Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Under a Microscope

Living life under a microscope can be exhausting and can cause of huge dip in self worth. Being involved in the system means living under a microscope. People have analyzed us, doubted us, and felt that they may be able to handle things better than we have, but in the end we are these kiddo's parents and we do the best we can. I struggle with this. I want to please everyone do everything that is recommended to me, but that would be impossible with all of the varying opinions out there. 

For example, you choose to do time-in, you are too permissive. You choose to do time-out and you are banishing your kiddos from society. Are there really any perfect answers for every family? No. What works for one family may not work for another and that is OKAY! We are individuals. We are different. We all do the best we can. We all love our children to the ends of the earth. That is what matters. This year I am going to do my best to put all opinions aside.

This year I am going to make it my goal to view myself through the eyes of my Creator. I am worthy to be these kiddo's mommy and God placed them in my home for a divine reason. That is enough. I may forget to wash their favorite jeans, pack snacks in the wrong back pack, or miss a homework assignment, but that does not change the fact that God molded my family together for a purpose and He chose ME to be their mom. I am humbled by His gifts and I intend to raise them in a way that would glorify His name. With Him, my kids will heal. With Him, I will feel confident. With Him, my husband and I will love stronger and deeper. This year, He will be my focus.

In addition, I will choose to be supportive of and real with other moms. We all need this in our lives. Ok, that's all. Have a great New Year!


Monday, November 30, 2015

When The Rubber Meets The Road

I used to wonder how pre-adoptive parents could ever reach a place where disruption is an option. I never thought that things could get so bad that it would be better to send a child to a new family. I mean, it's a child, right? What harm could be done? I cannot describe in words how wrong that question is. These, children come from hard, hard places. Places where most people can never imagine coming from. These places rock children's worlds to a point that nothing in life is easy.

We have dealt with more hardships in the last year than we have dealt with in our entire lives. Without our faith and support from each other, family, and friends, we would not be at the place we are today. Foster care is hard, but the challenges these kiddos have been through are harder. I am not going to lie, I have doubted my decisions to start this process. However, in the end I always come to this conclusion: my kiddos deserve a family that loves them even when they are not ready to love back and this process was God-led, He will provide for my needs. It would be harder for me to give up on my kiddos than battle through the trenches with them. They are my heart.  I have faith that things will get better and my kiddos will heal. It will continue to be hard, but it will be so worth it!

After experiencing the difficult side of foster care, I no longer wonder how foster parents reach the place where disruption is an option. I would not be able to endure the hardships without a loving family and the strength I receive from God. Foster care is hard, but not impossible. Every kid deserves love even when they are not ready to receive it. Every kid needs family. Consider being that family for a child. Consider crawling through the trenches with them. It will be hard, but you won't regret it.

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Saturday, November 14, 2015


May I tell you the one thing that will make the kiddos freak out no matter what? Change. Yes, you read that right, change. Change trumps spiders, falling, and losing all their toys. Change is scary. Change is scary, because these kiddos have never known a life without drastic changes. Changes that include new families, separation from siblings, people leaving, new houses, and leaving everything behind. The simplest change sparks worry that their nightmare is about to begin all over again. Let me give you an example.

Earlier this week the kiddos were asked to dress up for an event at school. This kicked their nerves into overdrive, like woah! The kids first responded with excitement. They screamed and jumped and wiggled all over. Once it was time to get ready, they followed me around like little ducklings all over the house. Later, we got to the school and little man asks, "Will you please stay with me?" I explained again why he was dressed up and what the "special" plans at school were. He then said, "ok, mommy I will try to not worry anymore." I told him he would be safe and there was nothing to worry about at all. I then reminded him that I would be back later to big him up as usual. He smiled.

This is one example of many freak out moments due to change. Slowly, overtime I do believe that change will not be so scary anymore. It is going to take a lot of time though. A lot of time with consistency, love, and trust building. We will get there. Until then, we will keep reassuring our kiddos that we are here to stay and explaining every detail before changes occur when possible.

If you have any tips on how to help our kiddos deal with change. Please comment below!

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Updates On The Littles

It has been a while since I have updated you on how the littles are doing. We have been through a lot since I last posted on their progress. First of all, I wanted to let you all know that it will be a while longer before our adoption is processed. This is simply because we do not feel like our kiddos are ready yet. We want to take as much time as needed to prepare them emotionally and help them understand what adoption means. With adoption there is a gain, a family is created; however there is also a huge loss. It is a confirmation that reunification with the people they love is not an option at this point in their lives. It is heartbreaking for them, which is why we are taking our time. We will let you know when it's time for our family.

Ok, enough about the adoption. Let me start off by updating you on our valiant knight. He is making huge strides in school and his self-esteem is growing everyday. I love when he jumps around the house and says, "I can read," over and over. I can sense the excitement in his voice! He is also starting to trust us both and is willing to open coversations with us. His greatest accomplisment is talking about his happiness instead of bouncing around like a jumping bean and making crazy noises when his happiness overwhelms him. :) Although, sometimes I like his jumping bean side.

Our beautiful butterfly is slowly making progress and processing everything that has happened in her little life. It is joyous to see her true personality shine through. She loves dancing, making beautiful pictures, and reading chapter books. Her big brown eyes and radiant smile will light up a room. I am so proud of her.

And finally, our little peanut is such a little ray of sunshine! She just started gymnastics. She would have you believe that it is the most exciting thing she has ever done and I wish I could describe in words how cute she looks in that little leo. :) The most exciting part about it all though is that my little peanut has the confidence to get out there and give it a go. She would have not been able to do this a few months ago. She is becoming an independent little lady before our eyes!

We are extremely proud of all three of our littles. Our journey has been extremely hard (as I am sure parenting is for anyone), but we would not trade our littles for the world. They bring us so much joy! I cannot wait to see the changes in them over the next few months. I know God has great things in store.

Feel free to ask for updates anytime about the kids. We may not be able to answer all of your questions, but we love sharing the fun stuff! :)

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No names have been used in this post to ensure that our children's privacy is maintained. Please help us keep everything confidential.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Connecting While Correcting

I have trouble with this one sometimes. Remembering to connect after your child just talked back or hit their sister is hard, but it is more important than the actual correction. Sometimes, I tend to get upset and start in to lecture mode or redirect them and then walk away. I often have to go back and apologize to my children for the way I reacted to my child's choices and failing to make them feel loved in the moment.The connecting while correcting approach by Karyn Purvis has allowed me to have a deeper understanding of the importance of connection while correction. I am excited to share some of this information with you.

Building connection is an important key to allow your child to "build trust, discover their voice, learn to self regulate, and understand their preciousness," (Empower to Connect Parent Training, Session 7).

As parents, we need to focus on how we correct our children. To help us with this Karyn Purvis has developed the levels of engagement:

1.) Playful Engagement (for mild behaviors)- redirecting with a playful voice.

2.)  Structured Engagement (for moderate behaviors)- this would include choice giving. For example, a child says, "I do not want to read a book." You respond by saying, "okay, darling would you rather read a book or color a picture?" The child would have to choose from these two choices only. If you noticed both choices have a similar theme--quiet play. You still are able to meet your goal of quiet play, for example, while giving your child a choice. Of course, this is not always an option and sometimes children do have to complete the task at hand, but when there is wiggle room this option is nice to have.

3.) Calming Engagement (for verbally aggressive behaviors)- this would include a time in. You may be wondering, what in the world is a time in? I know I wondered myself at first and to be honest the whole idea made me a little crazy, until I tried it and understood it more. A time in would be an alternative to a time out. For example instead of sending your child to the corner or their room. You would allow them to sit near you. For example, you may have them sit on the couch while you tidy up the living room or read a book next to them. You tell your child, "Okay, honey when you are ready to talk about what just happened you just let me know. I will be right here." The child is then able to calm down enough to talk about the problem rationally. I have tried both time out and time in with my children. Time out tends to cause a huge melt down and rarely ends with a desire in my child to talk about the problem. With time in, my children do not feel isolated and know that I am there for them. They also feel a little bit of control over the situation (not too much) due to the opportunity to let you know as the parent when they are ready to talk about it.

Here is a video about time in from Karyn Purvis:

from youtube.com

4.) Protective Engagement (for physically aggressive behaviors)

We have used each type of engagement with our children. I can tell you from experience that each one works well and the levels allow me to avoid over-responding to a problem. I know that it is okay to give a choice when needed and it is okay to calmly redirect. If I did not do these things and responded with a harsher, more drawn out punishment, the problem would escalate with me. When circumstances warrant, I do use calming and protective engagement. This work also, but definitely take more patience and time to get to a point where I reach a level of connection with my child(ren), but in the end there is connection. I have found this much more rewarding than sending my child away or giving them an earlier bed time, for example. In the end we both feel connected and the problem has been solved, not ignored or avoided.

During engagement, it is crucial that we as parents stay focused and calm (honestly this is sometimes difficult for me). In order to give you a better understanding of what an effective connecting while correcting approach may look like, Karyn Purvis provides the IDEAL response.

1. ) Immediate- it is important to respond to a behavior while it is happening rather than pushing it off until later. An example of pushing it off until later would be, "Wait until your Dad gets home," or "We will be discussing this when we get home."

2.) Direct- this would include looking at your child in the eye during correction and perhaps even holding their hands or putting an arm on their shoulder. This would be the opposite of following your child down the hallway while verbalizing commands, which would warrant less attention from the child.

3.) Efficient- this is where the levels of engagement come in. Try not to over respond and use as few words as possible.

4.) Action-based- this involves giving your child a re-do after correction. For example if a child runs down the hallway. You may say, "woah, woah wait a minute. can you tell me how you are supposed to go down the hallway?" After the child tells you the correct way you would give them the opportunity to try it again. This provides motor memory for the correct behavior.

5.) Leveled at the behavior and not the child- this involves correcting the behavior without shaming your child. At the end, the child should still feel loved by you as their parent.

The video below talk about the IDEAL response. 

from youtube.com

Another thing to keep in mind when correcting a child is having total voice control, which would mean remaining calm and avoiding harsh tones and body language. The video below explains in further. 

from youtube.com 

Believe me, I know all of this is extremely difficult and I do make mistakes when correcting my children sometimes. Thankfully, my children have grace when I have to go back and ask for forgiveness for my response to conflict. Just remember, when a behavior occurs you have a choice in the way you are going to react. You can be against your child OR choose to solve the problem WITH your child. I have found that the latter is much easier in the long run. :)

If you want to learn more about connecting while correcting, please consider taking an Empowered to Connect class. You can find a class near you by going to empoweredtoconnect.org/training and clicking find a trainer near you.

You may also find The Connected Child By Karyn Purvis, David Cross, and Wendy Lyons Sunshine very helpful throughout your journey.

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*I was not paid to advertise any book or program. I give all credit to Karyn Purvis' work.

Monday, November 2, 2015

National Adoption Month News

November is here again! It's National Adoption Month! This year's theme focuses on teens with the slogan, "You never outgrow the need for family." It breaks my heart to think of the many teenagers that need families. Could you imagine graduating high school and being on your own without any family to lean on? I imagine it would be scary, hard, and lonely. About 85,000 teens in the United States not only imagine what this scenario would be like, they live it. Their risk for homelessness, drug use, pregnancy, and school drop out is higher than other kids their age. Having a loving family to lean on makes all the difference, but unfortunately these children are difficult to place and often go unnoticed.

AdoptUS Kids offers an illustration of many reasons why teens need families and how being a caregiver to a teen aids them in their lives. The last picture breaks my heart. Ensure that a teen always has a place at a table. It's sad to think about these teens alone on holidays and without a family to eat dinner with. Please consider opening your home to a teen. You have the power to help change their future. For more information on the need for adoptive families for teenager please visit the National Adoption Month website at https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/adoption/nam/

We Never Outgrow the Need For Family

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Sensory Play

Here are some sensory toys and bins we enjoy at home:

1.) Sensory Bins
  • Beans and Rice
    • We mixed rice and beans and placed small toy cars and safari animals in the bins. The cars, rice, and beans can be found at dollar tree. We found the safari animals at walmart.
  • Farm Themed
    • We placed fake grass, rocks, and rice in a bin with various farm animals. We found the rice, grass, and rocks at dollar tree. The farm animals can be found at dollar general and walmart.

  • Ocean Themed
    • We placed marbles with multiple colors (fish eggs), light blue/white marbles, shells, and ocean animals in water. You can find the marbles at dollar tree and the animals and dollar general.
  • Sand and Shore Theme
    • We made rice from ground up wild rice and added shells for the sand and placed blue and clear marbles and rocks for the ocean. We then added animals and eggs. You can find the marbles at dollar tree and the animals at dollar general. The white "eggs" are ping pong balls. The shells were found at hobby lobby.

  • Creepy Crawly Shaving Cream Theme
    • We got toy bugs and covered them with shaving cream. The kids were then told to find 8 things in the box. The bugs were found in the party aisle at walmart.

2.) Sensory Toys

  • My oldest daughter loves the liquid timers. They can be found on online. An example of a liquid timer is shown below.
picture from: nationalautismresources.com

  • My son loves squishy animals (they also make various types of balls) . Animals filled with goo, sand, beads, small plastic balls. He doesn't care. As long as he can squish it. :) I have found these type of animals various places. Be careful with the splat ball animals they tend to stick to the ceiling when thrown up in the air. We still buy them we just have some rules to go along with them now. ;) You can also make your own squishy ball by filling a balloon with lentils.  

  • My younger daughter loves play dough. There are various ways to make your own too! Although we have not ventured into this area yet. I plan to do so soon! Feel free to google "homemade play dough." It's pretty amazing what can be created to display different colors, smells, and feels. 

  •  All three kiddos love the sit-n-spin. They especially love the one that plays music.

  • My oldest daughter loves puffer balls. She pulls each string out and stretches it over and over. An example of a puffer ball is below.
Picture from squishymart.com
  • I have not tried tangle toys yet, but I recently ordered a few. They are a very popular fidget. An example of a tangle toy is below.
  • I have also not tried this yet, but you can make your own search and find toy (or sometimes called I SPY toy) by adding several items to a water bottle, such as safety pins, buttons, small toys, paper clips, etc to and then filling the bottle with rice.  An example of a search and find is below.

    picture from craftprojectideas.com

    I hope these examples of sensory play help your family as much as they have ours! Please feel free to share any further ideas that you have by using the comment box below!
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*I was not paid to advertise any store. The only purpose of this post is to share sensory ideas.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Number One Thing I Wish I Knew

I often read about things that parents wish they would have known before fostering or adopting a child. The items on the list have varied from saying no is okay to wow, there is a lot of paperwork and everything in between. While those things are true, the one thing I wish I knew is that love is not enough.  I know that sounds crazy right?! I thought so to before I entered our journey and found that love is important, but knowledge about how to share love is even more important.

Foster and adoptive children are different. They have experienced at the minumum, loss. In addition to that they may have experienced neglect, abuse, rejection, stress etc. These children often times do not have a mother who cares for them before they are even born by refraining from drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and stress. These mothers may not have tried to eat healthfully, take parenting classes, or seek prenatal care. These types of stresses even in-utero can harm a child's development.

After birth, the infant may not have felt their mother's embrace, heard her soft voice, or leaned in to hear her heart beat. The infant may have cried for hours without an adult to tend to their needs. They may have sat and stared at the walls for hours without a glimpse of social interaction. As the infant grew to a child needs may have continued to be ignored and angry rages may have been present.

This is just a glimpse of what a child may go through before being adoped or entering a foster home. These children do not trust adults and have lived in survival mode for a while. Angry rages, defiance, and dishonesty may occur even when the child is placed in a loving home where all their needs are met. This is not because the child is bad and often times the child cannot control their behavior. This child may hoard food, because they are scared to death that they are going to go hungry again. A child with this type of background may lash out in anger, because they are afraid to open their hearts to love and are overwhelmed with emotions. The child may lie out of fear of being physically punished when they get home.  It is important to look at the driving factors behind a child's behaviors before automatically giving a punishment or becoming frustrated.

Knowledge of the cause will help an adult find a solution. If a child is afraid of the bathtub for example and throws a fit every night before bath. A timeout, restriction from TV time, or early bedtime will not decrease the frequency of the fits. Telling the child it is okay and you love them will not make them feel any better about bath time. To them, it is NOT okay and love is a word that is not well understood.

So how do you gain trust and allow for the opportunity to earn their love and trust? Connect with your child and be patient. Remind yourself that days, weeks, or months may not be long enough for a child to put their guard down. It may take years of "I love you's", one-on-one playtime, daily meals, clean clothes, and gentle parenting for a child to slightly open up to you. This is not because you are not loving enough. This is because people in their past did not love in a way that made them feel cherished, taken care of, or safe.

Therefore, no love is not enough without knowledge and prospective about the child's world and how they process it.

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Monday, October 5, 2015

Which Attachment Style Describes You?

My husband and I have been taking TBRI (Trust Based Relational Intervention) parenting classes. It is strongly based on the work of Karyn Purvis. One portion of the class is strongly based on attachment styles. My husband and I found it very beneficial to look inward to find out what attachment style we currently hold and how that attachment style may affect our children as we parent. Our goal, of course, is for each of our children to hold a secure attachment style. However, if we are not secure ourselves, it will be impossible to parent our children in a way to guide them to secure attachment. I, for example, have found that my attachment style tends to be a little bit avoidant. In times of stress, I like to be alone and away from the cause. This is not good when my children's fits or bad choices are the cause of my stress. I am now working hard at changing in order to be fully present for my children in times of stress. If I had not taken the time to study the types of attachment and then look inward, I would have never had the opportunity to better myself as a mom in this way. Now that I have gone through this process (and am going through it still), I cannot keep this information to myself. So, here we go....

There are four basic attachment styles-secure, avoidant, ambivalent, and disorganized.

  • The secure attachment style is characteristic of a child who looks towards their caregiver in times of stress, uncertainty, fear, sadness etc. As an infant this child most likely cried and was picked up over and over and over. This child has learned that their parent is there for them in every situation.
from youtube.com mother, baby strange situation

  • The avoidant attachment style is shown when a child does not seek their parents comfort in times of stress. This child may seem "calm as a cucumber" when in a stressful situation. Although, this may seem good on the outside, the child is holding all of their stress in on the inside. This may be referred to as psuedo-dependent.
from youtube.com, mother-baby strange situation
  • The ambivalent attachment style is characterized by a child that may go to their parent in times of stress, but will not be calmed by their parent's embrace. The care this child received was most likely inconsistent varying from sensitive to neglectful.

  • The disorganized attachment style is confusing. The child displays characteristics from each category and then also displays characteristics that do not match any category. This child may ask for a hug and then throw a tantrum when an adult becomes closer with their arms outstretched. Sadly, the child's caregiver was most likely the child's source of fear. Therefore, the person the child is supposed to seek in times of stress is causing the stress. This is seen in abusive situations.
You may wonder how these types of attachment affect a person in the long run. There are several descriptions of each attachment style as follows:

  • Secure- "positive view of self, others, and relationships." (Siegal)
  • Avoidant- may be viewed as a loner. Response to stress is isolation. At times, relationships may become unimportant. 
  • Ambivalent- anxious, self-critical, insecure, clingy, overly-dependent
  • Disorganized-fearful, desire relationships until things become serious, no clear connection to others. Past drives the future.
As you may have noticed, each style is strongly based on how the child was/is raised. It is almost always true that a child will have the same attachment style as their parent. However, a child is not "stuck" in one attachment style. With hard work a child can transition from a insecure attachment style (avoidant, ambivalent, disorganized) to a secure attachment style. In order to help a child move towards secure attachment it is important to realize where they are currently and more importantly what type of attachment style you currently have.

This gives me as an adoptive parent hope. I was not there when my children were babies, even toddlers to ensure that the best care possible was provided. The damage was already done when they entered my front door. However, their past does not have to determine their future, because their brains can still create new connections. This is true for a person of any age. What a huge blessing God has given us to overcome our past and move forward into our future with a "positive view of self, others, and relationships."

If you would like to know more about TBRI or attachment, consider taking an Empowered to Connect Class. You can find an Empowered to Connect trainer in your area by going to http://empoweredtoconnect.org/training/ and clicking on Find an ETC Trainer Near You

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I am the type of person that loves to plan and even more than that I like things to go as planned. Well....I have had to let go of some of that dream, because raising a child with traum often means that things do not always go as planned.

When it comes to caring for any child plans do not always go the way they are supposed to. When raising a traumatized child, it is a surprise for plans to go smoothly. We have last minute tears, rage, opposition, and defiance. We have driven our of our drive way just to go down the street and come back. We have made it to our destination only to spend the majority of the time with our kiddos in the parking lot. We have missed important events as our child(ren)'s emotions catch up to them and nothing more is needed than our embrace. Our kids need us and when they need us to be present, we are present. I am sure all of the parents reading this blog feel the same about their children. You all would drop everything for your kids and we are no different. With trauma, its just in overdrive. It forces us more and more to rely on God's plan instead of our own, which has always been a hard thing for me. Let's just say I am being humbled like woah!

Even with all the missed events, late appearances, and last minute plan changes, I would not change a thing. These kids are AMAZING! Yes, there are times I want to pull my hair out or crawl into a corner and cry, but in the end we always see the gift we have received and are still receiving. I am beyond thankful for my valiant knight, beautiful butterfly, and little peanut.

Proverbs 16:9     
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hearts of Gold

Sometimes people think that all kids from foster care are bad. This could be farthest from the truth. These kids have compassionate hearts of gold. Kids who know what it is like to suffer and know what it is like to go without, don't have to imagine people's pain when things go wrong. They know pain. They know what it's like to have growling bellies go without. They know what it's like to live in a place that no one would label as safe. They know how it feels to cry theirselves to sleep after being hurt by someone they trust. Although these experiences create anger, sadness, and fear. They also create a deep sense of compassion.

Yes, my children scream and hit sometimes, but they also seem as if tears are about to form when a homeless person walks past. They have packed their toys in boxes for kids in their past, whom they know have none. They brought home a note about Operation Christmas Child and personally read it to us and begged us to fill shoe boxes. 

These kids are not bad, they have larger hearts than most adults I know. They're just broken and wounded. Their fears cause night terrors, tantrums that last for hours, and gluttony, but these do not display the heart of the child.  These display fear. Fear that someone bad may come back, fear of instability, and fear of having an empty tummy. Some days, I forget that and then I get a school paper home like this one....
And I am reminded of their little hearts of gold. At the same time I am reminded of their pain and the reason why these items were chose for their, "what I would spend a million dollars on," paper. I remember why they have the compassion they do and I am immediately forced to look at those rough nights with more understanding.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Desperate Need For Foster Parents

According to the most recent Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) estimates as of July 2015, there are 415, 129 children in foster care. Forty-six percent of these children are placed with foster families. Others are placed with relatives, in group homes, in institutions, or are trialing home placement. Therefore, ~190, 959 children in the United States needed a foster home in 2014. This equals out to a need for at least 38,191 needed foster homes. This does not include relative care.

When there is such a huge need for foster homes, kids often have to move away from their communities and be separated from their siblings. In addition, kids may have to move foster homes several times until a long term placement is found. This causes more trauma for a child, who has already endured more than people endure in a lifetime.

These children endure neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse and/or sexual abuse, are ripped out of their homes, and sometimes due to the lack of support are also ripped away from their siblings and out of their communities. We cannot make their parent's decision for them, but we can prevent additional trauma caused by a system that is supposed to keep them SAFE.

How can you help?

1.) Pray for these children. Pray for peace. Pray for strength. Pray for understanding. Most of all, pray that these children are placed in homes that provide them the love and care that they were designed to provide.

2.) Support foster families the weeks following a new placement.  Make a warm meal. Offer to do a load of laundry. Anything is helpful when the whirlwind of a new placement is full force with daily appointments, shopping trips, and sleepless nights filled with night terrors.

3.) Donate any clothes, shoes, or blankets that you are not currently using to a foster parent you know or if you want to find a program that serves foster children do a google search for somewhere in your neighborhood. Hygiene products, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, brushes, and deodorant are also helpful.  This has been a huge blessing throughout our journey.

4.) Offer to babysit. Foster parents need a break every now and then. Having a generous list of people who have been approved by completing a background check is very helpful when babysitters are needed.

5.) Become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate). Spend quality time with a child and become their voice in court. For more information you may visit http://www.casaforchildren.org/site/c.mtJSJ7MPIsE/b.5301295/k.BE9A/Home.htm

6.) Become a respite care provider. If you are not able to make a full time commitment to fostering, but still want to help, respite care is for you. It's temporary care consisting of a couple of days to a few weeks. The following link shares a little bit more info about respite care: http://familyrespite.org/respite-provider. Call your local DCS office for further information about becoming respite care provider in your county.

7.) BECOME A LICENSED FOSTER CARE PARENT! Be the caregivers for these sweet children until their relatives or parents can care for them in a healthier environment or until an adoptive placement is found. I can assure you that it will be the hardest, but most rewarding experience of your life. Please call your local DCS office for more information.

8.) Adopt a child through the Special Needs Adoption Program (SNAP). There are several definitions of special needs in foster care, which include being a member of a sibling group and being over the age of 2. Therefore, most adoptions through foster care are "special needs" adoptions. For more information please visit the following link: http://www.adoptuskids.org/for-families/state-adoption-and-foster-care-information/indiana.

Please consider helping in at least one way to ensure that children who have been through trauma are being cared for. Whether you are supporting a family who has been called to foster or you have been called yourself, you will make a huge difference. Matthew 25: 14 "And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." 

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015


When we took our classes for our foster care license the word self care came up a lot. We even were prompted to go around the room and give an example of something we like to do for fun. I thought to myself, I will make time to do these things. I love to run and exercise. I love to curl up with a good book even if I only make it through a few pages. This will be no problem.

Then three kids walk through the door and all of those self-care activities are thrown out the window and survival mode kicks in. Throughout the last six months we have been reminded over and over to take time to ourselves. While this sounded fantastic, it just did not seem to fit into our hectic schedule. This was a huge mistake on our part. If it were a priority we would have made time, even if only for five minutes.

Putting ourselves on the back burner worked for a while. We were so engrossed in the day-to-day and helping our kids heal that running, deer hunting, and reading did not matter anymore. Then the days got harder and although we knew we needed a break, we kept treading through the waters. Then the day came where we new we had no choice, we had to take a break to move on in a healthy way. For our kid's sake and ours we needed a break. Not a huge break, just a break. One or two days away can make a huge difference. Consistently, 15 minute breaks make a huge difference. No matter the length, breaks are always good.

This goes for all parents out there: TAKE A BREAK! Even if it is only for five minutes, set time aside to be alone and breathe. We need it to survive. Think about something you used to love and have not had time to fit in your schedule. Make time! You and your kids will have better lives for it. Okay, I'm done, but seriously take a break....

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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Sensory Processing

A number of you have seen my facebook posts about the sensory boxes I have made the kids and I have received numerous questions. I thought I would take time and explain the benefits of and reasoning for sensory play. By no means, I am no expert. This is just a little information from one parent to another. For more information you can go to the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation website at http://spdfoundation.net/index.php/about-sensory-processing-disorder/ or for more personalized tips/information you may seek advice from your primary physician or an occupational therapist.

"Sensory processing (sometimes called "sensory integration" or SI) is a term that refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses," (spdfoundation). A disorder may occur when appropriate responses to sensation are not present. For example a child may tense up when someone touches their shoulder, become nervous when washing their hands, have trouble eating different foods, or have a sensitivy to light. As you likely gathered all of these examples refer to the senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell, or touch.

The reasons children may develop a sensory processing disorder are not concrete, but it is likely genetic and/or environmental. For kids who have been neglected, environment plays a huge role. Most people have sensory input from the time they are born. Parents rock their babies to sleep, play peek-a-boo, encourage smiles/babbles, and provide colorful toys with different sounds/shapes. When children miss out on these things due to neglect sensory-input may be more difficult in the future. For example, imagine trying to rock a three year old to sleep when they have rarely been picked up and held. Do you think this child would jump into your arms and look into your eyes? Maybe, but they may also go into freak out mode.

Two of our children struggle with touch and one with sounds. No, they have never been diagnosed with anything, but their responses are not what you would expect normally. One of our children shrinks and pulls away when a hand is placed on their shoulder and blames sounds for not being able to complete tasks. This same child loses focus and becomes easily sensory overloaded. One of our kids loves squeezing our hands and hugging us tight, but freaks out when someone holds her hand normally or gives a gentle hug.

For the first child, sensory boxes are a huge help. This child may become so sensory overloaded that describing feelings becomes impossible. This child will ask for a sensory box, play for a little while, and then express their feelings. The sensory boxes I have made included fake grass, rice, beans, rocks, water, shells, shaving cream etc. Anything that he can touch and allow to flow through his fingers.

Our other child throws major tantrums, but tends to calm down after jumping into her bed several times or pulling the blinds up and putting them down over and over. Bear hugs are a frequent request. We plan to get a big bean bag to jump into and a sit in spin to help the child fulfill their needs. Sensory boxes are fun for this child and it provides a great bonding experience, but no positive changes are seen in this child's behavior after playing with a sensory box.

In my opinion, sensory play is a benefit for all kids. Playing with water, sand, shaving cream etc is always fun and if it helps your child focus--BONUS!! We honestly started sensory play as a little experiment. I thought to myself, preschoolers do sensory activites and our children may have never had those experiences, this could be fun! Then I started seeing overwhelming benefits of increased focus and ability to express feelings. So for now, sensory play is a big part of our life. We try to implement it at least twice a week. And thanks to Minds in Motion, our kids get some sensory play in at school everyday. We are blessed.

If you have any questions about making sensory boxes, I would be more than happy to help. With all other questions, please seek a professional source.

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Anti-Anxiety Kits

Hello All,

I wanted to share an amazing tool I found out about and have personalized to our needs. It is called an Anti-anxiety kit. Basically the kit is meant for times when our kiddos are feeling overwhelmed with a certain emotion (sadness, anger, frustration etc) and need a release.

Our kits include:

- 2 stress balls
- Play dough
- A journal
- A pencil
- Markers
- Coloring Pages
- A spinning top
- A yo-yo
- Silly glasses
- A teddy bear
- Cues cards for stress relief--"Think of a happy place", "You are loved", "Take 10 deep breaths" etc.

When asked our kiddos are able to choose one thing from their kit. After choosing an item the kiddo goes to a quiet place to relax for a few minutes. Afterwards, we talk about their feelings and praise them for being self aware.

We have been very pleased with the results after implementing our new tool. Our challenging kiddo has been able to avoid night time tantrums most nights by utilizing the kit to help control emotions. We still deal with tantrums, but the frequency has decreased. This is especially significant with the amount of change we are about to endure. Change usually triggers tantrums like woah!! I would recommend the kit to any family and will be happy to help brainstorm ideas on how you can personalize a kit for your needs.

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Wait, are you adopted?

I often think about how the kids must miss coming home to a family that speaks their language, cooks authentic food, and  carry's on other cultural traditions. My husband and I do our best to expose our children to their culture, but we will never share their heritage with them. We will never look like them.

There have been times when their friends act surprised when they find our that we are their parents. Then the questions and comments come. "Why don't you look like your mom and dad?", "You are dark and he is white. How is he your dad?", "Wait you speak spanish and he doesn't.", or "Are you adopted?"

These questions hurt our children. Little man once said, "Why didn't you just grow a tummy and have your own baby? That's what people do." Processing their adoption is hard for them and questions make it even harder sometimes.

So we do our best to explain. We do our best to make them feel loved. We do our best to do cultural activites. We do our best to communicate to their friends' parents and their family members who do not speak English and yet we always seem to fall short in this category.

When I have those days when I wish I could give them more, I have to remind myself of one important thing. Our family was knitted together by God. He has a huge plan for us and He knew what He was doing when He placed the kids in our home. Yes, we will get questions and possibly confused looks, but in our hearts we know we are family.

If you have any questions about the kids or how the adoption process works, we ask that you wait until the kids are not present to bring them up. This decreases any risks of hurting the kids or making them feel even more different than they already feel. We may or may not be able to answer every question, but we are happy to give any information that educates the public about adoption and what a wonderful gift it is.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Removed Part 2!!!

If you have not watched Removed Part 2 yet, please do! It gives a very accurate depiction of  why it is important to place siblings together.

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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Goodbye Honeymoon

As we were taking our classes and reading books, we often read about how children have a honeymoon stage when first placed and the honeymoon ends and struggles are revealed. This could not be more true.

Each of our children has taken their own path and the more open they are about their feelings the easier the struggles are. One of our children is pretty expressive and open about their feelings. We have not had any major behavioral problems with this child. However, there have been a number of days when we have held this child as the child weeped and talked about their struggles. This particular child does not remember a lot of the trauma that was endured in the past, but is still dealing with the present. While the other two children are dealing with the past and present at the same time. We often see the feelings, that their trauma has caused, expressed through anger, clamming up, and the need to control/manipulate.

One of our children progressed through the stages of grief rather quickly. The child left the honeymoon stage after about of week and started becoming angry about a lot of things. We were able to talk this child through their feelings and the child has started to trust us, which is a huge thing! Yes, there are still bad days, but this child is learning to express their feelings more and more each day. I am so thankful to God for this. Another one of our children used dismissive behaviors rather than anger at first.

This child clammed up for weeks and refused to talk about feelings. Each time asked about feelings, the response was, "I am happy, or I am fine." Then one day this child exploded. We are still struggling with major outbursts that have started to affect safety. I have hope that one day this child will be able to express their feelings appropriately, but today we are in the middle of the battle and it is hard. There are days that I feel like a total failure and I just want to snap my fingers and make everything okay. However, I know that this is a marathon and not a sprint. We are taking steps to help the child's situation improve and I have hope that it will get better. It may not be next week or next year, but it will get better. I know God chose this child for us and I am confident that He will guide us through our struggles. Please pray for us and the child (please do not ask names) as we continue to walk through these struggles together.

Even though we are facing obstacles at this time I would not have changed a thing. Having these children in my life has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done. I love these children with all my heart and nothing that they may do or have done will change that. I thank God for the amazing three gifts He gave us and I cannot imagine my life without them.

1 Peter 5:10     
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

Thank you for your prayers.

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We are blessed!

People often ask us if we have the option of dissolving the adoption plans. Honestly, we do have that option, which kind of breaks my heart. It is great that we have the extra support and services for 6 months after placement to help the children heal and adjust. However, this is all we look at this time period as. We cannot imagine ever giving up on the beautiful children God has blessed us with.

Saying this process has been a little difficult is an understatement. It is hard and some days it stretches my emotions to the deepest they have ever reached, but my kids are worth every minute. I know from the outside we may seem crazy, but if you have seen their sweet smiles and eyes starting to fill with hope you know without a shadow of a doubt that we are not crazy. We are BLESSED to have these amazing children in our lives.

As we continue our journey, I am reminded more and more of God's plan for us and how amazing it is to see it with my own two eyes. Our kids are growing physically, emotionally, and socially in ways doctors and caseworkers never thought was possible. It is amazing to watch. Little man is opening up more each day to the idea of a forever family and each time he sits in my lap as we have our heart to heart talks I melt. Our beautiful butterfly is starting to realize that she is loved in our home. She often asks for extra cuddles and makes us beautiful pictures with the word love written in every space possible. Our refrigerator is officially overflowing with beautiful artwork. Our little peanut is growing like a weed and learning more English words everyday. She is our joyful child, who is often found singing, rocking her babies, or playing house with big sister. Every time she calls me mommy my heart leaps.

James 1:17
"Every good and perfect gift comes from above..."

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

I will never be the only "mommy" and that's okay..

I am often told that my children are blessed or lucky to be with me. I am also asked questions that place their parents in a negative light. This is most likely because most people believe that a foster child comes from a monster, who is neglectful and/or abusive. In most cases this is the farthest from the truth. These mothers chose life! They love their children and try their best to provide for their needs, but unfortunately environmental factors get in the way of their dreams. They most likely made yummy food, put a band aid on a "boo boo", and sang a lullabye at some point. Yes, mistakes were made, but that does not lesson their roles as mommies. Most children view their mother as a superhero and when that is taken away from them it is tragic, not lucky.

Then they are moved to a new place with a woman who may only be "momma" for a moment, but is still their momma. This woman helped mold them into the people they are today and took care of each need until they have moved on. There may be many woman in a foster child's life who were temporary "mommas", but the word temporary does not lesson their role. Children often become attached and love their temporary "mommas" and will continue to love them forever.

I feel blessed and thankful to have many women in my childrens' lives who made them who they are today. Not every situation in their lives were grand, but something made them as special as they are today! They are beautiful, loving, and compassionate children who were molded by their bio parents, foster parents, and kin parents. Without one of these individuals in their history they would not be the children they are today.

I am the lucky one.

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Attachment in Foster Children

We heard the word attachment at least 100x throughout our training. However, one thing that was said really stuck with me. I was told that attachment with foster children can be compared to attaching duct tape to a surface. The first time it is placed it sticks very well and a lot has to happen for it to be removed. Then it is placed again and it still sticks, but is not as hard to remove. By the third, fourth, and fifth time the duct tape is placed the stick is almost non-existent and it takes no effort to remove the tape from the surface.

This is brilliant. Foster children attach to their bio families like any child would. They love them and could not imagine their life without them. Then something bad/traumatic happens and the child is ripped from their home--damaged and reluctant to open up to love again. Then for some reason the child is moved yet again and that trust/willingness to open up is damaged even further. By the third and fourth placement, the child becomes closed off to love and all trust seems to have drifted away. Attachment is not a lost cause at this point, but it takes lots of "glue"---loving words, hugs, consistency, and quality time to open their hearts to relationship again.

We have seen this type of resistance to attachment in our own kids. We tell them we love them, encourage them, hug them, guide them, and spend time with them and yet they still wonder if they are wanted and loved. Their definition of love includes conditional and conditional love is not something anyone wants. If someone told you I will love you if....would you want to open your heart to them? Even though we have never said this, these words creep into their minds. After attaching to people over and over and being ripped away time and time again eternal love does not exist in their worlds.

We work hard everyday to ensure that our kids know without a shadow of a doubt that they are loved and wanted. Yes, we still have rough days and our love is "tested"---(as if they could actually change it). But more often than not we have glimpses of hope for these children through beaming smiles, "I love you" notes, hugs, and laughter. Our love for them is overflowing. I am so thankful to God for our three precious gifts and I hope one day they realize that they are gifts from God and see in theirselves what we see in them.

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*image from wideopenspaces.com

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Orange Mosquito!

Hello All!!

We had a wonderful weekend! The kids visited our home for the first time. The new toys, rooms, and clothes brought a lot of excitement. The little man played legos for hours and has many creations on display now. The girls played dress up and dolls until their room was a complete tornado (in a good way).

Meal times were the best as we all got to spend time together. The kids laughed, sang songs, and occasionally even got up and danced. Their appetites were suprising to say the least---they ate A LOT!! We even had to go to the store for more fruit, because they were eating us out of house and home. :) I imagine we will have high water pants in a few months.

Little man even suprised me with flowers after going to the store with Brenton. It was the sweetest thing ever! He said, "Close your eyes, I have a surprise", and then handed me a beautiful bouquet. I asked Brenton afterwards if it was his idea. He said, "No, it was little man's idea." Brenton said little man wanted to make me VERY happy. So cute!

We did take the kids to church. They were all VERY nervous at first and did not want us to leave them. We waited about five minutes and then told each of them we were going to adult church. Brenton was worried and asked to check on them multiple times, but I reassured him they would be fine. We went to pick them up and were immediately greeted with smiles and crafts. They even asked if they could come back! I am so thankful for the welcoming volunteers that serve in the children's ministry. They loved on our kids and made them feel so comfortable.

We cannot wait to see them again in a week! They are absolutely amazing! Thanks for all of your prayers. Please pray for the kids as the transition continues and their stay becomes more full-time. Pray for us as we continue to adjust to being parents of three. Last, but not least, pray for their family as they grieve the loss of their daily presence.

Oh, okay I know what you are thinking, "Why is the title the orange mosquito?" On the way back to the house the second day we asked the kids if they remembered the colors of certain rooms and such. One of the kids said, "I know what color the mosquite is!" By mosquito, he meant the Voltswagon Beetle in our garage! From now on, I guess it will be called the Orange mosquito! :)

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Sunday, February 1, 2015

God's Plan At Work

Hello All!

A lot has happened since I last posted. We went to a placement hearing two weeks ago for the three kiddos we went to pick up mid-December. It was ordered that transition with the goal of adoption into our home was to be initiated. It was actually a very sad moment. With adoption, there is always a loss. A child loses the life and family they are use to and the family loses a child. It is not a happy moment, but a response to tragedy. Yes, there is happy parts of adoption--a family is being built. However, a family is also ripped apart and the initial phases of adoption are filled with sadness.

We are confident that God can bring hope to our children in the midst of their tragedy and have been praying for them and their family daily. We began our prayers asking for peace as the first visit approached just a few days following the hearing.

Throughout our visit we were told "God gave me peace", by family members and friends of the children. It was surreal. I was so thankful for God's hand in the situation before we even saw the children's faces. I knew then that we had entered the plan God had for us all along and I could not help, but feel a sense of relief.

Our visit started out a little quiet with the children, but after praying with their relative we started hearing girlie squeals, loads of laughter, and the sweetness of a little boy's singing voice. The visit was more than we could have imagined and God was definitely at work. By the end the kids were asking us to stay. The workers were amazed as I described the visit and could not believe how well it went. Isn't that how our God is? His work is so great and mighty that it cannot be explained by human thought!  We were even told our presence brought the family peace (only we know it was not us, but God). He was in charge and He rocked it! :) It is such a blessing to see His plan through our own two eyes! He brought us children who love Him, love their veggies :), and have sweet spirits. Our hearts are filled with joy!

Thank you for your prayers. Please continue to pray for the family as they let go of these amazing children, for the children as their lives are turned upside down, and for us as we become parents of three beautiful children.

I Chronicles 29:13
"And now we thank you, and praise your glorious name"

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

10 Christian Songs That Offer Encouragement During the Adoption Process

My husband and I compiled a list of songs that have helped us keep our focus on God throughout our journey. We hope that these songs may be an encouragement to you in whatever you are facing. 

10.) "What Faith Can Do" By Kutless
We are reminded to not lose hope when the sky is falling and stand firm in the faith. When the world says we can't keep going faith will tell us that we can. Our prayers will be answered. 

9.) "Worn" Tenth Avenue North
Sometimes this process wears on us emotionally, but we know a God who will give us the strength to get through. 

8.)"Strong Enough" By Matthew West  
This song reminds us that we are not strong enough to conquer this process alone, but with God we will get through. 

7.)"Walk On The Water" By Britt Nicole
This song reminds us of why we started the process and why we will never give up! God's calling is strong and cannot be ignored. 

6.) "He Said" Group 1 Crew
Sometimes this process does not make sense and we can now wrap our heads around the pain. This song reminds us that God does not give us anything we cannot handle, because with Him we can face anything life may bring. 

5.) "Oceans" By Hillsong United
This song reminds us that God is leading as we are trusting Him with our lives and listening to His call. 

4.) "Praise You In The Storm" By Casting Crowns
We have had our hearts torn to pieces during this process, but through it all we are reminded to praise Him in the storm. He holds our tears and stands by our side. 

3.) "Mountain of God" By Third Day
Sometimes this process becomes a very lonely road. This song reminds us that we never have to feel alone, because God is there. At times, after the tears and pain we are reminded to seek God. My prayer is that we seek Him first in all circumstances. 

2.) "Fear" By Casting Crowns
This song reminds us to proceed without fear of the future, because God is always with us. 

1.) "One Less" By Matthew West 
Lastly, this song reminds us to keep our dream alive. We will meet our child one day and it will be the child God has been planning for us all along. 

And Always Remember.....
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Updates on the Littles

Our knight is growing so fast! I cannot believe he will be eleven this year! He loves sports. He just finished basketball and will be start...