Philippians 4:4-9
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. and the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Monday, September 10, 2012

What you need to know about adoption, race and invisible special needs and were always afraid to ask!

I was planning on writing a post on fear, in fact I did, and after prayerful consideration, decided to scrap it and try again later.

So this post is inspired by a sweet little girl we met at the store today and her wonderful mother!  And a couple of sermons our pastor has preached along with some special Facebook posting by friends.

So here we go with:
What you need to know about adoption, race and invisible special needs and were always afraid to ask!

How is that for a nice short (NOT) title :)

First about the sweet little girl in the store~~~She was about 3, to young to understand the social cues of our society.  She was following Hannah around the store, very obviously staring, Hannah was nervous and sidling up to me.  This wonderful mom walked up and got down on her daughter's level and said in a normal voice, "She has very pretty braids, doesn't she?"  And to Hannah, "They are beautiful, who did them for you?"

She very wisely interjected into the situation where everyone could hear and be affirmed!

You might be amazed at this fact, but this was only one of a handful of times that this proper technique has been used in the whole 7 years the kids have been home.

The girl was not shamed in her curiosity and Hannah was affirmed for who she was.  I would suggest following this up later with more training at home since the opportunity presented itself.  Was it the hair or what is the skin color, I will never know, nor do I need to,  but I was blessed by the wonderful interaction.
It would be good to note that the beautiful little girl wore glasses and probably had Strambismus, cross eyes, so they probably faced some of the same situations themselves, thereby preparing them for this interaction.

You should also be aware of correct racial terms:  Use black, Liberian (in my kids case) or 
African-American if you must talk about racial issues.  For my friends with beautiful treasures from the various Asian countries, I know they would like you to know that the term "oriental" is incorrect.  Use Asian or again the country of orgin.

All this to say, yes be sensitive, yes train your children at home, it is just kind :)

Secondly let me inform about some technical adoption language that you may have wondered about.
BEST quote from "The Blind Side"  And so very true!Please do not say in front of my children, "You have changed their lives"  or 
"you are such a blessing to them".   This amazing saying from the movie The Blind Side is very true and every adoptive parent would tell you that.  My life is blessed beyond words and I have grown in ways so unknown to me by this wonderful experience.  We are just "normal" people raising our family that we have been blessed with, we are no-more, no-less spiritual or "good" because of our choice to adopt

This also rolls into part two of this:


All adoption is proceeded by a loss, an unimaginable loss, no matter the age or the country of origin.  But in my kids scenario just think about it:  
1)  They lost their father due to war
2)  They lost their childhood due to war and famine--they did not know safety or full tummies.
3)  They lost their mother due to circumstances beyond all their control.
4)  They lost their country and heritage
--just to name the 4 big ones.

To say they are "LUCKY" or "BLESSED" , though true in some ways, belittles the feelings of loss they may be dealing with, and I assure you they are.  It is not "lucky" to loose both of your birth parents.  It is not a "blessing" to deal with fear daily due to past trauma.

Find words to affirm who they are and the fact you are glad they are here so you can get to know them!

OK so some of the no-no's of adoption language.  Please take this in the spirit it is shared, with love and the desire to inform, not to condemn.


1) REAL/NATURAL PARENTS---To use this term infers the opposite is true--that there are unreal or unnatural parents.  I assure you we are all real and natural.

First parents are known as birth parents, or sometimes we may have a name or a special name we call their birth parents.  But for most people "birth parents" is fine if you run into a time where you need to use it.  Though asking the kids about their birth parents is really something that should only be used in very close and special situations.

2)  ADOPTIVE PARENT--Though this is a technical term for us, it does differentiate our kid into two categories  Birth vs. Adoptive.   We are seeking unity in our family and all our kids are just that our kids, our treasures, our blessing, our passions--We see no difference and we would prefer it if others did not also.  We are just their Mom and Dad.

3)  Inform your kids to hold their curiosity about anyone different.  We have fielded some of the most intrusive questions.  Most kids can go through life without having to bare their most frightening moments, and to be honest, if you child asks mine what his most scary thing in his life was, is he really going to understand the fear a child has when he is running from machine gun fire?
Los Angeles Times photographer Carolyn Cole took this terrifying photo during her assignment in Liberia. It shows the devastating effects of the Liberian Civil War.    Bullet casings cover entirely a street in Monrovia. The Liberian capital was the worst affected region, because it was the scene of heavy fighting between government soldiers and rebel forces.
This is a picture taken in the city where my kids were born!

4)  My kids have been informed that they have the right NOT to answer questions about themselves if they so desire.  Their stories are their own, so if they choose not to answer your adoption or racial question, please do not be offended, instead know they are choosing privacy.

5)  Have fun learning geography with your family!  Know your countries and continents, so when you hear of a new place you might know where it is, or for goodness sakes, go home and pull out a map and find out.  It is true my kids are "African"  but more than that, they are very proudly Liberian.  Look at this beautiful country, with a beautiful heritage.  Remember Africa is a continent and Liberia is a country:)  The same with Asia and Europe!

Liberia, where I'm from

Finally I wanted to share about invisible special needs. My Hannah has various special needs due to her in-utero and early malnutrition because of the war in their country.  To look at my treasure you would not know it--hence, "invisible".

Everybody is a genius...

 Hannah is one that learns, relates, and behaves differently---but she has the most special kind heart that you could every meet.

The first thing I would like you to know, is that I know my child and I love my child, so when I share things that are meant for you to understand her better, please don't shrug them off as an over-protective mom!  I do know what she needs and what will help her.  Your help would be appreciated, your judgement just makes us want to withdrawal, which Hannah is a champ at.  

Second, help your children to understand that all special needs are not visible.  Let them know that some children just need some extra encouragement.  Sometimes they may have to explain the game more than once.  They need to know that laughing at mistakes can be very painful to a child who is already sensitive to their peer.  All that to say, just open dialogue with your kids and see where it goes.  

Third, please feel free to gently let Hannah or us know if her behaviour is "off"  a little.  Maybe their is some training we can work on at home to help her correct it and she can grow from your insight.  We are not against "gentle" information being passed.

 james 1:27So hopefully you found this informative and not TOO preachy.  I ask that you prayerfully consider what area you can grow in.  I know it is an area I am constantly prayerful about, as to how to be an ambassador for our lives, that our lived out before many, that we may reflect the One who lovingly adopts us.  May we all grow more and more into the glorious image of our Loving Heavenly Father.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A day with trials of fear

Yes, today had its trials of fear.  But we persevered and I feel we were victorious. Hopefully tomorrow I will have the time to do a post on fear that has been running through my head.....

For now I am off to spend a quiet evening with my husband and blessings :)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

While we are waiting....

 Thought I would post some catch up photos while we are waiting and waiting for little Fowler to show up!  A grandma has got to keep her mind busy!
So these are from when all the big kids were here this summer.

 We tried some fun "science" experiments while Drew was home.
 Mentos and soda---who knew!
 This one is called elephant toothpaste--peroxide, dishsoap, yeast, and food coloring.
 Yep--gross stuff is always fun :)
 Of course there is always the wrestling when Drew is home.
 He is going to have to start watching out though because Caleb is getting stronger, and you can see him trying to use his Jui Jitsu moves on Drew.
 Visiting with Great Grandma Jordan----soon to be a Great, Great Grandma---yes, that is 5 generations on both sides of the family.
 Gotta love the difference between sister bonding and brother bonding.  Notice Hannah's hand on Danielle's belly.  Hannah loved it!
 Liberty not wanting to miss out on the action---checking out the salmon on the grill with David.
 And though this dog is a tremendous amount of trouble---I think she is very loved.
 Danielle getting in a little bonding with her "little" brother.  Drew really looks like he is appreciating it!
This is his face when he is saying---get it over with Mom!  I love how Hannah is always leaning into her siblings.  No bonding issues there.

Now back to waiting...............

Trees, Water, Friends and Food

 We have been enjoying the end of summer around here.

This weekend we woke some friends up early and asked if they would like a last minute trip to the redwoods and coast with us!

 One hour later we were on the road with 2 vans and 6 kids and lots of energy!

We did a boys car and a girls car---I think we had the much quieter deal in the girls car!

Caleb, Hannah and their friends, Emily, Josiah, Aaron, and Madison had lots of fun roaming the downed trees in the redwoods.

 We made a quick run through the Smith River to visit some friends camping out on the other side.  We are also working on some tentative plans to put on a couples adoptive parents seminar with a couple of them, so were able to get all the men in the same place at one time.
 Caleb and Josiah were good buddies all day, though we had to remind them both that Caleb was bigger and older, so could do some things that Josiah should not try.

 Caleb was getting the skim boarding down.

And Hannah seriously dances anywhere!

 Love this picture of the dad's and their kids!
 David found a starfish trapped in the river during low tide.  The kids enjoyed that!

 Then there were the driftwood log rafts.  They soon learned that too many kids on a thin log just meant sinking!
 Here are Hannah and Madison, just before they capsized.  They decided that was enough FUN!
 Aaron was content for the longest time with Caleb's battleship.
 Caleb finally figured out the log rafts.

We did miss pictures of the driftwood forts, but since that did not end well with it collapsing on Caleb's head and Emily's shoulder, I guess we do not need pictures to memorialize that.

Then the next day we canned a couple of dozen pints of salsa and prepared 6 dozen ears of corn for freezing!

Not too many slow days around here.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The old guys against the young'uns

 David and Caleb both had the opportunity to run in the Rogue Valley Challenge Relay today.  It is a 100K (62 mile ) race around the Rogue Valley with teams of 10 each running 2 legs.  They stagger the starts to try to get everyone to finish around the same time.  And it worked.  All the teams finished within 1 hour of each other.  Caleb's younger team started at 6:30, with David's more mature team starting at 8.  The young guys did not allow the older team to catch them!
 We knew this would be a challenge for Caleb, as he has not been doing much running and he would be on a team of Jr. Higher who have been training some.  Caleb was the youngest and only knew one person at the start of the day.

 He ran leg 2, which his dad ran with him, which was flat and on the bike trail.  These pictures are from leg 15, it was mostly down hill with a couple of short steep spots.  Both his legs were right at 3 miles each.  And yes, he caught that team in front of him!

 As you can see, he was really pushing himself.  I think to prove his worth to the older guys who were giving him a bad time about not being old enough for their team.  I think he showed them he could pull his own weight.

 Congratulations Caleb on a job well done.  He even ran an extra leg with the last guy because their bike broke down and Caleb didn't want him running along our sometimes scary bike trail by himself.  Here you see him handing off to the girl on his team who was to run next.

 David ran leg 8 along the river and 18 here at the end with lots of uphills through the vineyards,  beautiful, but hard.  If you look closely you can see his teammate across the highway.  They were allowed a wave pass off here due to the high traffic at this intersection and not wanting anyone to take chances getting across.  Love the smile.  YES, running makes my man SMILE!

 His legs are taped up.  I am getting pretty good at  it.  It seems to help his Achilles tendon not be so painful.  For the last 4 years or so most of his arthritis pain settles in his ankles.  He has beginning fusion there, but does not allow it to slow him down if he can help it. Love his little wave to me :)

It was a wonderful day for all.  I finished Hannah's hair with NO burned fingers, but wax all over my carpet :(

I got 3 checkbooks (Ours, David's work one, and Grandma's) all balanced and bills paid!  Yeah!

Drew ran his first race of the season today too and was very happy with his results---Go Cougars!