Friday, October 9, 2015

My Message for My Adopted Kids

I'm sure you've seen the lists of things you ought to tell your kids before they hit a certain age.  Blog posts and articles titled things like "Ten Things Your Daughter Needs to Know Before She Turns Ten" or "Twelve Truths to Teach to Your Son About Women."

I'd like to make a list like that for adopted kids.  It would be an awfully short one.  It would have one item on it.  And it would to something a little like this.

You are amazingly brave, resilient, and strong.  In your short life, you've overcome more than most adults and I hope you come to know exactly how amazing this feat is.

I know there are people who doubt whether that is the most important thing for every adopted kid to hear.  They worry that it teaches adopted kids to see themselves as victims.  They doubt that adopted kids really need to hear that because most of the adoptees they know are happy and well adjusted.

But just this week, in a Facebook setting, I've seen comments from people whom I don't know that have pricked my heart a bit on the subject.  To be clear, the comments came from people who were commenting on posts of friends; they are not people whom I know personally.  I am 99% certain that these people meant well.  There is no online shaming intended.  That doesn't take away my desire for people to temper their words a bit, to see just how humbling it can be to consider the stories represented by adoption as well as how those same stories are a great representation of the strength of the human soul.

The first comment I heard came about within the context of someone sharing about their adopted child going to school to share some of her memories about her home country.  The adoptive mom mentioned that it was a bit sad that her daughter really didn't have many memories of her home country.  A friend of this friend then encouraged that her daughter now had happy memories, alluding to those memories the daughter has now with her adoptive family.

As adoptive parents,when people say things like that, it is hard to know what to say.  You want people to realize that saying this glosses over the fact that your child has missing pieces of their memories.  While it's true many of us, adopted or not, cannot remember portions of our childhoods, we have the benefit of those who raised us being able to fill in the gaps a bit.  We are certain that our memories are missing because of our faulty memories, not because we have no family members who cared for us or because those early memories were hard so our brain has blocked them out.  We also have the benefit of not wondering about what it would be like to have stayed in our home country.

The second comment I heard was in regards to an adoptive family posting on Facebook that their child had been home four years.  They posted a picture with the caption "Happy Adoption Day."  A friend of this friend noted that some families call this gotcha day and celebrate it like a birthday. This friend ended by asking what child wouldn't want to have two birthdays.

As an adoptive community, there are lots of perspectives on the appropriateness of gotcha day or adoption day celebrations.  My thoughts are not necessarily a commentary on the correctness of choosing to celebrate such an event or not.  Rather, it is more about my gut reaction to the words, "What child wouldn't want to have two birthdays?"  My gut reaction was a bit snarky, something along the lines of two birthdays really doesn't make up for the fact that the child has lost his first family.

 Again, I know such comments come from a well meaning place, a place that wants to believe that adoption is a blessing and should be celebrated.  When such comments are said to me, I respond graciously and assume the best about the other person.  But there is always a part of me that wants to say, "Acknowledge my kids' stories and their loss.  Because when you do, it gives you a chance to acknowledge their courage and grit."  Because every adopted kid ought to be able to know that at the heart of his story is not just a fresh, overwhelmed newborn or a scared, angry toddler or a nervous but too-tough-to-cry 8 year old.  Nor is the heart of his story a white picket fence with a story and a half Cape Cod and a perfect yard, two beaming parents, and 2.5 kids.  Because really truly at the heart of their story is also a steady strong beat of overcoming.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Truths from Monday

If your parent is a teacher at the elementary school you attend, you should probably not explain your late homework by saying, "My parents don't allow me to do homework at home over the weekend."  

Catching grasshoppers in boxes, empty water bottles,  and old ice cream pails and planning to sell them for $1 each may not be the get-rich-quick scheme you had hoped.  Apparently, the grasshopper market in Nebraska is pretty saturated.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

From Son up to Son Down

"Mamas of little boys work from son up to son down."

Perhaps true of all children, not just of boys, but Kai has us on the move.

A sample of our words from Saturday and Sunday...

"Get off the gate."  Said as he had climbed up on the wooden garden gate and was almost all the way over, to the other side.

"Don't hang on the drawers."  Said as he pulled out the kitchen cupboard drawer and was pulling himself up, with the drawer extended, literally hanging off the end.

"Get down from the fence."  Said as he was about four links up on the chain link fence, getting ready to do his Spiderman moves across it.

"Don't stand on the swing."  Said as he stood on the glider on the swing set, feet up on where you should rest your hands, hands up on the chain that suspend the glider from the top bar.

"You can't ride your bike down the stairs."  Said as he attempted to scoot his little bike down the two front steps.

"You can't bring your bike up the stairs by yourself."  Said as he tried to drag his bike up the stairs on the back porch, all ten of them.

"How did you get outside?  And stop riding your bike on the back deck."  Said as he tried to ride his bike on the small grill deck we have just above those ten back stairs.

"No climbing over the couch."  Said as he flopped one leg over the top edge of the sofa and jmped down.

"No jumping on the equipment."  Said as he tried to jump not one, not two, but three stairs on the middle of the playground equipment, where there was much potential for disaster.  (Okay, that happened on Friday but it's still fresh in my mind.  For the record, he succeeded.)

If we manage to keep him out of the ER this year, it might be a miracle.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Guess who got glasses?  They look better in person, I think.  He just looks so old.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Husker Heroes

This year, Zeke got invited to a local event at Memorial Stadium called Husker Heroes.  I'm not 100% sure who actually hosts it but the university hosts special needs kids and their families to an afternoon of games and fun featuring freshman athletes from the various teams.  All the kids got a bag of Husker goodies (pens, little balls, frisbee, etc.) and then got to go into the stadium via the Husker helmet that the Huskers always come in through.  The stadium was then full of all sorts of fun activities from temporary tattoos to face painting to hula hooping to musical instruments to tumbling mats and football toss games. The kids really had a good time.
This photo about sums up us...the other similar ones featured Kai picking his nose so this seemed to be the best one.

Conleigh with the cheerleaders

Conleigh and our favorite Husker, Luke Siedhoff.
However, this guy was not having kids hurdle.
He was playing tennis.


Zeke and Conleigh racing through the obstacle course

Kai and one of the freshmen wrestlers trying to figure out a hula hoop

Zeke's name in lights

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Boys' Shared RoomWell

It's been slow going downstairs since we started/finished the basement project last winter.  The spaces that were finished with drywall have had paint and doors and trim but we still had quite a few things left to finish up.  The nailholes in the trim all need filled and painted.  The doors all need painted as well.  And the family room and the boys' room had nothing on the walls.  I have slowly been getting the boys' room finished.  As you can tell by the photos, they've already added their own pictures via blue painters tape.

Part of what I was waiting on was for D to cut me the pegboard and trim for the art behind the beds.

The art is just pegboard, 1 x 2's, and a cardboard monogram from Michael's.
The monogram is attached to the pegboard using pegboard hooks so it's a really easy install.

To finish the cardboard letter, I used different kinds of washi tape plus a few pieces of scrapbooking paper.
After trimming the excess, I modpodged over the top.

Bookshelf, lego table, and stuffed animal basket, hat is overflowing...truth in advertising here.  Asking them to get rid of a stuffed animal is like cutting off an appendage.  So no neat pile of toys for us.  Just a big overflowing heap.  You'll also notice I did not take any pictures of the closet.  There's a reason for that.

The waterfall picture is actually a Chinese batik that was given to us by the government officials of Zeke's province.  It features the Haungguosho Waterfall which is located there, which is the largest waterfall in China.

The wooden boat is Haitian made, one we bought for Kenson on one of our trips to Haiti.

And the pennants are actually paper.  I found a paper pack of pennants at Michaels, string included for less than $2.

And this my friends is an end table made completely from plastic.  I had been wanting to make a homemade Lego table but when I headed to the thrift store they only had two tables that were the two tiered variety.  One was plastic and one was wood but the wood one was much wobblier.  I figured I would take a chance on the $3 plastic one and brought it home to spray paint.  Then I added a lego base plate and it was done

Terrible picture but oh well.
My faux plantation shutters have gaps but I'm okay with that.
I really wasn't need total black out, just something to keep the light from streaming completely in.
The window is kind of weird in that it is an egress window (so I didn't want a shade that would be hard to get out of in an emergency) and it adjoins the bulkhead in the ceiling that hides the ductwork (so you can't even hang a regular curtain rod)
I found 3 old sets of shutters and separated one set so that my new shutters were 3 panels long.
D screwed them into the walls and they work perfectly.
We all need a basketball hoop in our hallway, right?

These are magnetic display boards.  I really liked the color and the pattern.

They were just the thing to display pictures of those who were in my boys' lives before us.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Kai is 2!

Kai turned two a week or so ago but it was the same weekend as our local Women of Faith event which I planned to take my mom to for her Mother's Day present earlier in the year.  So we shifted our party plans and waited until Labor Day weekend.  We partied at my mom's and were able to enjoy the day with my grandma, my aunt, uncle, and cousins, including our North Carolina cousins.

Kai is all boy, constantly on the go, running, jumping, and climbing.  He usually have multiple contusions somewhere from all of his exploits.  He hates to be left out, hates being told no, and wants to do things all by himself.  "I do!"  So basically he's two.

He still doesn't say a ton of words but is slowly building his vocabulary.  He knows our neighbor's name (Bruce or Boo) which may mean our neighbor, his wife, or their truck. Over Labor Day weekend,  he learned to say kitty (key), meow (m ow!), and Mia, which is the name of Grandma's dog.   After saying Kenson was one of his first words, he now refuses to say it and thinks it's a big joke if people try to get him to say it.

He loves animals, trucks, cars, trains, and construction vehicles.  He is starting to enjoy a few shows on the tv, including Thomas the Train and the Wiggles.  He can "sing" several songs including "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "Rockaby your Bear."  He also loves anything to do with water and is quick to find puddles or standing water.  He's also starting to show an interest in potty training and has gone potty on the toilet multiple times at his own insistence.

A few pics from the weekend..

Driving Grandma's riding lawn mower

Kai did not want to get off but once Kenson appeared, he was quick to slide over and share the seat.

Our Thomas cupcake cake

Making homemade ice cream with Grandma

Blowing out the candle with cousins-I was surprised he actually knew what to do!

Playing with one of our new birthday toys, a car track.