Monday, September 27, 2010

Sensory Needs

One of the interesting points Dr. Purvis made was that many, many kids who have early trauma have sensory processing issues. When a child has an interruption in the normal development, the sensory system takes a hit. She believes in treating children holistically. "Holistic" is one of those words that can mean something different to everybody. Dr. Purvis defines it as treating the whole person - body, soul and spirit. (Not treating each diagnosis or issue as a separate entity in itself, but treating the whole child). Once a child is taken care of, feels safe, loved and lovable, the sensory issues will be diminished. She recommends a book, "The Out of Synch Child" by Carol Kranowitz for parents to explore the issue, and "The Out of Synch Child Has Fun" if you find your child does has special sensory needs.

Just from my own limited knowledge, these are some hints that a child has sensory processing difficulties. A child can either feel things too intensely (sensory avoidant) or not intensely enough (sensory seeking), and sometimes both.

If your child:
  • often complains about tags, tight, or scratchy clothing
  • is picky about eating certain textures
  • covers ears at moderately loud noises
  • is LOUD
  • hugs really hard
  • plays too rough
  • refuses to touch slimy, wet, or messy substances
A couple of people asked about wall-pushing. She did not elaborate, but she showed a picture of kids pushing against a wall with all their might (kind of like stretching before you exercise). I guess the wall can take whatever the kid can dish out. :-)

Dr. Purvis had statistics about the incidence of sensory issues in adopted children versus birth children. Of course, I can't find those now, ;-) but it was significantly higher for adopted children. My point in posting this is that adoptive parents need to be aware of this and be willing to look into it, if they want to see real healing in their children. I am just becoming aware of this possibility and hope to begin studying this subject in the near future.

My friend, Lisa, over at A Bushel and A Peck has done quite a bit of research on this in her quest to help one of her children. She is a hero of mine and I highly recommend her as a great resource for parenting/adoption wisdom, as well as a "sensory mom".

Blessings to you,

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bits of Wisdom

Our Empowered to Connect Conference was a gold mine of wisdom. I took lots of notes and I am going back through them to solidify what we learned. I'll share with you the wisdom Dr. Purvis shared with us and also some thoughts I had on what she said over the next few weeks. I have a new label for Empowered to Connect, so you can find all the posts at once. Sometimes it will be a coherent thought stream, and sometimes just bits and pieces. Tonight, you get just a smattering. This Mama is exhausted. ;-)

Give your child a sensory rich experience. Try:
  • play-doh
  • finger paints
  • fidgets - little toys they can fidget with that have a variety of textures and sensory stimuli
  • wall-pushing
  • rice
  • sand
  • pudding
  • mud
  • slime
  • silly putty
  • mini-trampoline
  • running

These things may be too much for a child who has not had any stimulus, but introducing one thing and showing the child that it's okay can be a growing, trusting experience for your little one.

Even snacks can be sensory rich. Did you know that sweet=calm and sour=alert? That explains why my little tornado LOVES sugar. It helps her calm down. Now I have scientific proof of what I naturally suspected.

Blessings to you,

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Grand Finale

The final stop on our epic vacation really was a grand finale for us. My heart is so full with this story, my words fail me.

But I've got to tell the story. Their story. Our story. Cupcake's story. God's story.

On the outskirts of Baltimore, in northern Maryland, we had a "family reunion" of a different sort. We finally met Jim and Laurie in person. Jim and Laurie are our family, not based on common ancestry, but based on a common history.

Our daughter was once their daughter.

You see, this family was once Cupcake's family, not by birth, but by love. One year before we fell in love with her picture, they fell in love with her picture. A year before we began praying for her by name, they were already praying for her by name. For nine months they were in process to adopt Cupcake. Then the unthinkable happened...

If you've never adopted before, you must understand that the minute you have a name and a picture, you carry that child in your heart, much like a pregnant mother. Some cynics might say that the child is only "potentially yours", that she's not truly "yours" until the papers are finalized. But that is not the way a mother or father's love works. From the moment you know a child is waiting for you, a reckless, wild, consuming love sweeps over you like an ocean wave. Make no mistake, the waiting child is your baby.

The story is heart-breaking, miraculous and very long. In a nutshell, for 9 months, Jim and Laurie loved Cupcake as a daughter. They received update pictures once a month. They visited Guatemala and fell in love with the spunky little one with the big brown eyes and curly hair. While visiting, they had an incredible worship experience that confirmed to them that God had His hands on this precious one. About 2 months after their visit they received some update pictures that were troubling. Cupcake appeared to be in grave danger. They immediately arranged to fly to Guatemala to assess the situation and make sure Cupcake received the tender care she deserved. Before they could fly down, their agency called to tell them that Cupcake was gone. She had disappeared overnight, and they had no idea where she was. They had lost her referral. The adoption was over.

(I'm so glad this is not the end of the story.)

I cannot imagine the pain and heartbreak Jim and Laurie went through. This much I know...It was real grief. The loss of a child. Broken dreams. The grief was compounded by the unknown. What had become of Cupcake? Whose hands had she fallen into? Was she dead or alive?

Even through the grief, the family continued to pray daily for Cupcake, especially their two youngest sons.

Months passed and more heartache.

Eventually they received a referral for a beautiful Guatemalan baby girl. This adoption was no cake walk either. Delay after delay happened. One day, Laurie was invited to the Long-Road-Home group by a friend. (This is the same group where I met Tammy and her son.) This was an online group for people who were involved in long, difficult adoptions from Guatemala. Now the thing with the Long-Road-Home is: it is by invitation only. Someone in the group had to know you and vouch for you before you were granted access. Let's just say that security was tight. When Laurie joined, there were 44 people IN THE WORLD who had access to this group. And I was one of them.

They found Cupcake! They found us! :-D

At first we were shocked, because we had no idea that Cupcake had been placed for adoption before. Also, we were worried that they might try to "get her back". We feared that they might have unhealed wounds and any relationship might be unhealthy. They put our fears to rest very early. Yes, they had grieved and feared for her life, but they had given their pain and fear to the One who loves them best. And He carried them and brought them to a place of peace.

They sent us pictures of Cupcake from a year before we knew her. They prayed for us. They blessed us. They encouraged us. I've got a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes just thinking about what a blessing they have been. They prayed for our daughter before adoption was even on our radar. They wrapped their loving arms around our baby when she had no one else. They were Jesus to my child. They were Jesus to us.

To top it all off, they invited us to stay with them, though we had never met in real life. It was very brave of them to invite all six of us - at the end of our vacation, no less. And did I mention, they have 6 kids of their own - 2 are grown and married, and one is the precious little Guatemalan beauty they finally adopted. Now that's a houseful!

We had a wonderful time.

Our families blended together like cousins. It seemed we had always known them. Old friends. Easy. Comfortable. Similar. We knew that we would have much in common, simply because we serve the same God. But we had no idea how well we would match up. We instantly felt welcome and at home. The kids happily ran off to play. We enjoyed sweet fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ.

We have so much in common, it's crazy.

In fact, the next morning, my girls woke up and put on the clothes we had picked for them. Their daughter put on the clothes they had picked for her. And this is the result:

Great minds think alike. ;-)

We spent a too-short day at Gettysburg, seeing the battlefield and enjoying our time with them.

All too soon, it was time to say good-bye. :-(

We are so thankful that we had the opportunity to connect with this precious family in real life. Because of who they are, our visit was so much more than we could have ever hoped for. It was a blessing all the way around.

We love you guys.

Blessings to you,

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Empowered to Connect

This past weekend, Steve and I attentded Show Hope's very first Empowered to Connect Conference in Nashville. It was incredible! We were so encouraged and motivated. Dr. Karyn Purvis is brilliant. She gave us so many nuts and bolts ideas for helping our kids heal and grow. I can't wait to share it all with you.

But for now, if you get the chance to attend one of these conferences, by all means, do it. It doesn't matter if you have adopted kids or not. This woman will inspire you to be the best parent God created you to be.

Blessings to you,

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Favorite Beach Photos

Blessings to you,

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Beach

After the frenetic pace of Washington, DC, it was so refreshing to visit the beach.

I thought about posting pictures with the words "Sun", "Sand", and "Rest" for this post, but I have too many memories I want to preserve.

We went to Chincoteague, VA, home of the famous Chincoteague Ponies. It was mellow and slow-paced, quiet and intimate. Just what we needed.

The only shot of the ponies...see the little dots?

The first afternoon, we drove around and checked out the island.

Then we drove over to Assateague Island National Wildlife Refuge. We stopped at the beach just to, ahem... dip our toes in.

The next day, we spent the day at the beach. The weather was hot, the water was cool. Perfect. Cupcake loved it until she got a few snootfuls of saltwater. She spent most of the day playing in the sand. Steve stayed with her because ocean swimming is not his favorite. The three big kids and I had a great time "wave jumping". I had so much fun, but I must admit that I'm not as young as I used to be. Holding my own against the ocean was quite a workout. :-)

We hiked to a pony viewing area, but saw no ponies. The only wildlife we encountered were the voracious mosquitoes. Do you see the neon sign over Sugar that blinks, "MOSQUITO BUFFET - ALL YOU CAN EAT!"? Well the mosquitoes did!

The following morning, we hiked over to the Assateague Lighthouse.

Then we left for the outskirts of Baltimore, which was to be the grand finale of our epic vacation.

Blessings to you,