Thursday, April 28, 2011

We Got Our TA!!!!!!!

We are thrilled to announce that our Travel Approval arrived today. We will find out very soon whether we travel next week or the week after. The kids are so excited and are ready to leave today. Yesterday was our last official day of homeschooling for the year, Day 175. Perfect timing!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

So Blessed!

This past Sunday, our church held a little adoption shower for us after the service. We were blessed with many gift cards and checks to help us with our adoption expenses and things we might still need for our boys. This was a wonderful gift because, as you can probably imagine, we have been on a tight budget coming up with all the funds for two adoptions at once. Our church also had prayer cards made up for our adoption so people would remember to pray for us. Having the support of our church family means so much to us.

It has been amazing to see God providing for our needs through others generosity and also not so "random" circumstances. We have received a bunk bed built by my Dad, mattresses donated by friends, many bags of clothes from Aaron's coworkers, our neighbor, and my Mom's neighbor, bins full of legos and k'nex from another coworker, frozen gluten free meals from our wonderful friends, an adoption grant from Love Without Boundaries, another adoption grant from Grant me a Chance, and an unexpected adoption tax refund from Susu's adoption. We have had many offers of rides to and from the airport, friends who are cat sitting for Shadow, and offers to make gluten free meals after we get home. I am probably forgetting some things because we have really received so much. We so appreciate the help and support from everyone who has played a part in our adoption!

Friday, April 15, 2011

God Keeps Meeting Our Needs - Part II

Part two of this blog post comes at a perfect time because there is a little girl in China who is weighing heavily on my heart. This little girl has almost the exact same special needs as Susu and she is the same age as well. I will share more about this little girl in my next post but for now I want to share how God has helped us meet Susu’s biggest special need in an unexpected way.

When we adopted Susu at four years old, she came to us with the diagnosis of "intelligence barrier" and maldevelopment of her left eye. She was very delayed when we adopted her. Just to give some examples, at four years old Susu had no idea how to hold or use a crayon or pencil. She was not able to fit puzzle pieces into a wooden puzzle meant for a 2 year old. She didn’t know how to play with toys and she would spend her time sitting in a chair if we let her. I had to teach her how to play with toys. The first couple years home, Susu made a lot of progress but it took so much work on both her and my part. She had great difficulty with short term memory and any kind of analytical learning, especially number concepts. Learning to write her letters was incredibly challenging and I thought she might never learn to write. It took months and months of repetition before she learned her colors. I would love to say that I was patient all the time but I wasn’t and teaching Susu was just plain hard.

About a year ago, a friend of mine recommended an Indian Ayurvedic herb called Bacopa Monnieri (Brahmi) for Susu. There have been a handful of scientific studies on this herb in Europe and how it can help children improve their memory and cognitive functioning. I was very skeptical because I have tried a number of herbs over the years with typically mild or mixed results. Did I really think an herb that hardly anyone has heard of was going to help my daughter’s cognitive issues. The answer was no but it was an inexpensive herb with no known side effects so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try it. Well, within a month of starting to use this herb, we were seeing big changes in Susu. This herb was truly an answer to our prayers. Susu took off in all academic areas, reading, writing, short term memory, and her number skills improved dramatically as well. As a comparison, before taking the herb it might take me teaching Susu something 30-60 times before she really got it. I am not exaggerating here. Now with the herb she is able to grasp most things after a couple repeat lessons and sometimes right away.

I know this sounds like a miracle. It has been for our family. I was having such a hard time homeschooling Susu before this herb because it took extreme patience and a lot of time to teach her anything. I knew public school was not the answer because they would not have the resources to provide Susu with the one-on-one help she needed most of the day. I have worked in special education classrooms in several schools as a one-on-one tutor so I have a good idea of the help available to struggling students. Susu was also highly distractible and had a great deal of trouble concentrating. I had to constantly redirect her to pay attention to what she was doing.

This last year of homeschooling Susu has really been a joy to me on most days. Susu still often needs a bit more help than other children her age but the difference between a couple repetitions to understand most things versus 40 or more is like night and day.

Before God led us to this herb, I thought there were really only two big lessons I needed to learn from this experience. One lesson was how to have more patience with my children and the second was learning to accept my children whether or not they ever met developmental or academic milestones. These were important lessons but I never expected such a transformation in my daughter and it has been an incredible gift to both of us. I have learned that God can provide solutions to our problems that are beyond anything we might imagine.

Susu is now seven years old and getting ready to finish up 1st grade. She is academically on target in many areas. She is doing really well at reading, writing, and spelling. She is about ½ year behind in Math. She amazes me! I have to add that if Susu was not doing so well, I never would have considered adopting another child let alone two.

I will include some of Susu’s current school work below just to give concrete examples of how far she has come in three and a half years. We would love and value Susu whether or not she ever learned to read, write, or do addition because Susu’s worth is not based on how she performs compared to other kids her age. It is a wonderful gift for Susu that she does not have to work so very hard to learn basic concepts anymore and I thank God for that often. If anyone reading this post would like more information on the herb that has helped Susu and where to buy it, feel free to leave a comment with your email address.


Copywork and Drawing Lesson



Monday, April 11, 2011

God Keeps Meeting Our Needs - Part I

We are getting closer and closer to traveling to China and I was expecting to get more and more anxious as the time drew near for us to meet our boys. I am quite aware that we are taking on a really big challenge adopting two boys with significant medical special needs. I am genetically predisposed to being an anxious person and the details of that could fill another blog. If this was our first adoption, I know I would not be feeling this calm right now. Experience adopting is certainly a big help but an even larger reason for my relative calm is the knowledge that God has been meeting my family's and my children's needs over the last seven plus years. The many ways that God has lead me to the things that would best help my children has been quite amazing and that is what I want to share about in the next couple of posts.

Adopting children with special needs can be frightening and I know I would not have considered adopting Jacob and Levi if I thought Aaron and I were parenting them alone in our own power. The deal is that we are not going to be parenting them alone. God will be walking with us every step of the way if we invite Him to do so. What could be better than having the Creator of the universe and the Creator of my boys helping us with meeting their needs. Any of you who are parents already know just how challenging it is to parent almost any child. There is no child raising book that could possibly cover all the challenges that most kids will throw a parents way, unless you have been blessed with one of those easy going, parent pleasing children that are rare gift. Even those children can have issues pop up every so often that can confound even the best parents. Parenting is hard hard work that requires great wisdom if it is going to be done well and I won't even pretend to have gained the kind of wisdom I need to parent my children in my own knowledge. That is the great thing about parenting with God's help though, I don't need to be a perfect parent with all the answers and a level of patience to rival Mother Theresa. I am not alone and when issues pop up with my kids or myself for that matter, which they always do, and I am ready to throw up my hands and throw in the towel, I can hand those problems over to God and put him in charge of helping my kids or me. This may sound like a crazy idea, turning your kids issues over to God, but I can promise you that it works. You probably won't get an answer from a booming voice out of the clouds and you are also not likely to see the answer handwritten on the walls of your house but you can trust that God will help you in His perfect timing if you ask Him for help and are open to His guidance.

That perfect timing is the hardest thing for me to wait for. I am really not a patient person and I want problems fixed now or sooner. I don't like suffering or waiting or looking like a less than great parent because my kids are still working out an issue. God has blessed me these last seven years and allowed me to see how He has been working on my kids in His time and on me too. I think that is why I am not racked with anxiety right now because I am not in charge of meeting all of Jacob and Levi's needs. God knows exactly what they need and I know He will reveal and provide for those needs in His timing if I can just trust in Him. Over the next few posts, I will share more specifically how God has met some really big needs that my kids have had. These posts are just as much for me as for anyone else to read because I know I will need to be reminded over the next year and beyond that I am not alone when those big challenges arise.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tentative Travel Dates

Well we don't have our official travel approval yet but I talked to our agency and we should be getting it within the next couple of weeks. Our agency would like us to travel with a small group of two other families who are heading to China on May 5th. That actually sounds perfect since we will be done with homeschooling a week before and that will give me a whole week to get us packed and ready to go with no other major distractions! The weather should be nice and that means less bulky clothes to pack. I am so excited!

My Dad did a great job on the bunk beds and they are sturdy enough to stand up to a whole team of boys crawling all over them. This bunk bed design has been well tested out on my four brothers and my two nephews as well. My Dad knows how to build things that will survive boys!

This last week, Isaiah decided that he needed his own adoption blog. We designed it together and he has had so much fun writing posts and getting comments from friends and family. Thanks to everyone who left such nice comments. Isaiah was thrilled! If you haven't seen Isaiah's blog yet, you can check it out at Lobsters and Dumplings. Some of you may have guessed that I had ulterior motives in letting Isaiah have his own blog. Getting Isaiah to complete his homeschooling writing assignments has been a breeze this week and he even volunteered to do a book report, oops I mean a book review for his blog. Homeschooling Moms sure can be sneaky!!!