Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Blog site

New blog

Five years after finishing this blog as a dedication to our journey from a family of 6 to a family of 7, I have decided to begin a new blog that represents my current journey as a wife, mom, and PhD student.

Thanks for sharing.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Loving the Heart of a Grieving Child

I have agonized over whether to blog about this because it is so personal. But, in talking with other parents and reading about other peoples’ experiences, I thought it may help someone else who is going through the same things.

One of the most difficult things I have had through this adoption is trying to teach my daughter that she is safe, loved, and how to grieve in a healthy way. Grief comes out in many different ways. There are many terrific books and resources out there, but it is such an individual thing. Grief looks different for everyone. At our house, it comes out through lying and stealing. For a long time, we let things go because we couldn’t really distinguish between a language barrier and knowingly telling a lie. Well, we are past comprehension issues, and it is just a means of manipulation.

I must say, one of my biggest irritants is lying. It bothers me much more than just about anything else. When the kids get in trouble, we can work it out if they tell me the truth. But, there is no reasoning with a lie. It just doesn’t work. What makes it even worse is that it is not lying across the board. It is mostly directed at me. And not about the big stuff, but little stuff too. I can stand there and watch an action, ask why she did it, and her response is that “it wasn’t me” or “I didn’t.” Ooooo. I just saw you with my own eyes little one, I don’t believe it.

This is an ongoing thing, but we are making progress. Not too long ago, I was to the point of absolute desperation. After trying everything that I could think of, from punishments to rewards, to extra attention, to quiet time alone, or going to bed early; that I asked, “What happened when you got in trouble in China?”

Well, that stopped her in her tracks. We were all sitting at dinner, all of us there, and since she is a terrible liar, she was busted again. I was at my wits end, and trying to be calm. She just looked at me. So I asked, “What happened if you told lies to China mama or China daddy (her foster parents)?” Her very quiet response was “my bottom spanked.”

Ok, so we know that it was not allowed in her first 6 years; that is a good start. “So, why do you tell lies to mommy and daddy? Why do you steal from your sisters and brothers?” A very quiet, “I don’t know” was the response. We could both tell from her reaction that we hit something very deep. Scott asked “Do you like living here with us?” And she immediately nodded her head and said yes. Hmm, we were on to something.

I asked her to stand next to me so I could put my arm around her. I asked, “Do you miss living in China?” Nothing. “Do you miss China mama and China daddy?” Nothing. “Do you love China mama?” It was like talking to a statue. “Do you know mommy loves China mama?” Tears flowed silently down her face. “Do you know daddy loves China mama? Do you know mommy loves China daddy and China sister? Do you know daddy loves China daddy and China sister?” By now she was on my lap, face to face, fully crying. “Do you miss living in China with China mama and China daddy?” A very tearful nodded yes.

Once the flood gates were open, we could talk about mommy and daddy missing where we grew up, and missing our families too. She began to talk about when her foster sister took her out to eat, and took her different places. Even with tears on her face, there was finally a smile too.

OK, now it was time to move on to the behavior…

So we asked Jenna what happens when she gets in trouble in school (a regular occurrence since Jenna likes to talk to her friends instead of listen to the teacher ). Jenna explained what she has to do, including that she has to tell mommy about it after school. Then we can talk about it and hug and snuggle and Jenna can try to make better decisions the next day.

When we asked Julia why she doesn’t tell us that she gets in trouble and we have to hear about it after it has gotten bad enough for the teacher to send a note, she said she didn’t know. We pointed out that the day before, both Jenna and Julia got in trouble, but that Jenna told me the truth, and Julia lied and said she didn’t get in trouble. Julia was punished for lying, but Jenna and I sat and talked and then Jenna participated in that nights activities. We explained (again) that the difference was caused by the lie, not getting in trouble for talking at school. Then we went around the table, and all the kids told about when they got in trouble at school at some point, but they told mom and dad the truth, and we talked, but it did not result in punishment in the same way Julia’s did. We asked over and over if she understood that everyone gets in trouble sometimes. But we must always tell the truth. And then I asked another question that stumped her.

“Do you know that I still love you when you are in trouble?” We were back to a blank stare and no response. “Do you know I love you?” Nodded head yes. “Do you know I love you when you are in trouble?” Nothing. “I love you no matter what you do, even when you are in trouble.” Now we were back to tears. “I am your mother, and I love you. I HATE to have to punish, I would rather talk and play and hug and snuggle. But I cannot talk to a liar. But, even when you are in trouble, I love you. OK?” Nodded head yes.

Did we get through? The next day, she came in the door and I asked about her day. She looked in my eyes and told me she sat in the safe seat because she talked. I hugged her. I wanted to throw a party. Not because she got in trouble, but because she told me about it. We talked about it. I kissed her head and told her thank you for telling me the truth. Then she ate her snack and had a good day with the other kids.

I still catch her in lies, and I have to remind her that in this house we tell the truth. We have talked about China more and she has opened up about things that she did and that she misses. Lying and stealing irritate me. But, when I remember that she is still processing grief, I can redirect our conversations to how she is feeling when she does these things. She is still learning to trust us, she is still learning that no matter how hard she pushes me away, I am still her mom, and I will never leave her. If I could pour out enough love into her broken little heart to heal her wounds, I would do so in an instant. But there are some wounds that take a long time to heal. I am still praying for her, and for me. She is grieving a loss bigger than I can imagine, and even on the happy days, she can have moments of sadness that cause her to act out.

Watching her grieve and knowing that I cannot make it better is hard. But, she is still as amazing as she always was. She is learning and growing, and slowly trusting. It is easy to trust with the happy stuff. It takes longer to trust with the sad stuff. She is beautiful and strong and resilient, and growing into all the wonderful potential that she has.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Birthday to Jenna!!

I am a few days late, but Jenna turned 7 last week, so here are 7 things about my Jenna:

7. She shares her middle name with my grandmother, my mother, my sister, and my niece.

6. She loves the color blue with a PASSION!!

5. She may be the smallest of the bunch, but she can give the big kids a run for their money any day.

4. She doesn't care much for "girly" toys, but loves to play pirates, star wars, police, or anything else that involves the boys. Forget the pink bike too, she likes the boys' style better.

3. She is learning how to read books, and her favorites are the Junie B. Jones series.

2. She could climb all the way to the top of a playground "rock wall" at 2 years old. She was only 18 pounds, and other moms gave me dirty looks for letting a baby do something so dangerous, but she was determined to be a big girl and proove everyone wrong. She can still climb like a monkey.

1. She is mine, and in the words of Mary Poppins, "practically perfect in every way." Don't change anything Jenna. You are great just the way you are!!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

This Morning's Bus Stop Conversation

"Hey, Mom, do you know you have gray hair?"

"Yeah, Mom, you have a lot of gray hair right there."

"Gee, thanks guys."

I teach my kids to tell the truth, and this is what I get. :-)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Happy Birthday Jacquelynne

Jacquelynne turned 11 three days ago. Wow, time sure flies. So in honor of the prettiest young lady in 5th grade this year, here are 11 things about Jacquelynne:

11. She shares my middle name.
10. She is an incredible artist with a very good eye for balance and composition.
9. She is sensitive and caring toward all her younger siblings.
8. She has my attitude.
7. She is growing up so fast, and taking longer to get ready in the morning.
6. She loves purple.
5. She already has her vet school picked out for after college.
4. She is an avid reader, and is currently enjoying historical fiction books.
3. She is our little dog trainer.
2. Her favorite TV shows are on Animal Planet.
1. She is growing into an amazingly beautiful young lady.

- Love you sweetie,

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Monday night was meet the teacher night for Back to School. As we were getting ready to go to 3 different schools to meet 5 sets of teachers, Joseph's sweet little heart showed through again. I had the kids gathering their school supplies to load in the car and get their shoes on and I told them that we had 10 minutes to get out the door. I was heading upstairs and told them I need to "put my face on" and they needed to be ready when I was done. (Yes, I have this down to 5 minutes or less on most days)

Anyway, as I was turning to go upstairs, Joseph looked up at me with his fully loaded backpack on his back and his arms full of Kleenex boxes and said, "But mom, I think you already have your pretty face on." Aww. I told him thank you and gave him a kiss and he added, "you just need lipstick, that's all."

He made my day!