grab them when i can .... and know the physical affection is mutually enjoyable.  but let's face it ... the need on their part is far less than it used to be.

so i'm waxing a bit nostalgic at the moment ... longing for the days of when they needed me so much.  and yet watching with great joy at the lovely children they are becoming and the beautiful hearts that accompany that.

i reckon it's something that every mum goes through as she watches her kids grow up .... i guess it's a part of our own growing up process too ... learning to let them go ... even just a bit .... to  become the people that God intended them to be.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"that" subject

so i was sitting with my daughter reading her devotions last night.  and the jist of it was the story of a girl who had lost her father and looking to God as her heavenly Father.  all really good stuff.

and then, because my gorgeous girl is at that very inquisitive almost nine year old phase started talking about "that" subject ....

.... her birth dad.

lots of families get information about birth families.  and generally, at least in the Philippines, you tend to get more about the birth mum.  the birth dad is often nebulous or even non-existant.  i know of one family where the birth dad is a known quantity and a positive thing.  but for the most part it's quite negative.

and it got me to thinking about how do you tell the story of the birth dad if they aren't around?  we get told in seminars and by our social workers that you can develop a positive story about the birth mum .... even if it is as basic as she loved you because she knew she couldn't provide for you so gave you to someone who would care for you .... and that is a big love.

but i think, well, at least for me, birth dads are a different issue.  for both my daughter and my boys, the birth dad is not around.  so when my little girl asks about him, finding that age appropriate information is hard. and should it be positive when it is not?

when my girl was four ... he never came up.
when she was six ... she wanted to know if she had a birth dad
when she was eight ... she wanted to know what his name was.

easy .... i can handle that!

and at the cusp of turning nine ... she wants to know why her birth mum and dad
aren't together because next time we go back it would be nice to meet him.


sweetie, he wasn't a nice man and your birth mum needed to be safe and left him.

i feel fine about that as an answer.  it is age appropriate and something she can understand at a basic level.  and it didn't phase her too much, which is exactly how you want it.  i know there will be more discussions and more information .... but later, much later ... when it is emotionally appropriate for the age they are at.

as our kids start to get to those intellectually inquisitive years, the bonding and need for affirmation of our place in their lives is so important.  i am more aware of that now than ever because they are aware of so much more.  i think we are fooling ourselves if we think it doesn't matter.  as our kids learn the stories of how they came to be adopted ... and all the information that goes with that.  as parents we have to be rocks for them of stability and love.

No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, 
which is Jesus Christ.     1 Corinthians 3:11

Monday, November 7, 2011

those little reminders ..

so the move has been pretty rough on all of us.

but it feels like we are starting to get to the other side of it.  hubby is loving the challenge of his job and the kids are enjoying school.

perhaps things might start normalising?  right?  you would think so.

and then the little reminders happen.

waking up early .... and coming in to see you before 6:00 with a craft project they've obviously been working on for a while.  fingernails being chewed to the quick.  temper tantrums that harken back to the early days of coming home.  all these things that remind you that perhaps they aren't as settled as you had thot.

and then the brick drops.  my precious can't find me and when they do the first words out of their mouths are, "where did you go?  i thot you had left me!"

it is easy to forget that no matter what they say or do .... our adopted children have an underlying theme of grief and loss in their lives.  we can't hide it, we can't pretend it's not there.  it is path that we have to gently walk each day to build a strong foundation of stability and trust in their lives.  some days are tough, some days are easy.  finding that balance in pushing them forward vs letting them use the loss as an excuse not to work through things is not always an easy road to walk.  but it is ours and we happily chose it

so this is a day, a moment and a time where treading gently and carefully in the lives of my children is very important.  to reinforce to them that they are loved and treasured just the way they are.   

i reckon it's time to take my shoes off and walk in some clover.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

sharing ....

i was on facebook this morning and saw this poem and it really touched me and i wanted to share it.  it was shared by a group on facebook called I LOVE ADOPTION, and they were quoting the source as LIVE, LOVE, LAUGH.  so i take no credit except to share it .... and trust that it resonates with your heart the way it did mine in the context my life and relationship to my children.

It's not about progressing, it's about returning.
It's not about silence, it's about stillness.
It's not about traveling far away, it's about being where you are fully.
It's not about building love, it's about removing your boundaries from it.
It's not about changing, it's about flowering.
It's not about struggling, it's about relaxing.
It's not about calm, it's about non-reaction.
It's not about capricious spontaneity, it's about sincerely responding in the moment.
It's not about rejecting, it's about accepting.
It;s not about nothingness, it's about somethingness.
It's not about learning, it's about not-doing.
It's not about later, it's about now ....

Monday, October 17, 2011

... unsettledness as a theme

ok .... so it's been a while.  sorry.  but sometimes ... that's just life!

we are now moved.  i wouldn't say settled in any shape form or fashion.  boxes still abound.  but we are here.  the kids have their clothes and toys.  i can cook a meal and we all have places to lay our heads.  we have had a night or two of kids being bathed and happily watching a kids movie as a break ... so something must be right.

Raymie ready
for school!
school.  kids are adapting fine.  they seem to like their teachers and are making friends well.  putting them on the bus for the first time today.... <sigh>  and they are happy.  the teachers have indicated that they are making friends well.  and that seems to be evident.  living in a small town you can't help but run into people you know regularly.  and Lea saw several friends over the weekend.  JJ has started in preschool one day a week and loves it.  making heaps of friends already .... as only JJ can.

home life has this underlying sense of unsettledness.  i have to admit it. the kids are acting up like there is no tomorrow.  and they seem to be refusing to listen in a way that they never have before.

and this is where i struggle as an adoptive mum .....

folks would say, you've moved ... things are unsettled and the kids are feeling their way .... give it time and things will calm down.  and too, i have one that particularly likes to make a big deal out of nothing and can over react and refuse to deal with the things that life throws at them, and you could argue they are milking this for all it's worth.

Lea ready to take on
the world!
and they are probably right.  because in many ways how our adopted kids deal with radical change is no different than biological kids.  and we need to deal with it that way so that the kids don't make a big deal about it.

BUT .... and yeah ... i do mean BUT ....

don't our kids have a radical theme of loss and abandonment in their lives?
shouldn't i at least be aware of that to the extent of acknowledging that this move MIGHT have triggered some of those feelings?

so i seem to be back to that old "fine line" thing again with the kids. balancing the need to be honest and acknowledge that the move could have stirred up some old feelings that need to be worked through and over emphasizing it to the point of allowing it to be an excuse for them to not, quite frankly, grow up and get on with life.

i am not sure there is a right or wrong answer in any family.  we have three kids, and all of them have dealt with the move in very different ways.  what i must do is be aware of their individual needs, with that underlying theme and try and help them normalise ....

part of the adoption journey that i embrace each day. and let's face it .... lots of kisses, cuddles and bed time songs can go a long way to settling any child's heart .....

Friday, September 2, 2011


i have a bit of a pushmi-pullyu relationship with one of my children.  do you remember this character from the original Dr. Doolittle?  there was this funky lama that had two heads .... one on each end ... constantly pushing and pulling each other and getting nowhere!

one would go forward
forcing the other backward
getting nowhere

so this is at times my relationship with my child.  desperately trying to get to a place in our relationship ....moving towards me at a great rate of speed in an effort to bond and attach.  but then the pushmi-pullyu thing starts and they get stopped in their tracks ...

i love you so much!
hug, hug, kiss, kiss
you love me too!  
uh ho ....
she loved me
she deserted me
but you say she loved me and did what is best for me
will you desert me too?
i can't love you ....
you'll hurt me
you'll leave me
even if you say you'll stay
i'm never going to hug you again

and so the dance goes on.  bouncing from one extreme to the other .... with occasional respites of middle ground where sanity and logic are applied.  it will take time.  LOTS of time.

and that's ok ... because mum and dad aren't going anywhere.
TIME .. and LOVE
the great heart healers.

Friday, August 26, 2011

let's try this again ... Pt 2

okay.... to begin where we had left off.  to say that there was this fear that we would have the terror of our first trip x 2 was, well ... true.

however, what we found was that ....

where our daughter would writhe away from me and wouldn't let her dad touch her .... our sons were curious and engaging.  they wanted to know who these strangers were that they were being brought up to meet and were eager to sit and play with us.  while i am sure the orphanage staff were great in explaining and telling the boys who we were.... there is only so much that a 2 1/2 and 4 year old can truly understand.  i honestly believe that a big part of their comfort levels was our own comfort with the process and experience as parents.

Raymie, at 4 1/2, playing with a toy we had
brought for them.

this trip we intended to spent two nights at the home, and two full days.  as this was a return trip for Lea, it was important in allowing her to re-engage and experience this precious place in her memory.  but right now, right here .... it was all about the boys.

we spent the afternoon up the guest apartment playing with the boys and generally getting to know each other.  it was hard not to be amazed at one thing .... these were OUR boys .... they were bonding with us .... and there one dad who was very happy to have HIS boys in HIS life.  and you could see it in his face.

scott's gentle nature and sensitivity to both Raymie and JJ was a joy to behold.  they took to him like ants to sugar, like a moth to a flame.  even then, after just an hour or so, you could see that this was THEIR DAD, and they knew it.

... one more installment and then the re-telling
of our journey to family completeness is done...

Friday, August 19, 2011

let's try this again! ... pt 1

if our adventure to our daughter was full of first time parent angst and fragile doses of bonding, our experience bringing our boys home could not have been more different with it's fond familiarity and down right fun!

but .... let's back up just a bit.

to say we had been to hell and back again with our second traverse of the beaurocratic, systematic destruction of our trust in the "powers that be" was an understatement.  our department strove to rewrite the book between what they said and what they did in more ways that i care to elicit.  and yet, guess what?  we have our boys and have no regrets.

we were literally on the other side of the country when we were called by our dept. .... the first words out of my mouth were "what's gone wrong now?" ... and a gentle laugh and then .... "well, actuallly .... can we ask you a few questions?"  my heart leapt in my throat at this point.  could it be really happening?  FINALLY?  the simple answer .... yes .... God had given us two, gorgeous sons, also from Rehoboth Children's Home.

this trip was to be so very different.  we planned it as a bit more of a holiday ... a chance to see a few more sights and sounds of the Philippines along with picking up our boys.  and too, my best mate and life-time "should be" sister  came along .... all the way from Canada to the Philippines!  she was coming along not just to share the experience, but to also give Lea some focus time to allow us to be with the boys and begin that bonding time with them.  as an adult adoptee and a social worker to boot, she was all too aware of the path we were navigating and was happy to play this role.  something for which we will always be grateful.

lea enjoying her childhood
at Disney HK
after a brief sojourn in Hong Kong to see Disney Hong Kong (a last hurrah for the three of us) .... we arrived late on a Friday night in Manila.  my mate from Canada had already arrived.  and what else do you do when you are in Manila?  go out to dinner at Pizza Hut!  egad!  i was a bit disappointed in myself (i love cross cultural stuff and filipino food is at the top of the list!) .... but we were all tired, a taxi that didn't show at the airport, having to find a new one and a ride to the hotel that was longer than our plane trip from HK to Manila .... so i gave myself some grace.  Lea was having fun with Ninang (tagalog for Godmother) ... and it was good to be together.

normally, when you are going out to meet your child, a caseworker from ICAB joins you to make introductions with the orphanage / foster agency, etc.  but because we had been to the home before, once we had travel authority, ICAB was happy for us to make our own arrangements.  woohoo!  in this circumstance, the home contacted us and said, "when do you want us to pick you up???"  saturday morning please!  <g>

bright and early saturday morning we began our trek up through the hills to the little town of sampaloc .... where Rehoboth Children's Home is.  you feel like you are going into another world .... getting out of the lung jarring pollution and sensory overload of Manila traffic (trust me .... if you haven't experienced it, you can't appreciate it!).  fresh air!  ahhhhhh ....

entering the home for the first time in three years was amazing.  everything was the same .... but we were different.  going through the green gates it was the same sanctuary and haven that we remembered.  where kids were loved and nurtured until their parents would come for them.  but we were different ... more settled as parents, and certainly more prepared to engage with "whatever" might befall us.  we were ushered up to the guest apartment .... Lea relishing the memories and fun and us with baited breathe as we waited for our boys.

what would this be like? 
how would they take to us? 
would we have another repeat of what happened with Lea?

our boys being brought up to the guest house .....

hello boys!  

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

spare a thot for dad's

spare a thot for adoptive dad's.

sometimes, if we are lucky, our children will come to dad's easily.  but most times not.  it's a natural reaction, albiet one that is frustrating to work through.  most of these children were raised in orphanages where their primary, if not only contact is with women.  so to see a man, let alone a man who is a different colour and speaks funny, is often a difficult path for our kids.

i know it isn't that way for all, but it is for a lot of families, and it was for us.

i really felt for scott.  if my presence was tolerated, his was not.  Lea would cower from him, scream if he picked her up and just generally wasn't afraid to let him know in any shape form or fashion that his presence was not appreciate or wanted.

this shot is from our time in Manila. it is important to us because it is the reminder of how he was forced to experience the first few months with Lea .... from a distance, behind a camera (or video).

walking through the streets, or just in the hotel ... she would not allow him to do anything for her ... to help her, to hold her.  nothing.

he would sit and watch as she would allow me to do her hair or help her get dressed.  you could see a sad happiness in his eyes.  so happy to have his daughter .... so sad to not be able to show her his love with touch and play ... or to even be able to give her a hug!  having to bide his time ... till????  who knew at that point.

but he was a good dad, a patient dad.  and knew that biding his time was probably the best thing that he could do.  he did what he could to help me (he was on extended leave when we got home) ... because i had this leech attachment to my legs.  so where and when he could, he would do what he could.

but one day, about two weeks after getting home .... i was sick.  i was run down and i just needed to rest.  i told Scott .... you're just gonna have to find a way to deal with her.  i have no energy and i feel like death warmed over.  he understood.

i went and layed down in bed .... quietly shutting the door
no more had i shut my eyes than i heard a blood curdling scream
Scott's, not Lea's
she got scared
he tried to comfort her
she bit him .... hard

ah look..... we laugh now.  even threaten to tell the story at her 21st b-day party and embarrass her infront of all her friends.  but at that moment .... at that time.  i can't imagine how gut wrenching that was for him.  she was so terrified that she bit him .... and bloody hard at that!

so we went back to routine.  there were little progressions.  conversations that were safe from across the table, or she would sit next to him .... but not too close.  all little signs of a growing comfort factor.  but time still dragged on.

one day i was in the kitchen trying to cook dinner.  Lea was excitedly saying something at me jumping up and down .... "ilaw, ilaw".  i had no idea what she was saying and she was so emphatic about wanting me to pick her up and "ilaw, ilaw" ..... huh???  i asked Scott if he knew what she was talking about or could he try and figure it out.  he quickly saw that she was pointing at the light switch and before she could say anything he scooped her up and took her over to the light switch and showed her how to turn it off and on.

eyes got really big  
looked at the light switch
looked at him
decided that the magic of turning a light switch on and off 
was more important than her fear of him

for the next 30 minutes they went all around the house turning lights on and off.  wow ... did we waste a lot of energy that day!  but oh so worth it.  there was no turning back now .... he got to hold her in his arms for 30 minutes easy .... i quietly put dinner in the oven to keep warm until they were done with their game.  that was a good moment .... and i'm pretty sure he even got a good night kiss that night.

these are pictures from a road trip we took about 4 months after getting home.  the look on both their faces sais it all!

so spare a thot for dad's.  their road, i suspect, is at times much harder than ours as mum's.  we have to work hard.  they want to show their child how much they love them .... but often initially it is rejected.  dad .... thy name is perseverance.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Where It Began -- Pt 2

so here we were, out in the middle of the province .... with a child who didn't like us. period.  full stop.  i reckon that this was just about every first time adoptive parents worst nightmare.  oh man!  would we ever be able to bond with this child!?!?!?

we spent a restless night in the guest house. scott slept in the second of the two bedrooms and Lea and i shared a king size bed in the other... but she was as far away from me as she could be.  well, the screaming had stopped .... so that was a good thing at least.

but she wouldn't eat. and while she didn't resist my touch, she certainly wasn't bounding into my arms by any stretch of the imagination.  we were grateful for the orphanage leaderships insight the next day ... that the best thing was probably just to get us back to Manila where we could be away from what was her stomping grounds and start building our own relationship with her.  so we gave her the last little while to run around and play with her friends .... watching and talking to the carers.  but i'll never forget the look she shot at me as she was having her hair done.  i am one who thinks that most kids are quite cluey, and i truly think she knew even then that her world was turning upside down and inside out ... that all those things that were security for her were being ripped and stripped away ... and it was our fault.

both Mama Fe, and another social worker for the home road with us in the van back down to Manila.  lea was, of course, attached to them at the hip and refusing to engage with us.  quick goodbyes at the ICAB offices and then off to our hotel.  lea was summarily popped in my arms.  we waved the van off and then walked into the hotel as a family of three.
we had several days in manila that were punctuated by break through's and set backs.  we had a second trundle bed set up in our bedroom for her to sleep in.  i remember the first night when we were trying to establish a routine, she dove under the sheets and just put her face down in the pillow and said nothing.  my heart was aching.  but we let her be, prayed with her and let her sleep ... sensing that she needed a little cocoon of space that was her's to own and find security in.  the next morning, very early (ugh!), i rolled over to see her peaking at me from under her covers.  i smiled at her and patted the bed and called her over with a silent hand movement -- hoping and praying she would respond.  she shot out of bed in a flash, dove under the sheets and became an instant leech as she wrapped herself around my neck and buried her head into my chest.  i smiled and cried silently.  we stayed like that for quite a while and this became (and often still is!) a ritual for us.

that was it.  done.  she had decided to accept me and move towards trusting me.  relief.

i wish i could say it was clear sailing from there.  we had our moments .... water was a terrifying thing.  the screams returned when i would try to bath her in a real bath (remember:  filipino's out in the province often have and prefer bucket baths).  woops!  that phobia would take a while to overcome.  she would not go to scott (i will post on this separately).  so we would take the good with the bad.  and there was still this look of loss in her eyes that haunted us.  but we also knew that it would just take time, and love and patience.

we found glimpses of our highly exuberant and engaging daughter in that first week too. i remember going down for our first breakfast together.  butter.  who would've thot?  i went to butter a piece of toast for her, using some of the pre-packaged patty's that they had.  she looked at the bread.  licked the butter.  put the toast down and picked up the patty with the butter left on it, gave us a cheeky smile and then proceeded to lick the butter off and laugh.

ice cream.  chocolates.  lollies.  i am not beyond bribing.  should've done it more and earlier on.  while i want my kids to be healthy eaters ... if giving them treats gets them to see me as their source of all things good and wonderful .... <g>  well .... i was in a position of "beggars can't be choosers" .... so i took every opportunity possible.  filipino style orea cookies and hugs were a constant exchange in those early days!

and it was on our next to last day .... having afternoon tea in the pancake house on level 4 of the Galleria that my ice cream bribe paid off .... BIG TIME.  she was having ice cream ... and enjoying her world in a way that only children can.

laughter, silliness .... and my first kiss.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Where It Began -- Pt 1

thinking this morning about all that our kids are going through with this move we are making and was compelled to reflect on the first big move they did .... towards us and away from their lives in the orphanage.  so i started thinking about Lea, and the first few days with her at the home (the boys will come later!).

arrived manila ... New Year's eve.  wow.  watched the fireworks and had a blast.  as instructed by DoCS ...

  1. contacted ICAB on the monday morning after arrival.  
  2. ICAB has no record of our impending arrival, and the caseworker that had been assigned to us, was in fact, away on their honeymoon.  
  3. ICAB advise they will  call us back in a few hours to discuss the matter.  oh man!  what a way to start this journey!  
  4. ICAB calls back.  orphanage had been told to expect us and, as they had been preparing the child to meet us, they were happy to continue.  
  5. please come to the ICAB offices at noon where we would meet the administrator of the orphanage and they would take us out to the home to meet our child.  sure!  we'll be there, lickety split!
  6. go to ICAB offices, contemplate navel

so there we were, the door opens and this woman, who we would come to affectionately know as Mama Fe, walks through the door .... and in her arms.  our daughter.  terrified.  scared.  confused.

would we like to come out and spend the night at the orphanage?  sure (my gut had told me this might happen, which is why i told scott to put his tooth brush and tooth paste in my purse).  we depart ICAB offices in orphanage van ....for a two + hour ride out of Manila and up into the province .... into the mountains.  we tried to engage our daughter, but she would not come to either of us, rather staying firmly planted in Mama Fe's arms.  secure ... safe.  that's ok .... for now.  little did i know that it was our first sign of what was to come.

at the home, after chasing her around and getting the grand tour of the home for an hour or two, Mama Fe wisely said, let's go up to the guest house so you can get to know each other in a quiet environment.  she stayed with us for a little while, where our daughter refused to have anything to do with us.  Mama Fe decided to leave us alone.

Lea ran to the door and started screaming.  not just a kid at the top of their lungs scream .... but a "you are the scariest thing in the world and i don't know what else to do" sort of scream.  the look of horror on her face said it all.  her body went limp and she slid down the door ... and then started banging her head, quiet hard, against the door ... all the while, the screaming continued.

the next two hours were some of the most rewarding and painful of my entire relationship with my daughter.  i immediately got on the floor and scooped her into my arms.  she pushed away, screaming (of course!).  i refused to let go.

and so began the dance of bonding.

her:  back arched away from me and pushing as hard as she could ... screaming.
me:  soothing words, firm arms.  refusal to let go.

my leg was wedged under me ... starting to ache.  i couldn't move ... to do so would give her the ability to get away.  ouch maggs .... deal with it.  on and on .... back and forth, swaying in this bizarre bonding ritual.  and after about 30 minutes, i felt her go limp and just lay her head on my shoulder in exhaustion.  so there i sat ... just letting her feel the warmth of my body near hers as she got used to me.  it was a start.  i had won that round at least.

and the dance continued, albiet in a much less invasive manner.  i was in a bit of a euphoric state .... knowing that i had successfully navigated one incident on my parental path.  lea was, on the other hand  ... well, catatonic at best.  she looked at toys vaguely, stared at us with fear and concern and refused to eat or drink anything.

she was not a happy child and certainly didn't get why she had to be locked away with us.  i mean honestly .... we were the wrong colour and didn't speak her language.  yeah ... if i were in her shoes i'd probably feel the same way!

to be continued ....

Monday, August 1, 2011

changes and resillience

we're moving.

it's a dream that has been a while coming ... but seems to finally be happening.  we have wanted to go bush ... to live a more sustainable life off the land.  hubby has secured this great job ... and we know without a doubt that this will be a better lifestyle for our kids.

but how do you get that thru the heads of a 4, 6 and 8 year old?  when you think of everything our kids have already experienced in their lives ... the loss, the anger.  and here we go, doing it all over again.  ... at least in their precious little minds eye.

especially the 8 year old.  i am assuming that part of it that she is a girl and she is older and "gets" some of it better than her brothers.  the dreams, the fears ... the need to know every minuscule detail of what we are doing .. these have already started.  teaching that you can go through this stuff and be stronger on the other side.  as adoptive parents that is so much a part of what our job is ... teaching strength and hope in this ever changing world.

the difference?  we aren't abandoning them.  we will be there on the flip side of all this.  mum and dad ... we aren't going anywhere.  and they can find strength in that.

say it again please ... so i can know it's true
cuddle me now please ... so i can know you will always be there
be patient with me please ... because i am scared and afraid
i know you said you'll be there ... but will you really?

yes we will.  the proof is in the pudding ... and in the meantime, we have to live it out. take the up days with the down days.  include them in decisions, keep the process transparent and inform them all along the way.  no surprises here ... on the table.  promise!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

sibling stuff take 2

siblings ..... it conjures up a kaleidoscope of different images.

laughing with and at each other
giggles of utter silliness
fights ... both physical and verbal
rampant jealousy
quiet reflective hugs and cuddles

i have been told by many experts (e.g., parents with grown kids!), that this is typical.  that siblings are just this way .... from children to tweens, teens and young adults.

so while we may utter sighs of exasperation when they fight and rant on about each other .... i find that quiet place that imagines the relationships that they (and their kids!) will have when my husband and i are long gone.  pinoy christmas time.  birthdays.  late night coffee's.  relationships that extend far and deep as they grow together and rely on each other.

pie in the sky?  i don't think so.  if we teach our kids that we are family .... that we are here for each other no matter what .... they will turn to each other.  i heard an old scottish saying once that said, "home is where you go when everyone else has turned their backs on you."  and while that may be the dour side of it .... the positive side is that no matter the ills, no matter your failings ... family will stick together.

and isn't that why we embarked on this adventure?  i remember when we brought our daughter home.  it was so wonderful seeing her engage with her world.  but it didn't take us long to see her need for siblings.  to not feel alone in this vast world.  while bringing her home had filled a need in our hearts .... that very act also made a new gaping hole in our families heart that only a sibling could fill.  we knew it, we saw it and we felt it.

that day-to-day roller coaster of how those sibling relationships develop amazes me.  that these children would so readily accept each other and bond as brothers and sister.  and that in spite of the arguments (and actually, perhaps because of those arguments), when they are older they will draw closer to each other.

they will have each other
that is our legacy
giving them family
giving them each other

Friday, July 15, 2011

...overthinking ...

missy moo has been out of sorts the past few days.

temper tantrums at the drop of a hat
wanting to crawl into bed with us because she can't sleep
hanging on to me when we are out and about

so what in the world is going on with this child?  hubby and i have talked about it and wrestled with it.  school starts back on monday .... she is having a few processing issues so maybe doesn't want to face that.  i'm going in for minor surgery in a week or two and she is afraid of that.  she is talking about the philippines and her birth mum ... but no more than usual.

something has to be going on in her head.  she is anxious, overwrought, lethargic .... how do i get inside that already very complicated brain of hers?

and then today while we are out she says that she can't chew food on one side of her mouth because it hurts.  so i have a look.  yikes.  nasty abscess.

that explains everything.  

"honey .... how long has this been going on for?"
"a while now .... "
"sweet pea .... make sure and let us know any time there is something going on 
that we might not know about ... mum and dad are here to help fix it.  
that's part of our job as your mum and dad."
"okay mum..."

sometimes .... just sometimes mind you .... i don't need to be over thinking things and looking for an underlying adoption issue.  it's just typical childhood stuff.  that ones been appropriately filed now for future reference.

and now we are off to the dentist.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Family Time

ok .... i've been feeling so guilty about not writing that i haven't.  i take it seriously .... but there is one thing i take more seriously.  my family.  spending time with them is the most important and life building thing i can do.

  • the morning cuddles with five of us crammed in a queen size bed!
  • my daughter needing some of "me" just girl time because it is so important to her
  • trying to feed my family good, healthy and nutritious food
  • watching my kids silly skits .... because they think they are hilarious!
  • looking deeply in to my eldest son's eyes .... seeing the emptiness and grief and trying to hold him and show him how much i love him and how important he is in our family
  • tickling my littlest boy until he almost pee's himself
  • doing chores ... ugh.  teaching kids that while they aren't fun doing chores is part of our responsibility to each other as a family
  • trying to help my youngest son understand that he is truly only 4 .... and while the expectations aren't as high .... we still do need him to do his part in our family life
  • and giving lots of hugs and lots of cuddles .... there is always room for more of those
these are the things that have been occupying me of late.  nothing dramatic .... nothing earth shattering .... and yet, in the end, the most important thing i can be doing as i build into my kids lives.

i leave you with this video ... it's one of my fav's and makes me smile.  i trust you will too.

Monday, July 4, 2011

a wonder to behold

.... school holidays
.... oh no!  what do i do with the kids!
.... they'll be at each other!
.... no peace and quiet!
.... mantra:  i .... i will survive!

sounds familiar?  we are on week #2 of three weeks holidays here down under and i am feeling stretched and challenged.

.... i have kids who want to explore their world and challenge all the limits (it's a kid thing)
.... i have kids who laugh and giggle over the simplest little pleasures
.... my amazing children aren't afraid to engage with their world and tackle all it has to offer (with a little help from mum and dad, of course!)

in all this i stand in awe.  as my husband said last night .... kids are almost as fun to watch as chickens!  the way they interact and interpret what is around them.  a child's ability to take the mundane and turn it into something amazing.

Dear Father .... i thank you for the gift of my children.  may i always nurture this joy in my them. may i teach them to face all that this world has to offer .... knowing that a foundation in YOU will get them through anything!


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

... yeah, but they're not REALLY brother and sister, right?

i can't begin to tell you the number of times that i've gotten that comment ... the naivete of some thinking that just because they don't share blood, they aren't related (the same argument can of course be said of us as parents .... but that is another discussion for another day).

when i get these comments i generally just politely smile and move on.  now in earnest, what i would really like to say goes something like this ....

WHAT?  you've got to be kidding! 

 these kids fight like siblings fight!
they dob each other in as if they were related
they play one another off against each other
they certainly get jealous of each other
they cuddle, snuggle and are protective of each other

don't tell me these kid's aren't brother and sister.

was i concerned when we brought the boys home that they would be drawn to each other and close Lea out because of their biological relationship?  that they would turn to each other for comfort and reassurance?  of course!  it was a possibility we had to acknowledge.  but part of acknowledging it is being prepared to set things up to minimise those opportunities.  teaching each of our children that they are individual within our family .... that each of then has a unique place and role to fill in our family structure.  

so today we have

an eldest son who idolises his big sister
a big sister who is protective of a little brother
a little brother who adores (and hates) his big sister
a son who is starting to draw like crazy because his sister does
a little boy who wants to do what his big brother does (and doesn't 
understand why he can't!)
a big sister who gets sick and tired of her little brothers because ...
well .... they are boys!  i don't like boys!
and three children who will cuddle on the couch together,
share toys and pray for each other.

yeah .... they're REAL brothers and sisters alright .... 
REAL in the only way that truly matters!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Filipino Fridays 2011.7

today i'm just sharing some random shots of my family on our previous trip to the Philippines in 2009 when we picked up the boys.  thot it would be nice to focus on the beauty of the place .... both the people and the landscape.  if the pictures are not ours, then they are copyright I.T.  thank you!

our family on a weeks holidays at the beach at Batangas after
we picked up the boys.  gorgeous sunset!
Punto Miguel ..... our filipino style beach resort.  can't recommend
it highly enough!

our cabana .... we slept and ate here.  meals made on the patio
what a blast!

i know the boys look wasted!  but boy!  they were doing
amazing considering they'd only been with us
for a few days!  what troopers!

amazing woman, amazing tribute.  we were there just after her
funeral.  wow.