Adoption


Roughly 5 years and 3 months ago, a baby was almost aborted in late term —  but he wasn’t.  God intervened through a series of circumstances, and he wound up being placed in our home, as our son.  This month, we were blessed to celebrate his 5th year of life with us.  They certainly haven’t all been easy, but he has certainly  helped us become better people, and we wouldn’t trade those years for anything.  We love you little buddy!  Happy 5th birthday, and we look forward to many more!!

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Among his other gifts, M made some bird feeders out of her craft supplies.  When the weather warmed up a bit, A got to role the feeders in the grains, hang them outside, and watch the birds come.

Among his other gifts, M made some bird feeders out of her craft supplies. When the weather warmed up a bit, A got to role the feeders in the grains, hang them outside, and watch the birds come.

 

With just 3.5 weeks left to move day, things are getting busier all the time!  We have our last formal military event coming up this weekend, followed by a last visit with R’s birth family .  I’ve told S he has to find someplace to take me once a year so I can use the formal dresses I have collected over the years for these events.  I have a doctor appointment to update all my prescriptions, and one or two vet appointments to get all the paperwork lined up.  I have begun cooking in batches both to use up food and to prepare frozen dishes for move week. Our closing on the house is scheduled for next week (YAY!!!!), S and I have our final driving class (to learn to drive draft horses), Latte is due to deliver in 2 weeks, I have to pick up my 4th doe who has yet to kid, we have a half-a-ton of grain being delivered which will be divided into our fifty-five gallon drums, and plenty of other tasks I’m sure I’m forgetting right now.  I am still plugging along on the packing, we had a big yard sale this weekend so are living a little creatively right now.  We are down to just 2 kids’ beds, so kids are sharing beds and using pallets on the floor.  They love it, as they feel like they are camping.  We also sold our dining set, and are making do with a folding table and some folding chairs we borrowed.  We sold off our last litter of rabbits, and the cage-building equipment should arrive this weekend so we can build our transport/new cages for Red Gate.

I have been trying to wean my milking doe, Joy, to a twice a day milking schedule, but she turned out to be an incredible producer, and I’m still forced to milk 3 times a day right now.  She is currently producing 12 cups a day–thats about 3/4 gallon.  She is only a first freshener, and with the early issues we had, I am really trying to stretch her udder gradually.  I have her going 11 hours at night right now, but can’t seem to get beyond 9 hours in the day time.  Otherwise, she begins squirting milk everywhere and her hair gets all sticky.  ICK!  She is coming along nicely, though, and I think I’ll be able to get her to twice a day by move day (which will mean one less milking at a rest stop–maybe).

The kids will wrap up their school this week (another YAY!!!).  As soon as we have the check from closing, we have a LOT of items to order and have shipped to the farm for the projects we still have to work on there.  All this is so bittersweet–the time has come and yet, we are once again leaving another chapter that includes friends and memories.

What free time I do still have is spent spending time with the kiddos and making contacts for our next 4-legged additions to the farm after we get moved.  I have been in touch with Donna and Keith at South Pork Ranch in central IL, where we plan to purchase a couple of heritage Red Wattle pigs.  The plan is to pick them up when we finish installing the final section of fence for our pasture next month, and rotate the pigs and goats through to clear all the brush currently there.  Then, this winter, the hogs will be used for some hams, chops, and bacon, deliciously flavored by all the forage, acorns, and dairy products we will be feeding them.  While it isn’t the Large Black I still hope to try one day, we are excited to try the Red Wattle.  Not only will we be helping an endangered breed of heritage hog, but we will be supporting a local small farm operation who has worked hard to develop a good, hardy hog that thrives on pasture and forage, which still have their tails and ears, and that aren’t loaded up with antibiotics, chemicals, and junk foods.  These pigs get to grow up with all the “pigginess” (in Joel Salatin terms) that God intended them to have.

A Red Wattle hog; Source: Internet stock photo of a red wattle farm

A Red Wattle hog;
Source: Internet stock photo of a red wattle farm

For the record, we are raising two, and only need one.  If any of my readers are around the Illinois area and would like to reserve the other as a whole or half, just let me know. We are happy to split with you as well, as I can always use bacon around here with 5 farm kiddos around!!

I have also been working with a new friend who has been supplying us with our raw milk when we vacation at Red Gate.  She also “happens” to be probably the best contact I could ask for when it comes to getting in the draft horse loop there.  She is going to be setting me up with her neighbor who raises good, solid Clydesdales that actually do real farm work rather than just shows.  At this point, we are still just trying to decide if we want to buy a single or a team.  In addition, she works with an Amish farmer and together, they have developed a breeding program for high-quality miniature jersey cattle.  My former contact may not work out afterall.  All her mini-jerseys wound up having the bovine disease BLV, which I don’t want to pass on.  She wound up selling off her herd to try to work towards a BLV-free herd, but it kinda ruined my plans to buy her minis.  The fact that my new friend lives only a few miles down the road (OK, more like 20) is huge bonus!  At this point, it looks like we may be getting a heifer calf rather than a cow, but seeing as how I may be swimming in milk anyway with 4 goats, a calf may not be a bad thing.  Good thing we’re getting hogs to help consume all that milk!!

Winter has turned Asha into a spoiled brat of a yearling donkey, so I have been working with her a lot more lately to teach her some trust and some manners.  The weather is not cooperating at all, snowing again even as I type, but at least I have her used to loading in the trailer and improving in the other areas.   I have decided that if the right buyer came along, I would sell her, just to reduce my load a bit.  She won’t be very useful to us as a riding for the kids for several years yet, so I wouldn’t be opposed to selling her.  I won’t give her away though, so if she doesn’t sell, she’ll move with us as planned.

One other task I may have to do is to shave the dogs’ bellies.  None of the animals have lost any of their winter coats, as our highs are still in the 30’s most of the time.  Red Gate, on the other hand, is having highs in the 70’s already.  Another 3 weeks from now, and the sudden change from cold to hot may add too much stress to the girls, so I am considering shaving their bellies to buy them some time to acclimate, while still being able to make some belly-contact to the cool grass and earth at the farm.

Sorry the posts are likely going to be sparse for the next few weeks, but I will do my best.  I’m sure I’ll have lots to tell you when this is all over with though!

“Sugar and Spice and everything nice…that’s what little girls are made of….”……most of the time, anyway!

I love that little poem.  It’s so cute, and, generally speaking, kids are pretty cute too.  Most of the time, I can even see how it’s relatively true.  Take 19-month-old R for example…so cute, innocent, sweet, and cuddly.  With her love for her puppy and pillow, and her constant desire for giving hugs and kisses and even imitating her siblings (and mommy), there is no doubt she is all girl!

19-month-old R and brother 3-year-old N sitting on the bench together. N was in time-out for misbehaving, and R decided to keep him company.

She’s always good for hugs!

Then again, she has 3 brothers.  I think they have confused her a bit, dampening some of that little girl sweetness, as evidenced by the trouble she seems to get into on a frequent basis. For example, she has a passion for putting everything–and I do mean EVERYTHING–in her mouth.  Her diapers almost always contain bits of crayon that have managed to pass on through.  At least her diapers are easy to change!  She tells us she’s dirty, backs her little bum up so we can check it, runs to her room, waits eagerly to be lifted onto the changing table, and sticks her legs straight up in the air.

Ready and waiting!

Sick of dirty diapers, and seeing as how she displayed most of the signs of being ready for potty-training, I decided to give it a go.  She loved it–as long as I allowed her brothers toys to keep her entertained on the potty, including the harmonica she is playing in this photo.

Potty Training attempt #1–totally failed.

For the record, I totally gave up after one day.  I decided the diapers were a little easier for a few more months (I have always trained around age 2 in the past).

They have also managed to teach her how much fun the outside chores can be–when you don’t necessarily get straight to doing them.  I witnessed this first hand, as she found the egg-collecting basket (I think I was looking for it at the time), and decided it made a perfect hat!

Basket? What basket?

Oh! This basket! Yup, I have it, and you don’t, and I’m not gonna give it to you!! Nah, nah!

Oh, and don’t even get me started on the climbing!  Her trouble-seeking brothers have taught her well!  She can climb on pretty much anything she sets her mind to.  Most of the time it’s fun:

Like when she gets to clean-up snack leftovers on the table…

Or finds JR’s hidden treasures up on his bunk!

Other times, she gets stuck and can’t get down, but knows Mommy wouldn’t be happy if caught, so she doesn’t cry out, but just waits patiently, until Mommy finds her sound asleep where she doesn’t belong:

Like on her dresser at nap time, instead of in her bed.

Oh yeah, she is totally and completely sound asleep!

Despite her antics, though, she is one cute kid!!  She’s also a BIG kid.  At just 19 months, she is now comfortably wearing size 3T !!  She weighs as much as N, if not more.  The girl is a tank, and can out-eat half her siblings at any given meal.  I have already gotten a few “looks” from other people who think my 3 year old should be acting more mature, until I explain she is only 19 months.  Funny how that makes them more understanding.  When folks see S and I, they know those big genes didn’t come from us.  Sometimes we might confess she got them from her birth family, but most of the time, we just blame it on the raw goat milk!!

She is a sweetheart, though, and I am cherishing every moment I have with her!  We have been so blessed with this little girl, and I look forward to watching her grow up over the years–crazy antics, and all!

Since we are on a “have some fun family-time” streak at the moment, S decided to work with A and N to see if we could wean them off their training wheels.  JR learned at age 4, and M learned to ride at age 3, so we figured, “Why not try?”  After a few sessions of raising the wheels and working on balance, he took off their training wheels completely and told them “No more!”  Then, he took them out to our beloved, low-traffic, packed-dirt road in front of the house, and sent them on their way.  Just 2 sessions later, our little pre-school boys were riding on 2 wheels!

Now, perhaps this isn’t such a big deal to you.  However, you have to realize a couple things here.  You see, when N was 12 months old, he was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy.  He couldn’t sit up, he couldn’t stand, and we were told not to even expect him to WALK before he was 3.  Riding a bike wasn’t even part of the picture just 2 short years ago.  Thanks to a God-ordained miracle, however, our little boy is not only walking, but running, climbing trees, and now, riding a 2-wheel bike with almost perfect balance!  And he’s only 3!

http://youtu.be/RgZ9asL8of0

OK, ok, I said he’d learned to RIDE.  I didn’t say anything about him having learned to STOP.  That’s totally different!

At the same time, our other son, 4-year-old A has some neurological issues.  Despite seeing specialists for the last 6 months, participating in countless tests, and now dealing with 2 therapies a week plus seeing a neurologist on a regular basis, we still have no official diagnosis.  What we do know is that his balance is lousy, he is the clumsiest child we know, and he is prone to injury (just read a few recent posts!).  Yet, thanks be to our Heavenly Father, A is actually riding a 2-wheel bike!  Last week, his therapist concluded we are nuts for even trying.  I can’t wait to tell her this week that he is actually doing it!

4-year-old A enjoying his new found speed! Yes, sadly, he did inherit M’s pink bike and helmet. Seeing as how he’ll outgrow it all before long, I’m pretty sure it won’t damage his psyche any to use it for awhile. We just let him periodically share the boy’s bike N inherited from JR on occasion 😉

http://youtu.be/oYd2LCO0VVY

Truly, this bike-riding thing is a BIG…no, make that HUGE….deal for our family.  It has offered encouragement, excitement, hope, and promise for the future for our 2 little boys, neither of which had any say about how they came into this world, but have, for reasons only God knows, been placed in our family.  We have our moments of frustration and discouragement for sure, but every now and then, something akin to miraculous happens, and it puts a smile in our parent-hearts and on our little boys’ faces, reminding us that God alone is in control of the journey our life will take.  He gives and He takes away, and as long as we are willing to follow Him and His leading, we simply have to buckle up and enjoy the ride!

Our 4 happy, bike-ridin’ kiddos!

We recently celebrated R’s 1st birthday.  It is so difficult to believe that it has been a year since she was born.  Time truly goes faster with each child we have!  She started walking about a week ago (though she still cheats and crawls on occasion).  We got a real treat when her birth family agreed to join us for the celebration.  For their privacy, I must limit or disguise the photos, and withhold all video, but we had a lovely time with them–except for R, who is going through a “cling-to-Mommy” phase, and wanted nothing to do with them. 

I spent the morning making a carrot-cake (the overall favorite of our family).  Shortly before lunch, her birthmom and grandparents arrived, and we all gathered for lunch.  As a general rule, we keep birthdays pretty small and just-for-family–especially for little ones.  

For some unknown reason, R was absolutely terrified of her biological grandfather.  He is a rather tall, large guy, and he has a moustache, so I can only assume he overwhelmed her somehow.  She eventually let her birthmom hold her just for a minute, and she would occasionally play peek-a-boo behind Daddy, or sit in my lap and play with her birthmom. 

They were patient, though, and everyone took tons of photos.  Her birthmom actually made a photobook for her, but sadly, it didn’t arrive in time.  I am truly looking forward to receiving it, and storing it for when R is older.  What a treasure that will be some day!!  Grandma (S’s mom) gave her Raggedy Andy to complete the Raggedy Ann doll she got for Christmas, and we gave her a little push-and-ride, solid wood, zebra. 

So, once again, I am out of the infant stage.  In case you lost track, we have a 1 year old, 2 3-year-olds (A and N), a 5 year old (M), and a 7-year old (JR).  I don’t feel old enough yet, but we are certainly blessed! 

For your enjoyment, here are a few extra photos taken during an impromptu photo session with R recently….

With everything going on with A, N fell to second place on the priority list for a while.  For those of you who have followed for a while, N is our 2, soon to be 3-year-old.  When he turned 12 months, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.  After 5 months of intensive therapy, he caught up developmentally, and has been going pretty good ever since.  You can read a bit about his symptoms, diagnosis, early therapy, casting, more casting, and finally, his braces

Over the last 2 years, he has continued to develop better than we could have imagined.  Most people have no clue he has CP, and some have even tried to convince us he was mis-diagnosed.  To the experienced eye, however, you can see that he still has some muscular troubles.  Chewing tough food (steak) is difficult for him due to the muscle weakness (which affects the whole body to some extent).  He does well, so we have not pursued oral therapy, but meal times often take him twice as long to eat as everyone else.  Then again, he’s 2 and likes to play, so I’m sure that is a factor as well.  Also, his right side remains his strong side, and I have to be careful to monitor that he uses both sides as evenly as possible.  He naturally has a tendency to favor his right side when climbing or descending steps, for example, and I have to force him use his “other leg.”  He hates it when I do that, and on occasion will get very frustrated with the level of difficulty he experiences.  That is why the therapeutic riding is so critical for him.  Whereas A needs the practice balancing, N needs the stretching that Shiloh can offer. 

Over the past year, we have begun focusing on several other issues he had, that seemed less critical early on.  He has coughed, gagged, and choked since he was born.  Occasionally, he will throw up esophageal contents and mucous.  He voice sounds nasal when he talks, he sneezes, has a lot of trouble with his nose (to include thick, sticky mucous), and was becoming an increasingly cranky and tired child.  Much like A, I have mentioned these symptoms to docs, but it was either blamed on the shape of his nose, possibly swollen tonsils and adnoids (but they don’t worry about them until they’re at least 5), or on his CP muscle issues.  Over the spring, the issues just got worse and worse.  Finally, S took him to the pediatrician, and convinced him to at least order an allergy test.  They actually did the quite thorough blood allergy testing.  We got the results, and of all things, discovered he was mildly allergic to dogs and moderately to cats.  That’s good to know now that we live on a farm!

The doc gave us permission to keep the dog, but told us we needed to get rid of the cat.  As you know, I have issues with trusting doctor’s opinions and advice, so we began researching.  So many studies showed that children put in a more hypo-allergenic environment got worse as they aged, while children left in a clean, but similiar environment as before, would often improve as they aged.  Seeing as I’ve had the cat for 11 years, and since her issues, make her “unadoptable” by even no-kill shelters (we know because we tried to place her in one last year).  So, getting rid of her wasn’t really an option, as euthansia would be our only choice.  Nonetheless, we did what we could.  Since we had moved into our new home, we changed out all the carpets, and had the furnace and all air ducts cleaned. 

Despite the changes, N’s sleeping habit got worse.  He got crankier with each passing week, and I began noticing that he was often lying in his bed, quietly, but wide awake, even after mid-night.  I was puzzled by this.  Finally, about 2 months ago, after we began using the Naturopathic doc for A, I took N to see him as well.  The doc listened to his symptoms, and said simply, “He’s dehydrated.  Make him drink more.”  I was a little frustrated, as N rarely complained of thirst, and never “acted” dehydrated.  It couldn’t be that simple.  He assured me it would work.  Having no choice, I paid the bill and left.  When we got home, I encouraged N to drink twice the fluid as normal for the rest of the day.  He fought me a little, but I got a pretty good bit into him as the day wore on.  That night, every time I checked him, he was actually asleep.  The next morning, he was happy!  I couldn’t believe it. 

I quite literally had 2 toddlers who were dehydrated–yet, one drank too much (A), while the other drank too little (N).  Good gracious.  So, both the boys were given free-choice access to their water-bottles.  A drank easily because of his kidney issues, but N had to be reminded and encouraged throughout the day.  It took about two weeks, but he finally began taking greater interest in drinking, so I didn’t have to push or remind as much.  He also started sleeping fairly well, and the thick, nasal mucous cleared up almost entirely.  I was amazed and impressed with the doc once again. 

He still coughed, choked, and threw up on occasion, though, and the coughing would sometimes get so bad at night, it would wake him–and everyone else in his room (all 3 boys share a room).  Sometimes, he would have a coughing spell that would last a couple of hours, waking the entire household.  At our next appointment, we decided to work on that issue.  The doc “prescribed” two things.  First, he agreed that we should NOT get rid of the cat.  However, he said N just needed a semi-sterile, pet-free place to go where his little body and immune system could have a break.  He instructed me to clean his room as thoroughly as possible, then make it off-limits to pets.  Secondly, to work on the mucous and gagging, he wanted me to try a dairy-free diet for a week or two. 

So, this week, with JR’s help, we spent about 6 hours one day cleaning the boy’s room as thoroughly as possible.  We tore apart every bed, vaccumed and dusted every crevice, dusted all window and door frames, washed the walls, cleaned out and wiped every drawer and shelf, etc.  We removed all the linens in the room, vaccuumed the matresses and boxsprings, vacuumed the carpets, and finally used our carpet shampooer to clean the carpet with vinegar.  It took me another 2 days to finish laundering all the curtains, bedspreads, sheets, pillows, and blankets, but everything eventually got returned to its rightful place, only a little cleaner and dander-free.  That night, for the first time in several weeks, N slept through the night without coughing.  It was wonderful, and once again, he was in a good mood when he woke up. 

We are also about 4 days into our dairy-free diet (for him–not the rest of us!  I MUST have milk, and crave it almost as much as chocolate!!  Almost.) N has been a great sport about it, rarely complaining or getting upset that he is getting something different.  He almost seems to understand, and JR and M have been wonderful at helping me remember not to feed him dairy.  So far, I have seen no real difference there, so I suspect we will gradually wean him back on to the dairy within another week or so to make sure nothing worsens as we do so.  Nonetheless, it is so comforting to know he is coughing less with the “break”-room he now has.

At our next appointment, the doc is going to attempt a chiropractic spinal adjustment to see if we can help even out the use of each side of his body at all.  We don’t know if it will help, but we know it won’t hurt to try.  As tight as his muscles always are, if we can help anything relax, he would probably sleep even better, and be even happier each day. 

I will never understand why God placed these particular little boys (A and N) in our home, but I know that He has truly provided the care we needed when we seemed to need it most.  I have my frustrating moments with medical doctors, but all in all, it always seems to work out.  I truly enjoy using the resources He provides us to be able to help these innocent little boys have a much better, healthier life.  It is truly rewarding!

Today was baby R’s big day!  We FINALLY finalized her adoption!!

It was a great experience.  Since our previous 2 adoptions were finalized out of state, this our first time actually in the courtroom.  We had a great, down-to-earth and friendly, magistrate presiding, and all our children sat behind us and watched the proceedings.  S and I each had to go up to the stand, take an oath, answer some questions, and then sit back down.  Finally, he declared R as our legal daughter, hammered his gavel, and congratulated us.  As a special treat, his clerk then entered the courtroom and we were invited behind his desk to take photos.  Another first for us!  So, we now have the moment recorded in photographic history!  As you can imagine, we are truly praising God tonight!

Adopting a baby can be a bit risky.  Many handicaps, mental conditions, and some other medical problems often do not really become apparent until the baby enters toddler-dom or even the elementary school years.  We did not seek out any issues, but sometimes, what the adoptive family knows about a child is based on the honor system–the assumption that the birthmother will reveal the truths of her genetics, her health, and anything she exposed the baby to while pregnant. 

The first baby we adopted was A.  Many of you have heard the story (if not, you can get the summary here).  His birthmom swore up and down that she was free of any type of drug or alcohol.  We eventually figured out that she did smoke, but we had no way of knowing the truth about other chemicals, as she refused all prenatal care.  Once A was born, the doctors and nurses immediately knew something was up.  Even I questioned the appearance of his birthmom’s “druggy” arms, and the docs confided to me that they were quite positive he had been exposed to methamphetimines.  Although he was clean at the time of birth (we think we know why that was the case), the damage had already been done.  He spent 5 days in the NICU before I could take him home. 

Within weeks, A was showing symptoms of a “meth-baby”–albeit mild.  I couldn’t help but question “Why?”  Why didn’t she just tell us the truth?  We wouldn’t have refused him, but it would have given us an opportunity to prepare.  Had the secret been out, she might not have been so scared of visiting a doc and allowing the baby to have prenatal care.  Perhaps he could even have been delivered early (he was an emergency c-section anyway) and prevented further exposure to the drugs.  I knew, however, that I couldn’t change the past, so instead, I tried to learn all I could about meth-exposed babies, and the long term effects.  I consulted with our pediatricians, and talked to foster and/or adoptive parents of known meth-babies.  One hopeful fact I kept running across was that meth was the “best of the worst.”  In other words, of all the drugs a baby could be exposed to, meth seemed to allow for the best outcome.  In general, meth-exposed children eventually catch up developmentally, but the severity of the exposure will determine how long that takes.  Sadly, though, there can also be some long-term, and even permanent side effects. 

In the early weeks, A was hyper-sensitive to touch.  Gentle touches could cause him to cry from the “tickle” factor.  He couldn’t sleep on his back due to the sensitivity of his back.  As the months passed, we found he went through spells where he was difficult to feed.   He would act hungry, but cry when we fed him.  As he entered toddler-hood, we noticed he was VERY touch-and-texture-stimulated.  His natural tendency was to explore new feels with his face.  He would rub his face in carpet, on clothing, in animal fur, in sand, you name it.  It didn’t take us long to realize that, not only was it quite unhygienic, but could be dangerous.  If he saw a strange dog, he would run over and plant his face right in the dog’s fur.  As A has gotten older (he is 3 1/2 now), his issues are becoming more obvious–and more troublesome.  He has allergies, though mild, to pasteurized milk (gives him eczema, but raw milk is fine), non-organic tomatoes (gives him a rash, but organic is fine), and bug bites.  The bug bites in particular can be very troublesome, as it causes him to swell up around the bite.  The pic below was the morning after he got a bite on his forehead, and the swelling drained into his eyelid overnight. 

He is still very texture-oriented, but we have worked diligently to teach him to use his hands rather than his face.  He is doing better, and will sit beside me and stroke my sweater or silky skirt for 15-20 minutes without stopping.  He still has a tendency to rub his face on the pant leg of an assumed new friend, but we at least have been able to teach him some self control so the compulsive urge is not as dirty or dangerous.  Another problem we have to deal with is his groin and bladder issues.  He had to have surgery last year for a mild deformity that made potty-training very difficult.  His pea-sized bladder (no pun intended) is an issue we haven’t resolved yet.  When combined with his drinking fetish (see post here), you can imagine how my day can quickly turn sour!  We are forced to carefully monitor is hydration level, so we can carefully limit his fluid consumption.  When he gets the urge, he needs a potty close at hand!  We used to have a designated spot on the counter where the children could keep water bottles to sip on throughout the day.  It frustrates and saddens me that we can no longer allow any of the children free-choice drinks, because A will drink ANY liquid he finds–to include the bathwater and the dog water.  I recently finally gave in and put him back in diapers at night.  I just couldn’t keep up with the soaked laundry and the putrid odor that only A’s urine possesses.  We have had his blood and urine checked out, and no cause has been found, but all I can describe it as is a very pungent cross between body odor and ammonia.  Since the boys share a room, the others were not exactly pleased to be exposed to the smell every night and morning. 

He has 2 other issues that are much more concerning, however.  The worst issue physically, is that he has major balance problems.  Bless his little heart, A falls constantly.   He bangs his head frequently, has multiple scars and strawberries on his little legs and feet, and, short of wrapping him in foam padding, there just seems to be little we can do.   In order to save some visits to the E.R., after the E.R. doc complimented my handiwork, I began using my first-responder training to patch A up whenever possible.  It really bothers me that A only cries briefly at the worst of his injuries now.  I don’t know if it is because he is so used to getting hurt, or if he has some underlying problem such that he doesn’t feel the pain as much as the average person.  

The other problem, which seems consistent with drug and FAS babies is that he “just doesn’t get it.”  That applies on so many levels.  He often has trouble understanding simple instructions.  He has to be shown things over and over and over before he remotely understands or remembers.  He will repeat the same incorrect action multiple times, not seeming to understand or remember that he was recently disciplined for that same action.  We have to explain it each time, as if it was his first.  He has great difficulty with focus–much like a child with severe ADHD.  Although his speech and physical capability is better than N’s (who is 2), his overall mental development often seems the same as, or possibly even slightly less than N’s. 

I’m not even sure why I am telling you all this.  A is a complete sweetheart.  He wants nothing more than to please and be loved.  He makes friends with any adult or teen that he meets, and tends to be fairly outgoing.  He is so loveable, and so willing to be loved, that folks just can’t help but like him and be attracted to his magnetic personality.  Most people have no idea about the issues he has that I deal with on a daily basis.  I have been so determined not to allow him to be “labeled” or treated differently, and yet, the older he gets, the more I see I may have to treat him somewhat differently than the other children.  That bothers me.  I don’t want him to feel different or picked on.  As a diabetic growing up, I often felt that way and it’s a lousy feeling.  It took me years to get over it.  Yet, it is becoming apparent that he will not be ready for the same schooling at the same age S and M were.  I am hoping he will be ready by the time N is ready, and just school them together.  That is still undecided as yet, though.

We have spoken with his doctors about most of issues, with the exception of the ADHD-related ones, as I refuse to medicate him.  I have been in the foster/adopt world long enough, I know the symptoms the doc looks for, and the meds they typically prescribe.  I also know the side effects that would cause in my son’s little body, and I won’t do it.  Otherwise, though, the docs have all agreed, “Just give him time, he will outgrow it.”   I’ll admit, he has come a long way.  We have focused intently on teaching him self control, so even though he can’t lay in his bed and be still, often squirming until almost midnight, he has learned to sit through a church service as long as we allow him a few discreet “helps” along the way.  M is doing a lot with him this year, as part of her own schooling, such as reviewing basic numbers and the alphabet, as well as other pre-school type activities, in the hopes it will allow him a bit of a head start for his own school career.   He still has a major problem with his balance, though, so that was a big factor in S agreeing to the donkey.  While JR, M, and N can sit up straight, perfectly balanced on top of the donkey, as soon as the donkey moves–in any way–A tends to slide right off.  I have to keep a steady hand on him at all times.  We are really hoping some therapeutic-type riding will benefit him.  We have also decided to try a new approach, and consult with a homeopathic doctor.  I have heard all the stories of quackery, but one I know has assured me he won’t be prescribing any meds, and that we may very well be able to make a few dietary and perhaps chiropractic adjustments that could benefit him tremendously.  In my desperation to help the little guy, I’m thinking $100 for a thorough consult and a couple trial visits may be worth it. 

So, there you have it!  My big secret about my struggles with little A is out in the open.  I know God will use this little boy in big ways; He has already taught me so much through him.  I just pray that I can be the mother he needs me to be, and to become much better at handling him with the love and gentleness he deserves and requires.  It’s so much easier and more natural for me to lose patience, get frustrated, discipline without ensuring he fully understands, or just asking him to play in his room or outside so I can avoid dealing with the hassles.  I often find myself looking ahead into the future, with the hope that these days will pass quickly, that he will catch up as all the statistics predict, and that he will become easier to work with.  Then, about the time that day dream sets in, God always lets me encounter someone who, somehow, reminds me how precious these days are, and how I need to love him every moment of every day.  When I do make a mistake, and handle an issue in a way that is not best for A, I am learning to go to him and apologize.  A simple hug, and A easily forgives all.  Because that’s just the way he is. 

In the mean time, I will keep you posted on how the riding and homepath visits work out.  I am holding out great hope that we will see some progress.  In the mean time, if you wouldn’t mind saying an extra little prayer for the little guy, and for me to be able to meet his needs, I would greatly appreciate it.

Oh, my goodness, what a couple of weeks we have had.  I was stuck posting quick photo clips just so you would know I was still around.  Things have been hectic, but all in a good way!   I will update you in the next few posts, as there as been so much going on! 

First up, an update on R…

R is doing wonderfully!  She is now 7 months old, and all that fresh goat’s milk is working wonders on her.  Her pediatrician is amazed by her, and thrilled that we are taking a more natural, organic approach.  She is almost 20 pounds, and already wearing 9-12 month clothes, and is just as cute and cuddly as can be.   Check out those fat rolls! 

She is also starting to darken up a little bit.  She is technically biracial (1/4 AA, 3/4 CA), so the color is finally showing up a bit on her hands and feet, and the rest of her body is taking on something of a tanned look.  Her hair is still very fine and causcasion-like (A’s had already turned courser by this age), but it is starting to show lots of curls.  She started crawling this week, so life will only get more hectic now, I fear.  She isn’t quite sitting up yet, but I suspect that has more to do with the fact that she can’s sit still long enough.  She just wants to go, go, go.  She will periodically take a few-second break from her crawling and busy-body antics and position herself into a leaning, half-sit type thing, then it’s off to the races again!  It only took her about a day to find my canning jars on the low kitchen shelf, and Will’s water bowl.  Now I am working on trying to teach her to stay out of the kitchen.  Here is a video of her crawling. (I should warn you we were in the middle of our evening family worship, but she was so cute on her still-wobbly arms, I couldn’t resist grabbing the camera!)

http://youtu.be/vSA20knZC0o

We just got word today that we FINALLY have a court appointment to finalize her adoption.  It’s not for another month, but we are absolutely thrilled they finally made space for us!  The journey to having her as our daughter is almost over, and the end is in sight.  By this time next month, we will finally be a family of 7 legally as well as physically!

 

 

R is really growing up!  She just turned 6 months old, and I can’t believe how fast the time has gone.  Due to the delays of her adoption paperwork early on, we haven’t finalized yet, but hope to within the next few weeks.  TPR has happened, so we don’t have to worry about that anymore.  Now, we are literally just waiting for the court to call us with a date.  It will be so nice when that finally happens!

A few updates ….

R is quite mobile these days, rolling and scooting to get where she wants to go.  We have to start getting some equipment up to keep her away from our stairway and too-widely-spaced railings.  She is right on the verge of crawling and sitting, and loves to get up on her hands and knees and bounce.  She has already fully popped two teeth, and I am just waiting for the next ones to make an appearance.  Interestingly, we are finally starting to see signs that she is bi-racial.  You really can’t tell from the photos, but her skin is starting to take different color tones.  I don’t think she will ever get as dark as A, but I think she will appear to have a perfect tan!  And of course, she is almost always happy!  She is, by far, the happiest baby we have ever been blessed with! 

Look at those fat rolls! All that fresh goat's milk does a baby good!

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All those giggles wear a baby out!

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Now, just for fun, I have to show something really cool.  Have you ever heard the term, “God builds perfect families?”  Well, we firmly believe that.  There are so many people today who are into the whole science of selecting the gender and/or appearance of babies.  I know from experience that it can be a bit nerve-wracking when you adopt a child, as you have no idea what that child will look like, or whether/how they will “fit” into your family.  We know some people who like to adopt internationally, or through the state, for the simple reason that they have a say over which child they adopt (some do it for this reason, but certainly not all!).  However, in the beginning, we made a choice to trust God to match us with our children.  Although we can’t say N or A look much like us, I can guarantee they still “fit” perfectly into our family.  R, however, is another story.  Look at this picture:

That is a photo of M, taken around 2 months of age.  R has had her moments where she looked identical to this photo!  I just think that is sooo neat!  Only God could arrange that so perfectly!  Many, many people just assume I gave birth to R, as she looks so much like us.  It will be interesting to see how she changes as she grows. 

In the mean time, we are loving every moment with her.  She is so happy, and always smiling.  A loves to feed her, N, M, and JR like to play with her, and she is so content to just be in the same room with us.  We are truly blessed with her!

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