Thursday, May 31, 2012

Almost Enjoying Typical....

So it's been a couple days since I have written.... we left to take Sadie and Tony to Job Corp -- Tony to fly ti Wisconsin and Sadie to the center in St. Paul. They did remarkably well for their send offs and then Bart headed to Annual Conference (state-wide church meetings) and I came home alone to four kids. We started working on the attic and I was instant messaging Bart when the texts started coming in.

Tessa was texting about birth certificate and child support issues -- I won't go into detail there.

Leon was texting about a break up -- again, won't go into detail.

And then Sadie texted a very long dramatic text about how she couldn't stay there -- that she was too homesick and wanted her normal life back. She missed me SOOOOO much. She was nearly begging to come home. We hadn't exchanged more than three or four texts until the same message came in from Tony.

Yikes it was a barrage of angst coming into my phone! It's a good thing I had an Iphone -- other phones might have exploded under that much pressure.

I learned from my 12 years in College Student Development that those who go pick up their kids during those first few weeks of school don't do them any favors... I talked the Job Corp kids down, explaining that they were exhausted and had a very long day. I encouraged them to spend the next day getting to know people instead of sitting around texting their old friends. I explained that it is very normal to feel homesick the first few weeks and that everyone went through it and that they were strong and could make it.

Yesterday I spent my day at my office doing file organization and was fully anticipating an evening filled with more texts from the two who left home on Tuesday. Tony texted a few times, but admitted he was having a much better day. I didn't hear a single word from Sadie.

So I recognized somewhere during all of this that it is really nice to enjoy typical stuff. It is typical for kids to be homesick when they leave their families and to want to come back home! Since Tony has had some pretty serious attachment issues in the past, this is huge! And it is very typical for the same kids a day later to simply have forgotten that they missed their parents so bad they had to come home the day before and forget to make contact.

Last night was another night of packing the attic -- my friend Sue came over to help but mostly just to watch me so that I would keep working. I'm hoping she'll come back tonight and maybe even my BFF will join us. She hasn't had time for me twice this week -- so I'm guessing not, but we'll see. :-)

Today I'm off to take Wilson and Leon to visit their schools. Then tomorrow we are supposed to close on the house.

Oh yeah -- one more piece of excellent news. We submitted a claim for hail damage to our roof from a storm almost 2 years ago and they are going to pay for a whole new roof plus a few other things, making the value increase on our house.

Dominyk is having quite the meltdown about why he has to go to school when he is the ONLY ONE in the house who has to go today. Now a kid that is 290 pounds and 6'1 having a tantrum isn't really typical... but otherwise, I'm almost enjoying typical....

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Appropriate Transitions and a Chance to Grieve

There is much talk about ambiguous loss in the adoption community. In fact there is a very important book that was written several years ago by Pauline Boss called just that: Ambiguous Loss

The book is about loss where there is no closure ... her examples for the book cover include parents of a soldier missing in action or relatives of an Alzheimer's patient who, though alive, is not longer really with them. It certainly applies to all members of the adoption kinship network. Birth parents grieve the loss of children they haven't seen in years. Adoptees are grieving the loss of people they may have never met who may or may not be alive. Adoptive parents grieve other things, depending on the situation surrounding the adoption.

This morning as we are getting ready, in less than an hour, to leave the house to take two of our 17 year old children on to the new adventure of Job Corp, I realized that one of the sources of my ambiguous loss has been the lack of a healthy transition as they moved on from childhood to adulthood and left our home. The last time that it was handled appropriately was in 2004 when Kyle went off to college. Since then, in age order, this is how they have transitioned:

Rand, who stayed until he 23 and a half, came home from work a couple weeks ago and moved out his stuff, not even bothering to say goodbye. I saw him for the first time at Tony's party last night. He texted me twice in nearly two weeks. He hasn't said goodbye to us-- maybe he is waiting for when we leave town, but it certainly hasn't been a ceremonial transition.

Mike has come and gone from our house since he was 15, always angry when he leaves, often angry when he arrives. He has been in all kinds of places between times, but there's never been a healthy transition. We had one planned after a stint in drug treatment ... and it was actually a somewhat "normal" transition in that we moved him into a halfway house .. but he only stayed 3 weeks and then ran away, making himself homeless.

John had a great transition plan set up -- until he moved in with his 15 year old girlfriend instead of finishing the program we had him enrolled in. He, too, was in and out of our house between 14 and 21... often leaving to go back to jail.

Jimmy is still here. :-)

Salinda as you know left our home prematurely at 16 when she found out she was pregnant. That led to a couple years of real struggle as we believed it would be best for her to be with us and she fought us the whole way. We could have legally tried to force her, but she is one strong willed individual and I know better than that.

Ricardo packed up some stuff one afternoon when he was mad because he didn't want to do chores soon after he turned 18. He is still living with his friend's family and doesn't plan to go with us when we move -- nor even say goodbye.

So today we are going to take two kids to a program that will do the transitioning to adulthood in a healthy, supervised way. Job Corp is a great program -- and if it sounds as good as it is I'm going to be a Job Corp advocate for the rest of my life!

So we had parties. We took pictures. We watched them say goodbye to their friends and ours. We had cakes and today both of us will be driving them to drop them off somewhere where they will start their lives as "adults."

I've cried buckets (mostly privately) in the past couple days and tear up every 3-7 minutes thinking about them as the "little kids" and how they are now all grown up. Tony was 20 months when he came, almost exactly Isaac's age, and Sadie was 4. They have always been our "littles" and here they are, moving away.

But I am grateful to have a chance to grieve in an appropriate way.... I'm glad that I will not be experiencing all the ambiguous loss that I have with the others who left in not-so-normal ways. I am joining my friends from college who are all at the same stage we are -- watching their kids graduate and move on to college or other things -- Facebook is full of graduation and wedding pictures right now as those who graduated with us are at that age now too.

So even though they are leaving to head to a new setting because typical high school has NOT been a good fit for them, they have opportunities to go somewhere with new opportunities.

Before we leave I am going to write them each a letter for them to read after we leave. It's all so terribly sad but it is also HEALTHY. We alll need a chance to grieve appropriately.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Life of Good Love from Good Friends

Tony's party was an awesome reminder of the incredible group of friends we have here. Some of our favorite people were there and it made me cry to see them saying goodbye to Tony. They have had an amazing impact on his life and for that we are forever grateful!

Sadie's Pool Party

We survived the night -- many teenagers and not too much noise, lots of food and fun for them. And grandbaby time for me!

Pictures from True Team State Track last weekend...

Emotional Mack Truck Accident

I woke up early this morning.... Around 6:30, having not slept more than six hours and emotionally I felt like I had been hit by a mack truck. Sometimes emotional stuff sneaks up on me because I'm really busy and a do-er who focuses on what comes next. But this time I should have known I'd feel this way.

Yesterday morning was so bitter sweet. I was crying before church even started. We sang This is a Day of New Beginnings (Brian Wren) -- a song Bart used on our first Sunday here nearly six years ago. Since you probably don't know this hymn, posting the lyrics for you is in order. :-)

1 This is a day of new beginnings,
time to remember and move on,
time to believe what love is bringing,
laying to rest the pain that's gone.

2 For by the life and death of Jesus,
love's mighty Spirit, now as then,
can make for us a world of difference
as faith and hope are born again.

3 Then let us, with the Spirit's daring,
step from the past, and leave behind
our disappointment, guilt and grieving,
seeking new paths, and sure to find.

4 Christ is alive, and goes before us
to show and share what love can do.
This is a day of new beginnings;
our God is making all things new.

Also included in the service was a litany of farewell, which I can't believe Bart made it through without falling apart. There was also a beautiful baptism of a little girl who is 7 and who had specifically asked her parents to be immersed (something we don't typically do in the UMC) and who wanted to do it before we left. It was a really lovely experience.

I was holding Isaac for much of the sermon which was probably a good distraction as he was very active and I had been choking back tears all morning.

The congregation gave us a card with a generous gift inside. Lovely flyers were made with kind words -- i will try and post the collage inside here for you -- it's gorgeous, even if someone DID creep on my FB and blog and steal a bunch of pictures. :-) They called all of us up front -- which included my 2 and 9/10ths grandchildren and people came and laid hands on us and prayed.

When it was time to go the congregation was supposed to sing "Go Forth for God." One of the women in the congregation interrupted everything and said that one of the things she would miss most about Bart was his singing voice and asked him to sing the first verse.

So my husband, without faltering, was able to sing this to the church the people that he has lovingly been a shepherd to for the last six years:

Go forth for God, go to the world in peace;
be of good courage, armed with heavenly grace,
in God's good Spirit daily to increase,
till in the kingdom we see face to face.
Go forth for God, go to the world in peace.

We finished the song and then I walked down the aisle with him (something that I don't typically do) and we stood at the door and greeted everyone together. As I pointed out to the church -- they had to say goodbye to us -- so each of them had a few people -- ok, so they had 10 or so of us -- but we had to say goodbye to over 200 people in a short period of time. It is very emotionally exhausting to have people you love stand in line and one by one hug you and say goodbye. I can't think of another setting where this would happen and it's a wonderful/beautiful/sad/tearful thing.

Things lightened up after that and we had some very good cake, received many cards to read later, and were able to laugh with our friends at fellowship hour one last time.

Wow, I've been crying the whole time I wrote that. Yikes....

But the emotional exhaustion just kept coming.

We had dinner together as a family which included Salinda and Gabby, Courtney and Isaac and Tessa and AJ (did I tell you they are naming him Aiden Jay?) who is still tucked up safe inside his momma for at least another week (that's what we're praying anyway -- so his dad can be there!).

We went home and Bart and I sat together and read through the wonderful cards and notes from people we love so much. And then I had 30 minutes to nap before Sadie's big going away extravaganza began.

We headed to the store, picked up the cake, picked up one of her friends, and headed to the hotel. We were supposed to be here to check in by 3 and get set up but it was more like 3:30. And the 6 friends plus three or four more to swim turned in to a LOT more people. Fortunately as far as I know they were very well behaved in the pool -- I was only at the pool for about 3 hours... they swam off and on until midnight. We ordered pizza -- and I only had to settle them down twice. The few boys that were here left at 11... (an ingredient that was kind of left out of the initial planning -- or at least I didn't pick up on it).

I was supposed to be providing minimal supervision and staying out of the way, so it was nice that Courtney and Salinda were here to be supportive. I watched them chase around my adorable grandchildren.

In the middle of the party I left for a few minutes to spend some time with Bart and pick up Leon from work. He was very unhappy we were late. He is sullen and quiet lately -- not at all like him -- but I'm going to blog about him in a bit. Bart was trying to tell me about some things that Tony had said about him yesterday but he couldn't get it out because of the tears. Though Tony has been a very difficult child to raise, he has been with us the longest and has always been especially close to Bart from his first days here at 20 months. It's hard to believe that tomorrow he will head off for an adventure that doesn't include us. He knows he needs to go -- it's his best ticket to the future, but he doesn't want to be separated from us (a good sign). Fortunately the timing works out for him to be back in a month for a few days with us. I think that will work well. Then he will be gone for six whole months without being home -- even though we will make an attempt to visit there at least once or twice.

Sadie will only be twenty minutes from us after we move so even though she is nervous as well it isn't the same thing. We could theoretically go see her every night -- or she could come home every night -- if that was something she needed. I'm anticipating that after the first few weeks she will have a social network set up and the only time she comes home it will be to bring friends with her.

Ok, I know this is getting wordy -- I'm almost done. So, the one thing that we didn't anticipate was that maybe after one of the most exhausting days of our lives emotionally, spending the night apart wouldn't be the best plan. Neither of us have slept well and we are both very very tired. We are emotionally exhausted and filled with grief about leaving people we have cared about so much.

Tomorrow we say goodbye to two kids at the same time -- two kids who are fairly attached to us and though, while draining, do love us and want to be connected to us. This isn't necessarily true for all of our kids.

So yes, I have been hit by an emotional mack truck. But there are some things that provide me with a ton of strength.

1) God goes with me. His strength and his provision and guidance go with me wherever He sends me.

2) I'm not saying goodbye to one of the greatest pastors there is -- because I married him. :-)

3) I am married to man who is good through and through. He is honest, kind, faithful, witty, bright and fun and he cooks. And I get to move on to a new adventure with him.

4) If you have moved around at all, you know this to be true. There are wonderful people everywhere. And one of the coolest things about being a "clergy spouse" is that I am forced every several years to go meet more of them. Six years ago in June we walked into a sanctuary full of complete strangers. Yesterday we said goodbye to them as dear, beloved friends who have walked with us through some very good and some very bad times over the past six years -- as we have walked through their good and bad times as well. The magic of Christian community....

5) I know that we will make it through this transition. We've been through much more difficult things. Our kids, though not all happy with us, are in touch with the exception of Ricardo. There will be more challenging days ahead, but we will have each other, God, and a new group of people who will be there for us as well.

You receive an award if you've read this whole thing. But a woman who prides herself on being as strong as I do -- had to at least explain why I felt like I'd been hit by a truck. Understand why now?

Some shots from our pool time -- Gabby is like her mom -- never met a chip she didn't like. :-)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Compounded Anxiety...

Yesterday was a long and very busy day. I pushed myself through exhaustion with anxiety being my fuel. Not a good plan, I suppose, but not exactly one that I chose... just the way it was.

Mike gets out of prison a week from tomorrow. His baby is due in a little over 2 weeks. He has no place to live. We had agreed to let him come home for a month before we knew we were moving but there is no room -- space wise or emotionally -- for him to join us in the Cities. That's not to say that we won't be forced to agree to something like that eventually, so it isn't in stone, but I have spent many sleepless nights trying to figure it out. It isn't really just about Mike -- but it's about our family system and the anxiety of it and how he compounds it.

But his anxiety is off the charts. If I tell the story here he may be very angry with me -- but wait -- he's always pretty angry with me. The bottom line, if you've been following this, is that there is a young man in a maximum security prison who has PTSD and is not receiving the correct medication for his anxiety and who couldn't be transported to the minimum security facility because his sentence was 117 and it has to be 120 days to be moved. He ended up there because he failed to show up for some appointments.... he hadn't committed a new crime in over a year... but his PO got tired of it all and decided to just have him execute his time.

So... he has no place to live after June 11th, his baby is due on the 12th, and even though he is trying not to do so, he is blaming us for most everything. And that gets tiring.

So I was texting his girlfriend yesterday trying to figure out housing for him -- and then he called Bart later pouring out his anger... not fun. That situation has me in some kind of weird place...

In addition, Tony is flying alone for the first time on Tuesday and when he is anxious, LOOK OUT! His behaviors are worse than usual.

Mercedes seems to be handling things OK because she is focusing on her going away party with friends that she is having tonight.... we got a lot of her room packed yesterday....we'll see how tomorrow goes when she is tired from her party and trying to finish packing.

Salinda is here with Gabby -- they arrived late last night. I'm paying for gas so that they can be here to say goodbye to Sadie and Tony. Courtney and Issac should be coming to church -- again, me footing the gas bill. It's amazing what one will pay to see grandchildren. ;-)

Leon is handling things by spending every moment possible with his friends. He's never been a kid like that -- he's always spent the majority of his time at home, but I get how he wants to get as many hours in with them before he leaves... it's just not giving him much time to relax or connect with us.

Today is the church's going away party... and Bart's last Sunday. There will be many sad people -- he is an amazing preacher and a really good man. All of them haven't always been thrilled with him, but the majority will miss him and us. It will be difficult to say goodbye ... we have made many good friends.

So I'm heading to church a bit exhausted this morning.... ridden with anxiety and tired from a long week of travel and training followed by a day of trips to the land fill deposit area in the rain and cleaning and packing. It's not a good formula for emotional composure and so I will most likely cry a lot. I don't like to cry in front of people and I don't often do it -- but being this tired it's probably going to happen.

So there you have it -- my hodge podge of thoughts on a difficult morning.

My mom taught me a song when I was very very young that she sang to me often:

Make new friends
but keep the old...
one is silver
and the other gold.

Today we will be saying goodbye to many of the gold specks in our lives. They have become a part of the tapestry of who I am... each of them weaving themselves in and through me and enriching my very being. To say I will miss them and our life together in the context of community is an understatement.

I'm making myself cry already....


Saturday, May 26, 2012

une Webinar with Nancy Verrier, adoption author of The Primal Wound

Check here for details... Available to anyone.. not just Minnesotans. :-)


So I arrived home safely from Virginia, which I bet you assumed, tired but feeling good about my week of presenting. I'm not much of a self promoter, but I'm really good at what I do. Even though I'm not much to look at while I present, mentally I an stay on top of things. My years of parenting and being an adoption professional have prepared me well and given me really good insight when it comes to quick answers to tough questions. I'm in my element when people are throwing things out there -- tough things -- and I can usually come up with stuff that makes the heads of many in the room nod in agreement.

I also have a good sense of comedic timing -- so humor is throughout, sometimes very dry. A very quiet woman in the back of the room who had said nothing all day long and not laughed at all, came up to me later and said, dead panned, "I got every single one of your jokes." Reminds me of me -- someone who can be highly entertained all day long without notifying my face.

My guess that social workers read home studies while propped in front of the TV with cookies and chips watching the biggest loser made me laugh out loud... because about half the room looked like I had caught them red handed! The expressions on their faces. So funny.

Anyway, i got back home from Virginia on Thursday afternoon, had a quick nap, and then spent some time with family. Got up the next morning and left at 6:30 to spend my day listening to fascinating presentations (and I'm not kidding) from my class about interesting cases they are dealing with professionally and how the Adoption Competency course has impacted their work. I drove home to climb from my vehicles into my husbands who had already made sure the few kids that were home were fed and was ready to take me out to a nice dinner. The place we went to was gorgeous at night! I had been there for lunch, but never for dinner -- and it was transformed.. candlelight and really good food and time alone with the greatest guy on earth. Can't beat that for a homecoming.

He insisted that I did NOT need to work when we got home so we sat trying to stay up long enough for bedtime, but gave up and hit the sack about nine. Up at six and raring to go I have quite a day ahead.

In the next three days we have two kids to get completely packed and ready to leave Tuesday morning. That means a couple more shopping trips and a lot of work. We also have three going away parties to participate in, one for all of us and we are throwing one for Sadie and one for Tony -- Sadie for friends from school -- Tony mostly from friends from church.

LOTS to do the next few days.

On breaks from classes yesterday I was firing emails back and forth from the accountant to the mortgage banker and other places.... please pray that the underwriters will accept our documentation and approve the loan. We are supposed to close on June 1st -- that is less than a week away!

Moving truck gets packed June 11th.... and unpacked June 12th -- and we will be Robbbinsdale residents. Weird. It's going to go by fast!

Trying not to think about saying goodbye here..... holding back the tears and trying to focus on all the good times we've had instead of the fact that we are leaving.

As Gabriel García Márquez once said "No llores porque ya se terminó... sonríe, porque sucedió."

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Beyond Consequences Training & Support

I know Brenda.

I like Brenda.

You will too.

“Nurturing Feeding: Promoting Recovery from Eating Issues in Traumatized Children”

Why I Do What I Do...

You might be wondering what exactly I'm speaking on this week and why I haven't bothered to blog much. Lemme tell ya.

Our schedule was like this:

Sunday: Fly in to Washington Dulles and drive an hour to Warrenton, VA. Dinner, prepare presentation, bed.

Monday: Present 9-3. Drive 2.5 hours. Arrive in Williamsburg, VA. Dinner, email, bed.

Tuesday: Present 9-3. Check out Jamestown via car. Drive 4 hours. Eat Wendy's with Wendy's on the road. Email, bed.

Wednesday: Present 9-3. Nap. Email and blogging. Soon dinner and bed. :-)

Thursday: Travel home.

In the middle of all that I am texting kids at home attempting to get not one, but two kids ready for Job Corp now. Sadie has been accepted and is leaving on Tuesday as well. Wow. Also have been working to find housing for Mike.

My presentations have consisted of the following:

A brief story of my family to provide context and credibility.
A Two hour presentation about the Myths of Matching (talking about Matching families with kids in the foster care system).
A Two hour presentation about the Methods of Matching, including hands on worksheets and tools that I've developed.

Throughout my presentations Wendy, the president of Adopt America, has thrown in great input -- in addition she really helps me with keeping myself on track, getting things handed out, fielding questions, lifting heavy things, etc. She's very fun to travel with and I couldn't do these things and stay sane lately without her help.

I love doing this because I can see by looking at folks that they are starting to get what I am saying. I love to renew passion in the hearts of those who are burned out and see the wheels clicking about how they are going to do better work.

It's exhausting -- especially with my health issues -- and I have had to sit to present most of the week -- so I definitely need to get back on track physically. But mentally I've been right there with them all three days and poured a lot of emotional energy into the process.

Back home I'm missing another pops concert because it was rescheduled to tonight. That does NOT make me happy.

But, I'll hit the road going full speed as we head into the weekend filled with 3 going away parties ... after I teach all day Friday.

Wouldn't trade my life for anyone elses.... i really love what I do.

Monday, May 21, 2012

I guess you might be wondering...

Made it to Virginia safely but was dead tired. Was in bed by 9. Got up presented all day, drove three hours, had a delicious meal, and am now getting ready to go to bed early again.

My body is old, fat, unhealthy and tired, but my mind is SHARP. :-)

Hope all is well with everyone.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

My Day Ahead

I just got out of our shower. It has a plastic ruler in it. I'm not going to think about that. Hands over metaphorical ears -- LA LA LA LA...

Going to have lunch with some fun friends. By the way, my SUPPOSED BFF was caught having lunch with someone else without telling me about it on Thursday. You should have seen her face. It was hilarious. She looked like a kid with her hand in a cookie jar... or perhaps a man out with his secretary who he was ... ok, ok, Claudia. Keep the Blog PG. Anyway, the fact of the matter is that Kari has way more real friends than I do -- I have more Facebook friends than she does because she is all ODD about FB and has NO friends (I think you should all encourage her to do what I say and let me be her only FB friend. Wouldn't that be so cool for me)... But anyway, I am totally digressing here. But everyone who is worried about how Kari will be after I move -- don't. She has more friends than you do I bet. But I have seen her conducting some BFF interviews lately to figure out which of her zillion friends is going to be her new BFF.

Truth me known I'm a pretty dumb friend to have. I like people who are really nice and treat people well. I like to be served quite a bit, actually. I'm not much of a server and I tend to spend time with people that I truly enjoy who like me. So really, in this particular situation, when it comes to my social life it's all about me.

So, anyway, we're having lunch with our very cool friends Tom and Chantill who finalized their adoption four years ago today. How cool is that? When we moved here they were in the process of adopting and were told they had to find a support group to be involved in. We became their support group and I helped match them with their girls. So it's kinda cool that the four of us are having lunch today, sans kids, to reminisce.

Bart has a wedding (someone else's not his) today and so I'm going to the State True Team Track Meet in Stillwater this afternoon. Leon has qualified in a couple events.. and I'm going to go watch him and try to snap a picture or too assuming I remember my camera.

Here's his track meet mohawk :-)

Then tonight I must pack as I am off for a few days speaking in Virginia this week. It's going to be a whirlwind trip -- flying in Sunday, then speaking 6 hours Monday, followed by a long drive, then doing that Tuesday and Wednesday and flying back on Thursday. NUTS for sure.

I am tempted to try and round up someone to have dinner with after the track meet -- maybe I'll put out a FB emergency post after I see how much I get done today and if I have time...

Busy days, but today I'm happy enough. Was glad to have yesterday over.

Happy weekend world!

Friday, May 18, 2012


So, why am I letting out a scream of frustration, you ask? Well, let me tell you, since you're asking.

Last night Bart got held up in a meeting after saying he was making dinner and I didn't know if he would change his mind about cooking or come home and make it so I wouldn't let the kids fix their own or take them out. He got home at 5:30 and a couple of them were acting as though they were going to die if supper wasn't at 6. He was crabby -- and had good reason to but I can't blog it. If I told you what happen you would probably either faint or cry. My husband is the most appropriate, polite, professional, kind, gentle person on earth and he is NEVER rude or mean. And so when he is treated rudely and meanly it's very hard for him -- and even harder for me. Punching someone in the nose probably isn't something I can or should do at this point in my life, so we turn the other cheek... but it's still annoying!

So him coming home crabby and late in addition to the missing medication for Dominyk and the fact nobody had eaten led to one of those perfect storms and WOW was it a bad 15 minutes. Fortunately, Dominyk punched a hole in a door that already had a whole in it and I encouraged him to continue to punch that particular door until we sold the house since it needed to be replaced anyway. I know, I live in a weird world.

After the huge outburst the rest of the evening seemed to go OK except that my major stressor was losing the data from my phone and restoring it to factory settings thinking I had a backup, but somehow because of a faulty cord (that my kids have borrowed and apparently broken) I didn't get my stuff backed up. The super important stuff -- emails, contacts (over 4000 of them), and calendars -- are all stored on Itunes and my music and photos are as well. However, my voice mails (several which needed a response) and my five year text message history were gone.

I did back up my computer on April 3rd so this morning I am in the process of trying to get things back the way they were on that day. However, this kind of stress is not something that I wanted or needed this week so I am feeling very much like screaming about that.

And then there is the lingering frustration of a ZERO tolerance world while raising kids who need a LOT of tolerance... and the chore of trying to explain things to adults -- professionals, strangers, neighbors, etc -- who really don't want to get it. It's bad enough that I am trying to explain things to kids who can't get it even if they want to than to have to deal daily with those who don't get it and have no interest in doing so.

I know I'm not being eloquent this morning, but I just get tired of it sometimes. I used to be a very neat black and white thinker 16 years ago. My world fit together very nicely. And I enjoyed holding my head high and proud because I had things figured out. But in order to do that I had to ignore the pain, suffering and just plain crap that is happening in the world around me. When I did that everything felt good and I could have it all figured out.

In writing that it reminded me of a song that I LOVED as a teenager -- back in the 70s when I was starting to figure out that the world was a place that needed changing and that I could be a part of changing it. I am linking the YouTube so that you can hear it -- but I searched my blog and found the entry where I referred to it. It's worth reading the entry -- because it is about Jimmy as was yesterdays ordeal.

But I only posted the chorus of hte song, so here are all the lyrics -- you should listen to it too just to see what a weird kid I was in the 70s while everyone else was in love with the BeeJees. I thought Daniel Amos was the coolest ever. The quote on the YouTube cracks me up -- it says:

Lyrically, the album contains social commentary so harsh that CCM described it as "perhaps the most scathing ever put out by a Christian label."
- Wikipedia

I was already becoming a wacko back when I was 17....

The band used cryptic, but I think you can figure out that they were talking about how the starving children videos come on TV while having breakfast and jars their day -- so they simply turn the channel.

Daniel Amos - ¡Alarma! 1981

Faces to the Window

I go to work I work hard, I do come home exhausted
I go to sleep quite early, lights off and I roll over
Nice and keeping warm, the morning comes too soon
All is well and it's O.K., till I hear the bell and I say
"My little breakfast is a little bit of hell"

For they got their faces to the window
Pressin' their faces to the window
Little bitty beggars with the great big eyes
I turn the channel but to my surprise
They still press their faces to the, window

I go to church each sunday, I go to lovely picnics
I say my prayers at bedtime, I try to be a witness
I lose a little sleep, but I whistle while I make my bed
The summer sun is shining, in clouds a silver lining
Why do I find I'm shouting, "When is Thy kingdom coming?"

Got their faces to the window
Pressin' their faces to the window
Little bitty beggars with the great big eyes
I turn the channel but to my surprise
They still press their faces to the window

I go to work I work hard, I do come home exhausted
I go to sleep quite early, lights off and I roll over
Nice and keeping warm, the morning comes too soon
All is well and it's O.K., till I hear the bell and I say
"My little breakfast is a little bit of hell"

For they got their faces to the window
Pressin' their faces to the window
Little bitty beggars with the great big eyes
I turn the channel but to my surprise
They still press their faces to the
They still press their faces to the window
They still press their faces to the
They still press their faces to the window

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Adoptee Mixer in St. Paul, MN

No Tolerance Policies and VERY Expensive Crackers

I just spent my morning in misdemeanor court with Jimmy, AKA Ben, who on April 17th lost his job as a dishwasher at the University because he stole two packages of crackers.

I have an incredible amount of things that I could say about the "criminal" "justice" system, but I will try to hold back. It's just that a lot of people that I saw today were hardly criminals -- and I'm not really sure what I think about the whole justice thing any more...

Jimmy was hired by the university through a program that works with people with developmental disabilities. He was requested to come there after working there as a high school student, so he waited from June until October, doing nothing, to get that job. He had a job coach. He was doing very well there, worked very hard, and I can imagine that he was one of their best workers, because he certainly is the hardest worker of my 12. He came home very tired, and by the time taxes were taken out he was able to make a whole $218 a week for full time work. Don't even get me started on people who think that the poor are lazy. There is no way that he could live on $218 a week in Mankato. One bedroom apartments start at about $500 a month, not including utilities. So he found the best job he could with his developmental level and he worked very hard full time to make about $1000 a month.. Sorry, I digress.... it's just that people have a very wrong perception of what it is like to be uneducated or to have delays that are significant to keep you from a higher paying job, but not significant to qualify for SSI...

So, here's what happened. Someone at work started suspecting that Jimmy was stealing little things from the on campus convenience store in the building where he did dishes. They didn't talk to Jimmy. They didn't talk to his job coach. What they did was assign someone to watch him and catch him doing it. He figured he wasn't getting caught so he kept doing it. I know him well and I guarantee you that with ONE warning he would have stopped. If we had known, or his job coach, or if his boss would have reminded him that there was a no tolerance policy there and that if he got caught stealing he would lose his job, Jimmy would have stopped.

But nobody talked to him. Or to us. Or to his job coach. And suddenly he found himself in handcuffs after grabbing two packages of peanut butter sandwich crackers. He was immediately fired. He lost his job, got ticketed, and was left with no time before we moved to get another job.

So, that takes us today when he finally had a court appearance a month later. We got there at 8, court was at 8:15 -- court for Jimmy and about 40 other people who had misdemeanor charges. We filled out a form in a room. I explained to Jimmy what to tell the court clerk -- that he had already been through the diversion program as a minor. But he didn't tell them that. SO they sent us to talk to someone about the diversion program. That took us until about 9:15.

The diversion person immediately told him that he didn't qualify for the diversion program and why. Then she explained to him how wrong what he did is. She asked him why he did it. He has no clue. He couldn't answer that question. To this day he has no idea why -- other than he didn't have any money with him and he wanted a snack. So finally she tells him he is going to be charged with a petty misdemeanor (ya think?) and that he has to appear before the judge. We are escorted to another courtroom.

When we get there we had to listen to three or four cases before us. The judge handled them very well -- I appreciate her concern and her style. But there were so many societal issues that were represented in those four cases that I couldn't believe it: Racial profiling, homelessness, teenage brain development issues, mental illness... the list was long and I was only there for thirty minutes.

End result -- Jimmy stood before the judge for 3 minutes. She asked him what he did. He told her he stole two packages of crackers. She didn't bother to ask him why. She fined him $277 dollars, we paid it and came home.

I charged Jimmy for my time this morning -- the amount I would have made had I been at my desk.

I told him I hoped they were really good crackers. He told me that he never got to eat them because they took them away from him.

He says he has learned his lesson. I really hope he did.

I see this from both sides, I really do and I'm sure that a few of you will have different opinions than I on this subject. But I really think that in many, many situations our traditional judicial system is not serving the population of people out there whose brains do not function properly. Jimmy experienced quite a bit of trauma as a toddler and his brain is just wired differently than other peoples. He's not going to wake up some day and "get it."

Sigh -- OK, let me have it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Full Circle

Over 20 years ago a handsome young soccer player from California showed up at the college that I was attending. I had met him earlier at his cousins wedding (she was my roommate and remains one of my favorite people) and his easy going manner made me smile....

I cant' remember the timing of all this, but I do know that that it didn't seem like college was going to be a good choice for him. He would forget to go to class, literally, and he confessed when I saw him this summer that after his freshman year he had a .3 GPA. Yes, you read that correctly. Not a 3.0 GPA, but a .3 GPA....

But God had plans for him and I could see that he was worth investing in. Later as I served as Dean of Students I made sure I did what I could to inspire him. I don't take full credit -- it was a team effort and I know that several of my good friends and coworkers took a special interest in him as well...

His mom, an incredible detail person, and his dad, quite laid back and someone who would do anything he could to help anyone, moved to town a bit later and I created a position to hire her. She was so awesome and we have so many good memories. She still holds the position today! I wish I could have cloned her and brought her with me to take care of details in my life every day since then!

Anyway, I'm getting off the subject. So Eric managed to somehow pull things together and graduate. He ended up going to seminary and was involved in some sports ministries. In 1999 he got married 30 miles from where we were living. I vaguely remember his wedding as being a scattered disaster as we attempted to take 6 kids under 10. It didn't go well.

Another decade passed and he became the Outreach Pastor at Heritage Church in the Quad Cities, a place where some of my favorite people pastor Vida Nueva congreation within that church. (a story about them can be found here) We reconnected and began to talk about their church's efforts to start an orphan adoption ministry. He had me come speak, and we have had a chance to visit a couple times in the past year.

Recently they finally brought Hope home -- after a three year wait and tonight I got to watch the video of them sharing their experiences. I had tears in my eyes at the weird and wonderful ways that God brings things full circle.

Eric now shares my passion -- you can see it in his eyes -- the passion that all kids have a family. Who would have known 20 years ago that we would both arrive at this same place? And that is just the tip of the iceberg of all the ways in which God has worked in their lives and ours and the lives of others -- ways that are beyond cool.

You may not want to watch the video -- but you probably should -- just to see what a fine man Eric has turned out to be -- what a great wife he married -- and the incredibly cute kids they have -- two by birth and one by adoption. The edited version is here, but if you want to hear the whole thing you can click here.

I love how my life is a tapestry that is made up of so many amazing people who are now connected to one another and to me. I am amazed at how God has used others to make me who I am and then in turn how he has used me in the life of other people.

Watch the video. You'll see why it made me cry.

MIracle #4 Announced -- and a Poem....

If you have been keeping track of our need for four miracles, you know that we needed the following to happen:

1) We needed to feel an assurance that the church to which Bart was reappointed would be a good match for him and for our family. We are beyond convinced of this -- everything we have done in our lives seems to have been leading this! We are excited about the ways that God is going to use Bart and our family in Crystal, New Hope, Robbinsdale and Brooklyn Center! The church is Brunswick United Methodist and his first Sunday is June 24th and you are all welcome! We are hoping that we can be a church for those who have had a hard time fitting in elsewhere because of the special needs of their kids or their unique adoption situations. If you have complained about having a pastor who doesn't "get it" -- you won't find many pastors who get it as much as Bart does. Wait, that sounded like a double entendre. It wasn't. :-)

2) We needed to find a house in our price range within a couple miles of the church that we liked and could afford. We got notice yesterday that we will close on that house on June 1 at 9:30 a.m.! Check!

3) We needed to sell our house. This isn't a done deal, but it's looking good!

4) The last miracle was that Rand needed a place to live in Mankato. After finding the perfect situation in the basement of some friends from church he moved out last night! So miracle number four has taken place --

Suddenly it's feeling quite weird as our nest slowly empties....

I did another version of this little poem back in 2009 when I was talking about who was home for the week, but it may be time for me to let you know how our nest has emptied.....

Twelve Fletcher "children", teens 6 and adults seven,
the oldest finished college, started teaching, got married and then there were eleven.

Eleven Fletcher adults and teens, a busy house twas then
one went off to jail, prison, home, jail, prison, home, jail, prison.... and then there were ten.

Ten Fletcher adults and teens, here to sleep, and live and dine
one had a baby girl and moved in with bfs parents, and then there were nine.

Nine Fletcher adults and teens, some on time but often late
another went to jail, home, had a son, home, jail again, an apartment, jail now-- and then there were eight.

Eight Fletcher adults and teens, not always enjoying what they'd been given
One decided he was ready to move out at 18 because others enabled him, and then there were seven.

Seven Fletcher adults and teens, up to the same old tricks
one found a basement to rent with our friends and then there were six.

Six Fletcher adults adults and teens, watching others slowly walk out the door
if both who are signed up for job corp go, we'll be down to only four!!!

Four Fletcher adults and teens, OH NO what will we do
for we've always had so many around, like the old lady who lived in the shoe.

But the Fletcher parents who lead this crew aren't worrying today
because we love them and know they'll always ours whether home or away

And if some day the nest is empty and it's something we abhor
no worries -- even though the ones these won't be "replaced" -- we know how to add some more!

Not bad for 10 minutes, huh?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

When We Move I'm Going to Be So Different.....

We have an official move date. June 11th. They will load us up that day and they will unload us on June 12th. And I'm having to recognize something in myself that I don't really want to think about.

It's a truth I try to tell my kids but it's something I need to remember as well.

Wherever I go, there I am.

Dang it, I hate that. The truth though, is that our location doesn't define us. The people we are around don't make us who we are. Wherever we go, there we are.

This is the third time I have written this short story on my blog (I searched it to see and I posted it in 2009 and 2007): I read a story a long time ago that has really stuck with me. It was a little boy who was afraid of a monster that kept chasing him everywhere. No matter where he went the monster followed him. Finally, he decided to hide in a closet and when he got in there he realized he'd locked himself in the closet with the monster. Because we can't escape ourselves.

So I've been thinking and dreaming a lot today about how our new house is going to be so clean, and I'm going to be so much more self-disciplined, and tidy, and organized, and efficient, and a better parent and a better friend and the list just goes on and on and on.

But the reality is that I'm still going to be me. And that stepping across the threshold of a new house in a new city where I go to a new church isn't going to automatically make me a new person.

And the truth of the matter is that I like it here because I have all kinds of people who like me just the way I am -- or at least are very good at pretending they do. I have friends who are willing to confront me when I get out of line and who understand where I am coming from. I don't have to be a better me for them to appreciate me, love me, encourage me and support me.

I know there will be some of those folks where I am going as well, but it will take a while. I'm kinda offensive really, and tease that I don't have social skills. So I won't be able to automatically charm people who are expecting a "typical" pastor's wife or a "nice" neighbor or friend.

But I have some dreams and I have some visions and I have some hope -- that I will do those things, with God's help, that will allow me to be the me that I envision in my new home, new neighborhood, and new church. Even though I won't change completely, I may be able to use the change to motivate myself to do better, be better, try harder, reprioritize and move forward.

And the fact is that I like me... for the most part. I've gotten to the point that I can be comfortable in my own skin, being me, regardless of what others think. So even if I don't change as much as I plan, I'm sure I'll be OK.

As the wife of a pastor in an ecclesiastical form of church government where clergy are itinerant and are appointed from one church to the next, it's a good thing that I like change and that I like me. I have learned to distance myself enough to make it seem like transition is OK. But thinking back to six years ago when we left our church in Luverne I remember just how very hard it was to say goodbye.

So in the midst of all of the emotions of moving I'm pretty sure I'm going to be OK. And I am looking forward to the next chapter of our lives. But I'm going to miss people here a ton. You Mankato folks have been awesome to us!

But I'm going to hit publish before I cry. All I was supposed to be doing was to announce my move date and be profound about being the same person no matter what and I'm getting myself all worked up.....

So, June 11th. and Wherever you go, there you are....

Zero Kids Waiting May 2012 Issue ...

....can be found here. Some interesting research links if you are into that kind of stuff.

The Pieces Are Falling Together

Whew. My life is speeding on... careening from thing to thing as I attempt to keep up. The days are counting down and we are looking towards a move date of June 11. Hopefully we will close on the house. I continue to love the family who wants to buy the house and we are really hoping that all works out as it it might be as much fun to be the answer to someones prayer's as it is to have your prayers answered.

I spent yesterday doing a lot of annoying paperwork kinds of things for my job and family and have a big stack ready to go to the post office. I always enjoy having things leave my desk. I pushed myself pretty hard from 8 til noon when I got to have lunch with my friend Sue. She is awesome. Seriously.

Yesterday afternoon Rand and I met with a family who are going to let him move into their basement. Because it is so much closer (by about 30 miles) to the other option and because he can move in today instead of August 1st, this is a wonderful answer to prayer. It all fell together in 24 hours. It's a situation he can afford and will hopefully be a stepping stone for him to move forward.

Last night we got to watch Isaac and he spent the night in our bedroom for the first time ever. He woke up at 5 a.m., but we coaxed him back to bed until 6, but the picture above is of him at 6:15. Nobody should be THAT happy at 6:15.

Today I have some writing I need to do and I need to prepare for a trip to Virginia that I leave for on Sunday. Once I get back from that trip there are only 3 days before Tony leaves for Job Corp.

Would appreciate your prayers for Sadie. She's supposed to get a call any day to start Job Corp... and she's nervous. I think she knows she needs to go... but she is getting cold feet. Or maybe you should be praying for me that I don't say something that messes it up. I want to be excited for her and get her excited as well, but I'm afraid of the teenage girl thing where you don't do what your mother thinks you should.

So that's where we are today.... time for me to get moving and accomplish much...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day Report and the Moving Blues

It was a pretty good day. For the first time in ages I heard no swearing before church and everyone was up and ready to go on time. That was the best gift ever! I sat by some of my kids in church and Leon let me rub his back and put his head on my shoulder briefly, making me very happy to be a mom at that moment!

Afterwards we had lunch at a place that wasn't very crowded and then we came home and I was left along long enough to have an hour nap. We then attempted to make some progress packing -- later Bart and I went out for dinner and Mike and Kari joined us and it was so good to see them again.

I'm doing the emotional equivalent of putting my hand over my ears and singing LA LA LA LA LA whenever I start thinking about leaving all of my friends here. I know we aren't going far, but it's that daily/weekly thing that I"m going to miss. There are so many people in our church who are just amazing and I wish we would have had more time to spend with them.

Speaking of amazing, we had dinner Saturday night with some great friends who have loved us and our kids for a long time. They were in our church in Luverne and each year when the kids were little and wanted 20 presents a piece for Christmas, they let us store things in their house. I then would wrap there, giving me a social experience. I could type for hours about how awesome they are! Their daughter lives here in Mankato, and so last year they moved here. Now we are having to say goodbye to them again. But on Saturday night we went to their house for pizza and their daughter's family came too and it was so fun. Just made me wish we would have made more time together...

They also had these very cool chairs and I am now coveting them...ok, maybe not coveting but hoping that when things all shake down and we buy new furniture for our living room that we can afford one. I'm trying to stop the tears from flowing by imagining myself in our sunny new living room, sitting on one of these nice chairs -- and, I must confess, one of my Mankato friends has come up to visit me to sit in the other chair. ;-)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day: It Isn't Always Happy

My husband is amazing for many reasons. But on Mother's Day every year I am reminded so much of his compassionate spirit and his willingness to view things from all angles.

Since the first Mother's Day of our marriage, when I was already foster mom to two little boys, every service he has done has been sensitive and caring. And to me that is a huge statement of who he is as a person. Let me explain.

When I was growing up, Mother's Day was very typical at our church. The person who was the oldest mother got a flower. The mom with the most kids got a gift. The mother who had the most children and grandchildren in church that day was honored. It was a great big celebration for everyone who had a loving mother and everyone who was a mother.

But after we began to be involved in foster care and adoption another perspective started to creep in, and I have watched my mother year after year honor all kinds of different people in his services. He uses a litany that does this:

* honors women who have been mothers but were unable to raise their children;

* honors women who have not been able to bear children and comforts them;

* remembers those who have mothers who could not be mothers to them;

* helps people identify those who, though possibly not related by blood, have served as mothers for them...

and it goes on and on, but you get the idea.

Mother's Day isn't always a good day for a lot of people. It reminds people who aren't mothers of the pain of that role in society -- whether it is those who are single and wishing they were married or those who are married but haven't been able to have children -- that they have value and worth outside of the society defined roles.

It is also a difficult day for those who are part of the adoption kinship network -- the birthmoms who may be missing their birth child, children who are thinking about their birth moms while working hard to honor their adoptive moms, and adoptive parents who are confronted with the realities of raising children who have other mother's who live in their minds and hearts.

It also reminds those who have have mothers who have abandoned, neglected and abused them of all of the pain. And it has to be an especially horrible day for those who don't have a mom, like my online friend LT who writes about it so poignantly here.

I'm going to have a good mother's day because I'm going to focus on the fact that I have the privilege of being a mom.... and going to love on those kids who got stuck with me -- because I'm better than not having a mom at all.

And I'm heading to church, the winner of the lottery, because I'm married to a man who can see beyond the obvious and reach the hearts of everyone.

Friday, May 11, 2012

If So Many Wait, Why Aren't I Matched?

I felt like this comment warranted a response.

It's so frustrating to hear 'there are waiting children' and then to go through the entire process of being licensed, doing the home study, etc. and then have an empty house.

A lot of the information and my opinions about matching are in the matching series on my Everything Adoption Blog.

But I wanted to share my frustration in the presentation of waiting children from a media perspective. While it has been changing over the years, typically a child is featured who is under 12 -- or a sibling group with children under 5. This gets people quite excited about the idea of all these waiting children out there.

The bottom line is that most of the waiting children are really waiting teenagers. They are kids over 12 who have some pretty difficult behaviors. And they are desperately in need of families.

So the situation that we have out there is that there are a lot of families waiting for young children while a lot of teenagers are waiting for a family willing to take older children.

If you have a homestudy done and are willing to take kids over 14 -- please let me know and we will hopefully be able to help you get matched.

I'm not saying that everyone should take teenagers -- I'm just explaining why the wait is long for those who want younger kids -- there are a lot of people out there like you who want the younger kids too, leading to more competition.

Waiting kids and waiting families. That shouldn't be happening. But I'm not sure what to do to bridge the gap when so many kids come into care long after they have lost the "cuteness" people respond too.

Is that too harsh?


Twas a long, good, bad, hard, easy day.....

Yup, lots of mixed emotions.

When we woke up Dominyk was having quite the meltdown. I was trying to hurry him along and his words were quite unkind. :-) So Bart volunteered to take Tony and Dominyk in the same vehicle, promoting him to a level beyond sainthood. Rand chose to go with them (still a puzzle in my mind) and I ended up with Leon, Wilson and Sadie.

We had a pleasant and relaxing drive up but the realtor's buddy who was meeting us at our new house was 40 minutes late, which upped the anxiety everywhere. By the time we got into the house everyone was pretty edgy. The pictures make it look bigger than it is and the outside is fairly dumpy and then arguments broke out about who was going to be sleeping where, etc.... Stressful and disappointing to me. Leon really doesn't want to move and Sadie is trying to figure out what to do about Job Corp, so she is very on edge.... but we dealt with it.

A tasty pizza buffet for lunch was followed by a tour of the church, which went quite well for me since I just sat in the office talking with the office manager who has now been referred to twice in my blog -- a big shout out to Cheryl!

While we were leaving the church I got a text telling me to have Tony call Job Corp. He has a move in date of May 29th!!! While he is very difficult to parent, he has been living with us the longest -- moving in at 20 months. I have more mixed feelings than I thought I would. This brings me to the point where I have only 13 days to live with him as i'm out of town for 5 later this month. That seems quite weird....

Then we had malts and were off to meet our friends at the Water Park of America. The five kids who swam reported great fun (we got really cheap tickets at Goldstar). We had a nice dinner with our friend Deb while the kids swam, and then we got ready to head home to find that Sadie's iphone had been stolen out of her bag.

To her credit she handled the whole thing very maturely -- maybe more than I would have. But today I'm figuring out what to do with the whole thing. The puzzling piece of it is that the guy who worked at the water park had an Iphone and he he said he used "find my iphone" to track her phone, but an hour later we couldn't. I'm just going to call AT&T and see if she had insurance...

So it was a day. Our kids are all affected by anxiety quite a bit and their special needs multiply when under stress. So managing all that on top of attempting to pack, work, and get ready to leave as well as to go has us in quite the fog....

but I know we'll make it through. We always do...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

And We're Off for a Day Together....

Today we are taking the kids to see the new house and the new church.... Jimmy went with us on tuesday, but today it will be Tony, Dominyk, Sadie, Leon, Wilson and Rand are going with us for a day together. We got cheap tickets to the Water Park of America, so we are heading there, meeting another adoptive family to have ourselves some fun. (The kids in the pool, Deb and I somewhere else!)

I am going to be responding to some blog comments in future posts, but no time this morning....

I might tell facebook how our day is going though :-)

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Why do you have twelve kids???

You've given me a staggering task, ruling this mob of people. Yes, give me wisdom and knowledge as I come and go among this people—for who on his own is capable of leading these, your glorious people? —2 Chronicles 1:9–10 MSG

I had planned this morning to blog about why we ended up with twelve kids. And in my inbox this morning was a message from Women of Faith with an article by Sandi Patti who had the above scripture as her introduction. She is the mom of a blended family of eight kids and felt that the words from Chronicles fit her situation. I see how it fits! ;-)

People often ask me if we always planned to have twelve kids or why we chose to get to twelve or even why we have stopped at twelve (or if we have stopped!). They also wonder if we can have children biologically but certainly don't want to ask that question! So for those of you who are new blog readers, this blogs for you. (I found out yesterday that some of the folks from the new church have been reading it (scary) without my knowledge).

No, we never planned on having twelve children. In fact, on our wedding day, which will be sixteen years ago on June 15, we planned on the traditional route of making babies. We did know that we wanted to do foster care, but didn't even know about adoption of waiting children.

The whole story can be found in our book "Out of Many One Family: How Two Adults Claimed Twelve Children through Adoption." But let me finish answering the question for those of you who don't feel like buying the book either on the Kindle, the Nook, through Amazon, through us.... ok, I'll stop with the book promotion.

We started doing foster care 3 months after the wedding and during the first few years of our marriage we had several friends who were going through infertility treatment. We saw how emotionally exhausting it was and made the decision quickly that we would not spend one penny nor one ounce of emotional energy trying to get pregnant when there were so many children out there needing families. We then found out that there were older kids available for adoptoin and started adopting and by the time we had been married 5 years we had nine kids under 15. At that point we became too busy and too to tired to make any and had no desire to do so.

Once we go to that point it was very difficult to say "no more" when we had an empty bed and knew just how many kids out there needed a family. And in a way we got good at this -- and so we wanted to keep doing it. We recognized that some kids from the child welfare system do better in large families and wanted to provide a home for them.

Yesterday when we were meeting with Cheryl, the church's office manager, we were talking about my blog. It was then that I realized just how much I have changed in the past several years. I realized that a few years ago the things that caused me so much stress that I blogged paragraphs about them are now only a sentence. Someone goes to jail. The police come to the door. Someone is pregnant ... it just doesn't hold the emotional weight that it used to.

And so I think that is part of it as well. Once you can train yourself to relax in the midst of the stuff -- or at least not to go crazy with the anxiety of it all -- it gets easier. I can sleep now when my teenagers aren't home yet, can go back to sleep after the police have been at the door, not feel super guilty if I don't see a child in jail for a few weeks... it's all manageable.

And once you get to that point, it's pretty hard to stop when there is such a great need.

Which leads to my conclusion. There are so many kids out there that desperately need someone to love them before they age out of foster care and are left to drift alone for the rest of their lives. They need permanency and a family that will always be there. This happens to approximately 20,000 kids a year... that's about 58 a day. And knowing that, I just can't make a final decision that we will be done helping those kids. The way it looks might change -- we might be done legally adopting (or we may not) -- but we can't ignore those kids. In a dream world there would be enough families that we could each do our part and adopt one. In fact, if every church had ONE family that would adopt ONE child from foster care there would be a waiting list of families and no more children waiting.

So, when people ask me why I have twelve kids, I would love to respond, "because eleven other families wouldn't take one."

And I'd like to end my post there, but I have to put a disclaimer that I know that everyone isn't capable or able to do this and that I really don't expect it of everyone, but it would have been a powerful ending without that disclaimer, huh?

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Was very moved when I read this....

Overcoming Societies Labels - Only by Grace

 I clicked over to this after Jen commented on my blog and wow... i love the way she writes........

Everything Adoption Blog Entry: Homeschooling Children with RAD

Sponsored by the Adopt America Network, check out this great article!

Monday, May 07, 2012

Technology is Making Packing Take So Much Longer!

I just can't resist it when I find a picture ... i have to upload it to facebook.

Like this one of Bart and his sister, mom and aunts at his Wesleyan Church ordination. I'm sure the women in this picture are going to love it that I put on FB and my blog this picture of them in dresses!

Living in the Context of Community

Today is one of those days when it's really good to be living in the context of Christian community. Being connected to other people who share your faith and your mission and are willing to lend a hand is a great place to be. Today we had lunch with a husband/wife attorney/CPA team -- not a bad combo when you need advice about financing homes. Tonight after supper or neighbor from across the street is coming over to give us some advice -- he is a real estate broker and a good friend whose wife has saved a couple of my kids lives the past few years by giving them rides to school. Bart's clergy friend is going to let Rand move in to her basement if her church committee doesn't care. And a few minutes ago I looked outside my window and saw our youth minister who stopped by and he was fixing the mower and mowing a row of grass.

Community. It's a really good idea.

Five Emotional Energy Suckers

When attempting to recognize what it is that has kept me afloat during 14 really difficult years of intense parenting, the one thing that I would have to point to is emotional self-management. Every day I have to work on myself to realign my thoughts and feelings and to take care of myself emotionally. Maintaining a significant amount of emotional energy is necessary to face the crisis that come our way and to live with the daily drama of it all.

For me there are five things that completely suck my emotional energy. If I can avoid these five things, I have what I need to maintain an emotional equilibrium.

1) Worry about tomorrow. As Leo Buscaglia says, "Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy." A very high percentage of the things we worry about never happen anyway and worrying about them saps us of energy and joy. So I make a point to let go of worry every day.

2) Regret about yesterday. Regret is such a wasted emotion! There is absolutely nothing that we can do about the past -- we can only move forward and live the future. If people spent the energy they wasted on regretting the past on doing a better job today they would have less regrets in the future! Not exactly well said, but a profound thought. The only day I can change is today. Letting go of regret helps me to live better now!

3) Anger. Anger towards family members -- our kids, spouses, parents, in-laws, whoever. Anger towards the county for not giving us all the information or for refusing us services. All of that anger simply drains us of any energy that we might have to make a difference. Anger is a motivator -- so if anger helps move you towards advocating for change, it isn't always a bad thing. But if it settles in you and eats away at you, you'll never have the energy you need to make it through the things ahead.

4) Unforgiveness. I wrote a blog post about this just a few weeks ago, so I won't repeat myself. Forgiving is so freeing!

5) Determination to change everyone else. Again, I blogged about this recently, so I'll include the link instead of saying it all again. I'm a control freak, so for me this dogged determination that I am going to MAKE people do things is the biggest energy sucker of all.

My challenge for you, and for myself today, is to choose one of the items above that is problematic for you, and vow to live without it just for one day. Then pay attention to how you feel.... you may find you feel so much better that you'll choose to let go of it every day!

Remember, change the day that you can -- today, and the person that you can -- yourself, and let go of worry, regret, anger, unforgiveness, and that crazy desire to change everyone else.... you might just find a life more full of joy than you thought possible, regardless of external circumstances.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

More Prom Picks from Leons Junior Prom 2012

A Sunday Morning Not Like Any Other

For the first time since I got married, I am waking up on a Sunday morning to go to church, but not going to go to "MY" church to hear "MY pastor" who happens to be "MY husband" preach.

Instead I've been asked to fill the pulpit at a Lutheran church here in town that is between pastors. There are several women there who have heard me speak and I imagine that they have expectations that I be funny, whereas I'm not really sure that Lutheran sermons are allowed to be THAT funny, are they?

Prom last night was awesome.... Leon was appropriate, polite, used impeccable manners and looked so very handsome -- he actually acted like he felt like he BELONGED in that tux, which most of the other high schoolers did not. The big perk was that he wanted us to be a part of all of it, which wasn't something we were accustomed to. So I "did prom stuff" for about 4 hours yesterday. In the past we have had 2 others go to... or attempt to... go to prom, but we weren't really involved because they didn't want us to be. Leon really wanted us to be there for everything so we obliged and it was pretty fun.

This is my favorite picture ... more to come but I better get to the sermon prep as I leave in a half hour :-)

Saturday, May 05, 2012

We could be looking at our final three miracles all arriving in 7 days

My mom told me when we told her we were moving that God had all the details figured out and that we just needed to wait and find out what He had planned. As usuallyAs of Tuesday we had no idea about what was going to happen.... as you recall, we were needing for miracles:

1) To discover that the church we were moving to was a perfect match (or at least close)

2) To sell this house;

3) To find another house to move into;

4) To find a place for Rand to move.

Number one was settled on Palm Sunday, March 24th. The church is an amazingly good match.

Number two -- we actually have an offer with wonderful people to buy our home, which we found out about on Wednesday. We will be trying to figure out some creative ways to work out finances for that sale.

Number three -- well you know all about that. WE found and bought a house. Things were looking pretty bleak on Wednesday night the 24th of April, but in just one week we had found a better option AND been qualified to buy not rent.

Today we found out that we most likely have a great arrangement for Rand to move in with a single pastor friend of Barts in a small town near here. She would like to have someone using her basement as an outreach and she wants company. So the whole thing would be perfect... Fingers crossed...

Today I'm gathering a very long list of financial documents for the mortgage banker and waiting for the realtor to call me back about getting together to talk about financing to sell this house...

It's also Leon's prom. ;-)

busy busy times!

Ta Daa!!!! Here's the House We Signed a Purchase Agerement on Yesterday...

Wednesday we looked at 8 houses and decided on this one for several reasons. First, it had a dining room big enough for our table which a few of the houses didn't have. Secondly, it didn't have too many stairs. For those of you who loved the Indiana house -- it was awesome but in order to do anything you had to climb a flight of stairs... In addition, it was right next to a powerplant and across the street from railroad tracks which wasn't bad for us -- but would have been bad for resale. Third, we wanted to be strategically located closer to a more urban and diverse area.

Our new church is on the line between Crystal and Robbinsdale and serves Robbinsdale, Crystal in New Hope. As is typical of most Cities, the urban and more diverse areas are in the center and the farther out you go the less diverse and more wealthy the population becomes. Most churches in the suburbs are doing a great job of serving those farthest from the city, but are not sure how to reach the other population in their area. This church, however, is very interested in reaching their community so the location of our home strategically states that we are as well -- and that we are interested in the people who are moving into the area. And finally, it was the cheapest of the bunch, which is interesting. The other contender (we had it narrowed down to the 40th Ave property and this one, was only 6 blocks from the church and about equal in many ways, but the price was 50,000 higher. We had qualified financially to buy the more expensive house but we chose otherwise and I'm kind of proud of us for that.

So, 5 blocks from Minneapolis is where we landed. The house was purchased in December at a very cheap price -- it would have been interesting to see what it looked like then. It has been completely remodeled and everything in it -- paint, carpet, flooring, appliances -- is brand new. It's gorgeous on the inside and while the yard and garage aren't much, they kind of fit into the neighborhood which makes me relieved. For the last 16 years we have lived in places where people REALLY cared a lot about their lawns and, as Bart says, they were raising grass, we were raising kids. It isn't really a good mix. Our lawn here right now is covered in dandelions... which isn't a problem for us but it does stand out in a neighborhood of people with near perfect lawns. There were lots of dandelions in our new neighborhood and for some reason this strangely comforts me.

I grew up in the City. I love the diversity of the people and the richness of the culture of the City. I'm excited about being back there.

Of course, I'm super super sad about leaving my friends and our church in Mankato, but I am not allowing myself to dwell on that part of things until I have to.

So, wanna see it?

View Larger Map

If you really want to creep on us, you can check out everything about the house here. There is also a beautiful virtual tour here that shows some of the parks near the area.

We are excited about the changes that the newness of a home, a community and a church can be. It shakes us out of our comfort zone, but often that's just what we need.

We can't wait to have you over!!!