Tuesday, May 27, 2014


So, I decided, last week, to start keeping a food/potty/upset journal for Sweet Boy to see if I could recognize any patterns. We have an appointment with his doctor, later this summer, and I would like to be able to give her a full picture of what we're seeing/experiencing. After a lengthy conversation with his last foster mom and reading through the activities from our week, I am convinced that his tummy troubles are anxiety. Sweet Boy lived with his last foster mom for six months before coming to us three months ago and she said he never experienced ANY of the symptoms I describe.

But...that was during a time in his life when he had only walked through one disruption and the contrast of environments was so, vastly, different. He experienced peace for the first time, since birth, when he came into that home.

In his eyes, the move to our home is (I presume) unexplainable.

Last night, something happened at the dinner table that required Ben to discipline Sweet Boy. Immediately after, he started coughing and told us that he was going to "choke" his new word for throwing up. I told him that he was fine and that he needed to take two big deep breaths instead and showed him how to do it. He didn't throw up.

That night when I was laying in bed with him, I told him that after reading through his journal, daddy and I felt like his tummy aches were because of things that he is feeling in his heart or thinking about in his head. I used the word "anxiety" and explained what it meant. When I mentioned fear, he said, "I'm afraid of things, mom."

"Well, let's talk about that, honey. What are you afraid of?"

"Dragons. I am really afraid of dragons."

I bit back my laughter and talked him through it as if it were a logical fear.

What else, honey. What else are you afraid of?

"Well...I'm also really afraid of crocodiles."

Clearly our conversation was going nowhere, but I persevered, hoping we'd get to something more meaningful. We talked about the power of God and the job of the Holy Spirit. I told him that he never has to be afraid at night (most nights he lays awake for a long time) because his brothers are with him and we're not far away. I ended the conversation with another stab at his fears. "Honey, is there anything else that you're afraid of that you want to talk about?"

He was thoughtful for a really long time. So long, that I would have thought he had fallen asleep if I wasn't staring at his eye balls. He, finally, looked at me and with complete seriousness, said, "Mom, I am REALLY afraid of walking fast backwards."

I couldn't hold my laugh in that time and responded by saying, "Well, buddy, that is really easy to fix. Stop walking backwards!"

"No. No, mom. I'm not afraid to walk backwards SLOW. I'm really good at walking slow. I'm afraid of walking backwards fast."

Oh, goodness.

We're not really getting any closer to solving his tummy troubles, but little rays of personality are starting to shine through the cracks in Sweet Boy's very tall-walled exterior.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

God is on our side.

I took both of these pictures, today. Ty and Little Miss have a, closely woven, bond. I'm pretty sure they prefer each others company over ours. They play and laugh and snuggle. It, truly, is a live stream of God's faithfulness to his promise. Ty was unrelenting in his prayers for a baby sister and the joy in his heart at her arrival is evident, every time they're together.

I pick the kids up from preschool everyday (today was our last day!) and have a few hours with them before Ben gets home. As soon as he walks in the door, it's a main event. All other activities cease and ALL the kids pile on. They want to snuggle and tickle and tell him all about their day's adventures. It's magical to watch. Even the baby joins in, calling "Da-da". No one even notices when I slip out to work on dinner!

Pictures like these highlight the warmth and fullness of our family. 

And it's genuine. We thank God everyday for the measure he has poured into our life.

What these pictures don't show is the heavy cloak that drapes my heart for Sweet Boy. He continues to be distant with sporadic engagement. He is always on the outside looking in, observing. We are overly inclusive, but we respect his need for space.

Today, Ty and LJ woke-up with gusto. They were jazzed up about the last day of school and couldn't wait to get there. I listened to their banter and smiled as they sang, "School's out for the summer!" As usual, Sweet Boy sat, quietly, smiling occasionally, and ate a few bites of breakfast. After a few minutes he pushed it away and asked if he could be excused. That was not usual. All three boys can eat their body weight in cereal and oatmeal, requiring Ben and I to cut them off at the point of overload. I asked him if everything was alright and he said, "Yeah. I just want to get dressed."

He can be moody and internal, so I didn't think much of it and he was off to finish getting ready. About five minutes into our drive he threw up. This has become a somewhat normal occurance and I pulled over as soon as I heard his gulp.

We headed back home, took a quick bath, changed his clothes, and had a chat before deciding whether or not he should stay home. We've ruled out allergies, as his throwing up seems to be a trend, but not consistent enough to point to anything but anxiety.

He was tight lipped.

"Honey, can you talk to Mom about how you're feeling?"


"Does your tummy hurt?"

He shook his head no.

"Are you nervous?"


"Do you have thoughts in your head that you can tell me?"

"I was just thinking about the stuff coming out of my mouth, Mom."

The only thing out of the ordinary about our morning was the fact that it was the last day of school. I had to run with that strategy because there was no other obvious trigger. I re-assured Sweet Boy that last days of school are full of fun and explained why the boys were so excited about summer. I told him all the things we love to do in the summer and emphasized how glad we are that he will get to do all of those things with us, since he's part of our family, now, too.

I let him choose whether or not he wanted to go to school, but prayed he'd pick the latter. Today, was, also, my last day of work, as I will be off most of the summer to stay home with the kids. He said he wanted to go. By the time we got back to school, he had disposed of his melancholy and was excited to see his teachers and friends.

I prepped the teachers on our eventful morning and asked them to call me if he became distant or sad. 

I never got a call.

It's so hard to know what is eating at him. Was it the talk of change in routine? A previous last day of school experience? Did he misinterpret "last day" for last day in our family? I watch LJ's unwavering security and pray for the same swift redemption of Sweet Boy's. I know it will come, but the wait is excruciating...

I couldn't shake this morning's incident all day and thought through all the ways I fail him as a mother. I'm not looking for reassurance, here. I know that I AM a good mother in a multitude of ways, but things are different, now, with four.

I'm exhausted most of the time and do my best to push us through our day, making sure we have underpants on and full bellies. There's not a lot of room for extras...and Sweet Boy needs a lot of extra, right now.

The one area that has been grossly neglected is my quiet time with God. Instead of daily bread, I'm living off years of stored up faith. It's good, but not enough. Pretty much how I feel toward my ability to mother, right now.

Tonight, after the kids went to bed, I headed for the patio with my Bible. I was desperate for rejuvenation and wisdom. I committed to making his presence a priority and giving him some of my precious sleep minutes before the kids get up. I have to. If I don't, I fear we won't survive the summer!

I need supernatural direction and love for my newest son. Both Ben and I love him with a compassionate, Christian love...but we have yet to feel motherly/fatherly love for this son that does his best to play the part, but withholds the treasures of his heart.

I didn't get the answers I'm so desperate for, tonight, but my spirit was filled with reassurance. I know God is on our side. He brought us to this place. He will not leave us, now.

We are going to explore therapy, but we want to wait until after the results of the termination trial (end of June). What this boy needs, more than anything, right now, is to know that he will never move, again. That I will be his mom forever and Ben will be his dad forever. That his newest siblings will be, here, for all of his firsts - camping, dating, driving - all of it. We. Are. Family. He needs to hear it over and over and over and over, again. We used to tell LJ no less than a dozen times a week. He needed constant reassurance that we were not just another stop on his path.

Sweet Boy needs that, too.

Three homes in one year is too many for a four year old boy.

Thankfully, our trial is nearing the month mark. Given the delicacy of our little man's heart, it still seems like a decade away. I'm, normally, a strict "pray God's best" girl, but I can, barely, handle the torment I feel wrestling in Sweet Boy's heart. I'm praying for finality...that Sweet Boy and Little Miss will know us as home. Forever.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Victory for the Broken

As challenging as foster kids can be to bring home, the familiarity of it is comforting the second time around. I find myself worrying less and trusting God more. It's so much easier to believe God's redemption, when I have a little heart-beating symbol of it sleeping one room over. Just as LJ has blossomed into this beautiful, creative, high-energy, life giving wonder, Sweet boy will, too...in time.

As he settles into our routine and family, one concern is obvious, Sweet Boy has learned to protect his heart - he has become void of most emotion.

When he first came to us, he was very emotional, similar to our experience with LJ. He didn't have the ability to regulate his reactions per situation. In the last several weeks, however, he conditioned himself to turn his feelings off, completely. When he gets hurt - nothing. When he's sick - nothing. When one of the boys takes something from him - nothing. He has become agreeable all of the time.

When we leave the house his anxiety radar kicks into high gear and we infer that behind his veiled questions, he's really asking, "When are you giving me away?"

And truly, why wouldn't his little heart wonder? What Ty would consider absurdity has been LJ and Sweet Boy's reality. Sweet Boy lived with his biological grandfather for 3 years before coming into care. Then he lived with his foster family for six months before coming to us. In his limited experience, we'll send him on his way, any day, without warning.

I would think that such deep, swirling complexities of this little boy's heart would paralyze me, but I remain confident. Time will heal Sweet Boy's raw, self-patched wounds. And God will be faithful to show me the best ways to love my new son. Even though Sweet Boy has not been privy to the revelations in my heart, yet, I find great joy in the truths that we're hemming around his little life.

We got together with Sweet Boy's foster family a couple of weeks ago and it was such a wonderful time of connection. I'm telling you, God does something really special when we're willing to open our hearts and love beyond our ability. Our family keeps expanding in unexpected ways, each time we bring a child home. It's amazing!

When we drove home that day, a line was drawn in permanency for Sweet Boy. People will no longer walk in and out of his life. By getting together with his foster family (and extended family), we were able to show Sweet Boy that he matters. That the people in his life are in his life to stay.

We're (slowly) helping him re-define family; re-define forever.

One day at a time.

As the cries of my heart find rhythm in this very up and down season, I want to encourage you to read a book that has inspired me. I think it is a wonderful resource for families trying to understand the ache behind their child's broken story.

 It's called Scattered Links by Michelle Weidenbenner.


I'm not being paid to offer this review, I simply, found life in this story. Life so similar to the one we're walking through, right now. It's a fictional depiction of a young girl's Russian reality. Poor and abandoned, her shattered pieces carry through to her American adoption. Even though the content is difficult, it's an easy read that is impossible to put down. I found myself warring for Oksana, but crying over the failure that her American parents felt, while still desperately hoping for reunion with her birth mother. It will draw compassion from deep corners and inspire you to love more.

It was such a good read; I hope you'll pick it up!

Small victories lead to changed lives and it encourages this mama's heart that the shout of victory is becoming a resounding roar...