Tuesday, October 14, 2014

School Pictures

Hope & Maggie received their 8th grade school pictures last week.  So of course, I compared it to their 6th grade pictures (their first school pictures).  The change in them is very obvious.  God is SO Good!  So thankful for the miracle of adoption.









Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Two Years! August 6, 2014

How on earth did we get to 2 years since the day we met Hope & Maggie?  The first year went slow.  I'm sure because of all of the adjustments we all were going through.  Boy was that year H.A.R.D.!  There were a lot of tears, yelling, meltdowns from all of us.  The 2nd year has gone better.  We all seem to have adjusted to our new lives.  Hope & Maggie LOVED school last year. Their teachers are amazing. Very loving and compassionate.  Hope & Maggie really need that from others.  For some reason, they accept other's affections (not physical) quicker than ours.  It's hard to see them bond fast with strangers, but at least we know they are capable of bonding.

I have to look back to realize how much they have changed.  Physically.....Emotionally....Spiritually..... They were very weak little girls.  12 & 13 years old that looked like they were 7 & 10 years old. I remember taking them to the doctor for the first time and the doctor saying there is no way they are 12 & 13 years old.  Well, after going to the dentist, and doing a hand x-ray on Hope (orthodontist wanted this done), we did confirm that they are in fact the age we were told they were.

Last night, I have to admit, was one of the best nights we've had in a very long time.  School has been back in for a week.  So we've been adjusting to that.  Well we just decided to have a game night.  We sat around, playing a game and laughing so hard.  Hope was being SO silly.  Saying things and making the craziest faces.  W could not stop laughing.  It's so amazing to see that when she puts her guard down, that she truly is a fun, crazy girl.  She has learned to put her guard up to guard her from pain, hurt, people etc.  After 2 years, we are seeing that guard leave occasionally.  This is progress.

Pray for us, because Maggie is blossoming into a beautiful teenage girl.  She has grown a lot, she is maturing physically fast. And she LOVES to dress pretty.  We had a "fight"with her the other morning because she was dressed too nice for school and it concerned me.  We already know the boys are looking at her.  I need to protect her for as long as I can.  She is naive and has not had 14 years of a mom telling her about boys etc.  She has seen and heard so much more than she should have while living in the orphanage.  So pray that she will be protected from anything that could be negative.  Even though she is boy crazy, she still thinks they are yucky (at least that is what she's telling us).

There are days where I still feel like they are not my daughters.  There are days when I don't feel bonded to them at all.  Then there are days when I want to do everything in my power to protect them, to love them, to be their mom.  It's definitely been a lot harder for me to bond with them.  Even though I have loved them from the day we decided to adopt them, it has been hard for me to bond with them.  Adopting an older child (let alone 2 older children) is very hard.  Especially when you adopt kids who put up this huge barrier and would have been happy staying where they were (so they thought).  Thankfully now, after 2 years, they have admitted they are happy here and they do NOT want to go back.

I'm praying that this 3rd year will be even better. That life will feel more natural.  This year they are in 8th grade.  And they are riding the bus.  The only thing they don't like about it is that they have to walk to the bus stop (a 5 minute walk).  On the 3rd day of school, Hope begged that I not walk with them. She said "we're big kids, we know how to do this".  And she was right.  I have to remind myself that they are 14 & 15 years old and they can and they need to do things without me.  Bill reminded me that they did a heck of a lot more stuff on their own when they were living in China.  We need to let them learn and grow up.

Thank you for following our journey and praying.  If I can be of any help to anyone reading this please contact me.  I would love to talk about our adoptions and help you if I can.



Our first family photo


Our family.  Easter 2014

Pirate night on the Disney Dream. June 2014


1st day of 8th grade

1st day of 8th grade



Monday, March 24, 2014

19 Months with Family

19 Months.  Hard to believe we've been a family of 8 for 19 months.  Some days it seems fast, other days it seems like we've been this large family forever.

A lot has happened in 19 months.  I wish I could say everything is perfect and great.  But honestly, who has a perfect family?  I have not met one yet, at least one who is being honest. :-)  I can say that we're doing better.  19 months ago was HARD!  I realize now that I had a lot that was going on at the time we adopted the girls, that I had not really dealt with before we adopted them.  For example, 1 month before Gotcha Day my brother got married.  A very happy day.  12 hours later my grandmother passed away.  I grieved hard.  5 days later, we received our Travel Approval for the girls and then quickly started planning our trip.  I did not get to fully grieve my grandmother's passing. I did not get to fully grasp my brother being married before we added 2 preteens to our life.

Not only did adopting two preteens cause some hard times, 10 days after flying home from China Abby & Jadyn got baptized.  This should have been a glorious moment, but I was overly stressed out by the 2 newest additions and their lack of social capabilities. And 12 days after flying home, I turned 40.  This was supposed to be a BIG birthday.  And yes I was celebrated. But I felt it was pushed aside because of all the newness of the girls.

So for a long time, not only was I dealing with having 6 kids, and 2 preteens who had a lot to overcome, I was also dealing with the happiness of my brother getting married, the loss of my grandmother, trying to enjoy a glorious moment of Abby & Jadyn getting baptized and turning 40.  It all just hit me all at once.  Then was the icing on the cake, Tiffani was a senior in high school and graduating.

Fast forward 19 months.  And yes, somedays it does seem to have gone by fast.  I feel a normalcy here now.  Not what we were used to.  It's definitely louder here now. There is still a lot more stress and frustration here now than there used to be. And there is definitely a lot more teenage hormones now.  We are all dealing with this.  It's been hard. But we're getting by.  The tantrums from the kids (and from me) are less than they used to be.  There is more silliness. And we're still trying to show craziness/fun to the girls to get laughs.  We're getting there.

Pictures say a thousand words.  And I agree.  I look back at photos and I see a huge change.  I don't notice in the every day dealings.  But looking back, wow!  The girls have grown.

We are scared. I will not lie.  We're scared of what their future will be like.  We know that God is with them. We are teaching them about His love. And they are asking questions.  We want them to fully, 100% without a doubt understand what it means to accept Jesus as their personal Savior.  We're getting close.  And they are asking the right questions.  But we're still scared of their physical future.  Will they find true love.  Will they get the social skills they will need to get a job. Will they get a job? And what kind of job?  Right now the girls are not at their age of maturity.  They are at an age 7-8 and age 9-10.  Yes, they have grown in maturity in the 19 months.  We're praying they will catch up before they graduate in 5 years.

Life has been different.  It's had a lot of hard moments.  BUT, when I hear "I love you mommy", then my heart melts.  That's all I ever wanted.  Was to have children to love, and who loved me back.  I have not been the best mother these past 19 months. But I'm trying.  It's been hard for me.  I want to be the best mother that they deserve.  I pray to God daily to help me to be what they need.  Satan has been attacking.  He knows my weakness is "quick to anger".  And he's used that against me a lot.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Adoption IS Awesome!  But it's also hard.  It does get better.  If it didn't, then we would not have have adopted 5 kids.  :-)  And we would not be discussing adopting again. (yes, that has been discussed several times in the last month).  I know I would not have been able to get through the hard times without God, without family and friends being there for me to vent to, or cry with or to just talk.

I will leave you with some photos of the girls.  God is SO good.  He loves us.  He cares for us. He will never leave us alone!

The first 4 photos were all taken in China:


these next photos were all taken once HOME!  




Saturday, November 16, 2013

Updates

So, I see it's been a while since I've been on here.  Time keeps going by so fast.  I'll try to update you on what is going on.

Bill took the 4 girls to Sea World a few weeks ago. They had a blast.

Hope wants to learn to cook. She made Tacos this night.

Hope's 2nd period teacher chose her as student of the Month.  

Date night with Hope, Maggie & Ethan. Hope learned the difference between "restaurant" and "restroom". She thought it was the same thing.  ha ha ha

Maggie is crazy!  :-)

Hope's 5th period teacher chose her as student of the week

Hope LOVES puzzles. She did this 500 piece puzzle in a few hours.  

Maggie is changing FAST!  

Hope is changing in her own ways.  :-)  Becoming more and more sweet & trusting towards us.

Halloween.  Love that our girls used costumes we've had for years.





Hope's Loot

Maggie's Loot

I did a side by side of the girls.  It's hard to notice it every day. But the girls have changed SO much.  Thankful for the miracle of adoption. Thankful God trusted us to be their parents. Thankful for everyone who has been there with us and for us.  

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Where have we been?

Wow, this is the longest I've gone without updating the blog.  You would think I would have plenty of time since the kids are back in school.  But honestly I just have not had the time to sit and write.

The girls have been with us for 14 months now.  Wow!  14 months.  Time is really going by fast now.  They are doing great!  They LOVE school.  We have some challenges. Homework is one.  The girls are in Civics and, well honestly, I don't know why.  But they are doing their best and actually learning how to research a text for their answers.  Hope is doing amazing with reading. She has found the library at school and checks a few books out every week.  The very first time she checked out a book, she told me that it's due back in 2 weeks.  I told her that if she finishes the book before then, she can return it and get a new book. Her eyes lit up. She was so excited. I think she finished the book in 1 day.

The girls only have 3 classes together.  This is a good thing.  They need their space from each other.  They are making their own friends.  They do eat lunch together which I'm glad about.

Maggie is getting more comfortable with trying.  She has told us a few times how the math teacher will ask for volunteers to go up to the board to answer a math question. She gladly raises her hand.  She also told us in PE that the teacher asked for a volunteer to get up in front of the class to help with the stretching. And she volunteered for that too.

We had a conference with most of their teachers last week.  Bill & I needed to just discuss what their expectations are from the girls. The teachers who arrived were great. They love the girls. They reminded us that the girls have come a long way in a year.  And that we need to look at how far they've come, vs how far they have to go.  Their work is being modified so they won't get overwhelmed.

We were thrilled when the school finally hired an ELL teacher aid.  Her first day was the day of our meeting with the teachers.  She spent the whole day with Hope.  She planned to spend the whole next day with Maggie.  We met her and she seemed nice.  Well, the next day the girls said she was not at school.  On Wednesday they said she quit.  After 1 day the lady quit. She told the school it was more work than she could handle.  The school was VERY upset.  She quit in an email.  The school told me to make sure the girls know that this had nothing to do with them. That this lady was not the right person for the job.  But what really is interesting, is that Hope & Maggie would have been her ONLY students.  This is not the norm for ELL teachers.  So, she most definitely was not the right teacher for our girls.  Now we wait for a new teacher.

Maggie was having nose bleeds last week at school.  They suggested we take her to the doctor. So we did.  They wanted to do some blood work.  While we were doing that, I asked if we could do more blood work because we never did some basic things on the girls.  They agreed to do the same for Hope.  So we took them to the lab first thing in the morning. They had to fast.  So when we left they were hungry.  We took them to McD's.  They could NOT believe you could have breakfast at McD's.  They LOVED it.  :-)  We still don't know what caused the nose bleeds.  We go back next week to get the results from the blood work.

This past weekend we went to Magic Kingdom.  The girls were brave.  Maggie tried Thunder Mountain. LOVED IT.  Hope tried Splash Mountain. LOVED IT.  Then they both tried Space Mountain.  And LOVED IT.  :-)

We stayed for the 3 PM parade.  Hope & Maggie were so excited. They waved at every character.  Maggie had her hand out to give "high 5's".  The smiles on their faces were priceless.  Maggie asked for me to take a picture of Belle.  She is her favorite princess.

This weekend they are going to their first birthday slumber party.  This is one of Maggie's friends and they invited Hope too. They are excited.

The girls have to dress out for PE.  Maggie has had her PE uniform for a month now.  Hope just got hers yesterday (they were waiting on a size small).  She asked me to take her picture.  :-) She's so cute.

OH, and probably the most important thing that has happened.  Maggie prayed and asked Jesus into her heart.  We still need to explain it more to her. But she is starting to understand.  She loves to pray to Jesus and Jadyn is reading her bible stories.  It's so amazing to witness.

So this has basically been what is going on.  Lots of things to keep us busy.  :-)  Thanks for checking in on us. Thanks for praying for us.

Debbie

Friday, August 23, 2013

First Day of School (7th Grade)

Tuesday was the first day of school.  We were ALL ready for this day.  The last week of summer was a hard one. The kids are done, we were done, it felt like the longest week of the year.  :-)

We had open house last week and met each of Hope & Maggie's teachers.  7 of them.  And the girls only have 3 together.  My first reaction was "this is going to be interesting".  But after seeing how the girls reacted to this, I now know this is going to be a good thing.  They were happy to not have every class together.

I was terrified because everyone kept saying "this year is going to count".  Maggie's 1st class is Civics. I wanted to cry listening to the teacher. I knew there was NO WAY Maggie was going to pass this class.  And then she introduced the ESE teacher.  Whew!  I talked with her and she said not to worry about the girls (she is with Hope in her Civics class as well).  She said every teacher knows their situation and they will only expect them to do what they understand.

The girls were ready for school. They were excited.  They told us they wanted to eat breakfast at school because they knew it was free.  So, we told them they could try it.  Maggie said they went through the line, picked their food & milk, and then she asked to make sure it was "no money".  They were very sweet to the girls.

They love their teachers.  They have friends in most of their classes.  But the big shocker was Hope. She made a NEW friend.  ON....THE....FIRST....DAY!   If you know Hope, you know this is HUGE!  Hope does not make friends easily.  She does not understand why anyone would want to be her friend. So when she told me this I just wanted to cry and rejoice.  But the kicker is this......The girl speaks Chinese. This is her first year at the middle school.  I don't know who approached who first, But Hope said they were talking with each other and she can speak Chinese, English AND a little Spanish.  Hope said they talked to each other in Chinese.  I was SHOCKED!  Because Hope refuses to speak Chinese at all.

The first week of school has been good.  The girls come home every day wired and non-stop talk.  They are trying to do their homework and we are realizing how much they still need to learn.  Basic math facts for one.

Amazing how much the girls have changed.  So thankful for this.  It's amazing to see the transformation.  God is good!