I'm Julie, otherwise known as Mamita. I'm married to the greatest man on earth. His name is Steve, or Daddy. We have 4 kids, three homegrown and one heartgrown from the beautiful country of Guatemala. This blog is about our family, our faith, adoption, therapeutic parenting, and anything else I feel the need to talk about. It is both a family record and free therapy for my crazy life. Come along for the ride if you want.
Her Daddy is flying down to Guatemala this week to sign some papers at the embassy, so the Embassy can officially reject her coming to America. Their lawyers have already prepared the rebuttal and will present it to them.
Then we wait and see.
I hope and pray the US Government has an ounce of wisdom. It really should be a no-brainer. I pray the powers that be have mercy and compassion and that they act quickly to resolve this mess in favor of this precious family.
Head on over to the Livesay's Blog for an update on this precious little boy. And then pray for him to continue to improve and grow stronger each day. You might even consider giving to the program that helped him. Something to think about. That's all.
I know the whole Jon and Kate thing is old news, but this post has been brewing in my head for weeks now, so I just need to write it down so I have room for something else in there. (Like, what's for dinner.) :-)
This week, I worked with several hurt kids. Recently, circumstances among various friends and acquaintances have brought this post to the forefront of my mind again. I've worked with kids of all ages for 20 years now, and I've seen the same thing over and over again. It makes me sick to my stomach. Things are chugging along in their lives just fine. Then - WHAM! - Dad and Mom are splitting up. Their world spins out of control. They are angry, confused, sad, hurt, and scared. There are no words to comfort them. Only hugs and tears and prayers...
Before I really begin, I am not bashing divorced people. My heart breaks for those who have had their lives torn apart by divorce. I know that most people do not split up because of minor disagreements. I know that serious issues need serious commitment from all parties in order to be resolved - and even then, some marriages can not be saved. In those cases, divorce happens.
If you are already divorced, it is not my intention to make you feel guilty or hopeless for your kids. God has a way of healing us and using our past to help others. But the truth remains.
This one thing, I know. Whether people are on the giving or receiving end of the proceedings, divorce hurts everyone involved. That's why God hates divorce. Divorce hurts people.
But more specifically, divorce hurts children.
As an advocate and a voice for the weakest, most vulnerable members of society, I need to speak the truth, even if it is not popular.
I'm not much of a reality TV fan (except Nanny 911 - but that is another post.) However, I really liked to watch Jon and Kate Plus Eight. I started watching it last year and tried to catch it whenever I had the chance. Now that Daddy and I are outnumbered 2 to 1, I was fascinated by the organization and simplicity of that household. I liked both Jon and Kate, and the kids were just so precious. I didn't see many episodes, but I did catch the one where they renewed their wedding vows in front of their children in Hawaii...
When things reportedly went south in their marriage, I stopped watching. I didn't want to contribute to the delinquency of a marriage. I know most of our culture has a National Enquirer mentality about these things. We gawk at the wreckage and look some more to see what the next awful, juicy bit of news will be.
I see things differently. I want to hide my eyes from the pain. I grieve over the wreckage. I see eight bewildered kids who will soon be in a world of hurt. I see two hurting adults whose trust has been betrayed publicly.
I was sad for them. I prayed for their marriage. I can't imagine the pressure of living in a fishbowl during such a stressful time.
So when the big show aired, I couldn't watch. The next day, I skimmed through the transcripts. One thing jumped out at me. Both Jon and Kate said something to the effect, "I just want what's best for my kids...."
Divorce is not what is best for your kids.
It may be what you think is best for you right now. You may think it is the only way out. You may be so hurt, you can't see straight. Maybe you didn't ask for this and you are an innocent victim.
But let's get this straight. Divorce is not best for the kids. Divorce is traumatic for kids. It hurts them deeply, no matter their age. They may appear to roll with the punches, but I promise you, they will struggle with trust and commitment the rest of their lives.
Divorce is trauma.
What is best for your kids is to see Mom and Dad disagree and reconcile with a firm commitment to resolving all outstanding issues. They need to see apologies and forgiveness. They need to see Dad and Mom do whatever it takes to stay in the game.
When kids see this, they are much better equipped to enter marriage someday themselves. Kids are much happier, healthier, and secure when Mom and Dad work through their problems.
I know I have not walked a mile in their shoes, but I've walked a hard mile. I know that with commitment and a willingness to change the way we do things, transformation can happen and relationships can be mended.
We had Vacation Bible School this week. It was a fantastic, exhausting, deep, exciting, crazy week.
Last year, for VBS, I walked around with Cupcake and spent the entire time being her personal teacher. She had only been home around 6 weeks and her behavior and language issues were too much to ask a normal teacher to deal with. I wanted her to get as much out of it as she could. She loved it.
So, on Monday morning, she expected me to walk around and be her personal teacher.
"Uh...I can't Honey. I'm teaching the big kids."
She's been going to Sunday School and Children's Church by herself for almost a year, and it never occurred to me to prepare for this difference from last year.
She did okay during class, and seemed happy enough all day. But, that evening, when it was time to come in after playing with the neighborhood kids, she started disobeying and things quickly went downhill.
I, of course, was tired after a full day and not in the mood to be therapeutic mommy.
It was ugly. More accurately, I was ugly. I blew up and said regrettable things to my precious daughter. My tone of voice was scary. My body language screamed rejection.
Let's just say, if I were 8 years old, I would have deserved a good spanking. And I probably would have been grounded for a year. And I'd have gotten a mouth full of soap.
We both said we were sorry before bed, but I slept fitfully with a pit in my stomach. We have worked so hard to heal her broken heart. One lousy reaction like that can set us back months and months.
Bad mommy syndrome.
My unconditional love for her had conditions.
One of the main things that many adoption parenting books miss is the power of forgiveness. They all talk about the right thing to do. They emphasize the need for consistency. They encourage you to live outside the emotional whirlwind and respond with perfect maturity.
That's all well and good if you're perfect.
What do you do when you screw up?
The next morning, a very contrite Mamita got on her knees and asked a very subdued Cupcake to forgive her. I listed my sins against her. I told her that I was wrong to do that. She did not deserve that. She is lovable.
A very sweet and sincere Cupcake forgave me.
That morning, at VBS, the kids were asked to share any God-sightings they had had the night before. (Things like "I saw the beautiful sunset God made", "My sister helped set the table", etc.)
Cupcake gets the microphone, and says, "My mommy loves me." She smiles and waves at me.
I sat four rows back on the other side of the church and cried.
My baby loves me.
Forgiveness is a good thing.
Love covers a multitude of sins....and I'm so glad.
Aren't these two cute? They are just best buddies. They often have "Lassie and Timmy" moments romping through the fields (or the living room). Everybody loves the pup, but Sunshine has a special place in his heart for this silly dog.
Before we left home (Check out the homemade hat.)... Waiting for the fireworks to begin... Rubik's Eye view (TE won't look at the camera, so the camera has to go where he is looking... Another non-looker... Loving on Grammy...
Cupcake has been pretty regulated lately, which means her behavior is on par for an almost 6 year old. It brings my heart such joy to see her being a normal little girl.
But just below the surface, her past is there. She feels secure enough to talk about it. She's still trying to figure out this forever thing.
In the past couple of days, she has said things like this:
I can wait here while you go get some water. Nobody will take me.
I can get dressed in my own dressing room. I'll scream if anyone tries to steal me.
If a bad guy takes me away, I'll fight him like I used to fight you. (I pity the fool.)
Is he a bad guy? (Always about men in utility/construction trucks.)
Most kids are afraid of the boogie man...some unknown creature that lurks in their closet.
Cupcake has had real life encounters with bad guys.
She has also had very scary experiences with good guys that were doing all they could to protect her.
The 4th of July brings up a lot of emotions for me. Two years ago, she had her 2nd abandonment hearing, in which a judge declared her abandoned and available for adoption. Besides the sadness for all she had lost, and the joy of being able to continue our adoption, I spent July 4th, 2007, dreaming of holding my baby. For the first time in almost a year, I dared to imagine her squiggly body sitting in my lap. After a year of uncertainty, risk, helplessness, hopelessness, and fear, I finally allowed myself to imagine her with us. As I sat and watched the fireworks, tears streamed down my face. Our baby had made it through the minefield called the Guatemalan Family Court System. Not many do.
So, last night, as we lay in her bed, we talked about some of the fun things we've done lately. A little later, I shared with Cupcake some of the emotions we experienced July 4, 2007. As I recounted the judge's decision that her Mama Gabriela was not coming back and that Cupcake deserved a family. I asked if she remembered that day. She suddenly sat up and said, "Guatemala was no fun. There was nothing good there. I am NOT going back to Guatemala! I don't ever want to go back there!"
"Why not, Honey?"
"Somebody might take me away from you."
"Oh Honey, no one could ever take you away from us. We're your Mommy and Daddy forever."
"Well, I don't care. I am NOT going back. You can go back when I get married."
Well, okay then, perhaps a second honeymoon... :-)
"You know, Cupcake, you don't ever have to go back if you don't want to."
"Good, because I don't want to."
"Well, if you ever change your mind..."
So as I prepare to go see the fireworks with my family, my mind is filled with thoughts of freedom, and loss, and unknown fears. My heart is swelling with love for this little one who is making her way in this world. I'm so proud of her strength and courage. She faces her fears head on, and runs to Daddy and me for security.