Thursday, June 30, 2011

One Picture As Promised

Here's one picture -- crazy busy day today.

Don't forget to vote in the poll!

I'll try to do a better job of blogging tomorrow....

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Was the Adjustment Bureau at Work?

We're back home -- everyone survived here, we had a blast, and I'm missing John, Courtney and Isaac! I'm going to stop promising pictures -- even though you WILL get some at some point.

Just didn't want to take time to download them at the moment because I"m in a big rush.

Yesterday we saw "The Adjustment Bureau" on the airplane. I would NEVER have chosen this movie, but it was so intriguing that I want to rent it again this weekend and watch it with Bart. Has anyone seen it? The plot is a demonstration of the theory that there is a crew of people out there (angels, maybe) who are making adjustments to our lives so that we can be part of a broader plan.

Here is something I wanted to report to you that indicates this may be true. When we were going to AZ, the TSA at the airport barely let John on the plane. They said that if he had a piece of mail that was addressed to him, it would have really helped. Of course, he had nothing.

When we got to Arizona and opened my suitcase, right at the top of all my clothes there was a letter to John (it was from the Department of Corrections, but that's just because it makes the story funny and Ironic). Anyway, I keep mail that needs to come down to my office on my nightstand in the bedroom, and apparently this particular letter had stuck to the bottom of a book I grabbed to throw into my suitcase.

So, on the trip back the guy at the airport told John that that letter saved him. He said in AZ that without that letter they would not have left on that plane.

An interesting coincidence? An accident? Fate? Or maybe just maybe.....

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My Next Book

I'm excited to let you in on a secret -- that is now not a secret because I'm telling you.

My new friend Matt, who wrote this book, and I are writing a book together.

We are going to take the 12 Survival Tips that I share when I speak and each of us are going to give our thoughts from our different perspectives. We have a similar sense of humor and so our writing styles work well togehter, but we are very different people with very different lifestyles raising the same kind of kids.

The poll will allow you to help name the book. If you don't any of hte titles, then you can give us feedback as to a better one!


Heading Home Today...

Still don't have pictures from the camera, but here are a few I took with my phone of the show.

Our trip here to Phoenix was so fun yesterday. Courtney and John and I always have such great talks and Isaac is travelling so very well. Then last night we had dinner with some great friends from college -- who reminded me, much to my shock, that we graduated 30 years ago this year from High School. Now there is something really wrong with that, but I digress.

I worked a while last night and again this morning. Early this morning I occupied Isaac so his parents could sleep a little longer. The picture with the mirror was priceless -- he gives really good kisses when asked, but apparently this time he just figured that little baby wanted a kiss..

We will leave for the airport in about 20 minutes. Trying to catch up on some emails right now. WHen I get home and have the right cord, you'll see some pictures of the trip. Promise. Apparently Iphoto messed up my import and the ones from my phone are deleted... and not on my phone either. fortunately the cutest ones are on facebook, so I can download and show them to you then.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Conflicting Emotions

I'm having a lot of conflicting emotions today, and I don't think I'm going to burden you with them.

Church yesterday with my parents and John, Courtney and Isaac was great. The pastor is in his 60s. He has struggled with arthritis for years. His wife, born with cerebral palsy, has been having very serious health issues for several years.

The sermon he preached was from Matthew 8 about Jesus falling asleep in the boat before he calmed the storm.. He talked about how Jesus was able to fall asleep in the boat during the storm because He was convinced that God could handle it. He also prayed an amazing prayer that ended with, "We trust you Lord to answer our requests and handle these situations in your own way, which we know is ALWAYS the right way."

It is always so good for me to read things that remind me that no matter what is going outside of me, it doesn't have to affect what happens inside of me.

I always feel sad the last day at my parents. My dad is 88... turning 89 in a couple months -- so I wonder how many more times I will see my dad.

But we've had a great time and we get to see some good friends tonight... I'm taking pictures but the cord I brought is the wrong one so you won't get to see them yet!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Slow Relaxing Day

My parents are now 82 and 88 and they don't do anything fast. So yesterday was a slow day full of a lot of nothing. I have been working on a volunteer project though, which will be unveiled soon -- it has something to do with the Ugandan orphans I mentioned a while back...

Isaac has been delightful and John and Courtney are relaxed and seem to be enjoying my parents. WE are having a nice time.

I made the mistake of signing into and now I'm obsessed to find out how blue my blood is. ;-) It appears that nearly every ancestor I have came to New England in the 1600s from England. With Ancestry it's not research -- it's just a series of clicks and the information appears!

So I'm going to get back to that.

I promise I'm going to post pictures soon!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Safe at My Folks

We had a good day yesterday. Isaac continued to travel well and we had a nice visit before heading to town to do the list of errands that were waiting for me when I arrived. I bought my mom a Kindle so I've been teaching her how to use it. I've been put on their bank account. I'm getting ready to put new batteries in the hearing aides for my dad.

I have an adaptor that goes into my USB so I can't upload pictures and be online at the same time.

SO... I promise to take a lot of pictures and post them sometime soon. We're having a good relaxing time and Bart reports things are going well at home.

Sadie has gotten a second part time job housekeeping at a hotel which really cracks me up since she hates chores and cleaning her room.

Apparently Henry got a new job closer to his family so it may be true that the Gabby living with us days are over.... They were fun while they lasted.

It's very hot here -- 90 by 10 a.m. Inside is a bit cooler. But certainly not the frigid temps that Bart likes to have in our house...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Pieces of Myself

Over the last year or so I have been making more of a conscious effort to visit with old friends and reconnect with people who have been a big part of my life in the past.

Yesterday was a great day. Bart and I left about 5:40 to meet John and Courtney at her Mom's. They were on time and we were able to get to the airport. There were a few tense moments (John didn't have ID -- I had to bring stuff out of my files, which turned out to not be the right things). However, after additional screening they did let him board.

Isaac was fantastic! He didn't cry or even wimper the whole morning -- in fact, he made it until late afternoon before he even fussed. He charmed everyone on the flight and was just adorable! Courtney had a pretty tough go of it as we took off - she struggles with anxiety and has only flown once -- but I talked her through it, calmly explaining anxiety and showing her how to change her negative thoughts. It was a stressful few minutes but I told her that if she could just make it until we got off the ground she'd be fine -- and I was right!

We landed, got the rental, and headed to visit our friends, Blake and Michelle. Blake went to school with Bart and I (Blake and I graduated in 1985 and Bart in 1986) We have had several interesting connections since then (such as Blake meeting Michelle in Japan -- and her being from the same small MN town that Bart was appointed to in 1996 when we first got married). Two years ago I was here visiting my parents with an unmedicated Dominyk and Blake and I were on the same flight after basically not having contact for 7 or 8 years. So this year we made a point of connecting on Facebook and they invited us for lunch!

Big treat -- Blake's sister Jackie lives only a few blocks away so we headed there after lunch. An even bigger bonus is that her twin sister, Jody, (or probably spelled Jodi just so that I can be wrong), was visiting from Oregon with her whole family. Between the two of them they have given birth to 9 kids and have each adopted two kids from Ethiopia! SO... we had way more things to talk about than time to do it. We had a great time.

Bart mentioned recently that my parents are getting so near to the end of their lives that I should start going twice a year. I haven't told him this yet-- but this winter he's going to come with me and we are going to plan to spend several hours with Blake and Michelle and Jackie her family.....

It's so good to connect with those people who are pieces of myself and my history.

In addition, I have recognized that I have changed a great deal since last year. The trip last year was even more stressful than I blogged about and my anxiety was sky high. But I am handling my whole life so much better now. That may be why I don't blog as much. But I digress.

Time to drive to my folks and my stupid Iphotro isn't working to add pictures, so I'll do it later.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

June Issue: Adoptees Have Answers Newsletter

Check it out here.

A Newsworthy Item and an Observation

Newsworthy Item: Sadie started at Dunn Brothers today and LOVES it. She was so happy and I'm so proud of her.

Observation: The reason that I can get so much stuff done in a day (many have asked me how) is that my threshold for chaos tolerance is really high and I am consistently multitasking. In addition, I never take time to do the things that would make my life a bit easier int he long run -- because I'm too busy doing all the stuff I need to do.

Kari is Famous

If you have been reading her blog for a long time and have been dying to hear her voice, you can register for her Webinar and learn all about Nutritional Interventions for Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Check it out.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Wisconsin ARW Happenings June Newsletter

Can be checked out here.

On Being a Non-Anxious Presence

This is something I"ve been working on for a long time! Bart is the master of it, but I still have a long way to go. Here is some really good stuff taken from the book, "Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times: Being Calm and Courageous No Matter What"

Even though it's written for pastors it has incredible implications for us as adoptive parents not only in controlling our anxiety but helping our kids do the same.

Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times: Being Calm and Courageous No Matter What (Peter L. Steinke)

The nonanxious presence responds (exercises thoughtfulness), instead of reacting (not thinking about anything); that is, response, not reaction, informs and shapes our behavior. Under conditions of extreme anxiety, most people become an anxious presence, lacking restraint and acting on impulse. The over-excited sympathetic nervous system can cause the body to collapse, the mind to dwindle in effectiveness, and feelings to spill over the banks and flood. At the same time, an adrenaline surge sweeps over the body. Once it floods the brain, our attention is focused solely on the threat. We concentrate narrowly on something and are unable to process other stimuli or to shift attention. When obsessing about danger, our capacity to see or hear other information is nearly impossible. However, the person who can more readily control anxiety is always more aware of its presence. To be a nonanxious presence means to acknowledge anxiety but not let it be the driver of behavior. Being aware of it, a nonanxious person says to herself: “Anxiety is there. Yet, now it is where I can see it. I can keep an eye on it. I won’t let it slip back into unconsciousness. With anxiety upfront, I can tame and harness it. While I may feel like losing it with someone, I choose not to submit to my instincts. I have good access to my thinking facilities. My emotional state is not in overdrive. I’ll survive this; I can take the sting out of anxiety and be a calming agent.” With this kind of thinking, a leader can bring more imaginative approaches to bear upon the congregation. The leader is not in the clutches of tunnel vision and the instinctive forces of self-preservation.
(page 36)

And in regards to Self-Management -

To work on your capacity to regulate your own anxiety and reactivity -- to be a non-anxious presence -- think about these things:

  • Knowing your limits and the limits of others

  • A clear understanding of where “I” end and someone else begins

  • A respect for the rights of others to be the way they are, yet refusing to allow others to violate or intrude upon your own rights

  • A readiness to define who you are from within, rather than adapting to please others or defining yourself over against others

  • Having a clarity about what you believe

  • Having a set of convictions, values, and beliefs

  • Knowing what you would “die for” and what’s important

  • Recognizing about what you are certain and about what you are not certain

  • Taking stands with courage

  • Defining where you stand and what you believe in the face of disapproval

  • Refusing to give in for the sake of harmony when it is a matter of principle

  • Standing firm in the face of strong reactions (such as, “You can’t think, act, or feel that way and be part of this community!”) 

  • Staying on course

  • Resolving to follow through, in spite of reactive opposition or sabotage

  • Exercising emotional and spiritual stamina to follow a vision, not allowing reactive forces to change your course.

  • Staying connected to others, despite it all

  • Maintaining a nonreactive presence with people who are reacting to you (by verbally attacking you, avoiding your presence, minimizing your viewpoint)

  • Resisting your own impulse to attack or cut off from those reacting to you, or to appease them to dispel their anger or frustration

  • Managing your own anxiety, not others’ anxiety
(Page 44)

Because I'm In It

Kari and I had invaders in our shower room at the Y this morning. And their conversation was totally making my eyes roll in the back of my head, as Kari knew it was.

I was in my shower thinking, "Wow, what a boring friendship. I would never be able to endure a friendship that boring."

And then, as you might expect from my cocky self, I had the thought, "Well, that wouldn't be possible! I couldn't have a boring friendship because I'd be in it!"

Of course, I shared that with Kari....

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Children are Like Arrows

I am incredibly fortunate. I have an incredible earthly father. He has loved me unconditionally for 47 of his 88 years. I am married to a courageous and wonderful man who is such a good father. And my Heavenly Father has proven to be so very faithful. Now I have two grandchildren who have fathers who are doing their best in tough situations to be good dads.

I love this verse from Psalms:

Sons are a heritage from the LORD,
children a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are sons born in one's youth.
Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their enemies in the gate.

It's funny that this is the analogy that God would use ... because anyone who has loved a child who has made a bad decision knows the pain it can cause -- a sharp piercing pain, similar to that of an arrow.

Today I am grateful for the fathers in my life.

I rediscovered this song last night and it is so much the theme of the last 15 years for me. I have certainly learned so much about God through the hard times.

It's well worth the time it would take for you to listen to it...

Father's Day

Almost everyone was together for Father's Day -- just missing Mike, Salinda, Henry and Gabby -- and they were invited. We had a nice meal together and everyone was appropriate.

Baby's make events funner -- Isaac was so cute! He has started to shake when he gets really excited. And he will fake cough to get people's attention. You can tell how much he loves his Grandpa by the way he looks at him. Christy is so good with babies -- Kyle needs to stop putting the brakes on for them to have a baby!

We went to church last night and so it was weird not goign this morning.

I had to share some pics with you.... even though I didn't get any good ones of the whole bunch..

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lessons for Adoptive Parents (and others) from Kung Fu Panda 2

Three years ago this week I wrote a post called Lessons for Adoptive Parents (and others) from Kung Fu Panda. Several people have read it over the years and yesterday we went to see Kung Fu Panda 2. So as I sat through the movie I tried to remember everything I could. I know I've left out some stuff, but here are the ones I remember. (and I"m going to try hard and do this without spoiling the movie for those who haven't seen it).

1) Inner peace is only found when one recognizes that another person is not the issue and that we can only change ourselves. In the opening scene Shitsu talks about how hard it was for him to accept the idea that the Po was going to be the next Dragon Warrier. He tells Po that he had lots of trouble until he realized that Po was not the problem -- that he, himself was the issue.

2) There are many roads to inner peace and few of them are easy. Unfortunately, inner peace, that feeling of being comfortable with ones own self, isn't achieved quickly nor is it easy. And we don't always get to choose which road we want to be on that will lead us there.

3) One flashback can be debilitating. Our kids might be on a roll and conquering all kinds of things in their lives, but one memory can make them freeze momentarily and it may take them a long time to recover.

4) Many kids know they are adopted long before they are told, but they wait for the parents to take the initiative to talk to them about it. Po was a Panda being raised by a goose -- so it was kind of obvious -- but they never talked about it. And his Dad told him that he was waiting for his son to bring it up. Ridiculous? Of course. Happening often in adoptive homes, probably.

5) Sometimes a "happy ending" isn't enough. Sometimes I think we figure that if someone's life turns out ok -- that their bad beginning ceases to impact them. When we do this, we diminish them and their story. And we are wrong to even suggest that a person doesn't need to know their beginning simply because they have a happy ending.

6) Even if we claim our children as our children, they may not be emotionally healthy enough to claim us as parents until they resolve some issues in their lives. Helping them achieve this inner peace that comes from having their puzzle pieces fit together may be the only way for them to claim us as parents.

7) Fear and hopelessness are chains that bind us and prisons that keep us from being able to move forward. We have to remain confident and hold on to hope.

8) The harder you try to achieve inner peace fast, the more it eludes you. Doing the work that it takes inside to work through emotions, etc. is where the focus should be -- and then inner peace can be found.

9) When you have inner peace, it doesn't matter what life throws at you, you can grab it and throw it right back.

10) A person's beginnings do not bind them or destine them in any direction. They may throw up roadblocks and make life more difficult, but each of us has the power to choose who we are going to be.

and of course....

11) The birth parents are still out there (which is very necessary if you want to make a Kung Fu Panda III movie)

And, as far as a quick movie review, I felt like the whole subject of adoption was treated very well in this movie and would enjoy hearing your feedback.

This Post Keeps Coming Back to Me....

I read this a couple days ago -- and it keeps sticking with me. It's from the perspective of an adult adoptee who was adopted as an infant and is talking about his birthfather in regards to Father's Day.

I'd be interested in your thoughts.... It's had quite an impact on me.

42 Ties and I Have None

Friday, June 17, 2011

Don't Forget to Have A Frosty this Weekend

Wendy's gives .50 for every frosty purchased to Wendy's Wonderful Kids -- an organization that I work with on a daily basis that finds permanent homes for kids.

Check out more information here.

My Kids theme Song for the Summer

We had a fun day yesterday. Got some great deals on clothes for the kids. But came home to a disaster. Today I'm trying to get things back in order.

Apparently this is their theme song for the summer:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Heading Out to Spend some CASH

It's time for us to find an appropriate gift to celebrate Father's Day, Bart's birthday and our 15th anniversary.... and I have a bonus from work that is burning a hole in my pocket.

We are really boring people -- we had a nice meal out -- and then came back to the hotel where I worked and we watched the Food Network.

But the nice thing was we were UNINTERRUPTED.

Now we are heading home with a few stops on the way.

We've heard nothing from home ... and no news is good news.

Anything exciting happening with anyone out there?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

MN Zero Kids Waiting Newsletter June 2011

Good stuff. Check it out.

Good morning from Duluth

Nice quiet night with Bart last night -- only a couple interruptions from the kids and those were with good news.. probably ;-)

Jimmy got a call from a friend saying, "Hey, come interview. I have a job at this place and you can get one too." Well, he went over ,got interviewed and is going to training Thursday, Friday, Saturday. He says he's going to be selling cooking stuff, he thinks. Now this is going to be interesting...

Then Sadie texted to tell us she has an interview Friday at my favorite coffee shop. yay! Her getting a job would be a really good thing.

We had a nice dinner out and then I spent the evening posting kids for the matching bash. As always there are so many who won't get a single study sent in on them and those kids really grab at my heart.

I'm busy posting another 15 or so this morning and then I have two meetings... after which we will celebrate our anniversary. ;-)

Better get back to it as I have a time limit...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Upcoming Trainings in MN

Nutritional Interventions for Children with FASD
Presenter: Kari Fletcher
Date: Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Time: 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM
Where: Online webinar
Fee: $15.00 webinar only; $25 webinar &CD
CEUs are now available for all online webinar presentations offered by MN ADOPT (additional $30 per person)
To register, click here

Complex Trauma Parenting in Action: Tools for Healing in Daily Life-Two Part Series
Presenter(s): Krista Nelson and Kathy Porter
Date: Session 1-Wednesday, July 13, 2011 and Session 2-Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Time: 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
Where: Hennepin County Health Services Building, 525 Portland Avenue South, Minneapolis, 55415
Fee: $20 per person; $35 per couple; both sessions-$40 per person; $70 per couple
CEUS are available for an additional $30 per person
Register Online

Sit Still-Be Quiet: Parenting Strategies for the Child with Attention Difficulties
Presenter: Deena McMahon
Date: Monday, September 26, 2011
Time: 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM
Where: Lutheran Social Service Center for Changing Lives; 2400 Park Avenue South, Minneapolis, 55404
Fee: $20 per person; $35 per couple
CEUs are available for an additional $30 per person
Register Online

Questions about registration, contact Janet Hammer at 612-746-5125 or

On the road again

Just downloaded a blogging app for my iPhone so I can blog from anywhere

Bart and I are on the road. Silent Sadie is in the back seat. We are planning to have lunch with Kyle and Christy today before heading north.

Couldn't resist checking out the app...

Packing up again...

Bart and I are heading to Duluth -- taking Sadie with us to drop her off at Kyle and Christy's to spend time with Christy for a couple days. I have meetings in Duluth on Wednesday and the rest of the time we're going to celebrate our anniversary.

Bart and I were relaxing in our bedroom with Isaac between us a couple days ago and I said, "I wonder what we would have said if someone had told us, 'In 15 years you're going to be sitting together playing with your 8 month old grandson.' We didn't even know about older child adoption then -- we probably would have assumed that we had given birth to a child who had gone on to birth or father a child at 14!!!

It's a good thing we don't know the future...

So we're off....

Monday, June 13, 2011

A New Web Site with Foster Care/Adoption Information

Got an email about this website. There are articles there about foster care and adoption under the "Dear Mommie" category. Check them out -- I'm sure they'd appreciate the feedback.


The last 24 hours I have been bombarded with a whole bunch of things from different directions including:

one of my children telling me something that is impossible instead of asking for it and then freaking out when I suggested things might not go exactly as planned;

a work situation that is a complete challenge that will involve me taking on a whole bunch of "big people" in order to help one "insignificant" teenager find a home;

a person who found my blog who is a 20 year old kid in Uganda trying to keep 14 children alive in an orphanage he is creating -- he's asking for my guidance;

a sore throat and a cold that are keeping me at less than 100% capacity;

two kids who took long naps last night and were wandering around late into the night, one of them doing something he's really not supposed to do;

an email from a friend of mine who is battling cancer;

a joyous wonderful breakfast with one of the "sunshiniest" people I know who lifts my spirits every time;

a full inbox that requires processing NOW;

a three day trip with Bart, leaving tomorrow that I have to prep everyone for -- kids, caregivers, etc;

and just a general sense of the overwhelming amount of things that I not only have to do but WANT to do -- and the annoying fact that there are only 24 hours in a day that I must sleep.

emails back and forth about a new book project. I'm excited about it. In fact, I might tell you about it sometime....

SO.... I'm feeling a bit emotionally bombarded at the moment which is why I'm just now getting around to blogging.

Maybe I'll have a bit more time to focus on the trip...

Sunday, June 12, 2011


You know, the Coffees are like the best friends ever. Mike and Bart have a new grill -- as you saw in the pictures. We purchased it together. And Mike does the grilling. And Mike does the boating. And Kari helps serve stuff and clean up. And Bart prepares the food before we go out there. And I pretty much don't do anything. I like that.

We have so much fun together......

More pictures from yesterday's picnic

PIctures from Yesterday....

Thought you might enjoy seeing some pictures of yesterday's family gathering for Jimmy -- we didn't invite too many people -- he had opted out of having a party, but we had some good friends there and some good times.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Congratulations, Jimmy!

Busy Days -- Jimmy graduated on Thursday night and yesterday we had Bart's mom and sister still here -- and today -- a gathering at the lake. I'm putting pictures onto facebook -- but here are a few for you.

(also, I'm coming down with the cold Bart has had for two weeks. Brutal virus, sore throat, and it's not getting better for him and only starting for me. Sounds like Jimmy, Tony, Sadie, and possibly a few others are having similar ailments. not fun).

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Contrast between perfection and imperfection

My mind is so full of details that I forgot that it's Bart's birthday. The last day of school, Jimmy graduating tonight, Bart's mom and sister coming -- and I completely forgot until 8:45. I feel awful. And there is nothing that i can do to fix it.

He of course, being the perfect one, has already forgiven me for forgetting. Just have to try and forgive myself.

I jokingly say that I married Bart so that people would know he wasn't perfect.

But sometimes the contrast between the two of us is glaring.....

Cognitive Dissonance

Over the past two days I have read The Other Mother: A True Story. Wow. What a powerful book. It is written about a different era than the one we are in now, but it details a private closed adoption from the birth mom's perspective in such a gripping way that I gobbled it up in less than 24 hours.

She talks of her reunion with her son when he was nineteen and she was so cautious and careful about the adoptive parents and her sons feelings. She connected with them in deep ways as she worked hard to see the other side and to understand the emotions that would be involved for everyone in the picture -- her parents, her siblings, her sons who were born later, the birthdad of her son who she had kept in contact with though he married someone else. But she also thought through how it would affect her son, her son's adoptive parents, her son's siblings, his girlfriend and the list goes on and on and on.

It was well written and sensitive and very thought provoking.

What a huge contrast that is to the experiences we as adoptive parents are having lately with birth parents connecting with our children without our permission through Facebook and MySpace. Without our consent, they begin to have conversations with our kids (and I mean that we share kids -- the are connected to all of us).

I can't even begin to understand the pain that birthparents feel and I will never claim to. But I do not understand the need to circumvent the adoptive parents and say and do things that put our kids at emotional risk and confuse them.

Bart and I have never felt like we "Owned" our kids -- and we have always talked respectfully about their birth parents. And we've told all of our kids that we will work hard to find them if they want us to -- after they turn 18. I don't feel threatened by birth parents and anticipate that if they can find them, my kids will at some point want to reconnect with them.

I guess maybe my dissonance this morning is the sadness I feel because of the difference between the lives of Carol Schaefer and the lives of my children's birth parents. Even though her story is hard and her struggle very difficult, she didn't start her life living in poverty, in foster care herself, possibly affected by attachment issues, mental illness or prenatal exposure to alcohol or drugs herself.

I greatly admire Carol and Jack as well as Jack's adoptive family. This is a story with a happy ending. Because I read the book, I will not follow some of the thinking of adoptive parents (and in the past even me sometimes) who are tempted to consider adoption for pregnant teenagers as everyone's best option. In fact, as I was reading it, I found myself being grateful that Isaac and Gabby were not adopted... which certainly was an option that my kids had to consider. And as a proponent of adoption, that response surprised me.

And I will remember to extend grace to the birth parents of my children ... even when they aren't doing things the way that I think they should be done. I'm not them. I haven't walked in their shoes. I have been given the privilege and honor of raising our children... and I am grateful.

But adoption -- often described as a delightful happily ever after for all members of the adoption kindship network -- certainly carries pain for all of us. And being gracious isn't always as easy as it sounds.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Spoke too soon

The "ink" was barely dry on this morning's post Ricardo ended up having to walk to school because he didn't get up. And 30 minutes later I got a message from Bart saying Wilson had gotten in a fight at school already and had to be picked up.

I shoulda knocked on wood. I thought we were in the clear. :-)

Last Days

Tomorrow is the last day of school. Finally. It has dragged on this yaer and my kids have just not excelled, to say the least. I guess I should be grateful that they actually get up and go without too much fuss -- because some of you, I'm sure, have kids that won't. And we've only had a few suspensions this year -- most of them in-school suspensions. Their behavior has been fairly tolerable -- so again I should be grateful. I've not had to go and pick any of them up and bring them home and every discipline situation has been handled with phone calls. Again, I should be grateful for that fact, even though there have been many, many calls.

I'm most thankful to be done with one particular child who can't get her butt out of bed and out to the van on time if her life depends on it. This annoying habit has driven me to the point of distraction daily. Many times she gets left and has to get herself to school, but that requires getting in vehicles of people we don't know which leads her to ignoring another one of my guidelines. And I'll just be glad to have the year over where her social life is the only thing in the world that matters. It will be a miracle if she passes three of the classes she is currently bordering on failing based on how well and how much she studied for her finals last night.

As you can see, it will be a relief to get this year over with. Hopefully over the summer something will click for a few of these kids and their futures will start to matter.

Bart and I have talked many times about this lack of motivation and desire to make something of their lives. He and I were both raised in situations where we knew we would have to pay our own way to college. Thanks to Ronald Reagan, we got lots of financial aide, but neither of our families could help with that expense and so we both knew our grades for scholarships and working part time was a requirement.

So what is with our kids? Do we do too much for them (they have to earn all the money we give them and always have, even the ones who were with us when they were preschoolers). Does our lower middle-class life seem to them to have been given to us without effort and therefore they expect it? Is it their peers who seem to have no responsibilities whatsoever at home and no expectations from their parents? Would it be different if they had other peers?

We have tried consequencing, rewarding, threatening, begging, and almost any other tactic you can think of to get them to be motivated for their futures and it doesn't help. They are all mediocre or worse students. And for two people who got less than a few Cs combined from preschool to post-Masters, this is really tough to accept.

So -- I'll trade the frustration of poor performance in school and trying to get a certain someone out the door on time for three months of complete frustration that they are spending their summers doing ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING.

Guess I just like to whine. Speaking of whining, Minnesota weather is almost always worth whining about. 103 yesterday. A month ago it was snowing. What is UP?

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Kari has ODD

After going to the Y this morning I asked my friend Kari to do something very simple. It would have taken her two seconds. It would have been not only painless, but enjoyable.

But she chose not to.

I will have to consequence her.

But I'm not going to tell you how or when. Or her either.

But she will learn. ;-)

(Anyone want to guess what I have in mind -- or possibly give me an idea that's even better than what I'm thinking?)

Monday, June 06, 2011

Being there for THAT Moment

I finished Bruce Perry's, The Boy Who Was Raised As a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook: What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love and Healing yesterday. Wow! What an amazing book full of insights about the brain and kids and all kinds of other stuff.

One of the things that I'm taking with me from the book is the idea of a vicious cycle and a virtuous cycle. He is comparing several of the kids that he worked with and asking why some of them seemed to turn around and head in the right direction while others seemed to have more and more things added to their lives as time went on that headed them further and further down a path of dysfunction.

In speaking about kids who start out with trauma or neglect before the age of three (which describes most if not all of my kids), he says that some overcome it and some don't and that we are never really sure what things are going to trigger a shift from the vicious to the virtuous cycle. He says that sometimes only one statement given at the right time by the right person can cause that shift.

With some of our kids it just seems as though they aren't getting it and that the choices they make are taking them farther and farther away from emotional health. Others seem to be making progress -- some more slowly than others.

One of the other things that he mentioned was the need for repetitive and consistent routines -- something that we have tried to do throughout our parenting. There is healing of the brain in those things.

He also mentioned that even with healthy developing children, there are those key moments which can lead a child in one direction or another. He mentioned a child who hears from a teacher that he is gifted in art, believes it, pursues it, and eventually becomes an excellent artist. That one comment began a series of choices and other comments that lead upward.

I don't necessarily feel like I'm a good parent. And I don't know that I personally have done enough to help the brains of my kids heal. But possibly there is that moment when things click and the cycle changes from vicious to virtuous. And I want to be there for that moment.

Even if it doesn't come, I'd like to be here just in case. And it's my contention that the likelihood of that moment happening is increased exponentially if a child is in an adoptive home with committed loving parents who are providing that stability and routine -- and those potential moments in time that can change lives.

So if you're feeling a bit frustrated today -- just remember, today could be the day that something you say or do clicks - that moment in time that shifts one of your kids from one path to another or begins them on a new path...

So join me as I attempt to live today -- engaged in it fully -- with the intention of being there for THAT moment -- just in case today is the day.

Borrowing my Husband

So now Kari is borrowing my husband's sense of humor to increase her own blog traffic. Seriously?

Well, I guess since I borrow her husband for so many things I'll have to let it go.

You need to check out Tony's new Diagnosis though -- PIA-NOS.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

MN Adopt Summer Trainings

One of them is a webinar by my BFF Kari.


And there are some others. Check them out.

There are No Answers

Lately I"ve been receiving several emails (and it's OK that you are sending them, by the way, that's not my point here) that ask me about specific situations where the system is involved in the lives of families. Specific situations. And questions are asked of me like, "What is going to happen if" and "What will be like to parent this child" and "can this state do this, or can that state do this."

And I was so discouraged last night (not because of any one particular situation but because of the volume of multiple situations) that I mentioned to Bart I should just have an auto reply that says:

"When we are dealing with the child welfare system there are no answers. I do not have a crystal ball. I cannot predict the future. The system is full of fallible people and I can't tell you what they will or won't do because every situation is unique. I'm sorry I can't be more helpful."

But that would be rude. And it's not really how I feel completely. But it is a very complex system and often the wrong thing happens.

I am more than willing to give my opinions -- but I have no way of predicting the future in this situation -- whenever I try to I end up being wrong. Every situation is so different and all of the players are different and sometimes, unfortunately, there's only so much any one person can do.

So, why do I work in "the system?" Because there are times when we as a system get it right. There are "happily ever after" (or reasonably happy) stories. There are kids who find permanency and who have been given opportunties (check out The Adoption Counselor's excellent blog entry about the family verses failure model).

Being involved in all this is really hard stuff. But it also is really important stuff. And there are rewards like no others.

So even though there might not be answers, there is still hope in every situation. As I tell Bart nearly every day, "The story can't be over yet when our oldest kid is only 24." :-)

So hold on to hope with me.....

Friday, June 03, 2011

The Lowest Grades Contest

Apparently my children have gotten together and decided to have a lowest grades contest this year. I won't tell you who is winning, but there are three serious contenders. Summer school is on the horizon for several of the kids and I'm wondering how I should have handled the school year.

Most of them have supports set up at school. Some do their homework and don't turn it in. Others refuse to bring it home. And I think they are getting too old to drag them through.

Jimmy is going to graduate -- but only because his expectations were fairly low, he had an IEP, he's been in the work program the last two years, and the school was quite motivated to have him be done. A 19 year old who can be described as nothing other than naughty isn't all that fun to have in class I can imagine.

I'm wondering if there are those of you who are still fighting battles with kids 16 and above trying to get them to do homework and, if so, if you're winning the battle. I think Bart and I just have figured that if they aren't motivated by this point, and they are oppositional, that getting into it with them is a waste of energy. Love and Logic parenting says it's on them -- the consequences are natural, etc, but for a couple of people who freaked out over a B and never turned in assignments late enough to lose points from kindergarted to post-Master's degrees.... well you can see how much it drives us crazy to watch it happen.

This is one of the things I have learned about God through my parenting -- to sit back and watch my kids fail... loving them as much as I do... and having them refuse my counsel and advice... sounds like God's experience with me.

I'm so grateful that He hangs in there with me.

For the first time I'm actually counting the days until school is out -- because the pressure over my head -- whether it's pressure I feel the school places on me -- or pressure that I place on myself -- to MAKE my kids do well in school -- is driving me crazy. I can't make them do anything.

Some of you have been out for a while -- we have 5 more days. And I'm counting. And it looks like the prize for the lowest grades contest is going to be graduating a year later than his class....

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Story in the Star Tribune about FASD

Pretty Inspiring....

Thanks for Talking Balk

I usually don't thank people for talking back to me, but I loved reading about who you are -- especially those of you who lurk and never post.

If you haven't had a chance to do so yet -- head back to this post and answer my questions. And while you're there, check out who else reads my blog and possibly pay their blogs a visit.....

The post is here and twenty people have responded so far.

And for those of you who reported that you haven't yet read the books.... you can order using the Coupon blogreader and save $3.00 from our prices (which are way cheaper than Amazon's). Our online store is located here. Right now you can order both books for $20.00 -- so, if you use the coupon it will make shipping pretty cheap and you'll actually get both books for $21.00 instead of the $35 plus shipping (rounding up a few cents) you'd pay on Amazon.

Hard to resist a deal like that isn't it? :-)

(And while I have you hear -- reviews for either book on Amazon would be very much appreciated. You could be the first to write one for A Glimpse of God's Heart if you do so quickly. And even if you don't want to write a review -- you could hop by and push the Like button, couldn't you?

How hard is that. Seriously. :-)

Oh, so you need a link? A Glimpse is on Amazon here.

OOMOF, as I refer to it, is on Amazon here.

So, how hard is that?

A Follow Up to Yesterday's Post

Today I ask the question, "What is Your Focus?"

If you're a Christian and have found yourself getting negative about your kids, this quote from a man battling cancer might head you in a better direction.

It's on my Scripture as I See it Blog today.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Foster Care and Adoption Resources of Wisconsin June Newsletter

Can be found here

Interesting Thoughts about This Time of Year for Parents of Kids and Adolescents with Bipolar

Hopeful Realism....

Some thoughts on Pain, Suffering, and God

This is definitely a Christian post -- so I redirect those of you who are interested to my Scripture as I See it blog where I ask the question, "What is your chair?"