Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I spy with my little eye...

So...two years ago when we brought Sarah home, she was adorable.  And fun.  And FUNNY!  And lovable, and huggable.  And she didn't throw temper tantrums or break her brothers' toys, or bother them in any undesirable way, really.  And those boys loved...no ADORED...their little sister.  They honestly did.  They could not get enough of her.  And that happy brother/sister bliss lasted and lasted and lasted.  I was amazed at the bond between them that did not wear off for such a long time.

And friends.......the honeymoon is now OVER.  I am very sad to say.

Well, it's not completely over.  Joshua and Sarah have a special relationship that I am sure will stand the test of time.  Their personalities just fit together so well, and they really still do adore each other.    And Jacob still loves Sarah too, and tries to be a great big brother to her.

No, the honeymoon is over between Brother number THREE and his not-so-innocent-anymore little sister. 

Let's put it this way.  Ben gets annoyed by Sarah because Sarah knows exactly what to do and say to get him riled up and push his buttons, thus annoying him more and more. Ben ends up mad at her, and spends his time constantly telling her what to do and tattling on her for every little thing causing her to be annoyed by him...and the cycle goes around and around.  And this happens every day!  It is enough to make this momma bonkers.  (Yes, sometimes Ben still shows love and sweetness to her, because it really is still inside him, but those times are becoming fewer and farther between!)

I am open to suggestions as to ideas about how I can help the odd couple, here, to get along, but  this is how I tried to get through to Ben tonight.

First I explained that Sarah is three, so she is still not as capable of understanding how to mend this problem as he is, so he will have to make most of the peacemaking effort for now.  I had him tell Sarah three things he likes about her.  (And yes, that stinker at first said he couldn't think of anything!  The little booger.)  Finally, he did say three things, and after the first one, it wasn't hard for him to think of the next two. 

Next I played a little game of "I Spy" with him.  He quickly spotted many pink things around the room when I told him that is what I picked. I pointed out that when we want to find something...we find it.  It's not rocket science.  It's as simple as that little game.  When we look for purple, we magically notice everything that is purple in the room, even when we did not notice it before.  Even the tiny, purple design on a little doll shirt suddenly jumps out at you when you are looking for it.  

It is the same way with people.  When we are looking for the bad in someone, we will most definitely find it.  We will see it clearly in our children, our spouses, and yes, in our brothers and sisters.  And the more we think about it, the more we will be waiting and expecting to see it again, feeding that ugly monster inside that loves to see relationships fall apart.

But, when we really look for the good in someone, we will see that!  And the more we focus on the beauty and fun and wonderful-ness in that person, we will see more and more of that....and the bad will fade away into the background.  Kind of like the color blue when you are looking for pink.

So, that is what I told Ben tonight.  I know it's not very profound, but I know I need to be reminded of it myself quite often!  I am praying for him to get it, and take it to heart, and start focusing on all those wonderful and charming things about Sarah (and for Sarah to stop getting so much joy out of tormenting her brother and thinking it is hilarious.)   Oy...

God bless you all!  Wishing many blessings and wonderfully well-behaved children for all of you...    And try playing I Spy with YOUR family this week.  : )

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Happy birthday to me, and Happy Forever Family Day to Sarah!

Today is my birthday!  And while I admit, that is special and fun, and I am so happy that God blessed me with life, and in particular, MY life.....  I am more happy to announce that today is also our wonderful Sarah's Forever Family Day!  (Or "Gotcha Day") as some prefer to call it.  Two years ago today we met our daughter, and words really can't express the amazing blessing and privilege it is to adopt a child, unless you have adopted a child yourself.

My plea to you today is that you would consider what the Lord might have YOU to do when it comes to caring for orphans and widows--something very near and dear to God's heart.  Adoption seems like a huge step, but I really believe everyone should pray about it, and leave their hearts open to hear God's reply.  He MAY be tugging at your heart strings and asking you to do it!  Or, there are hundreds of ways to get involved in caring for orphans, locally and around the world.  Please don't go through life never doing anything to help.  You will miss out on the blessings!

This video is straight from my heart to yours.  I sang this song, From This Moment, by Shania Twain, at my cousin's wedding last month.  And as I was practicing it, it struck me how perfectly so much of it fit for an adoption-themed song.  And as I practiced it over and over, Sarah (and the boys) would all join in, and we would sing it sometimes at the tops of our lungs, dancing and dipping each other...(yep, get that picture in your head), and we had the best time.  And as a result, we all learned the song, and Sarah loves it, which makes it even more special.  : )

Enjoy these pictures of our first two years together with our sweet, funny, happy, spunky, marches-to-her-own-drum, girl............SARAH TING!  (aka Red Light, of course.)  And get ready for the best part at the very end.  : )

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Last year....Bone marrow transplant. This year....Happiness!

Dear friends,

Wow, what a difference a year makes! 

I was thinking about writing a post today comparing last year to this.  I knew that sometime around now last year we were in the hospital where Sarah would endure the toughest part of her cancer journey--her high dose of chemo that necessitated her bone marrow transplant.  If you remember, we were in the hospital for three weeks (amazingly short compared to most children).  I looked back to check exactly when we went into the hospital, and it was exactly a year ago today!  One year ago, we were in the battle for our little girl's life, hoping and praying that this would be the final treatment that would kick the cancer.  And it was. : )

We are so thankful.  So grateful.  I wish I had a much greater vocabulary to express the gratitude we feel...to God, to our friends and family who prayed and helped, and to the doctors and nurses.  Even now from time to time, something will bring it to mind, and I will have this strong urge to write another thank-you note to the staff...bake them cookies...I don't know.  Do ANYTHING to let them know how much they meant to us and still do.  They truly did become like family to us, and Sarah and I still miss them! 

So, here is a little trip down Memory Lane again. Sarah always loves to go back and look at her "hospital pictures." Maybe you would like to see them too!  (And if you would like to go back and read the whole story, just click the word "cancer" in the topics list on the right side of the page.)

Her favorite "Purple Spider."  She still loves him.

She still felt good for a while.

 Then she felt lousy.

 Feeling better

 Dr. Sarah writing out prescriptions ; )

 With Rhys, the Child Life specialist.  He is awesome!

This is blurry, but it is the day Sarah could leave her room.  We were so excited!

And a year later.....

O give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good; for His mercy endureth for ever!  1 Chronicles 16:34

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Not everyone loves adoption...

"I love my adoptive parents, but I hate adoption."

"I wish I had been aborted."

"When I see pictures of families with obviously adopted children in them, I cringe."

"I hate 'stranger adoption.'"

"Children who are adopted from other countries are 'bought,' plain and simple."

Are you wincing like I winced when I read these things?  I recently happened upon a web page for teen/adult adoptees who want to vent their frustrations about adoption.  It was eye-opening and terribly sad, and downright scary for an adoptive mom to read discussion after discussion by these people who are so unhappy with their lives. Many of them did reassure everyone that they are generally happy, but hate much about what it means to be adopted.  Some of them had lived years in the foster system, and finally ended up in  adoptive families where they were abused or mistreated. 

Several said they would have preferred to have been aborted.  Many said they think it would be better for birth moms to abort their unborn babies rather than give them up for adoption.

It was heartbreaking to read those stories.  Heartbreaking because we live in a fallen world.  And even something as beautiful as adoption has an ugly and sad side.

All of us in the adoption community know and understand that in order for our treasured children to come and be our children, they first had to experience the saddest, most traumatic thing that a child can experience--the loss of their first family.  No matter how young they were when it happened, it is the same huge loss.  Many also have to leave the country of their birth, leaving them with so many questions that most likely will never be answered.  When you really think about that, you can imagine how difficult it would be.  Never knowing who your DNA comes from.  Wondering if you look like your birth parents.  Wondering why they gave you up.  Wondering if you are being disloyal to them if you love your adoptive family.  Do you have biological siblings?  I am sure these questions can be tormenting.  And I am sure that children who do not look like their adoptive families often face additional inner struggles.  When I was a kid, I just wanted to fit in.  How much more difficult is it for these children to feel like they "fit in" in the world?  Sometimes there is subtle or not so subtle discrimination out there that they may also have to face, and other things to battle that I can't even imagine, not being an adoptee myself. 

Yes, I am sure that as beautiful as adoption is, it does not always feel beautiful to these children.  I am painfully aware of that, and I already dread the day that our precious girl will have to find out that she has another mother who for unknown reasons, did hand her over to someone she trusted to take care of her...but never returned for her.  I hate it that I will have to tell her that more than anything I can imagine.  I hate it that she will have to struggle with issues that I never did.  I will always be sensitive to this fact, and will make it my goal to help her in any way I possibly can.

Now to the second part of my thoughts...

First, please know that I never want to appear to make light of or downplay any of these very real problems and feelings that adopted people experience.  I hope I've made that very clear.  But this is what I would have liked to have added to these angry, hurting people if they would have listened to me. 

They are not the only hurting people in this world. 

Countless children who live forever with their birth families are abused and neglected by them or others.  Birth mothers and fathers sometimes say horrible, hurtful things to their children leaving them with scars that might never heal.  Many people live with sicknesses.  Children get cancer and other illnesses.  Some have it "better" than others in this life, but NO ONE MAKES IT THROUGH untouched by something very difficult.  Nobody. 

So far this is one horribly grim post, I know, but that is the reality of this life.  This earth is not heaven!  There is SIN here.  Bad things happen because sin entered the world and it is here to stay.  Mothers and fathers were never meant to abandon their children, and children were never meant to be abused or neglected by anyone, but these things happen here on the earth.  That is the bad, bad news.

BUT....there is also very GOOD news! 

God made a way for our sins to be forgiven by sending His Son, Jesus to die on that cross and take our punishment.  We can believe it and trust Him to forgive us and save us!  AND, He will not allow this evil to go on forever!  The Bible clearly tells us that someday He will return and make a new, sinless earth.  All will be made right in the end, and vengeance is and will be His.  I don't know if you believe in the Bible or not, but if you study, you will find that nothing has ever been known to disprove it.  And there are so many prophecies in the Bible that have already come true.  If you read and study it, you will see what I mean.  If so many prophecies have come true, we can be sure that eventually they all will.  The Bible can be trusted!

And in the meantime, God is doing wonderful things here on earth, in spite of so much wickedness going on.  Adoption is one of those things.  The most heartbreaking thing to me was those people saying they would rather have been aborted than having been allowed to live.  I wish I could wrap my arms around them and tell them that they were created by God who loves them and has a purpose for their lives.   That they are infinitely valuable, and nothing that has happened to them can change that.  No one should wish they had never been born simply because life here on earth is hard. 

Like I said, all of us have had hard things to go through in our lives, but we can ALL overcome those things with God's help, and go on living in spite of, and even USING those things to our advantage and to help other people.  God does not waste anything that happens to us.  Maybe these adoptees could use their pain to work to make changes in our culture when others couldn't understand how it feels enough to do anything about it.  Maybe they could take what has happened to them and use it to choose to be the best mom or dad they can possibly be, or to reach out to other adopted children or birth parents, possibly helping them to keep their children.

The adoptees on that web page only vented anger and frustration.  Instead, they could choose to encourage each other and lift each other up.  They said they hated it when anyone told them they should be grateful that they were adopted.  But maybe they could CHOOSE to be grateful, and see if it doesn't make them feel better.  I am grateful to my parents for raising me.  Why would it be so bad for them to be grateful to their parents, or at least grateful to God?  Gratefulness is soothing to the soul.  Focusing on being thankful rather than bitter brings huge blessings in all of life!    It all comes down to a choice.  We can choose to be bitter.  Or we can choose to forgive and live life with joy and purpose.  I am praying for these hurting people, that they would find the Giver of true peace, and make the choice to forgive the people who wronged them.

I know this is a different kind of post than I normally write.  I wrote it because it's been on my heart, and since it's my blog, I can say what I feel.  Please, if you disagree with me, don't leave me a comment.  Like I said, I have nothing but compassion for these people, and I fully understand that it can be extremely hard for them in many different ways.  I am only trying to help THEM by suggesting they choose joy in the midst of their sadness.  (And I realize that some might need professional help and counseling.  These are just my thoughts in general.)

So far, our sweet Sarah (aka Red Light--yes, that is what she wants people to call her.  She is unique!), is completely happy and safe in her little world with us as her family.  We love her as much as we possibly can, and to her, we are Mommy and Daddy, and she loves us and knows nothing different.  I know it will become more complicated than that, but my hope and prayer for her is that she will always know that she is infinitely valuable, and that God can and will always bring beauty from ashes.  He has a plan for her life, and it is a beautiful plan.  She is a priceless treasure.

We love you, sweet girl, and are so very thankful for you!