We Are The Lovings

Well, not always, but we try!

The Incomprehensible

Let me start by saying I would lay my life down for my kids.  I think any mother would.  I love them, even on days I don’t like them very much.  As you may know, my daughter has many emotional and physiological issues stemming from mild FAS or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  In 2011,  we had her tested by a world renown expert in children adopted from Eastern Europe.  His findings were both a shock and a relief.  I never dreamed it would be FAS.  She does not have the classic facial features associated the condition, although I can see some very minor things in her face.  Relief because we had SOMETHING.  We were not crazy.  It had been a LONG few years for us as a family from 2006 – 2011.

Speech delay was just the tip of the iceberg.  Grace is wired differently than any other person I have ever met.  I’m not exaggerating.  I spent years blaming myself for not being able to affect change in her.  I’m not a good enough mother.  My own mother, Grace’s biggest champion, once told me I was not cut out to be a mother.  (Thanks, Mom.)  I thought she was right.  At least the diagnosis gave us somewhere to start.  But FAS is not a condition in itself.  It is a name for the cause of the associated issues.  It is different for every child based on when in her pregnancy the mother drank but also how much.  For Grace, FAS covered Auditory and VIsual Processing Disorders, Anxiety, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, ADHD, fine motor skills deficiency, speech delay and articulation issues, and in her parents opinion, a world view like none other.  Seriously.

I am going into all of this because we have spent thousands on therapy to understand her and how to parent her effectively.  Five therapists.  Five.  Traditional play therapy was a joke.  She went to play and took nothing away from the session.  We have tried probably every parenting approach there is.  Some things would work for a couple of weeks, then it wouldn’t work.  On to the next thing.  Frustrating?  You bet.  Maddening?  Absolutely!  Feeding my belief that I sucked at parenting?  Sadly, yes.

Finally, out of utter frustration, I called another family therapy practice.  I was extremely specific about the kind of therapist I wanted.  Strong personality.  Able to go toe to toe with her.  No soft sell.  Direct, to the point.  No letting Grace get away with crap.  And God sent us an awesome therapist.  She has insight into Grace, after only about 8 months, that no one has ever even come close to.  She gets her.  Grace is not a linear thinker.  She is very literal and black and white but not linear.  Grace is not able to apply learning from one situation to another.  (Hence, I often refer to my life to as “Groundhog Day” – if you haven’t seen the movie, look it up.  Very applicable).

Recently, we have had another revelation that answers so many questions.  Grace has a very hard time taking direction from my husband and I.  Ask her to do something and she does not give you excuses, she simply indicates that she is doing something else.  There is never an “okay”, or even whining.  Not even a “no”.  Simply non compliance.  Makes.  Me.  Nuts.  She will never say “yes, sir or ma’am” to us or defer any respect for us.  She will tell us what she is doing instead of asking permission.  Many times we have no idea where she has gone when she goes out to play.  I have an idea but we are not informed of where she is going.  I have to ask.  Apparently, we don’t need to know.  She gets angry when I ask or will pitch a fit if I am interrupting something she is doing>  (Heaven forbid, we interrupt “Big Time Rush”!!)  Most of all, she seems bewildered when we get angry and frustrated with her.  She does not get it.  Let me just mention here that these situations come up many, many times a day.  Constant arguing, frustration about everything.  EVERYTHING.  Now, you might think that this is deliberate defiant behavior.  For a very long time, we believed that as well.  It is, in a way but in reality, the therapist believes, Grace considers herself our equal.  Wha?  I’ve never even heard of that in a child.  In her mind, the family unit is Mom, Dad and Grace as the adults and Lucas, the child.  I must say I was dumbfounded.  How do you parent a child who does not see themselves as a child?  It does answer a great many questions, especially why we cannot affect behavior change in her.  This isn’t deliberate on her part, it is how she is wired.  It is part of her world view, her thought process.  But dealing with this every single day wears us out and frankly, it is easy to forget it isn’t deliberate.

Now what??  Well, that is where we are now.  Our therapist has worked with domestic abuse cases, kids on the verge of being kicked out and becoming part of the system, all kinds of disorders, the toughest kind.  I’m confident that we can move forward, however, slowly.  As I said, Grace is not a linear thinker.  We go 4 steps forward and 3 back, or sideways or up.  When I can step away from my parenting hat, it really is fascinating.  Grace is extremely intelligent but not very emotionally mature.  Life will never be easy for her.  She won’t be one of those kids for whom things come easy.

I’m not entirely sure my reason for sharing all this.  I guess, I need to get it out.  I have an amazing support system of friends both for me and those who love Grace.  Adults get her, peers, not so much.  I am so grateful God has sent us so many wonderful people.  I’ve often felt as though I was a complainer or just so negative all the time.  I don’t mean to be.  I’m just so very tired.  I understand better what we are dealing with, even if I can’t change it…right now.  I love her.  She can be wonderful, sweet, helpful and smart.  Just not every day.  Pray for me!

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Extended Family

Our son, Lucas (aka King Kong) was adopted through an open adoption.  Let me just tell you that if someone had told me 5 years ago we would do an open adoption, I would have listed the 100 reasons why I never, ever would do an open adoption.  Ever.  Not me.  Too scared.  Yea, well, never say never.

The opportunity to do an open adoption literally fell in our laps.  We adopted Grace in 2004 at 15 months old from Ukraine.  Since probably 2006 we have been trying to adopt again.  Many, many wrong roads and missteps along the way.  The international adoption road was very, very different from when we adopted Grace.  The choices were different.  Americans were no longer seen as desirable as adoptive parents.  We started in Guatemala, which shortly before we were to submit our paperwork, closed due to allegations of baby selling.  Then we decided to go back to Ukraine.  The rules had all changed.  We had to start over.  We were ready to adopt an older child.  But God has a sense of humor.

In my heart, I wanted a baby, a newborn.  I never had the birth experience, never took care of a newborn.  I just wanted to do it.  I have many friends who are adoptive parents but I also have many friends who get pregnant very easily.  It seemed to me that everyone had a baby but me.  It became a quiet pain.  I had Grace, we were adopting again.  But I never quite let go of it.  Having Grace was like going from 0 to 100 in a day.  (If you know Grace, you know what I mean.)  Totally worth it but still…

Amazingly, God heard my heart.  I had given up praying about it.  I just prayed for another child, for whatever God’s will was.  I figured at 47, I wasn’t gonna get a baby, I should just shut up and accept the path He had given us.  Then, He got funny.  We met Anna in October of 2011.  Her sister is the neighbor of a friend of mine.  I spoke to my friend.   Sure, I’ll meet them.  No, I didn’t think it would EVER work out.  Long story short, we met Anna and her sister towards the end of October.  We hit it off immediately.  We loved her.  And apparently, she loved us.  (Can you hear the angels singing??)

Fast forward 2 1/2 months.  Lucas is born on Epiphany.  See, isn’t God hilarious?  We get to be in the delivery room.  I’m at the business end of everything.  Aside from sheer joy and total panic, my only thought was “just don’t faint, just don’t faint…”.  He is perfect.  She is happy, nursing him.  OMG!  I tried to quell my panic as the time for their release drew nearer.  It was hard, heart wrenching but she did it.  She is stronger than I could ever be in that situation.  We said our goodbyes and our ‘I love yous’ and we took our new son home.  Both attorneys said they had never seen such an amicable and loving (no pun intended) adoption.  We have a good relationship, I am very fond of her.  She is in NYC trying to get her career off the ground.

The point of this post was not to relive Lucas’ birth but to share the events of this past summer.   I have remained close to Anna’s sister, my original point of contact.  She called called me this summer to say her mother from Venezuela was visiting for 3 weeks.  I immediately invited them over for coffee.  Of course, I wanted her to meet her grandson! Many of you may be shaking your heads, saying I’m nuts.  It is weird, but we are trying hard not to make it complicated.  It is important to us that Lucas know his extended family. He will call Anna’s sister “Tia” and her mother will be “Abuela”.  We have seen Anna’s father a few times (they are divorced) and he calls Lucas “Lucito”.  I wasn’t quite prepared for how emotional the visit would be.

They arrived and she hugged me with tears in her eyes.  Lucas charmed her immediately.  (Aren’t kids amazing that way?)  It was a lovely visit.  I think the reality of the moment hit her when they were leaving.  She broke down.  She was against the adoption.  You are lovely people, she said, very kind, but this is my grandson.  Wow.  I had nothing.  I tried to understand.  It was a very bizarre feeling, seeing her pain but knowing our complete joy in having him.  I told her our door was always open to Anna, to her and her family.  I wanted her to visit when she came to the US.  I wanted him to know her.  It was very hard for me, I can only imagine how hard it was for her.

I have thought a lot about that day, wondering if it will get weirder as Lucas gets older.  I hope it doesn’t.  I think sometimes we complicate things that don’t need to be complicated.

 

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Yes, we are the Lovings

So, this is my new blog, because, frankly, I hated the old one.  I chose this name because we have a running joke.  Whenever things get tense around here, my husband will yell, but we are the LOVINGS (dammit!!).  Well, we think it’s funny.

Anyway, I have LOTS to say, both random and otherwise.  I hope this blog will be a lot less complaining and a lot more funny and insightful.   For now, you will have to deal with some random thoughts.

  • This is my absolute favorite time of year.  I love the chill in the air, all things pumpkin, and the fact that the pool is closed.
  • My husband now works at home two days a week.  His office is in the basement.  Is it wrong that I am elated that he has chosen to do laundry while he is down there?  I chose NOT to take it as a personal comment on my housewifery skills.
  • I think people are basically decent, but suffer from lack of common sense, selfishness and general sheepdom.
  • I love the fact that I am homeschooling but it frustrates me every single day that I am not better at it.
  • Having a special needs child is daunting, for sure.  But the most daunting thing about it is my fear that I will fail her.
  • I have met some really amazing people while on my journey in homeschooling.  I have listed some of their blogs I hope you will enjoy.
  • My faith in God, wine and my friends keep me sane, not necessarily in that order.

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