Sunday, August 24, 2008

Cupcake has a History

She did not come to us as a child who has been in our care all along. She came with a whole set of experiences that wouldn't have happened if she had been born into our home.

Before I begin, I hope I don't scare anybody away from adopting an older child. I am blogging about this because I know there are others out there in the same boat. We need each other. If you have found something that works or can pass along a word of encouragement, please leave a comment. If God places it on your heart to jump in and be a part of His plan for orphans, then you'd better jump. He has good things in store for you.

I feel the need to talk about this for several reasons. I am blogging because it is therapeutic for me to write out my thoughts. I'm blogging because some of you know Cupcake and can't understand why she does the things she does. I'm blogging because I fully expect God to get the glory as He continues to make beauty from ashes. We have already seen Him working in her life and we are excited to see how He heals her broken heart.

Before I begin to talk about specific behaviors, I want to explain a little of the "why" behind them.

When we accepted Cupcake's referral, we thought we were dealing with a straight-forward older child adoption. We were told that she had been with her birthmom for the first 2.5 years and her birthmom tried but just couldn't make it work any more. We knew we would be coming up against some big issues simply because she was not coming at birth. We felt somewhat prepared for the obstacles that would surely come our way. We read tons of books, plus, we're experienced parents with 3 somewhat well-adjusted kids. How hard could it be?

The longer it dragged, the more books I read. Quite frankly, some of them scared the bejeepers out of me. The "what-ifs" caused me to lose sleep at night, but Cupcake seemed so well-adjusted in Guatemala that we thought we had dodged most of those bullets. But, realistically, we could see problems coming up simply because she was stuck waiting so long. And as the adoption went on and on and on, we discovered more and more truth about her history that was tough to swallow.

Cupcake's story is a long one. She has endured more trauma in her first 4.5 years than most people deal with in a lifetime. I won't share all of the details of her history here. That is her story and she can talk about it when she is ready. But much of her trauma is common in older adopted kids.

In every adoption, the child eventually has to deal with the loss of the birthparents. They must come to a peace about the real or perceived rejection of their birthmom and the rejection or absense of their birthfather. With older kids, they may remember their parents and home. That loss may be fresh in their hearts. Cupcake doesn't seem to remember her birthmom, but she has a gut level fear of rejection. She doesn't remember her birthmom because she was relinquished for adoption a full year before we accepted her referral. We discovered this about 8 months into the process. That adoption fell through after she spent 9 months in foster care. At that point, Cupcake was returned to her birth family. Through a miracle, we met the other adoptive family that loved and prayed for her. They were able to give us a more complete picture of her history...and we are forever grateful for their friendship and prayers.

Multiple placements cause trauma in a child. Although her early life is lost in a haze (or maybe we just can't understand her language well enough), she definitely remembers being removed from her foster family of 18 months and placed in a orphanage. She has a lot of anger toward that family. I'm sure she feels rejected by them. Then, just as she was getting used to the orphanage director as her caregiver (after 8 months), we came along and took her to America. She has a gut level fear of being moved again...and who can blame her? She has been moved no less than 6 times in 4.5 years.

Now, if Cupcake's idea of family is a temporary place to live, and even the nice people eventually bring you somewhere else to live....that's not a great reference point. This one is going to take some time and much reassurance from us to overcome.

The adoption books all talk about some of the more common traumas that adoptive children experience. They include chronic hunger and malnutrition, physical and verbal abuse, neglect, alcoholism, violence, and the list goes on. Each one of these things can throw a kid for a loop that takes them a lifetime to work through.

Think about traumatic experiences in your own life. As adults, we need to deal with the issue and move forward. Something like a car crash can cause a physical reaction every time we drive by "the spot". Sometimes, we fall back into the same bad place that we thought we had conquered. It's hard work to heal from the pain.

I remember as a high schooler, having one teacher who was a jerk. He wasn't evil, just a jerk. He never hurt me physically, he just had a teaching style that beat me down and made me feel inadequate. As a young adult, I had to forgive and forgive and forgive that man for his harsh words. It was years before I could think about him without it causing a physical reaction. He made my blood boil, until I finally forgave him in the very depths of my soul.

Now imagine how much harder it is for a five year old to work through actual serious trauma. As time went on during the adoption, we discovered that Cupcake has experienced most of those traumas listed...and so much more. God was so good in that He did not allow us to get walloped with all the truth all at once. We learned bits and pieces over the two year process. Since we were committed to her and knew that she was the one God had planned for us, we took a deep breath (several, really) and prayed for her heart.

Then she came home....




Blessings to you,
Mamita

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Happy Birthday Daddy S!




To my best friend and hero...Happy Birthday!

Unfortunately, the birthday boy has the same awful crud I had last week. I hope he can get some rest today to regain his strength.

I hope you feel better soon, Sweetie.

Love,
Mamita

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cupcake's Party


Well... I wasn't totally honest with you on my last post. I was not recovering from the flu on Cupcake's birthday. I had felt pretty good the day before, but on her birthday, I was dragging around like death-warmed-over. It was all I could do to decorate her cake. I was wishing I hadn't told her about the princess cake. I would've liked to slap some frosting on a 9x13 cake, stick some candles in, and call it a party. But the show must go on...


Here is Cupcake with the masterpiece (not).

Up close

The Dancing Guinea Pig (for our dining entertainment)


Big Sis

Swinging

Putting on her princess face

All dressed up

It was a good party... and now I am honestly recovering. Unfortunately, Daddy has it (the flu) now. Cupcake and Sugar are the only two that have been spared (so far).

I am hoping to start blogging about some of the harder parts of adopting an older child, but haven't found the time or words just yet. I want to protect Cupcake, but I have always been transparent and honest with my life. I need to find the right balance before I share with the world...

Blessings to you,
Mamita

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Oppy Bird-day Do You!


HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, my sweet daughter!

We have been talking about this for weeks - ever since Sunshine's birthday.

Cupcake is 5 years old today!!!!

video

She came running into my room this morning saying, "Happy Birthday, NOW!"

We plan on having a very small party tonight - Grandpa, Grandma and one friend. Cupcake loves all things princess, so we'll be having a princess party. It'll be a very low-key affair. We're trying hard not to overwhelm her. (Plus, I'm still recovering from the flu.)

Sugar's good friend gave Cupcake a princess tent yesterday. It's pretty cool, huh!
And it will come in handy for tonight's theme.


Cupcake shares a birthday with two very special children. While I'm having fun planning, preparing, and celebrating Cupcake's birthday, my heart aches for my friend, Manyblessings. Her Soccerboy and Princess are still stuck in Guatemala. They were both born on August 13th (different years) and they are 11 and 9 today. They were 7 and 5 when they started the adoption. I'm so thankful to finally be able to celebrate Cupcake's birthday at home, but I wish those two were safe in the arms of my friend. Praying for you, D.




And finally, here are some fun pictures from this past week....




Blessings to you,
Mamita

Sunday, August 10, 2008

UGH...

I'm sick...

Sore throat, fever, aches...

YUCK!

Pray for us. I guess the older kids will learn to pick up the slack and nurse Mamita, too.

:-(

Blessings,
Mamita

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Random Fun

Okay, I have a few minutes before I need to get to bed, so here goes...

TE made it back safe and sound from his mission trip. He was totally pumped about it. It was the best one so far. :-)

On the day TE got back from Shreveport, Sunshine had his 13th birthday. I can't believe I'm even typing this! How can it be? Where do the years go? We took our family and two of Sunshine's best friends to the local putt-putt/go-cart place. We had a blast.


Birthday Boy




Cupcake has a need for speed ;-)
TE is my safe driver




Look out Tiger Woods

After we played 18 holes of putt-putt, we rode the bumper boats. Cupcake got to ride with TE, and she had control of the water gun. It was a riot. She has good aim.

Then we rode the fast go-carts. I've never heard Cupcake laugh so heartily before. She LOVED it. The faster, the better. We're going to have to tame that tiger before she gets into her teen years.

We had one ticket left, so we let Cupcake ride the kiddie-carts. The attendant let Sugar ride, since no one was in line. Now, Cupcake has never even steered a trike before, and of course, she didn't really understand the rules, since he spoke English. All the while I'm translating the instructions, she's saying, "GO! GO!" As soon as I got outside the gate, she guns it right into the wall - well, as much as a kiddie-cart can be gunned. It was a very good lesson in why we have to wear seat belts, and why they have to be tight. The rest of the ride, the attendant rode with her and steered - for everyone's safety.

After that wild ride, we all went home and Sunshine had his friends sleep over. It was a successful birthday by all counts.


In other news...Cupcake also enjoys the thrill of the swings...


One of the unforeseen difficulties we have with Cupcake is what I call "rolling blackouts". No - she doesn't lose energy - EVER. I'm talking about when we carry her, if I haven't sufficiently pulled all of her hair back, I literally CANNOT see around her hair! It's nothing but a black wall in front of my face. Just something to think about....



In yet other news, Sugar made some goop. Here is the record setting bubble...

I have more to talk about, but I need my beauty sleep.

Blessings to you,
Mamita