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Monday, December 29, 2008

A bit of quesadilla love.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Surprise Them!

I have had 4 birthday parties for my kids this year. 2 of the 4 were surprises. Now in regular world that is awesome, fun and exciting. In a struggling to attach world, it is too. It is also completely intentionally preventing sabotage. Someone else's birthday is overwhelming for a Radtastic. It is hard to not be the center of attention, selfless and see someone else be loved. It is tenfold that to have the attention on HER! The anticipation of what a party or event will be like or how they will feel or how people love them enough to plan for her, is just too much to handle. It will cause drama before and after the event. I saw this with the first party-not a surprise. So if you know you'll have to help them process the emotion of the event afterwards..... prevent the lead up drama by not telling them. Both times we had great days despite them not being prepared.

That being said I am all about predictability and structure. They know about the things that happen every day or every week. (Bible Studies, lessons, service). We also daily have regular meals, naps, etc. This is just something that has helped us with those special, super-disregulating, emotionally-charged days.

Doesn't really work for Christmas. Not only is every store decorated by November 1, but if you want to celebrate Advent, the anticipation is building for 24 days! That is a lot on their little hearts. Take everything slow. Say 'no' to more than you'd like to. If you have many things planned, spend lots of time resting, cuddling and relaxing when you aren't out and about. Pray for those little hearts. I don't think we'll ever know how much they are going through. Much love and a Merry CHRISTmas from our homes to yours!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Attachment Class/Bible Study

We're Super Excited about this!!!!

Interested in a 2-hour weekly session (4 weeks in January) by a believing Therapist with available childcare?

Please email us for details!!!

PHOENIX AREA

Monday, December 15, 2008

Oh, Daddy Knows that Game!

Last week, I hosted a party in my home. It was ladies only so children and hubby got sequestered to the back of the house. Everything he'd need for the night was there. He even had dinner back there for them. Our little Radtastic loves to control and manipulate, especially when we are separated. But my sweet husband has her number! He dished out 3 bowls of rice and Radtastic starts in about needing a particular bowl. He knows she thinks there is more food in that bowl=more love=higher standing in the family=more power or whatever her little mind perceives. So he gave her the bowl she wanted and THEN he gave another scoop of rice to sister. Welcome crazy cycle! Oh, but dear one, this is the bowl you asked for. You may not manipulate. Daddy loves you and provides for your needs. When you are finished with this, you may have more. Oh, the lovely attitude. It was hours of crazy because she didn't get control. But somewhere in her heart, we hope she is learning it is God through my parents that care for me. I don't have to care for myself.

I never want to see my kids disregulated. I don't want them to choose discipline. But it was...what's the word....affirming? encouraging??...that he got to witness the behavior I usually get all day. And then for him to be so attuned to her heart to keep control in a loving and firm way? Oh, God is tender, instructive, guiding and loving. He is working in our homes, if we stay focused on Him, to begin to heal the wounds that are festering and infected right now.

Friday, December 5, 2008

And how are YOU?

Okay, seriously back to basics, but so necessary.  Teach your child to answer:

"How are you feeling?"

I know you think I am crazy right now.  It seems so commonplace in our world.  We greet everyone from the grocer to our spouse with how are you?  But I am not talking about fine, good, okay.  But rather those scary unused words for RAD kids.  

Scared, disappointed, sad, tired, thirsty, angry, happy

Ask often.  Helping ID and talk through things with Mom can help divert some behaviors that would be expressed otherwise inappropriately.  


"do" LOVE

My hubby and I have been through enough marriage counseling...private/small groups/classses/seminars to recognize that this marriage stuff is hard work and often pushes us into uncomfortable places. We are committed to our relationship....the health of it....the strength of it....the growth of it....so we travel to uncomfortable places together. We have been taught and believe that LOVE is an action. And that even when we are not "feeling" love we are to "do" love. Most of the time...more often than not.... feelings follow obedience. It's as if the Lord uses our obedience to soften hearts....our own and our spouse's.

Well, isn't it the same with a family? Members are committed to the health of it...the strength of it....and the growth of it....so we travel to uncomfortable places together. Love is an ACTION. When our kids struggling w/attachment don't "feel" like being loving...let's say......giving a hug before bed....or.....waking up with a kiss....they should be taught to "do" LOVE. I promise....it works. Hearts soften. Feelings follow obedience. Try it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Put your little one on your shoulders and and hold their legs securely.  Tell them to lift their arms high in the air.  You'll be surprised at how scary and challenging this is for your child.  We got the arms raised after awhile, but she was still bracing herself with her stomach.  


Do it again in a day or so.  

As she begins to feel more comfortable, try a little jump.

or a twirl.

or a run. 

there just might be a day when she trusts that you won't let her plummet to her death.  :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Sent in by a reader. A little surprise love found in a Mother's.... Animal Cookie bag.

What usually builds trust?

Unconditional love.
Time.
Testing.
Truth.
Consistent firm & loving discipline.

What most likely destroys trust?
Conditional love.
Lack of patience.
Fear.
Untruth.
Inconsistency & exasperation.

If you have any more ideas....please feel free to add to the list.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Visiting While in Process

The following was sent by a reader via email:

How often do you recommend visiting?

Do you have any special ideas on how to make trips memorable and special for the kids? Any certain activities or attachment exercises that worked for you?

What is the best way to leave your children? How do you say goodbye to the younger ones who don't really understand what's going on?

What about discipline? What do you do if your two-year-old bites you or slaps another child in the face in the middle of an orphanage full of nannies & children? I have tried firm "No's" and making it clear that I disapproved of their actions ( and rewarding & praise of good behavior) but I just got laughed at. The rod is clearly needed- but is obviously not an option with a live audience of no means of being consistent in it's application even if no one was around...

Do you have any other thoughts on this topic overall?

_________________________________
~My heart was really heavy when we first received this email.  The timing of it, unknown by the sender, was so sensitive.  I have spent the last couple of weeks helping my children through some grief specifically related to my multiple visits and departures during our wait.  I've felt more than unqualified to answer these questions.  

At the end of it all, though, my feelings of inadequacy came down to me not wanting to embrace a "new" aspect of pain associated with adoption.  But the truth is, it did hurt for all of us.  As an adult, I longed to spend every moment I could with them, even if I had to leave.  Was this not the right choice? Selfish?  Although hearing their pain in our goodbyes, I KNOW it was the right choice.  Before I answer, I want you to know that there are other orphanages-good orphanages that do not allow you to visit until your adoption is complete.  They believe it is what is best for the child.  Others allow it.  My was one like this.  So for the first question:
Yes, I recommend going and as often as you are able.  Although they do hurt and will at some point grieve, the good outweighs it.  At least it did for us.  I can now say to them every chance I could come to see you, I did.  I wanted to see you and I missed you.  They also learn that Mommy always comes back.  

~To make the time special, choose a song you'll sing to them on your trip and when they come home.  My children would hum the melody months after I'd left.  I also think you should take a nice piece of white paper for each child on each trip.  Have them color and then take them home.  My children love that our closet is decorated with their "baby" artwork!  

~I think it is imperative to learn how to say goodbye in their native tongue.  I would say "I am your Mommy.  You are my baby girl.  I need to go now.  I don't want to go.  I will come back." If you cannot, try to find a kind translator that will say exactly what you want them to.  Unfortunately, the truth is no one will probably comfort them even after your words and departure.  It will be sad for all of you, even the littlest ones.  If they'll let you, secure a picture to your child's crib.  We had a crib toy that sat like a triangle (on one side was a mirror and the other a slot for a picture.) in her crib.  We put our faces in there.  Our baby had that in their for at least 6months.  

~AAAH.  Discipline.  I'll let Dawn share on this.  My kids saved a lot of their "special" behavior for when we were alone.  Just remember it is not disneyland.  Be as firm as you would be at home.  Staying in their time-in spot was a huge feat!  

Cate
_________________________________
About the Discipline Question:
Girlie #1 was in desperate need of Biblical discipline as soon as she was transferred into our care.  The embassy visit was an absolute nightmare....out of control.  All eyes were on us.  Our translator...an orphan who had never been placed with a family....obviously felt our pain.  He was tortured for us and the obvious hell we were in for with this child who was testing every boundary known to mankind. Girlie #2 revealed her true colors as a big time sassy pants soon after she realized that she was the set apart child in the group who had these special people called "parents" who were there just for her....to take her and her alone away to a place called "home."  Our sweet, precious baby became the witch of the group in a matter of days.  I clearly remember the caregivers watching us and whispering amongst themselves when she would act up.  They were obviously curious to see how we would deal with our new little sinner.  Well, even though she was not yet legally ours....we moved ahead as if she were....and corrected her firmly when the need arose.  When she was bratty towards another child....we lifted that child into our arms and told her, "That is rude.  Daddy and Mommy say...you may not!"  When she whined for toys....we ignored her....unimpressed.  When she grabbed for toys...we removed them from her grasp and handed them to others...who were not grabbing.  From day one...she was treated as if she were at home. Soon (we were in country for a month) the caregivers learned to trust us with her.  They even gave us the freedom of possessing a key to the orphanage wing....and unsupervised visits around the grounds.  I believe they liked us and I'd like to think it had something to do with the way we were parenting this little girl who had been in their care for the previous 3.5 years.

If I was smacked by my child or witnessed him/her biting another child....my kid would be standing nose to the corner with the whole world watching so fast.... his/her head would spin. Not acceptable. The seeds you are planting now....will sprout one day....sooner or later.  

And they would not leave that corner until they were ready to say, "I'm sorry for smacking/biting."  Even if they weren't really sorry....because who could possible guess at that point in time whether an apology was real or not????  At least they would be learning the appropriate words to say.       

 

Dawn

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hold on tight.....and......celebrate a small/giant victory w/me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! before it all disappears into thin air as if it never happened.  


Our girlie has always had a very difficult time w/laughing or smirking during very serious and sad moments.  The first time I noticed how inappropriate her reactions were...was during the funeral of a young boy in our church who died suddenly.  As you can imagine....every single adult in attendance was crying.  I watched my girlie in the rear view mirror during  the drive to the cemetery as she tried to suppress her grin and  my heart sank.  I was raising a monster (my fear/panic.)  She had no empathy whatsoever.  At least no apparent or obvious empathy.   We have a relative in our family who has many, many issues.  This relative is known to laugh at funerals.  At her own grandmother's funeral she sang, "Another One Bites The Dust" under her breath.   I was petrified...to say the least...to raise a daughter who might grow up to be someone similar to my insensitive, dysfunctional, very much disliked (yet loved) relative.  

Girlie really does struggle with this.  Her tendency is to laugh at the most inappropriate moments.   Like when the newborn baby is screaming with gas pains....or when brother is vomiting...or when Mom has a migraine.  It is not easy to deal with.  In the flesh...I want to return evil for evil.  I want to punish.  I want justice.    

My Mom, Girlie's Nana is going through some medical stuff.  Painful stuff.  Stuff which makes her cry.  Today, Nana cried....in front of Girlie.  Girlie did not laugh out loud....but she did smirk.  She tried to hide the smirk....but it was there.  Brother noticed and was highly offended. How could Girlie smirk?!?!?!?!?!?!?  What the heck was there to smirk about?!?!?!?!?!?!?

After Nana left, I pulled Girlie close to me and asked what she was feeling.  

"Nothing."

"Nothing?"  

Blank stare.

"I don't believe you. What are you feeling?"

Long Pause

"Mom, What do you think?"

"It doesn't matter what I think.  I know why you are smirking..... 

Do you know why you were smirking, that's the  question?"

Long Pause

"Why were you smirking?"

A quivering lip and the beginnings of tears.

"Because I love Nana and I'm worried about her.  I'm afraid."

Hug.

"Did Nana see you smirk?"

"I don't know."

"Well, if she did....do you think that maybe you might've hurt her feelings?"

"Yeah."

Do you want to call her?"

"Yeah."

Immediate relief.  She dialed Nana's number...which she knows by heart.

"Nana, it's me.  (shaking voice) I'm just calling to tell you that I love you and that I am worried about you."

""Thank you, Girlie.  I appreciate that," was Nana's response.

Here's the celebration:   No whiplash yet.  We've had a calm, peaceful home all afternoon.  Even though things could spiral downwards soon....they haven't yet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  MUCH MUCH MUCH to be thankful for!!!!!!!!!!!!  








Monday, November 24, 2008

Growth

In our experience, moments of growth and depth are always followed by days of turmoil.  The breakthroughs..... when they come.....are obviously frightening.  Things get off kilter.  Control shifts.  The frightened person grabs at and attempts to regain footing.  Parents experience whiplash.  Siblings experience whiplash.   Things often get ugly even though we don't want them to. We repent. Hopefully our frightened person softens and repents too.   And the family gets back on track.


There was no evidence of softening over here until a few hours ago....when I acted in opposition to what every bone in my body was screaming to do.....

YELL... YELL... YELL... CARRY ON... RANT & RAVE...NURSE MY WOUNDS AND HOLD A GRUDGE!!!!!!!!

....and obediently drew my girlie into an embrace and kissed and hugged..... and lifted her chin...... searching for and refusing to settle for anything less than deep eye contact.  Then more kisses and a tighter hug.  Eye contact.  Tender voice.  

"What's wrong?"..... I asked.

No answer.  

Tears.

"Tell me what's really wrong?  "Why are you crying?""

A hug back and more tears.  

"I'm sad that I am sinning against you.  And trying to go my own way.  And doing this.  Making life difficult. "

"I love you."

Another hug.  Tighter.

"I love you too."

Oh Lord, please turn our hearts towards our children and turn their hearts towards us.  
Tomorrow is a new day.  

        

  

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Center of Attention Verbage-Pt 4

We also talk about how that smile, laugh, kiss or action was pretend. (You cannot force a true reaction but you can discourage the fake one.) I will talk about how I love their real smiles, etc. and that they don't need to pretend. If they are using that pretend gesture to seek attention from a friend or relative, I will say, XX loves you because you are you. You don't need to make a pretend laugh with her. Depending on the intimacy of the relationship, it is great to be able to try again in the moment. Auntie, XX was pretending to laugh to get your attention. She wants to try again.  

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Please Note

There is a play scheduled for Phoenix.  Please email us if you'd like details. (See notes on right)

Center of Attention Verbage-Pt 3

There is a time to share what God has given you and what you are good at. But when you only want to talk about yourself, you are not being a good listener or a good friend. You are loving yourself.  The Bible says in John 15:17 that you need to love others.  You didn't choose to love your friends when you XX.  Instead, you can ask your friends how they are, what they have been doing, what did they do that day, etc. (Some of this is developmental but I am seeing over and over that attachment kids do not pick up on the social interactions/cues that their peers will. At every turn, we need to be equipping them with the right words to navigate a situation. They are being self-focused, but they also need to know the actions and the words on how to demonstrate selflessness).

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Center of Attention Verbage-Pt 2

I left the kids at my sisters for 3 hours. I came back and 2 came up with hugs and smiles. The third walked into the room, looked at me, walked around the corner and into the playroom. I had to go, find her, ask for a hug and tell her I missed her.
Not even 2 weeks later, her grandfather came to visit from out of state. She had not seen him in several months. When she saw him, she ran screaming with delight and jumped into his arms. Now this would not seem odd in some families but she NEVER does this for my husband or me. I called her to my side and whispered in her ear, "you may not be the center of attention."  She apologized, and we went on with the day. Later that night, as I tucked her in we talked in detail about her inappropriate behavior. I explained that she did not need to pretend with her grandfather. He loves her and does not need her to be the center of attention. Then we talked about the day at her auntie's. I said how it made me sad that she did not even say hi. You are my baby and when we see each other, you need to say hi, give me a hug, etc.

Now when these moments arise, I will stop her and tell her to try again. When she tries to be the center of attention with someone in our more intimate circle, I will say,(even in front of that person), "Oh, you don't need to dance or yell or be the center of attention XX loves you because you are you."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Center of Attention

Being the center of attention is a sin. It is not seeking the interests others (Phil 2:4), and it is seeking its own (1Cor 13:5) It is not cute or sweet or just kids. Quite often what others see of your "charming," "outgoing," "talkative," affectionate," child is far from what you see in your home. They are not showing you those cute little dance moves or snuggling you when no one is looking. It is for the show of others. It is hard to believe it can be wrapped up in those tiny little bodies, with twinkling eyes and a killer smile. But it is.
Examples:
~Places his head in between your face and another person-usually an adult.
~sings extraordinarily loudly when others are around (we have a lot of music in our home but you can insert talks, tap dances, claps hands as you see)
~interrupts conversation you may be having to tell nonsensical story (I ask the sample lady at costco something about the product. Girlie interrupts and begins to tell a story-out of nowhere- about nametags at dance class. Lady at costco looks at me and her like we are nuts. Smile and walk away)
~begins being uncharacteristically affectionate with Mom in public
~chats and chats and chats and chats with acquaintances/strangers

Solutions-Part one:
In the moment, I will call her to my side and hold her hand. When I have a moment, I will lean down and whisper in her ear, "when you put your face in front of Daddy when he is speaking to Mr. X, you are being the center of attention." She knows it so she will usually accept the discipline of having to stand or sit by my side. If she persists I tell her she will choose a discipline when we get home. Now, how did we get to this spot? It has happened enough in our family circle that we have talked about wanting the attention of others. When X happened, you wanted everyone's eyes on you. The Bible calls that sin because you do not want everyone to have fun and have attention (or share or hear or xxx). You want all the fun and attention on you. That is inappropriate.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day Love

No matter the outcome.....God is on the throne, He will still reign in our hearts, relationships and lives if we let Him. And He will still send us love notes in the most unexpected places! Be encouraged, beloved, we are not walking this path alone!!!


(contributed by a fellow reader)

Monday, November 3, 2008

smooth sailing

I can't help but wonder (not in a sassy way...but in a curious way) at the families I encounter who have been brought together through the blessing of adoption who communicate to the world that.... "All has been.... and is..... running soooo well and so smoothly."

In my mind, the children with the most troublesome red flags are the ones who appear to show no issues whatsoever. Isn't it virtually impossible to walk away from our first environments (orphanage, birth mother womb, bio family) without some sort of wound to our soul? Lord.....sincerely....from the bottom of my heart..... I hope so.


We are the adoptive parents of two girls home from two different countries. One has obviously had a more difficult road to travel attachment wise....but both have had their share of struggles. Even the one who adjusted more readily...and more obviously. Her heart has carried a wound....barely discernable to some....but present and in need of healing....nevertheless.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Watermark Love

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"I Like That" Answers

I have been saying, "Oh, it sounds like you are having a hard time trusting Mommy. Do you want to try again? " Then she will usually give some other version of what she just said. I then respond, "Oops. Try again. Mommy knows what you want. Mommy wants to take care of you. When you need something, you can ask me." I will also, depending on how often it has happened THAT day, sometimes add something like 'if mommy says no, I still love you.' Unfortunately, if she does gather the courage to ask, it usually scares her into a crazy afternoon. But we have to keep trying to give her the socially appropriate and trusting answers.
Cate
_____________________________________________

I'm a bit firmer w/my girlie. Most likely due to the fact that I have been at this for going on eight years now :)

Our conversations go something like this:

Girlie: Random untrusting comment.......such and such about so and so and this and that.........

Me: I do not answer comments like that....especially when they are made with no eye contact. Please, go in the other room and think about things until you are able to treat me like the loving mother I am, have proven myself to be over the last eight some odd years and will forever be to you."

I sometimes add..."The Lord chose your mom and dad. He knew we were the perfect family for one another. If you do not trust us....could it be that you are really having an issue w/Him...the One who loves you even more than we do?" (then)
"That's a lot of love."


The good news: She's usually back w/in a minute or two....expressing her needs and trusting me to meet them. Hugs and kisses afterwards to seal the deal.
Dawn

Monday, October 27, 2008

Textbook-detail

Okay, so I was thinking this morning we don't really know where all of you are at. Maybe you are in the thick of it and when we say "textbook" you say, "um, yeah, had one this morning." But maybe you are in the process of adopting and learning or have a little one home and are curious as to whether or not what you are struggling with is attachment or not. We will try and post more discussion about what some of the things listed to the right look like. Also, if you have questions, please do not hesitate to comment or email us and we'll talk about them-at least from our experience.

Okay, so textbook responses look like the following:
My husband and I left our girls with our closest friends for 4 hours to go to a meeting. This is a home they are in regularly, are intimates with their children and comfortable in. 2 of our children missed us and asked things like, "when is mommy coming?" or "where is mommy?" or "I want my mommy." Our attachment girlie asked, "Are you my mommy or is my mommy my mommy?"
I am thankful for these moments because they remind me how far we have to go. It is not something I would see/hear about if they never had the experience away.


Example #2:
All three children were caught having given a large teddy bear a haircut. When questioned individually, 2 said things like 'because I wanted to' or 'he needed a cut.' Attachment Girlie said, "because Daddy wasn't watching."

Example #3:
Mommy is eating vanilla pudding. Typical response from child, "oooo, Mommy, may I have pudding, too, please?" Attachment Girlie, "Are you eating pudding? I like pudding. Pudding is good." But will NOT ask for pudding.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Typical

Thank you, Lord, for textbook behavior from our children. Thank you that though they are struggling emotionally and socially, we can so clearly see their behavior. Thank you that their lies are crazy and their responses are nutty. Thank you that in these textbook behaviors we can be affirmed that it's not just "kid behavior" or "like everyone else's kid." It is a hard road, but today I am thankful for this little reminder.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sent in by a reader. A little ruffled love for our week-end :)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Photo Update

The following is a response I recently made to a post on a fellow blogger's site.

It reminded me of Cate's thoughts a few days ago.
____________________________________________

We began photographing/videoing the melt downs. Our girlie was horrified to think that others might someday see the her that we get to see.

I told her that without doubt.... I needed to document the tantrums....because one day her therapist might be interested to have a visual aid, or her future husband (Lord BLESS him!) might like to see what he might be getting himself into......or that Daddy would definitely be interested when he got home from work...or that just for Mommies sanity...I needed to share with a girlfriend so that I could get advice on whether or not I was overreacting to the constant center-of-attention, disruptive, fits of rage, and foaming at the mouth episodes that monopolized the entire family and kept me away from my four other children?????!?!?!

It didn't take long for those sorts of tantrums to lessen in intensity...and for the most part....cease to exist.

I believe she frightened herself into sobriety.

_____________________________________________

And the best part is that we haven't photographed or videoed in quite a long while....because the need has disappeared.

Friday, October 10, 2008

It's 1:13...after lunch. I just heard my girlie apologize to her sister for ruining her birthday morning. She has repented without my verbal prodding.

We did travel down the consistent, loving, firm discipline road a few hours ago :) and the house has been quite quiet since. Lots of "thinking" going on.

This could've easily turned in to an all day affair....but comparatively speaking (compared to the living hell we have been thru on other occasions)........it was a short and sweet episode. Evidence of healing.

Tool Box

So.....after 8 years with us....my girlie has revealed much lately to her dear old parents.....who never had so much as a clue. Bottled up inside her petrified self preserving little heart has been the thought that simple household tools....like hammers and screwdrivers are actually torture devices. It seems she's been waiting for us to break them out in some manner other than what week-end chores call for.

We know a few things about her past....but had no idea that she has been afraid of the junk drawer and Papa's (Granddad's) garage since the day she came home. In her words...so recently and eloquently put....."Yeah, I kept thinking what the heck is he gonna do with those evil things?"

Now I try to remember back to those unexplained homework lesson melt down days and wonder if she might have been triggered by a visual perhaps? You know.....me hanging a picture on the wall....or a simple line drawing perhaps...... of a hammer in a phonics book or something as random as that? Who knew?

I do think the Lord reveals what we need to know when we need to know it. And I am thankful that He holds some things from us when He does. Wouldn't we just lay down and die if we knew it all?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Get Out the Camera!!!

In our worlds, we have taken pictures of our kids during fits. There are two reasons I think this is so necessary.
First, Dawn has used this well, and I followed her lead one day when my girlie wouldn't change her heart. I took a picture of her with one of her "looks." (you know THOSE looks. I think she saves them up just for me. :) She was so mad at the time, she didn't even care I was taking her pictures. But later, in a quiet moment, I showed her. She was horrified. I think it was the first picture of her where she wasn't cute, cuddly and happy. A mirror also works well. They are caught in the moment and don't have a concept of self-control, self-awareness or being others centered. I think it really helps them understand even a little bit!

The second is for you. I wanted to post this today because of an unexpected moment. I needed to delete some of my thousands of pics and videos from my computer. The need for more hard drive space was agitating. It is not how I wanted to spend my evening. But that irritant, as usual, was going to be used by the Lord. I found a video from the first week my daughter was home from the orphanage. I played it. and sat in shock. She was out of control. She looks like she needs ritalin. And A LOT of it. But as it played, my shock turned to a bit of calm. I though, "oh, she doesn't do that anymore. Or that. Oh, that I didn't see all day today." etc. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord. She is growing. These steps are painfully small sometimes. But she is growing. So get out the camera. Now and in six months and in a year. During a calm moment and during a crazy cycle. It will help you feel like it's not all in vain.

Saturday, October 4, 2008




this was sent in by one of our readers. . . a love note right in her backyard!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Affirmation

"Listen, O Daughter, consider and give ear:
Forget your people and your father's house.
The King is enthralled by your beauty:
Honor Him, for He is your Lord. Psalm 45:10-11"



your identity is not defined by your RADical child. You are a daughter of the King of kings, and He loves you!

Whole Heart

As I beg for my child's "whole heart"...I wonder if I have truly given the Lord mine?
Resurrection Sunday - 10

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

"Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me" (Luke 7:23).

It is sometimes very difficult not to be offended in Jesus Christ. The offenses may be circumstantial. I find myself in a prison-house -- a narrow sphere, a sick chamber, an unpopular position -- when I had hoped for wide opportunities. Yes, but He knows what is best for me. My environment is of His determining. He means it to intensify my faith, to draw me into nearer communion with Himself, to ripen my power. In the dungeon my soul should prosper. The offense may be mental. I am haunted by perplexities, questions, which I cannot solve. I had hoped that, when I gave myself to Him, my sky would always be clear; but often it is overspread by mist and cloud. Yet let me believe that, if difficulties remain, it is that I may learn to trust Him all the more implicitly -- to trust and not be afraid. Yes, and by my intellectual conflicts, I am trained to be a tutor to other storm-driven men.
The offense may be spiritual. I had fancied that within His fold I should never feel the biting winds of temptation; but it is best as it is. His grace is magnified. My own character is matured. His Heaven is sweeter at the close of the day. There I shall look back on the turnings and trials of the way, and shall sing the praises of my Guide. So, let come what will come, His will is welcome; and I shall refuse to be offended in my loving Lord. --Alexander Smellie

Blessed is he whose faith is not offended, When all around his way
The power of God is working out deliverance For others day by day;
Though in some prison drear his own soul languish,
Till life itself be spent,
Yet still can trust his Father's love and purpose,
And rest therein content.
Blessed is he, who through long years of suffering,
Cut off from active toil,
Still shares by prayer and praise the work of others,
And thus "divides the spoil."
Blessed are thou, O child of God, who sufferest, And canst not understand
The reason for thy pain, yet gladly leavest
Thy life in His blest Hand.
Yea, blessed art thou whose faith is "not offended"
By trials unexplained,
By mysteries unsolved, past understanding,
Until the goal is gained. --Freda Hanbury Allen

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

P.S.

As a follow-up to Dawn's post yesterday, I wanted to share something. It may be obvious, but I have had the thought several times today. Maybe it is the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The blog world is something unlike people have had in the past. There is comfort in knowing you are not alone, despite miles or countries in between. But sometimes it helps to hash things out-one-on-one. You might not have a listening ear near you. We know God has called us to be that shoulder to moms with kids struggling to attach. Do not hesitate to email us if you don't want to post, even anonymously, here on the blog. We are here.
attachinghearts@yahoo.com

Monday, September 29, 2008

After speaking with a girlfriend who needed to be "talked down from the cliff".... I realize how much I appreciate the ability to be transparent and authentic before my sisters. Without your prayers, support, and cheer leading...I would be less of a mother.

Thank you. From the bottom of my heart...for loving me when I am unlovable.

It is not personal.



It is not personal.


It is not personal.


I know it feels it.  I know it seems your child may be better off with someone else.  I know you think they will obey or grow or change with someone else.   It is not personal.  It is your position, what you represent and how you make them feel.  Press in, beloved, He does not make mistakes and will equip you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Snuggles

I rock my children, 2 ways. I don't do them every day, but probably should.
1-One at a time, I give them a Milk Dud-note to self, buy more Milk Duds- and snuggle them into my arms like a little baby. Their job is to not touch it with their fingers (you want the sweetness to linger) and look in Mommy's eyes. I then tell them, "You are precious. You are loved. You are chosen. You are beautiful. You are sweet. You are loving. I love your laugh. I love your big brown eyes. I love to snuggle you. I love being your Mommy. Jesus loves you. You are the apple of His eye. He formed you in the womb. He has a plan for your life. I know you waited a long time. I know things were not easy. I know you were scared and sad sometimes. But now you are home forever. I am so happy you are here. And God will use all of it. You will have a beautiful story to tell one day. I love you."

2-I give them a sippy cup or bottle of vanilla milk. Their job is to look at Mommy's eyes and let Mommy hold the cup. I look in her eyes and tell her her story. "A long time ago, Jesus told Mommy I was to have a baby girl. Mommy and Daddy prayed and learned you were waiting for us in Haiti. I looked on my computer and saw this beautiful picture........"

I have done this regularly for 9 months now. I gaze at them lovingly, smiling as I talk to them. After all of this time, just the other day, Radtastic looked at me in absolute shock and said, "Oh, Mommy is smiling at me." I am not sure how to even respond to this. It is hard because it seems like everything I do to build attachment is thrown against a brick wall. It is also jarring. What kind of fog is she living in if she is not aware of these simple moments. It is also a bit promising. A moment of breakthrough. I say a bit because it is so discouraging to work and work and work for essentially nothing. It is the readjustment of expectations. It is another realization of the delay. But I don't let my thoughts show. I gird up my loins for the long haul, smile sweetly and say, "yes, honey, Mommy smiles at you because I love you."

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pool Fence Love

Friday, September 12, 2008

Fathers (Click PAUSE on MUSIC PLAYER first)



I have a dear sister in Christ who lives far away...but never seems far away...if you know what I mean.  When we talk on the phone, it's usually regarding the kids, home-education, life's inevitable ups and downs etc.....and we ALWAYS LAUGH OUT LOUD at some point during our conversations...possibly because we have a quirky take on things?  I don't know.  We don't really give much thought as to why we usually seem to be the only ones giggling.  This ride we're on....this roller coaster called life....as frightening as it can often be....also has a great potential for fun!  


My girlfriend has six children, one home through adoption and somehow she's fitting in the studies required to become a family therapist.  After a difficult moment in her home, she posted the following quote on her blog.     

"More than anything else I could ever do, the gospel enables me to embrace my tribulations and thereby position myself to gain full benefit from them.  For the gospel is the one great permanent circumstance in which I live and move;and every hardship in my life is allowed by God only because it serves His gospel purpose in me.  When I view my circumstances in this light, I realize that the gospel is not just one piece of good news that fits into my life somewhere among all the bad.  I realize instead that the gospel makes genuinely good news out of every other aspect of my life, including my severest trials.  The good news about my trials is that God is forcing them to bow to His gospel purposes and to do good unto me by improving my character and making me more conformed to the image of Christ."  
Milton Vincent's Gospel Primer

I'm including it here because I find it a great reminder today...of the truth it communicates.  

There are many Christ followers out there who are feeling disappointed in the Lord for His allowing difficult circumstances to enter their lives (attachment struggles included.)  He could have prevented this and He chose not to. He has abandoned us/me.  He is punishing us/me.  He must not really love us/me. Maybe we/I made this decision in our/my flesh and now we/I am living out the consequences of my distrust and lack of patience. 

I felt very much this way after 5 miscarriages...during marital trouble...during career/financial woes...during relational lows etc.   I still struggle with feeling this way when yukkkk hits hard.... as it often does.   

CHRISTians, no matter what mess we are in...the circumstances....the ways in which we arrived there....all of it has passed through the throne room of the King .  

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." 
Romans 8:28

Every single time an attachment issue arises today...every time you feel rejected by your child...every time you are challenged...every time you are ignored...every time you are blamed...every time you are on the receiving end of the anger....the fear......

hold a mirror to yourself.....
and ask....

Lord, am I okay with You?  Or.....is this what I am doing to You?  Am I very much like my child at this moment?

We cannot ask even a question like this on our own...outside of the Lord's prompting.  He makes the first move.  The parent makes the first move....towards the child. 

Just like Jesus...we pursue the hearts of our children and we give them ours.  

Unlike Jesus, we sin in doing so. 

Turn.

We are loved.  We are forgiven.  
 

  
                          


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lessons from The Radio

Christian radio station is playing in the car......"Glory in the Highest, He reigns!"

Baby asks, "Mommy, what is 'He reigns'?"  
Mommy, "Jesus has control over everything."
Baby, "Ohhhh, just like Sissy."
Mommy, "Oh, no.  Sissy wants control, but Mommy is helping her learn Jesus and Mommy have control."

Having a child with attachment struggles disrupts and takes away from the other children.  Sometimes hourly, usually daily.  With these challenges, it is at least comforting the others are learning if Jesus has control, life is easier for you.  Things will go well with you, you will be safe, cherished and provided for.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Slow and Steady

Okay....so today was GREAT but for a period of time....this evening wasn't anywhere near lovely. There was an ugly meltdown over the homework situation...or more specifically the STUPID HOMEWORK situation!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Never lost eye contact though...and it only lasted about an hour. Girlie even chuckled at herself when she realized that I had flat lined.  Me flat lining.... is that moment when ZERO appears...where I do nothing but stare w/zero reaction.   Her one man show...laughing at herself and crying all by herself ....throwing a grand old pity party with no other guests in attendance was short lived.  She noticed quickly how absurd the scene was.     

After a while...she wandered back into the living room in her pj's and gave me a kiss goodnight and an apology before bed.  Then she asked for a back tickle.  All that to say....two steps forward...one step back.  One step at a time...we are making progress.  Slow and steady wins the race.  Take courage!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Our girlie did well at co-op today.  Fourteen families gather together weekly during the academic year to study all sorts of different things...depending on the needs, desires, talents, leanings etc. of the group.   This year....it's Elections/U.S. Constitution/AZ History.....Literature.....General Science.......and Math for Girlie's age group. We left the house at 8:30 and arrived home again 7 hours later after a long first day filled with new teachers (all girlfriends of mine...or girlfriends of girlfriends,) new rules, new info and new expectations. Lots to panic over...fertile soil for stress if you are the type to get stressed out.  


Girlie made it through the day without incident....in fact she did super well.  She did cry in the car afterwards....fearful, frustrated,  and overwhelmed by everything on her plate.....but only in front of Mom...where she new she could be vulnerable and felt protected.   It was sweet.   

It is just after dinner and she has already completed her Math assignment, defined her Literature vocabulary words and written an apology note to the Elections teacher...whom she interrupted by talking w/out first raising her hand.  She's wanting to move onto the next thing....but is spiraling into "overload mode."  Obviously, she needs to relax so I pulled the plug...saying, "Stop now, for the night.  Tomorrow's a new day. Go relax."  I am very proud of her.

Change is not always easy.  She is working hard and wants to rise to the occasion.

If you home-educate and deal with attachment stuff, can I humbly recommend looking into a co-op?  The Lord has provided a place for me with like-minded women whom I respect and trust.  My girlie gets the best they have to offer.  I get relationship time with ladies who inspire me.  And my relationship with my girlie is all the better for it.  (Just be sure to have well- communicated boundaries in place that meet the needs of your individual family.)

We co-op w/all five of our kids...and would do so if attachment issues never entered our life.  This method the Lord has provided works well for us and in His wisdom.... is an added bonus for Girlie.  

Sharing the academic loads placed under our stewardship while still being fully accountable and responsible for them has been a saving grace for our family.      

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Crazy Face

We had a lot of CRAZY facial expressions at first.  Over exaggerated stuff.  Inappropriate reactions...toooooooo dramatic...straaaaange.  There was no concept after 4.5 years of being in an institutionalized setting of what was appropriate.  


Girlie had no idea that one did not have to open their mouth THISWIDE while eating...or that your face did not have to be THISSCRUNCHEDUPINAGAONY while brushing teeth.  There was no concept of a shy smile. Each smile was a HUGEHUMONGOUSCRAZYLAUGHATTENTIONGRABBER.  

Well, of course there was no modeling of appropriate social behavior.  Lots of needy kids cramped in dingy living quarters and overworked underpaid nannies.  Who has time to teach such basics? 

A mother does.  A father does.  

We used the mirror as a tool.  

"That's not quite alright, girlie....go do it again in the mirror.  Take your food with you....and eat in the mirror" etc.  " That laugh is a bit much.  Do it again in the mirror."  

"Are you in pain?"
"No."
"Well, go look in the mirror, because you appear as if you are about to die." 


Monday, September 1, 2008

Own Language

Attaching is all about establishing the intimate circle.  What is the difference between you as Mom versus every other kind lady?   Here's another idea from our house.  We have our own words for things.... for kisses, for hugs, for cuddles.  Some are in our girls native tongue, others just goofy things we say.  Some is intentional for bonding, some is just family culture....which is attaching, too.  You only get bo-bo's, squishes, pinkies and snugglebugs from Mommy and Daddy. Other people just get high fives and hugs.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sunday Update:

All that DRAMA...and it boiled down to  "I just don't like being told what to do."  "I'm sorry for the last few days."   

Lots of eye contact....a "please forgive me (because you're my mom and you love me)" half smile....half about to cry look...and what I believe to be a true softening.

It seems one lie was needed to cover up the first disobedience (dipping the paintbrush into the paint when told not to and then not rinsing the paint out....therefore ruining the paintbrush)........and then the next lie was needed to cover up the second disobedience ("yes," I vacuumed"....when in fact that was a 99.9 % fabrication (the vacuum was clogged....so no need to go further).  
   
So the bottom line.....if you obey....then there's no need to cover up.  "Yeah, I thought of that....but it was just so hard for me to get out of it,"  came the response with a heavy sigh.

One things for sure....we address sin around our home.  And there's plenty of it.  My hubby and I had a knock down drag out this week as well.  It was a looooong drawn out doosey.  If I was a scrapbooker....it might make a cute page :)....you know, to reflect back on in our old age.

Seven sinners living under one roof!  Without the Holy Spirit's presence....we would be soooooo deep in it and utterly w/out hope.  

Always....the Lord does His convicting work...repentance comes and then the healing work begins.  Thank you, Lord....for Your steadfastness.  When I faint...You are there to catch and carry me.

btw.....a different kid lied this morning about something totally ridiculous and had to be disciplined before walking out the door to church.  Nice :)

I'm going to climb into bed w/my daughters and cuddle for a while.  My girlie wants to be tickled.  Soft, gentle, tickle/scratches...on arms....legs....necks....backs....it's one of our favorite things of all times.  

Really....she is a sinful, hormonal pre-teen who had a bad few days.  Bummer for them, but our kiddos have parents who do not let many things slide.  Not in a mean "tow the line" way... but in a "let's nip this rotten fruit in the bud" sort of way.     Others....might have and avoided the uncomfortable times we had the pleasure of visiting this week.  We on the other hand....got to the bottom of the heart issues....addressed them and have hopefully made a dent in rooting them out.        

The Lord is good.  

He is the healer of broken hearts.
__________________________________________________________________
So we are four days in to the HE Double Hockey Sticks nightmare ...and I'm only hoping we've rounded a corner. 

I thought we were through the thick of it last night...but was proved wrong againandagainandagain today. 

Tonight...as spasms were radiating up by mid back area...through my shoulder blades ...up my neck and into my temples....my girlie struggling w/RAD joined me in the bathroom while I soaked in my second scalding tub of the evening and declared that she had a stronger verb for what she was doing with her behavior than "pushing away."  The word she offered to me on a silver platter..........drum roll please................is "repelling."  She learned it through some Science reading she did today.  She is repelling me.    

Is that just the icing on the cake?

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Little Love



this was sent to us from another mother. 
we love that you, too, are looking for love messages!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lord, Lord

This Sunday, the pastor led us in a study in 1Peter 2:1-6. There was a strong reminder of the narrow path... the one way to the Lord. My mind could not help but drift to the passage of Matthew 7:21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven."
Then, of course, my mind was led to the emptiness in my daughter's voice most times when she says, "Mommy, mommy." It feels so fake, so forced. Often when I bring up attachment in adoption circles, I hear oh, he knows I'm his mom. Or she knows who she goes home to. Hmm, I wonder if the child thinks that is her name-Like Nanny Mary or Mrs. Smith. Does she have a concept of what a mother is or who that is to be? A child struggling to attach certainly doesn't understand the way you pursue him or nurture him or want his best. He doesn't understand what a mommy is. I just don't want to assume the calling of a name really equals a relationship. Some of us have the raging, overt kiddos. Others, the subtle manipulative ones that may not be as far along as they appear to be.
Oh, Lord, my Lord, tonight please prick our hearts, lay bare the motives and reveal the truth in the relationships we are striving to have with our children. We want authenticity in everything, Lord, not just in the actions.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

H.... E.... Double Hockey Sticks

Almost everything that could possibly hit the fan..... hit the fan today. I covet your prayers.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sharing

My girlie struggling with Rad likes to go into my closet. I find her in there all the time. Browsing through things. Trying things on. She's rather petite but fits into a few of my "t" shirts......and sometimes I let her wear pieces of my daintier jewelry. Lately, she's been trying on my shoes. Her feet and her voice are the only LARGE things about her :) It looks as if she's got about a 1/2 size to go....which means I'd better not develop a "hands off" policy anytime soon.

Sharing my "stuff."

It's one of the ways of "connecting" and "bonding" that seems to touch her heart.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Family Whistle

We have a "family whistle." My father learned it from his father. It was passed down to me....and picked up by my hubby. We have used it with all of our kids. At sporting events....at the park, at the video store....

When we are in the market...shopping for groceries in different aisles and I need help.... or the cart..... or to know where each and everyone is....I whistle. I get a whistle/s back and we reconnect.

We have used the whistle for years and years....long before attachment issues popped up in our lives...but I think "The Whistle" helps my girlie who struggles with RAD feel as if she is part of something set apart and special....a family. Part of an identifiable group of connected people who have their own "inside language."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The "I Love You" Squeeze

In our family....we hold hands all the time. When we are driving in the car....walking about town to and fro....sitting on the couch...or in the pew. It doesn't matter who's around...it makes no difference if we are in a public place like Home Depot or Chipotle (even w/the teens :) ....we hold hands.

I like to give the kids a special, private message...three quick squeezes....I.....Love....You.

It's so sweet when the only response is..... three quick squeezes back....I....Love....You.

Or even when the "I Love You" gesture is initiated by them. And then I get to respond.

No words. Nothing embarrassing. Just private squeezes shared between hearts.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Mirror

Having trouble with eye contact?

Whenever we did....I would take my girlie struggling w/RAD into the bathroom and we would face the mirror together. Her trouble was greatly reduced and we could talk "eye to eye." It's as if the mirror gave her some sort of protection....some sort of security.

After a while.....we didn't need the mirror as much....and now, no more.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


A little Fruity Pebble love.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Caution to CHRISTians

"What a journey. I love that the Lord doesn't reveal everything at once. I think if He did we would all just fall down and die. He is so good to us in that He gives us blinders when we need it and removes them when we are ready. What would we hesitate to do...or even fail to do if we knew it all up front?"

Listen. Listen. Listen.
The Lord has given us our particular children intentionally....for very specific...and particular reasons. If we are Spirit led...and seek His wisdom...He will reveal to us what is best for our families. Not all advice/information/techniques to assist in our parenting or offered to foster healing will feel right. Use what does. Do what works. We rocked in a rocking chair...went back to bottle feeding...went back to diapers....etc....before we even knew what RAD was. Had never read a word.....but knew deep down what was needed. He will whisper to your heart...what must be done.

There is so much info on RAD out there. A caution to Christians...we want to make sure we are building our homes on strong foundations while not tearing them down at the same time with worldly methods. Seek Him first....and red flags will begin to pop up. He will show us what is not lasting and what is. And if you get off track for a season......turn and get on track again. Don't cry over the bunny trails.

I'm off to the pool w/the kiddos...but I have one lingering thought...What might the Lord who loves us be trying to teach us through RAD trials? Could we possibly be unattached/struggling to attach children ourselves?

Our Father wants desperately for us to look full in His wonderful face.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Creative Parenting

Attachment disciplining very often goes against the natural instinct for what you would do. For example, a disregulated child needs a time-in in the same room as mom, not a time-out isolated in their own room. This is when staying focused on the Lord is so necessary. You need the prompting of the Holy Spirit to really know what the child needs in the moment. Take yesterday:
I gave two of my kiddos the chore of unloading the dishwasher. (One struggling with attachment, one not). I then went into another room with another child. The two joined us a few minutes later. "Is the dishwasher empty?" Struggling to Attach says, " "yes, it is finished." Her sister is too young to take responsibility for this or to know what is needed to be done. About 20 minutes later, I went into the kitchen to find the dishwasher empty EXCEPT the silverware. Child is questioned and she stammers and ums until she admits she lied and wanted control. (boo for the action, yay for identifying it). I then said, "Oh, that makes mommy sad that you do not trust mommy and wanted control. (HS prompts my heart and I call her sister in) Now, your sister GETS to finish helping mommy by putting the silverware away. Sister still thinks this is the greatest thing ever (yes she is little!) and is happy dancing. Older sister stands wounded watching her sister finish the chore. She then says, Mommy, I am sad because I lied to you. I am sorry, Mommy. WOW! In tears, in my arms, repenting. Thank you, Lord!! I know that my reaction would typically be to put her in the corner and probably spiral her for the day. But the response in the Lord was not typical and curbed her behavior faster than anything I have seen before!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thirdday Video

Don't forget to click PAUSE on our Music Player.

It's been so long since
You felt like you were loved
So what went wrong
But do you know
There's a place where you belong
Here in My Arms

Chorus:
When you feel like you're alone in your sadness
It seems like no one else in this whole world cares
And you want to get away from the madness
You just call My name and I'll be there
You just call My name and I'll be there

The pain inside
Has erased your hope for love
Soon you will find
That I'll give you all
That your heart could ever want
And so much more

You just call My name, say it now
I want you to never doubt
The love I have for you is so alive
Call My name say it now
I want you to never doubt
The love I have for you is so alive

Welcome to Holland

Welcome to Holland"
By Emily Perl Kingsley, 1987. All rights reserved.

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away...because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss. But...if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

Major Praise Over Here

This post was originally sent out over a month ago. It's evidence of the highs and lows that come w/RAD territory....given my last post....during the whole bangs meltdown/lying about a pinch.... episode. Can anyone say....emotional whiplash???????????????????



Major praise over here! We went away for 8 days and had maaaaaybe
3-4?????? very minor incidents. Very, very minor....predictable things like brief lapses in eye contact etc.

This time.....no dramatic hissy fits over seemingly ridiculous things..... no center of attention stuff...no dining room timeouts in front of hundreds of strangers...no Mexican ambulance rides to take care of centipede-like creature of mysterious origin stings (she was told not to touch and of course...ignored the warning.)

Hopefully...it's more evidence of healing.

While we were away....when she chose sassiness.....it was no more sassy than the others.

We currently have a lovely, age-appropriately obedient, submissive more times than not, somewhat self-controlled, teachable, responsive, pre-teen daughter..... who seems to have decided for some unknown reason that she likes the looks of us and desires to keep us around. Could this change within the next hour? Sure. My head is not in the clouds. Even so.........

Maybe it's the prayers....
Maybe it's the consistency and hard work....
Maybe it's the timing......
Maybe it's everything working together for the good......

All I know is that with each of my children.....without submission to the Lord there will be no forever fruit. Please pray that He will reveal himself...that His love would be recognized...that there would be a turning from self reliance...an acceptance of His provision...and growth in knowledge and grace.

We need prayer for the healing of all the hearts in the home wounded by RAD.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Growth

My girlie w/ RAD issues had a meltdown today over the task of styling her
"STUPID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! whispy bangs." Seeing that she needed help in the self control area of life I located the scissors and snipped away....creating a very cute, heavy fringe across her forehead. Obviously when she needs to learn how to deal w/ordinary, every day things like bangs I will provide her with an opportunity to do so....because I am a loving mother who desires only the best for her.

Today, she also claimed her brother pinched her when he didn't and stood in a corner for 45 minutes (in a church meeting w/ a roomful of witnesses) before admitting that it was a lie. At least there was no foaming at the mouth and the episode was relatively short.....in comparison to the 5-12 hour battles we used to deal with.

And more good news.....wounded brother did not react as inappropriately as he used to...and Mom didn't break a sweat. GROWTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Things That Have Worked

I am so encouraged to see how many parents are fighting for their children. Fighting for depth in relationships and fighting for discipleship. I'm posting a few things that have been brought to mind...which we've chosen...sometimes by instinct....sometimes by trial and error...which I believe have worked well.... so far....... with all 5 of our kids
------------------------------------------------
Home-Education (w/ co-ops)

Pulling out of Sunday School (thru jr. high)

Multi generational corporate worship

co-sleeping (always in early childhood & off and on as desired)

co-bathing w/Mom (boys early childhood / girls indefinitely)

no baby sitters (besides grandparents)

close circle of friendships with lots of like-minded supervision and accountability

consistent , firm, loving discipline (not punishment....we continue to learn this the hard way)

lots of repentance

lots of forgiveness

It is obviously by the Lord's design that what makes sense for our family....these parenting techniques which feel correct for us....also make a world of difference in dealing with RAD stuff. Now there are many RAD specific tools we have used....but that's for another post.

I hope you have a blessed day of rest with your families.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Adult RAD

As an adult, if you think you are struggling with attachment issues from your childhood, there is hope. There is always hope. Healing will be a long road, a hard road of difficult choices. It may be that doing the right thing in relationships around you will never FEEL natural. But God and His Word can take us from the deepest pit and set our feet on solid ground. In many ways, the way you may have learned to relate to others is like an addiction. In an uncomfortable moment how do you overcome? Sometimes, just like an addict, you must moment by moment, submit and trust that the Lord will give you the way out, heal your heart and help you overcome!
In the hard moments have committed to memory scripture that will refocus your heart in those moments.
Philippians 3:12-14... no matter where you have come from, what has been done to you or what you have chosen, today's mercies are new, press in!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Attachment speaking we've had a pretty good couple of days and then BAM! Out of nowhere, being trailed by some emotional whiplash for mom, is a rad-tastic morning. Let's just say I was woken at 5 and the morning is only 1/2 over. UGH.


I want to curl up with the Word at my Savior's feet, but there 4 hours til rest time. Until then, I'll catch my quick moments in my mind and fight my flesh that wants to push her away.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Ezzo

This will be controversial but, WOW! Reading up on the many families.... including RAD families who have been at the best side-tracked....and at the worst traumatized by Dr. Ezzo's (Growing Kids God's Way) teachings.

It simply does not make sense to me to allow any..... BABY...... to cry for any lengthy period of time. But keep in mind, we have always been an on demand feeding, co-bathing, co-sleeping sort of clan. You can take the Christians out of the hippie but you can't take the hippie out of the Christians :)
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If you are anything like Bradley and I....you fail often in your parenting choices.

You have sinned and punished your children rather than disciplined them...or failed to do anything at all when called to soothe them.

Repent.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Heart Change

I am breathless ....genuinely breathless...with the knowledge of how intimately our Lord walks with us. I promise you....without being able to see him physically or hear Him audibly....He is at my side today whispering to me. Maybe more like talking in a normal voice.... for I'm not straining at all to hear Him. He is being very, very clear.

Lately...over the last month...I have been more deeply processing the lessons I am being taught while dealing with multiple attachment challenged relationships in my life...and maybe being given new passion for the battlefield... or simply fresh articulation skills.

After a long conversation with my husband this morning... and the recent turning over in our brains of the very same ideas again and again with ----, I am convinced more than ever that the world would have us deal with attachment challenges  in a worldly way but that the Lord would have us deal with it in an entirely different manner.

We are all scarred individuals. Each and every one of us. We all haul baggage around with us ...granted some drag heavier loads than others...but it's baggage just the same...until the burdens are lifted. I think of John Bunyan's fair young pilgrim, Christian and am reminded of this very truth.

Pavlov's Theory. In a nutshell....behaviorists would have us believe that if you change the environment...you change the behavior. For instance, a neglected child can be taken from a non ideal environment and placed into an ideal environment and because of the change....we can expect to see true and lasting change. We all know that this theory does not always pan out. There are many people who are confronted with love....true love...and never accept it or reciprocate.

We are not after behavior modification. The Bible tells us that the only true change grows out of a heart change. We are after heart change.

As parents of children w/attachment struggles......we can try until we are blue in the face to provide safety....provide security....to be present... (all good things) but it's not until the Lord softens the heart of a hurting individual...that any of it it will add up to a hill of beans.

The problem with the enemy is that He is skilled at using our wounds, weaknesses, struggles & challenges against us.

Sad, lonely, frightening, abusive, highly dysfunctional childhoods.....not easy or pretty...I agree.

Add that to our problem of being wretched sinners who follow after the evil desires of our own hearts...and we have a greenhouse with perfect soil conditions and temperature..... for trust and control issues to thrive.

Parents, as the stewards of the flowers in our particular garden ...we must consistently work at removing the weeds which threaten our buds. Digging them out at the roots....cutting off their supply of nourishment and focusing on the health of the young shoot before us. But if we think we can grow those young shoots...we are mistaken. We do not have that kind of power.

It is the Lord who breaks through a non-trusting, fearful, disobedient, self serving, self protecting heart.  Not Mommy. Not Daddy. Not siblings. Not grandparents. Not a therapist. Not a pastor. Not a teacher or a friend or a doctor. He can use people to prepare the soil, plant, and water the seeds...but ultimately, He must be the Surgeon who performs the surgery and the Physician who heals the wounds.

Point hearts to the Lord. I'm convinced all else is vanity.

By the way, this stuff translates to every believer's life. At one time or another we were all unattached children...estranged from our Father in Heaven...who was every step of the way waiting patiently while running towards us with outstretched arms.

Christ Centered Homes


I think the most difficult part of living with RAD is fighting the instinct to react against the manipulations that come with the territory. Relationships scarred by RAD often feel unnatural and forced. There seems to be no casual, relaxed trust. Everything seems like a test. A pushing of a boundary. It's a power play....a jockeying for position that is the heart of the problem.

As extended family/friends/acquaintances of individuals w/ RAD we need to evaluate the relationships...set boundaries and count the cost. Sometimes, we are not the ones who can or should be helping. It would be prideful to think otherwise. Also, we must realize that not every relationship is purposed for intimacy.

Parents of kids w/ RAD....there's no option. We must work through the hard times. Always. Never, ever giving up....forever. We must fight the urges to retreat and be quick to forgive. Quick to forget. Quick to embrace. We must fight for intimacy till the death. INTIMACY. INTIMACY. INTIMACY.

Always speak the truth in love though and remember.....we are called to CHRIST centered homes not CHILD centered homes. Individuals w/RAD have a way of stealing the spotlight and can often become idols in our lives.

Adult RAD

We've been posting about RAD on our personal blogs for a while now. For those of you who did not meet us until attachinghearts.blogspot.com...we're making earlier posts easier to locate by including them here.


Reactive Attachment Disorder...if left unaddressed....can leave a person with a lifelong inability to form healthy, deep, and meaningful relationships. Adults suffering with this disorder keep those whom they cannot control at a distance, manipulate, perceive themselves to be victims in situations, seem to have justifications for everything, operate passive aggressively, and appear to be addicted to drama. They set up "straw dog" situations which place others in positions that validate what they "knew to be true" all along..."I'm, on my own. The only one I can rely on is myself. I can only trust Me." Really these individuals are lonely and frightened....although it takes looking past their "tough-pull myself up by my bootstraps-take me or leave me" exteriors...and into their hearts. Lifelong patterns of dysfunction have taken hold and the mazes their lives have become....serve as traps of their own making. Often, they feel as if something is wrong but don't connect the dots with the fact that they themselves are the root cause of their own misery. They are in danger of alienating those close to them...and continuing their never ending ride on the "victim" cycle. The most difficult aspect for intimates to deal with is the non-reciprocal nature of their "love" which does not translate to love at all....but instead screams of control issues. Heartbreaking but true, these wounded adults begin life as wounded children.

Usually, children with RAD are usually fiercely independent. Because they have not been able to rely on the adults around them to meet their needs...they develop coping mechanisms which cause them to rely on nobody but themselves. RAD pops up in many children who are neglected, abandoned, or institutionalized...in children who have either themselves had an illness where they were separated from a primary caregiver...or who have sickly caregivers who "tune out." Many times children of depressed, overwhelmed, disengaged, drug addicted. or alcoholic parents show signs of struggling with RAD...as well as children who are raised with multiple caregivers (nannies, childcare etc.)

These children have a need to maintain control of their environments and their relationships. They are either loud, have no edit button, and poor impulse control...doing and saying whatever comes to mind... or are methodical and conniving...always jockeying for position, the last word, and the upper hand. They are often times charming, chatty, friendly and seemingly well adjusted as far as the outside world is concerned. Only those intimate with the suffering child...know that they are living a lie. Intimates see the manipulations and battles...sometimes subtle and barely perceivable.... for maintaining control. The key word is SUPERFICIAL. In a nutshell, a child with RAD cannot rely on the adults around him/her to provide security because that feels too unsafe...therefore they keep those adults and sadly, everyone else at a distance. Deep down....they are crying for rest. They are exhausted.

As we've travelled this road over the past 8 years...we've learned so much. It is our desire that the Lord use our experiences in the lives of others if He sees fit. Our biggest heartache is this...if a person does not bond in a healthy way to a caregiver or others...they will not only have difficulty maintaining relationships.... but difficulty accepting the love of and bonding with their Heavenly Father. Please know that with us...there is an understanding ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, and no judgment. For those of you who are dealing with RAD and feel all alone...please be reassured that you are not. There is hope. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. It takes truth, time, commitment, consistency, transparency, persistence, repentance, selflessness, and supernatural love. If you are a parent of a child with RAD you may never, never give up...even on those days when you feel like doing so. If you are dealing with an adult with RAD...you have the option of either counting the cost, setting boundaries, and attempting to go deeper...or not. It will be determined by the role you are willing to play and the role you will be allowed to play.

To see a child blossom is one thing. To see her blossom...knowing the work which went into planting the seed...watching it wither...planting another...watering...trusting a root system would grow...tearing it out months later because the tender shoot was being strangled by weeds...beginning again...another seed....more water....this time in more fertile soil...healthier, deeper, stronger roots...a little pruning...food...SONlight...protection from the cold...dead leaves....dead leaves with no appearance of life at all...not a single hint of life...only to have the shoots spring forth with new growth when least expected....then overflowing blooms....and even butterflies fluttering by! Now, that's....... quite another thing.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

This Is The Day

Update: She had dinner, but still went to bed early. Her reason for the hellish two hours this morning....."I was tired."

Kisses....hugs....eye contact and to bed.

Here's the good news.....it was only two hours of drama this morning....and it wasn't two hours straight. There were breaks in between....where catching "fresh breaths of air moments" were possible!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Growth!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My girlie with RAD is NOWHERE near where she was 8 long years ago.

If you were praying for me during my time of need....I thank you.
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Me: You have already had two disciplines today which is ridiculous because you woke up less than two hours ago. If you do not turn from this behavior (grumpy/sassy/selfish/LOUD)... and choose to continue on this path....you will go to bed early without dinner. Do you understand?

Girlie w/RAD: Yes.

Now, I must go get ready for a brunch.... thrown by us for out of town guests...while finding the heart/motivation/desire/time..... for figuring our what's bothering her since she went to bed last night happy as a clam. I really want to ignore her....or push her away even....but I know I MUST draw close.

This is the day that the Lord has made. I WILL rejoice and be glad in it.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Don't forget to click off the Music Player first.

Friday, August 1, 2008

A P.S. to Thank You

Your comments reminded me of a favorite quote. I wanted to share it tonight with you as it actually comes to mind often in these moments:

"They mean sympathy, however awkwardly they express it." ~Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thank you & Have a Nice Day

With a multi-ethnic family, we get a lot of comments. Some kind, some overly kind and some, well... exhausting. I do feel that my children have been called to this place for this time. It is the aspect of adoption rarely touched upon by social workers. Often they make you feel as though your culture/country/family is something you are imposing upon your child. But from a biblical world view, we know this is far from the truth. We know that God chose these children to be our children. We did not choose adoption or our children. We followed where God led. We know that God is going to show His glory through our families. We are all called to be missionaries, to buck man's ideas and stand for His truth. I guess my family just sticks out more as such.

Knowing that, I try to prepare my heart when we go out. It is not some huge thing, but I do think, we may get some questions.....how will I respond to glorify Christ and possibly redirect or educate when necessary. Without fail someone will pose something in such a way as to catch me off guard. The latest one-almost daily commented to me-is, "They are so well adjusted." Why do people say that? It is like "I've heard how those older kids can be and yours aren't caring on like banshees." Usually, they have spoken to them for a minute or observed them from a distance. What I want to say is umm, yeah right. Drop by some time and see if you don't catch screams bellowing from our house. But I don't. Depending on the person, I say everything from "thank you" to a full explanation of Mommy-shopping. I want to protect my children's privacy. I also want to protect them from people setting expectations that they are not ready to meet. (play dates, hugs, socially appropriate behavior). I also want to be honoring in my responses. As I thought about it tonight, I realized something God prepared my heart for. Our adoption was long. Very long. And people would always ask, when are they coming?? I would always say, "Everyday is a day closer. We are trusting God will bring them home." Now I know my response. "Not yet. But everyday is a day closer. We are trusting God will heal their hearts and bring them Home."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Coffee Pot Lessons

Our girlie who has attachment struggles has broken 1/2 dozen coffee pots over the course of the last year. She doesn't break them intentionally....at least.....I don't think she does. They shatter when she is grumpy about doing her chore...the dishes. In her frustration....she loses focus....lacks intentionality and haphazardly tosses things around and slams them down. Inevitably...there's broken glass and no caffeine for Mama.

Here's the good news.

This last time....just a week ago....I was upstairs checking my e-mail when I heard a shatter from the kitchen. I did not react.... like usual......... but ignored it instead. I'd like to think I was practicing self control....but in all truth, it felt more like like apathy.

Within a few minutes....our girlie had climbed the staircase timidly and was standing at my bedroom door sheepishly. She made eye contact immediately and held it the entire time we spoke. She started with a quivering voice and I think I saw the beginnings of tears/genuine remorse..."Mom, you are not going to be happy about this," was what she said.

"You broke the coffee pot," I responded without emotion.

"Yes....(deep breath) because I wasn't being careful and intentional about what I was doing"....(then)...."I'm sorry."

No signs of a lurking angry outburst. No hint of the Blame Game.

Just.....sorrow. Plain old remorse.

I've tried everything. I've had her pay me back....clean up the glass herself...added chores....put to bed early.....hollered...given the silent treatment....broken down in tears....etc. This time I simply looked at her and said,
"This is ridiculous."

She nodded in agreement.

I never told her what to do in order to make amends. I offered no solution to the ongoing problem. On her own....with zero leading form me....she cleaned up the mess she had made and finished her chore without complaint. Since that day, she has offered to give me money towards a new coffee pot. She even searched one out while we were at Walmart buying "school" supplies....and then again....while we were at Walgreens. Obviously, this coffee pot problem is on her mind. She has a conscience! She wants to make it right!

Honestly....I'm thrilled. If it takes a half dozen broken coffee pots to somehow initiate growth....bring them on! If only we could look at each frustrating season in this light as we are living through them. Convicting.


Here's the second bit of good news. My darling hubby arrived home from the office with a new French Press and a bag of java for Mama. Our girlie with attachment struggles is not allowed to touch it. Never ever. She must still do her chore....washing the dishes...but my French Press is OFF limits. And just because we love our girlie....she gets to save her money and spend it on something fun....like a new Webkins or lip gloss.