Thursday, June 30, 2011

Reason #239 to Homeschool

When first grader, Lamya Cammon, didn’t stop twirling a braid in her fingers, her teacher called her to the front of the class and cut that braid right off her head. The teacher was fined $175 for ‘disorderly conduct’ and apologized to the girl’s mother. According to the article, the mother got the apology, and an excuse:
“But I was frustrated”, the teacher said.
The frustrated teacher who publicly humiliated the little girl, making her cry in front of her whole class, is still working in the school.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What You Need to Know if Your Friends/Family Are Adopting

As I said, I've been reading a lot of adoption blogs (I live for reading stories of orphans redeemed), and I've noticed a distinct pattern. The friends and family of the adopting family have no idea what to do. I hope this helps.
  1. Treat the adoption of their new child just as you would the birth of a baby. Bring meals. Adjusting to life with a new child or children, especially if they are older, is quite overwhelming. Thinking about and cooking meals is an added stress that you can help relieve.
  2. Ask the family what they need. Perhaps they now have four toddlers and the prospect of going to the store with all of them to get diapers is out of the question. Maybe they want visitors and maybe they don't. Ask.
  3. Know that a child who has been malnourished, which is basically all international adoptees, cannot handle a typical American diet. Their digestive systems are underdeveloped and they cannot process a lot of food. Be understanding when the parents take away or withhold food. They know better than the child who has never experienced being full.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dear Baby

Dear Unborn Baby,

You and I have been together for 4 months now. I am so grateful. You are such a pleasant surprise to Daddy and me. Neither of us had any idea what God had planned for our family, but what a joy it is to see it unfold. Nine children. NINE! I am shocked. Truly. But what a gift we've been given.
Sweetheart, the world doesn't see children the way your heavenly Father sees you. I'm sad to say the world says you're a burden. People wonder why anyone would want more than two or at the most three children. They are so deceived. So very deceived.
The truth is: raising you won't be easy. It will be work. Training you to obey God's Word when you will just want your way is hard work. It doesn't come naturally. It forces me to be selfless. It forces me to rely on my Father. I can't do it in my own strength. On my own, I am impatient, lazy, and self-centered. But when I depend on Christ, my only righteousness, I can allow Him to love and disciple you through me.
Here's where the world misunderstands. They think that hard work is bad. That it is to be avoided. But from hard work comes great rewards. Great, incomprehensible, absolutely amazing rewards.
The world sees a selfish life as freedom. Total deception. Selfishness is bondage. Living selflessly is true freedom. This, your heavenly Father is giving to me through you and your siblings.
You are going to love being the baby of a big family.

Praying for you daily,

Friday, June 24, 2011

What Adoption Looks Like Day to Day: Daniel


Daniel has the funniest personality. His laugh is positively charming and contagious. Although he doesn't agree with Lydia's plan to marry him, he is very protective of her.

Because of his age (he wasn't quite 2 when we adopted him), Daniel's adoption was the hardest of the three. He was too young to understand what was changing or why or for how long. His life changed a lot when he was just a baby. Shortly after turning 1 year old, he left the care of his loving mother and was placed in an orphanage. Just before he turned 2 years old, he left the familiarity of the orphanage for a totally foreign land, foreign people, and foreign foods. Life was confusing and hard for him.
-Daniel reverts to a baby voice whenever he gets caught disobeying, or when he's asking for something from Kyle or I, or any time he's feeling emotionally needy.
We just recently realized that he only does this with Kyle and I. He never uses his baby voice with his siblings.
When he needed the safety and security of just being a baby, that right was taken away from him. Although he wasn't quite 2 years old, he knew how to peel a banana and an egg by himself. Survival skills. He got mad when I cut his food for him, so I did it away from his view. He didn't like letting me feed him, which broke my heart since I knew how important that was to our bonding. So I sat him in my lap in the rocking chair and read to him at night instead. I wanted to give him the chance to be a baby.
We had decided that I wouldn't nurse him because it had been so long since he'd been breastfed. Looking back and knowing what I do now, I really regret not trying. My sweet Daniel just needed to be babied.
I have learned more about the sacrificial love of God through Daniel than I ever had before. I am so grateful for him and all that he has taught me.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What Adoption Looks Like Day to Day: Isaac


Isaac is fiercely protective of his little brother, an encouraging friend to those who know him, and has a smile that is constantly gaining him compliments and affection.
He also has a lot of anxiety. In fact, this was the way his escort described him when she handed him off to us. I wonder if she knew how very insightful that little comment was.

-Everyday during school breaks, the kids do a math drill online. Isaac was consistently scoring 60%. But when I turned off the timer, his accuracy immediately shot up to a steady 80-90%. Timers do not motivate him. Instead, they act like a vice on his brain.
-When I was having Isaac read to me daily, he sat rigidly straight and was jittery the whole time.
-Any time someone asks him a question (thus putting him on the spot), his first response is always: "Wait" and then he thinks about what he wants to say. Just being put on the spot makes his brain freeze and he can't think of the words he wants to say. Many times, he just gives up and says: "Oh nevermind." As his vocabulary has grown, this has improved, but not significantly. It's not that he doesn't know the words he wants to say, he just can't recall them under pressure.

Isaac's anxieties likely come from fears he had about being adopted. Many orphanage workers tell children that if they don't behave, their adoptive family will send them back. The fear of rejection is very real. Sadly, no amount of reason can change this thinking. Only unconditional love, over long periods of time will ease it. Prayer is my most powerful weapon when it comes to the spiritual battles surrounding adoption.

What a gift it is to be given the responsibility of teaching Isaac that God's love for him is unconditional. We teach him this through God's Word and through our love.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Adoption 101

I've been reading a lot of adoption blogs recently and they've taken me back to those first days and months with our adoptees. There are certain "guidelines" specific to adoption, that don't come naturally. All of these foster attachment and bonding:
  1. No one holds the child(ren) except mom & dad. It's vitally important that the adoptee knows who their new parents are. Grandma and Grandpa and friends will want to hold your child too, but that only confuses the child and slows the bonding process. For the sake of your child, pre-warn friends and family that they are welcome to hug your child while he/she is still in your arms.
  2. No one meets the child's needs except mom & dad. Same reason as above. Bonding to the adoptive parents is made more confusing and more difficult when others meet your child's needs. They need to know YOU are their caregiver.
  3. Whenever possible, the child should be fed by you, and not self-feed. Of course, this has a lot to do with the child's age. Daniel was 2 at the time of adoption. I held him in my lap and fed him whenever possible. This is huge when it comes to bonding and attachment.
  4. Hold, hold, hold the child. Carriers and slings are greatly preferred to strollers. Regardless of your parenting style with your bio children, attachment parenting is the way to go with an adoptee.
The needs of adoptees are unique, but their bonding and healthy attachment to you are worth the changes you'll make for their sake.

(Taken from the following adoption books (all of which I highly recommend): The Connected Child, Attaching in Adoption, and Toddler Adoption: The Weaver's Craft)

Friday, June 17, 2011

What Adoption Looks Like Day to Day: Maya

I read recently that adoption is built on pain and loss. That quote rocked me. It's so true, but how infrequently I think about that. It caused me to think about the traits my adoptees have, that come from their painful past.


My Maya is the most patient person I know. She is laid-back, patient, and it takes a whole lot to ruffle her feathers. A whole lot.
This is not just her personality. It's a result of what she's lived through. Growing up, if she was hungry she may or may not have gotten food. When she needed something, she may or may not have gotten it.
- Maya bottles her emotions until she absolutely bursts. She doesn't know how to talk about the things that are brewing in her until they are just too much for her. (Her emotional outbursts are not scary, however, they are actually quite comical because they are so out of character for her.)
For example: During a blow-out a couple weeks ago, she was yelling: I'm trying to calm down, but I just can't!! I said: Can you do anything good on your own?
She immediately answered: No, there's none who are good, no not one. There is none righteous, not even one. (She's quoting from Romans 3)
I said: So can you do good in your own power?
Sweetheart, you need to pray that Jesus will help you to calm down. He is the only righteousness that's in us.
This calmed her down right away. It's amazing to see the power of the Word of God to transform hearts.

- Maya doesn't ask for the things she needs, and if she does, she doesn't repeat the requests. She just tries to get by. It doesn't occur to her that she could get help if she just asked. She just doesn't think that way yet.
For example: I noticed she had band-aids all over her ankles. When I asked her about them, I found out she had cut her legs to smithereens shaving with a cheap razor. The one I had bought for her never cut her legs, but she ran out of razor heads and didn't ask for more.
Another example: Because she left her clothes in the dryer overnight, she had to iron a skirt that had gotten really wrinkly. 20 minutes later, she came downstairs wearing the skirt, still very wrinkly. She couldn't figure out how to turn up the heat on the iron, so after ironing it on warm forever and ever, she gave up. When I asked why she didn't ask me how to operate the iron, she just said: I don't know. I didn't think of that!

Maya, our bonus child, is very easy to love. She is a gift from God to our family.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Story of the 'Shroom

While we were eating dinner last night, we were discussing different plays. Elena mentioned "that one where the donkey falls in love with whoever he sees first." Several at the table knew what she was talking about but couldn't remember the name of the play.
Maya: Midsummer Night's Dream!!


Then Maya said: I love that one where the girl pretends to be a boy . . .

Me: As You Like It!


I ask: Who wrote those plays?

Everybody: Shakespeare!


Chloe: I love the one about the lady who has such a bad temper. Something about a mushroom.

I realized she meant "The Taming of the Shrew" and I nearly spit out my food laughing.

(No Chloe, it's not The Taming of the 'Shroom!)

On behalf of the Clark family, I sincerely apologize to Shakespeare, who was much better with words.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Things That Make Me Weep

Do you remember this little girl? I advocated for her earlier this year, as she was getting desperately close to the magic age of 5, when children are transferred from orphanage to mental institution. A family came forward to adopt her, and just a couple days ago, she became the member of a family. No longer an orphan! Saved and redeemed!

I sat watching this video of her Gotcha Day and just bawled:

I live for these stories.

ETA: The video is actually only 3 1/2 minutes long, not 9 minutes.

Friday, June 10, 2011

HUGE Giveaway!!

My sister is raising the ransom for this cute-patutie, Stan. And the motivation to raise the ransom so Stan will never have to live in an institution?
$350 worth of gift cards!!!

Home Depot,
Best Buy,
Five Guys Burgers & Fries,
and MORE!

A mere $10 donation to sweet Stan will enter you in the giveaway.

I've Discovered. . .

  • Waiting until you're almost out of diapers and then ordering overnight delivery is a risk
  • Changing dirty pull-ups is not easy (should've ordered those diapers a wee bit earlier)
  • Having a list of projects to do while pregnant makes me very happy
  • Waiting patiently for hubby to finish one project so "we" can work on another is not my strength
  • I should never attempt to teach math while hungry
  • I should never attempt to do anything while hungry (other than fix something to eat)
  • Plantains should be black and ugly before frying them
  • Fried plantains make me very happy
  • School days are so much easier for me than breaks. I need structure.
  • This and this make teaching multiplication & division so much easier. Love it!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Training Children How to Clean

Now that we've talked about tidying up, let's talk about the harder job: cleaning. What works for one doesn't work for the other. In my experience, (speaking of children-in-training here) if I help them tidy up, they'll just pretend to be tidying while I do most of the work. But if I help them clean, they are motivated and enjoy doing it.
There is a window of time when the children are little that they want to help you clean. Seize it! Having less than shiny floors is well worth having a child who wants to mop them.
I suggest having two brooms, two mops, two dusters, etc, so that you can work right along side your little one in training. Wet your mops, then show little Suzy how you wring it out. (Not that she'll be doing it herself at this young age, but she should know anyway.) Then show her how you mop backwards (you pull a mop towards you, rather than pushing like when you vacuum). After she's got the hang of it, stand back and praise her while she does it herself for awhile. Then join her again to finish up the job.
Keep up this method for several weeks or months, until she's got it and you can trust her to do a good job.
In the Clark house, we rotate chores annually. My goal is proficiency. Last year, Daniel gathered up all the trash cans and returned them, and Isaac took out the trash. This year, Isaac and Daniel passed the baton to Chloe and Lydia. I didn't have to train Chloe and Lydia how to do the job. Isaac and Daniel taught them. Ditto that for all the chores that were passed onto another child. My job just keeps getting easier and easier!
The time you invest teaching your children how to clean will pay big dividends. I recently encouraged my kids: You guys are so blessed that you already know how to clean a house well. I didn't figure all that out until I was in high school. It's not fun to learn it then!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Training Littles How to Tidy

Children are not born knowing how to tidy up a room. Don't laugh; that was a revelation for me when I only had littles!
I noticed something when I told my kids to tidy up: they would look around at all the mess and have no idea where to start. So I taught them.
Try this:
Take them to their bedroom and plop yourself on their bed. Then tell them, "You put away all the books and you put away all the shoes." When they finish, they'll probably stand in front of you, silently asking: "What next?" So tell them.
"Now, you straighten up the books and you put the dirty clothes in the laundry basket." (The more kids in a room, the faster this goes. ;) )
Keep telling them what items to put away until the room is clean. Plan to sit on the bed and do the same thing every day for a week or two. Try to avoid a sarcastic tone that says: Good heavens, aren't you picking up on the pattern yet?
No, no, that won't help. (I'm ashamed to admit how I know this.)
After awhile of you training them to break down a room into parts, they are no longer overwhelmed by the huge mess, because they know how to tidy it up! Once you see that they are consistently doing it on their own (which you know because you're still supervising them), then move onto another room for new training.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
Colossians 3:23-24

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What's On My Mind

I am so happy to have the chance to be pregnant again. Thrilled!
I thought I wanted four kids. God's plan for us has proven so much more and greater than anything I could have ever imagined or dreamed. God has been so gracious and so generous with us.
My prayer is that He will continue to have his way in our family. He knows so much better than I do what is good for me.
What I really love is hearing my children express how much they love our big family. Elena and Chloe, especially, frequently say "I just love being in our family!"
Makes this mother's heart glow.