Hoping to someday find M's brother adopted in the U.S. -
Myckola Oleksandrovych Markov - 8/26/2003

Sunday, February 22, 2015

What a weekend

W was supposed to have his birthday party this Saturday.  We had ordered cupcakes to take to his class on Friday, but after it snowed Monday night, the kids were out of school for the.rest.of.the.week.  So poor W didn't get his class party.  For 6 inches.  Yep.  However it was fun because we all got to play in the snow, watch movies, play Minecraft, play Legos, bake cookies, and make crafts for a week.

Then we woke up to dumping snow from a "little storm" on 9am Saturday.  We had to cancel his party at home.  We ended up getting 6-8 inches from that "little storm" that was predicted to drop 1-2 inches.  We got so much snow that we had to cancel his party again for today (rescheduled thinking people could come) because it just was not safe.  So my poor W had his party all messed up but we're gonna try again next weekend.

In the middle of all of this I had a major health emergency.  The stress from dealing with school… it just all finally added up on top of something else I have going on.  It was really really not good.  Several frantic phone calls, some hysterical crying, some advice on what to do at home (because we were in the middle of a major snow storm), and one doctor visit with bloodwork later...

I am ok.  However, I won't be attending the meeting I have this week with the school.  The stress over the past year has created massive anxiety.  I can't even *think* about a meeting without nearly hyperventilating.  Even with a lawyer involved now, its just too much.  I can think just fine through stress.  Maybe it even gives me an edge because I am so worked up with so much adrenaline going.  Once I read something, I've got in my head forever, so pulling it out at a meeting isn't an issue for me.  I don't need the paperwork.  If I get angry, I think even better.  Most of the time at school in meetings, I am angry.  Its all the times that it didn't matter what I said and that the school chose to deny my kids what I knew they needed.  Its all those sleepless nights prepping for meetings, and getting so upset that I was crying at 1am while reading the laws.  I worry so much about my kids and I've worked so so hard to get them what they needed even when everyone told me "no."  I've ignored what its been doing to me, but I can't anymore.  My husband is taking off work to go instead of me this week, and after that who knows.  A person really can only take so much and my kids need their mom to be healthy more than anything else.

Besides can I just say that at 29, I am too freaking young to be dealing with these kinds of issues from stress!


Friday, February 13, 2015

Why I Will NEVER EVER Wear Sweater Joggers

Ladies, you've all seen the posts filling our newsfeed.  The ones about *those* pants.  And I'm sure unless you are a dirty wench like me, you've made a vow to abstain from *those* too sexy pants that have the ability to turn otherwise righteous men into drooling animals.  My husband likes how I look in yoga pants, and since I am being a Godly submissive wife, I wear them at every opportunity to please him.  However, you clearly should not unless your husband also has massive man muscles and firearms to scare off other lusting males.

Our sisters have all taken up arms against these horrifying pants that have been around for years now without anyone taking note of what a dangerous problem they were creating.  We will never be able to forget for a single moment that such dangers exist because our newsfeed now flashes a warning every 5 posts.  I have heard that the CDC is working on an anti-yoga pants vaccine for the Christian population who just can't seem to step away.  Since that will surely be available soon, and even those who don't get the vaccine will soon have herd immunity, I want to warn you of a new threat to our vow of pant purity.

This new threat popped into my inbox this morning from one of my favorite retailers.

I was so horrified that I completely forgot to leave a comment on my friend's anti-vax post.
(supportive of course because pious women don't tear each other down on social media)

Behold the Sweater Jogger

Ladies, just don't.
These are 50 Shades of inappropriate.
These may seem like the antidote to yoga pants by making the shape of your backside indiscernible from that of the saggy baggy elephant, but that does not make them ok.

It is not womanly to wear something that Justin Bieber has been seen crotch smacking in.
I don't care if you do add heels and a sweater to try to "casual chic" them into acceptability.
They are still sweatpants.

Women who want to evoke only the most pure thoughts from men should not wear pants that could conjure up thoughts of sweating and contain a drawstring.  Some men associate sweating with…well you know, and they like to untie things.

Just because they contain enough material in the crotch area to add four more inches of length, does not make them acceptable to wear outside of an unlit room.

Ladies, they are hideous and therefore completely irresistible to the most fashion challenged and comfort loving among us (men).  Also, I'm pretty sure that the Crusaders wore pants like these while riding their horses, perpetuating violence all over the world.  Do you want to dress like that?

Some women have already started taking this attention getting trend even farther by not only wearing them with dangerously sinful high heels; they are wearing them untied, in a gesture that seems to scream "These things are already falling off, just finish the job!"  I mean just how easy are these to take off?  We should be asking these questions before we turn to the latest fashion that may inspire improprieties by those who might be tempted to give them a tug as they pass by.

When it comes to sweater joggers, the answer is clear; unless you want to look like a trashy tramp or are a rapper who likes to crotch grab and twerk, don't buy these.
Comfort is not the answer.

And well, these are just ugly so I'll stick to my yoga pants.  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What's it like being a mom to 5 boys?

I can sum it up in a few pictures.

The baby.  In one day he 1) rammed his head into the bunk bed. 2) smashed his finger in the door and 3) fell out of the shed rafters where he should NOT have been climbing.  And he was proud of it.

Playing Army outside.  Don't worry no one was injured in the making of this photo.  The "prisoner" was very vocal.

Look they left me some.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Why Don't We Homeschool?

I had a reader ask me this question: ""I am really sorry if you have already heard this from other people, but I have to ask. If you think God might be trying to get your attention now and is telling you to teach your kids at home (about Him) then is it also possible that He wants you to teach your kids at home the rest too? (homeschooling) Can you please address why you don't want to homeschool? I'm a homeschool mom and a big adoptive blog reader (hi! been reading you for a while now!) and so I'm really interested in your thoughts about that. So many other adoptive parents seem to choose homeschooling simply because of all the things you are describing here. Could God be asking you to step out in faith about that? Is there any way you have been unconsciously trusting in the school system instead of Him (helping you do it at home)? Or is there anything you think He wants to show you that you have made an idol of?"

This is absolutely not the first time someone has suggested this to me.  The question wasn't meant to hurt, and honestly its been asked so much that the sting has come and gone.

So here goes…

First off, I was homeschooled until I was 13 when I tested into 9th grade at a private Christian school.  So I was raised in a homeschool family and community for most of my childhood.  I graduated as the valedictorian of my class a few months after I turned 17.  My home-schooling was probably best described as "unschooled" while using textbooks.  It took me about 6 weeks to adjust to a regular schedule of classes, assignments, and tests; but I did adjust and honestly quite well.  Putting my kids in public school was a big decision for me.  Homeschoolers are warned of the horrors of the public school system.  However, the public school system has therapies and specialized programs for kids with disabilities that I didn't feel able to provide at home.
(Now I see what a joke that is here, but its what I felt at the time)

I actually did homeschool W and Wy.  W had a hard time in only 3 half days a week of pre-k so I kept him home for K and 1st grade.  He struggled even at home, but once M went to school and came home talking about how much she loved it, he wanted to go.  The timing was perfect because it was right before we travelled to Ukraine to adopt D, V, and E.

W loved 2nd grade last year.  He loved his teacher and she immediately recognized that he was struggling and referred him for evaluations saying she thought something else was going on besides just him being a little boy.  Well, she was right.  He has a learning disability.  He was placed in reading intervention and with the help of his teacher, he made a lot of progress last year.  This year his handwriting has continued to be an issue for him, so he now receives OT at school.  He's learning to write in cursive instead of printing because cursive is easier since it flows.  He continues to receive reading intervention and is in a collaborative classroom with a special ed teacher always present to provide more support.  Getting services for my American born child has been such a cake walk compared to getting ANYTHING for my adopted kids.  That alone has made my blood boil because I could see how differently the whole thing was handled, but that is another story.

Wy has always been the kid that picked everything up easily.  He doesn't struggle in school.  I was homeschooling him this year anyways because I really believe kids do better at home until they're around 7.  We put M in school earlier due to many external factors, but Wy did well in pre-k and did well at home.  He like W, decided that he wanted to start going to school so we enrolled him in November.  I don't EVER talk badly about my kids' school to them, so I give them no reasons to associate anything bad with it.  Wy is doing great at school in 1st grade.

The main reason we put the boys in school immediately upon coming home was that I KNEW how far behind they were because we had hosted two of them twice.  I had also had conversations with the facilitator who interviewed them (she's Ukrainian) and their orphanage director had passed along information to our hosting director.  I knew that my boys had issues.  I went to the school the summer before we adopted them, and spoke with the principal who assured me that it was THEIR JOB to take care of my kids.  She assured me that all I had to do was enroll them and they'd take care of the rest.  I  knew that trying to adjust to 3 more kids in a too small house was going to be nearly impossible if I was also trying to teach them.  At the time, I really believed that I needed the school to evaluate them and tell me 1) Where they were at academically and 2) How to help them.  I wouldn't say I was trusting in the school more than God.  I was simply trusting that the school would follow the law and do what they promised to do.

I couldn't test my kids in Ukrainian to see what they knew.  I needed the school to do that.  I really wanted to know why my children couldn't read and write.  I also thought that the ESL program would provide a great deal of support to my boys.

I was neck deep in fighting for things to be done before I realized just how bad it was.  The Dept. of Education opened their investigation into the school system in the summer, and we made the decision to move to a different elementary school district (same county).  We really thought things would be better.  I did keep D home until October of this year.  He didn't want to go back and I refused to send him back until there was some sort of plan in place that offered more support for him.  He's also a 12 year old boy that can't read or write and isn't really sure how to take having a mom that feels he needs to learn.

We put our kids in school because we thought it was the best option at the time.  If we had known what it would be like, we absolutely would NOT have ever done it.  However, as I've said before, I came to realize that there were over 100 other children not receiving adequate ESL services.  I couldn't just walk away from them, knowing how badly it was affecting my boys.

Do I think that maybe God is trying to tell us its time to homeschool?  Possibly.  I do know though that we were 100% led to put the kids in public school.  Maybe we were supposed to see the problem and be the change for the other kids?  Maybe God knew I wouldn't just walk away and leave the mess?  I don't have the answers.  We did homeschool with a tutor over the summer, so again the concept is not at all foreign to me.  What makes it difficult is trying to teach 5 children with varying degrees of learning disabilities (3 severe), attachment issues, and 4 with differing stages of language acquisition.  I know I could do it, but I am intelligent enough to realize what an undertaking it would be.

We have plans for next year.  Our lives are going to change again.  But I'm not ready to put those things on my blog yet.  My FB page is private and still people have managed to use things I've posted against me.  My blog is not private so I am more careful with what I say on it.  

I am still in the midst of getting some of the kids the evaluations they SHOULD have had last year.  I can't just walk away without these things being done.  I need them to be done.  The kids need them to be done.  I need the information.  I need to know what's going on with my kids and how to best help them.  Do I want to walk away?  OH YES.  I am so done.  I was done last year.  The public school system is ruined for me.  I have seen the inner workings of it and I have nothing good to say about the system as a whole.  It is an epic failure.

However, I have pushed hard enough to finally get my children in some intervention programs that may actually help them out for the remainder of this school year.  I have fought so hard that I feel it would be counterproductive to just pull the plug now when I finally got some of what I've been asking for.

There are still many evaluations hanging out there, still undone for the kids.  M is having an adaptive technology evaluation, a vision evaluation, and an independent therapy evaluation done.  D is having an audiological exam referred out and an OT eval.  V is scheduled to have an independent educational evaluation done by Dr. Federici next month, and E… well we haven't even gotten to his eligibility meeting for special education services beyond speech therapy.  That will be later this month or the beginning of March.  Right now he receives speech three times a week and occupational therapy once a week.

So I have so much stuff hanging out there.  I really can't just shove it all right now.

Homeschooling children with the vast array of learning disabilities that mine have would be a large undertaking.  Do I think I could do it?  Absolutely.  After the amount of time and effort that I've put into fighting the school system, I know without a doubt that I could handle teaching my 6 kids at home.  

The other thing I've realized (that isn't actually a deciding factor)  is that I will never have a circle of friends if I don't homeschool.  Public school moms do not really want to hang out with *that mom* who is constantly struggling with the school and is always frustrated.  They can't relate.  Home school moms don't want to hear about the issues either because they already think I should be homeschooling anyways.  And besides that my kids are in school while theirs are at home.  Its kind of a lonely island I'm on right now.  Our county definitely has "the homeschoolers" and "the public schoolers."  I'm on my own island of "That mom of the adopted kids with special needs who thinks the schools are inadequate but won't homeschool."

Adoptive parents often feel isolated.
Special needs parents often feel isolated.
I'm stuck in a very special place of isolation right now.
Fun right?
No actually.  Just so much no.

As always, I do want to say that there are indeed a few ladies that are still friends with me and I appreciate that they still talk to me, which is kind of a big deal right now -hah!   I don't want to sell them short.  What I am trying to get across here is that *I* just don't fit anywhere right now.

All I can say about the next school year is that we aren't sharing any decisions about it yet,

but I'm excited.

Just keep reading...


Friday, February 6, 2015

He never knew love

I saw today that a little boy with special needs who we considered adopting before we committed to our boys, died still an orphan, still in Ukraine.  
On Sunday churches will be filled with people worshipping God, trying to figure out "God's will" for their life while 147 million children are wondering why no one comes. 

I cannot rationalize this. 

I hate it.

Why I really don't want to

I've gotten several comments as well as messages on Facebook offering support, but begging us to reconsider finding another church.  I just want my readers to understand that this wasn't the first church we've had this type of experience in.  The church we were at previously, for 5 years, had a similar reaction to us adopting, fundraising for the orphanage M was from, and then hosting V.  We were actually at that church the first time we hosted V.  I won't go into details because really, what is the point?  The pastor was the same, the leadership was the same, the people were the same.

The church I grew up in was an Independent Fundamental "Bible Believing" Baptist church.  As I got older I realize that while we were taught the Bible, we were also taught that we were better than everyone else.  Public schoolers were "bad" people making "bad" choices for their kids.  Country music was bad.  Music with ANY beat to it at all (yes we were only allowed hymns) was sinful.  Women wearing pants and working outside the home was sinful.  The list goes on.  If we weren't reading the King James version of the Bible then we were committing heresy because you know God spoke in old English.

When my parents separated, we were suddenly labeled as "bad" too.  We were no longer wanted at that church.  I was a teenager and the hurt I felt from not only my parents separating, but the way my "friends" treated me then mirrors the hurt I feel now.  Its the same.  I left that church and began attending church with Phillip when I was 17.  He'd drive to pick me up every morning.  We were members there until after we got married, and W was a toddler.  We chose to begin attending a church closer to our home that had other families with many children W's age.  Phillip grew up in a non-denominational church which is on the opposite end of the spectrum from how I was raised.  We "compromised" on a Southern Baptist church that lined up with how we both truly felt.  I guess you could say we met in the middle, but really we went where we felt God leading.

We joined a wonderful sunday school class with an outstanding teacher.  We learned so much and made friends.  But… God interrupted our lives with that whispering to our hearts that we should be doing more than just hanging out having fun with friends.  Most people didn't understand why we chose to do it.

Adopting M was difficult, but even more so was the transition once home.  Feeling so alone and misunderstood.  The issue here isn't ONE church.  The issue is "the church" doesn't make orphan care a priority so when families get called to be in the thick of it, there is no support.  Its not considered a ministry, its something to be questioned.  No one thinks its important; they think its just a choice people make because they wanted more kids so if its hard, then "suck it up buttercup cause its what you wanted."

After seeing M's orphanage in terrible disrepair, we tried to organize a fundraiser to send money back.  Our sunday school teacher donated a Wii for a raffle.  We were accused of causing others to sin by promoting gambling.  I don't even want to go into the rest of it because there is no need.  That's just how churches are towards orphan care.  Its not in the budget.  Don't ask people to give their money to orphans overseas because that takes money out of our offering plate here.  Its "your passion" so go do it, but do not ask for our help.

So you see, its not a knee jerk reaction.  Its just simply residing ourselves to accept that we have no place in the church.  We've had to leave places that felt like home twice, feeling like everyone thought we'd done something wrong.  To even walk in the door to another church and "try again" sounds more stressful than an IEP meeting. (and remember those make me throw up )  If God wants us to attend a church then He's gonna have to show up on our doorstep with an invitation because we've been shoved out the door as a family twice, and for me its the third time in my life that I've had this happen.  I love Jesus, but Christians in churches don't act like Him.  They don't do what He says.  I think Jesus could better be found continuing to serve my children in my own living room.  I just hope that I'm up to the job.

My whole point in this is that maybe this IS the point.  Maybe we aren't supposed to be in a church because church is not what it should be.  I'm not saying that to accuse any one place of anything, and I'm speaking only for our family.  I'm saying it because its what is floating around in my head as the conclusion I've arrived at.  Maybe we truly were held back from our calling by being in a church with people that didn't get it.  Maybe God meant for us to get the boot so we could figure out what it is we're really supposed to be doing.  I'm trying really hard not to be bitter about it.  Am I angry at how people acted?  Yes!  But I do realize that God is right next to us.  He can see the next step.  I think its ok to be angry too.  Even Jesus flipped tables and chased people out of the temple with a whip.  We SHOULD be angry that no one cares about orphans.  How must God feel when He told us to care for them?  Calling them sons and daughters means that caring for them doesn't just stop with adopting them.  It means we do whatever they need us to do for the rest of their lives.
That's what we're doing, and that's why we have no church.  

Thursday, February 5, 2015

FIghting for my kids - The Fallout

The first week back from Ukraine with our boys, we went to church and I remember sitting there so exhausted but so content.  We had done it!  They were here and we were done!  No more fighting battles.  We were at the church we would raise our kids in, my friends were here, the school promised to take care of everything; it was all just going to be smooth sailing!  I almost fell asleep in that service, so exhausted yet so content with all of my children finally next to me; I had no worries.

I was so disillusioned.

At a time when I was so worn out from a previous year of emotional ups and downs, I got handed a new fight.  Every adoptive parent will tell you that the first year home with your new children is rough if you're lucky and hell if its normal.  We were lucky, but that first year home with three new sons was definitely not easy.  I wanted to be the perfect mom that intuitively says all the right things at all the right times.  Instead I was strung out between emails, meetings, and phone calls just trying to get my sons the help I had promised them in school.

Looking back, I will always wish I could have that time back to focus on my kids more.  What I did, needed to be done, but only because the school forced me to fight them by refusing to do anything without someone ramming it down their throat.

I had guilt over this too.  I never wanted to be the kind of person that forced others to do something.  I never in a million years pictured myself taking on a school district.  I didn't want to do it.  Somehow since last November, I became known as aggressive and combative.  Some people couldn't believe I had the nerve to demand my "foreign" children be evaluated.  These things actually said in a church building by school staff.  Hearing these things had been said, and that no one challenged them (save one sweet friend)  just broke down the respect I had for Christianity and our community in general.  Is this really how people feel!?  What has church turned into?

Fighting for my kids was ruining all of my ideals.  What I thought was; wasn't.  Fighting for my kids was putting me into a tailspin.  I didn't know what I believed anymore.  I knew that God gave me these children, and I knew it was my duty as their mother to be their advocate.  I thought the church would be our safe place.  I thought our stance was Biblical, therefore I thought it would be supported by others of like faith.  When that didn't happen, we started questioning it all.  Phillip and I stayed up late so many nights talking things over with each other in complete disbelief, as if we could rationalize what was going on.  We couldn't.  Didn't we do what God asked?  So why was this going down so badly?

I used to refuse to even tell anyone where I wanted to go for dinner for fear of picking a place someone didn't like.  I was so afraid of inadvertently causing someone else discomfort.  Typing this post out is actually causing me physical pain right now.  My chest hurts.  That is how much I hated this fight.  I couldn't sleep for days before meetings, so keyed up that my heart would race.  Sometimes I would vomit before meetings because I felt the weight of what not getting help for my kids meant for them.  I'd already seen their future in Ukraine and I had brought them here with promises of  "It won't be like this in America."  Yet it was.  D became depressed.  E was beyond lost ,and was even accused of not wanting to learn by.his.teacher.  I felt let down by everyone.  No one really cared on a level deep enough to DO anything to help me.  I was not only alone though, I felt judged for not accepting this unbelievable indifference towards my children.

The question I keep asking myself is why?  What does all of this mean?  Nothing is what I thought it was.  People are not who they said they were.  In our experience, churches are museums for those polishing their crowns, not command centers for workers to go out and help those who need it the most.  Sure there are programs, but everything must be done in a prepared sanitized bubble.  We can go out into the world, but we must have t-shirts printed up first, and we mustn't get dirty OR make anyone uncomfortable.  Jesus said to do things, but apparently its common knowledge that He only meant if it was in the budget and everyone was cool with it.  We didn't even realize that indifference is the face of Christianity now, but like the orphanage; we can't un-see it.

So now what?  I do not regret even for one second, fighting this fight for my kids.  I fought to make them mine, and I then I fought for them again.  But it has ruined the life we thought we had planned because my devotion was seen as offensive.  God has a way of wrecking plans then rebuilding something better, but right now we just can't see what.  

The one thing we do know is that we do NOT want our children to be hurt by churches the way we have been.  We do not want them raised up in a superficial faith, surrounded by people that say they believe God, but don't take what He said seriously.  We were avid church goers.  The kids asked why we weren't going on Sundays anymore, and it broke.my.heart.  I had no answers!  I just don't.  What can I say?  They don't want us!?  The pastor told us he hopes that we find somewhere else?  We were not valued members.  Why not?  I can't even go there with my babies.  We taught them that we were supposed to go to church and learn about Jesus.  The problem comes when you actually decide to do what Jesus says.  How can I even explain that to my child?

This is such a deep wound for me that I can't explain it to my children because I don't understand it myself.  We haven't found a way to replace Sunday mornings at church.  We don't know what to do.

Right now I still can't believe what has happened.

We don't have a church.  
We've ALWAYS had a church.  
We don't want a church anymore.  
We just want God.

So we're waiting for some sort of direction.  How do we raise children up as believers without a church?  We don't know.  Quite frankly its terrifying; but then again so is raising them IN church.  We look at those we grew up with and see the fallout from those raised in church.
We used to ask why.  Now we know.

Monday, February 2, 2015

A Fun Trip

We took the kids to a Ukrainian store I heard about via a Ukrainian Recipe Group on Facebook.  It was an hour and a half away, but I was told that it was worth the drive if a person wanted authentic Ukrainian food.  D has been asking if we could find certain things, and V wanted taranka so we loaded the kids up on Saturday to find this place.

When we got there I saw right away that the sign said русский магазин.  Russian Store.  Um…ok.  So it was Russian, and everyone Ukrainian is boycotting Russian goods right now, so I felt a little guilty but the food is pretty much exactly the same!

The kids were SO excited.  We found all of their favorite things from Ukraine!

The pharmacy section took me right back to Khmelnytskyy.  I got so sick that it hurt to breathe.
A wonderful lady from a local church took me to the pharmacy and helped me get medicine.

We have not been able to find this cheese since we came home with the boys.  They bought it on a regular basis from the "magazine" store across the road from their orphanage.
V was happy to see it!

Ok this was for me.  I saw the little condensed milk filled "cheesecakes" and nom nom nommed. 

V with his stinky dried fish and calamari.  
He's making a kiss face so you can see just how much he loves it.

The kids at the orphanage always had bags of these things.  Apparently they are pretty much cheese puffs without the cheese, which amounts to eating air.

Again, for me.  Kapootsa!  
It was not as good as the kapootsa I bought off the street from a babushka though!

Annnnd for me.  I kind of miss Ukraine and its marvelous fruit juice.

The smokey, salted, "Beer's best friend" cheese that my boys love so much!

D saw kielbasa in the deli case so we got that too.

Cherry Varenikiy!

Dried Calamari and taranchka.
The boys ripped these open and proceeded to cram dried fish and squid down as soon as we got out of the store.  I really think we should have gotten more...

So many kinds of dried fish.
Yes, it smells.

Half sour pickles.  

D saw the jars of pickled tomatoes and was beside himself.  Apparently he hadn't been able to buy these at the orphanage, but his grandmother used to make them.  We bought a huge jar that he ate HALF OF for dinner.

We stopped at Cracker Barrel for lunch.  
Thankfully no one has an issue behaving in places where food is served!  

M wanted Ukrainian pretzels.  

We had to drive well up into the mountains of our state to get to this store.  
The skyline looked like the Ukrainian flag to me right here!

The one thing I was so surprised at was that W ate dried fish.  When we first hosted the boys and bought them dried fish, everyone thought it was the most disgusting thing ever.  Now my picky sensory kid is sitting in the backseat with strong smelling dried fish, eating it.  What!?  
Its that whole multicultural experience.

The kids also decided that since we bought Ukrainian food, we all had to speak Ukrainian for the rest of the day.  Well that was funny.  V remembers the most, but is no longer fluent.  There was a whole lot of "Mama how you say...?"  Maybe declaring a Ukrainian only day isn't a bad idea...

How to support your friend with special needs kids

A blog reader left me this question on my last post.

"I'm sorry that you have been so hurt by others in this battle. Did people not want to hear about what you were struggling against? Could you speak to how others--your friends at the time and your church--could have and should have supported you and responded to your family better?" 

To answer the questions, no, most people did not actually really want to know what our issues with the school were.  They would ask how I was doing or how school was going for the kids, but they didn't really want to hear about how I had stayed up until 2am researching ways to help my kids because the school was breaking the law and actively discriminating against them.  I would start telling them how things were really going, tripping over words that had just been waiting for someone to care.  Then I would see their eyes glaze over.  

What I want to do though is not so much say what people should have done better, but write about what a few people did right.

What should a person do when a friend is fighting a battle that they don't know much about?  Here's a brief list of things that people actually did (or didn't do). 

1) Don't send their Facebook vents to the school district.  Realize it might be their only outlet. 

2) Send a quick text or FB message with a goofy meme just to let them know that you have their back and aren't sending their FB posts to the school.  I have a healthy sense of humor.  One cannot go wrong here whether its a grumpy cat, a half lit mom with a wine bottle after an IEP meeting, or Shakespeare insisting that "More of your conversation would infect my brain."

3) Say, "I just wanted to let you know that you are a great mom."

4) Call just to listen.  Even if all you have to say is, "I'm sorry.  This sucks." 

5) Ask if they want to meet for lunch.

6) Realize that this really crappy thing your friend is walking through might actually be their calling.  Remind them of this.  

7) Don't judge their decisions whether its about therapy, evaluations, choosing to fight the school vs just pulling the kids out to homeschool or coping strategies.  

8) Just offer normal conversation about normal mom stuff.  No one wants to talk about their problem 24/7.  No one ever wakes up wanting to fight a battle.  

9) Show some emotion.  Its ok to cry when you realize the injustice of it all too!  Another person moved to tears is very validating for someone in the thick of it.  

10) Don't be offended if they ask you if you were by any chance sending their Facebook posts to the school.  Realize they don't want to ask you, but being ratted on during an incredibly difficult time causes profound paranoia.  Try really hard to walk a mile and not take offense.  Its even better if you can be genuinely horrified that someone would put anyone in a position that would make them feel this way.

11) Don't offer suggestions for what your friend could be doing better.  Plenty of other people who have no idea what its like to raise internationally adopted special needs kids in a rural county will offer very opinionated suggestions and criticisms.  Realize that your friend doesn't share every detail of their lives, and trust that they absolutely are making the best decisions for their family given the choices available to them.

There is a very small group of ladies that have remained friends with me through all of this.  For them I am so grateful because there have been days when some small word of encouragement from one of them picked me up out of my desperate funk.  I have this need to laugh at terrible situations.  I have to make it funny somehow.  I have one friend who totally gets this and she has participated with me in inappropriate meme texting.  If I can giggle at it then I can refocus and take aim once more.

I can count my real friends on one hand now, but you know what?  That is ok.    

I cannot really list the ways that our church has been supportive because it wasn't.  What I had hoped for was that the church members might realize the issues our school system had when it came to adequately serving special needs and minority children.  I would have hoped that the members of the church would have rallied around us and helped to enact change without the need for  me having to file a formal complaint.  So many church members work for the school system in this county that raising awareness of this issue and demanding change for the children would have been 110% doable.  The issue I kept running into was that certain church members working in the schools were actually actively part of the discrimination.  When I realized the extent of the issues, I wanted to make people aware so they too could understand why things needed to change.  Instead of being supported, we were labeled as troublemakers.  If I could list just one thing that the church as a whole could have done better to support us, it would have been LISTEN.  We certainly didn't create the problem, and we didn't even intend to expose it.  The fact is though that it was there.

Sunday, February 1, 2015


As a little follow up post to my "Big Fat" post yesterday, I wanted to say that I've been reading Jen Hatmaker's book, Interrupted.  

Our life definitely feels interrupted because we thought that we had done what God asked us to do, so we assumed that at least where the church was concerned we not only wouldn't have issues; we thought we would have unwavering support.  We thought that we were attending the church we would raise our children in.  We thought that we had the next 20 years planned out, our fellowship, our friends, our kids' youth group…    

Interrupted puts words to my feelings right now.  At one point in my life (I was raised an Independent Fundamental "Bible Believing" Baptist Snob) I might have considered this book heresy.  Now its like a balm to my soul.  How can so many people miss what God meant when he said to feed his sheep?  To give to the poor because its lending to God?  To care for the fatherless?  How can people read the words and not take them seriously?    

I haven't finished the book yet because its painful.  Its painful to read her journey that so mimics what I am feeling right now.  I almost don't want to see where God takes her because my heart hurts so much right now that I don't want to even think about interacting with other Christians in any sort of organized way ever again.  Part of me can't even stand to talk about God with anyone right now because I have been so stung by how superficial faith is for so many.    

Instead I read Elie Wiesel's book, Night.  As he recounts what it was like to survive Auschwitz, he says that he lost his faith in God in that camp.  He talks about how he doesn't know how or why he survived, but that the job of anyone who witnesses such horrible things is to tell the story.  Not to compare my life to his by any means, but his words spoke to me.  So I decided to be more open with my story.  I guess I'll pull out Interrupted again and try to finish it without worrying what it is God wants from me next.  Honestly though, I'm a little terrified.  

I truly didn't bargain for this battle with the school.  I didn't want it.  I didn't go looking for it.  I tried to avoid it at all costs,  yet the moment we committed to adopting our boys, my fate was charted a course that was destined to run head on into the school system.  People think that they aren't doing what God has called them to do because its not glamorous or they are not being supported and hailed by other believers for their work.  I'm here to tell you that not just sometimes, but most of the times the things God calls us to do are messy.  My kids' lives were messy and broken.  God called us to jump in the mess and become broken with them.  Our lives have become messy, broken, and interrupted with theirs, but somewhere in this broken mess where we are all floundering together we have found what is the heart of God.  

He's not at the top of the leadership ladder at church; God is at the bottom of the pit where the real work needs to be done.  God is with the broken.  To find Him, we have to find the broken.  We have to climb down in the muck.    

Really though, to fully explain my feelings I think that I'd have to quote pretty much all of Interrupted and that's plagiarism, so this is my big fat plug telling you to go buy the book.   

As we are struggling to figure out what God wants us to do next, I like what The Message Bible says in Psalm 34:18:

If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there;
if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.    

We are most definitely still trying to catch our breath.

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life; but those who make their journey home across time and miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them,are carried on the wings of destiny; and placed among us by God's very own hands. --Kristi Larson