Sunday, January 25, 2015

Adoption Talk Blog Link Up

I have been reading the beautiful adoption stories shared in our first Adoption Talk Link up that started on Thursday. From foster care, domestic infant adoption and international adoption, each story is as unique as the family telling it. I have cried tears of joy, I've been covered in goosebumps and I've felt all the emotions that accompany the adoption process. If you haven't shared your adoption story yet, please link up HERE

To help you plan for future link ups, here is our proposed link up schedule. "Anything goes" is exactly what it sounds like: you write about any topic or use an old post that you want to share. Help us get to know you better during these weeks. Some weeks will have an optional topic and if it applies to your situation, feel free to write about it.



I highly recommend following all the hosts during the link up to get information and reminders as the link up progresses. My hope is that we become a community that is interactive during this year.

You can find all the rules and your hosts HERE

Thursday, January 22, 2015

My adoption story

Today, is the first day of #AdoptionTalk blog link up and I am excited to mingle with new blogger friends and readers. Check the rules and topics HERE and join us! let me introduce the hosts of our link up:


At the bottom of my post, you can link up your adoption story or read the stories shared. Here is mine:


When I write about our adoptions, I tell the story from the only point of view I can. Mine. I realize that if my children could tell their stories they might sound quite different and in time I'm sure they will. I was the person who had a choice in many ways when it came to our adoptions, they did not. So I tread carefully when telling our story because it's really my side of the story. And my children will one day have their own stories to tell.


In 2010, our family consisted of my husband of 15 years, our 11 year old daughter, 5 year old son and me. We lived a very typical American life, planned our next vacation and worked very hard to make a good life for all of us. My husband and I had always discussed adoption as a way to grow our family, but the process seemed daunting and we always pushed the thoughts about it to "some day".

this is us, roadtripping (notice the empty back seat)

As year 2010 progressed, we both started to feel like someone was missing from our family. There should be more of us and we began to slowly learn more about adoption, speaking with friends who had adopted and finally it felt like we were moving in the right direction. We spent a lot of time praying for the right doors to open and peace to fill our hearts as we progressed. 

In those early months, many doors closed as it became clear that adopting a waiting child (or 2 or 3) would be the way to go. I learned that 95% of the world's orphans were over the age of 5, siblings or children with special needs. We were open to the majority of those needs so our search became about older children and siblings. We would consider special needs as time went on. We viewed many files but I still felt that we hadn't found our children yet. And then, this picture changed everything:

first picture
It is hard to separate the search for my children from my faith, but I also know that we wanted to be sure that our adoption was ethical and we were willing to walk away at any time if something didn't seem right. After reading about the children, carefully looking at their options, we knew a trip to Ghana was the logical next step. Nervously, we packed our bags in May of 2011 and met the children that would become our children. 






Our daughter was shy and reserved. Our son was bubbly and active. We spent time together over the week and returned home. It was a surreal time in between where we weren't legally a family and yet we had left our hearts in Ghana.

As months progressed, we became a family in a courtroom in Ghana. We weren't present but there now was a paper that made us parents to 4 children, 2 of them were separated by an ocean.


spotting an airplane for the first time
Eric visited our children and completed more steps in the adoption at the US Embassy in Ghana. It was a hard week for everyone as the children began to bond to him but knew there would be another goodbye. We now know that week served a greater purpose in preparing their hearts for the saddest goodbyes ever, but in the moment, it was unbearable.

Finally, on Valentine's Day 2012, we were all on the same continent as a family of 6. And that was only the beginning of our story in many ways. Months of bonding, learning from each other and adjusting proved to be hard on everyone. But out of that hard, a family started to take shape. We weren't perfect but we all tried really hard to be united.

7 months later, we saw a picture that once again set the wheels in motion to add another child into our family. A little girl with an uncertain future needed a family. 

We knew her special needs were many but our family would be where her true abilities would be realized. Since most of our paperwork was current, getting the process started would be easy. Our finances was the biggest barrier, but one by one, fees were being lowered and God was making a way for this little one to have a family.

On Thanksgiving Day, 2012, I met my 5th child for the first time. I learned more about her special needs and knew we didn't have much time to get her to medical care.

Eric met his daughter a few months later, she was now officially ours but more paperwork was needed to bring her home. We felt the invisible clock ticking as she seemed more lethargic and weak.

June 2013, I traveled to Ghana to complete the final step of our adoption. A 2 week trip turned into 6 weeks but I promised not to leave without her. We arrived home in July and our family of 7 was complete.



Adoption is not a fairy tale. It's beginning is rooted in loss and separation. It's hard work and daily willingness to the attachment process both for the parent and the child.  I am honored to be a mother to the bravest children I know.





Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Why my daughter would be a great friend to yours

This post was featured on The Mighty,
My favorite website for inspirational stories  


This is my daughter, she is in preschool.


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She loves bubbles, music and dance parties. Does your daughter like those things too?
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She smiles and giggles and gives awesome high fives. 

But so many times the fact that she uses a wheelchair or the fact that she doesn't talk, makes people shy away from interacting with her. 

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I know that she would make a great friend because her siblings think she is fun to play with.

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She may do things a bit differently, but I know that your children would have a great friend. 


Today is International Day of Acceptance. Moms and Dads, I hope you embrace diversity in your child's life. Teach them to include everyone at school, in your neighborhood and in your community. The awesome thing is, that they may gain an awesome friend just like my daughter. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Join us!

The Adoption Talk Link Up starts next Thursday, January 22nd! 
I am excited about linking with other bloggers and sharing our thoughts from various viewpoints.  Some are joining to get back into regular blogging, others to share their stories or to read others thoughts on adoption related topics.


schedulesmallfinal

 Anyone involved with the adoption triad or foster care in any way is welcome to join (even if you are just starting the process). The first link up topic is hopefully an easy one, we would love for everyone to link up their adoption stories. If you've got thoughts to share, we want to hear them. A few things to consider:

1) Be respectful of others. Adoption can be a sensitive subject, and opinions may differ from your own. Please be respectful to everyone.
2) Try to read and comment on at least one other post. The point of a link up is to mingle and meet other bloggers.
3) Feel free to link an old post. We know you may have already blogged about some of the topics on our schedule. If you would like to link something you have already written that is just fine.
4) I would still love to have an adoptee host. I've asked a few of my blogger friends but none have been able to thus far. If you know of anyone PLEASE let me know.
5) Follow Your Hosts. No need to follow everyone on everything, but make sure you follow in enough places that you'll be reminded to link up.


6) Grab a button for your post or blog to help us spread the word so that other adoption bloggers can join in the fun.
No Bohns About It
And that's it! We're excited to see you next Thursday!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

2 months post activation

It's been two months since Afua's Cochlear Implant was turned on. We have progressed through many settings as programs that continue to make her world louder.

Something fun we have noticed is that each morning when I bring out her processor, she gets a smile on her face. Once it's on, she immediately giggles and babbles. That's huge!!!! 

At this stage, we should only expect an awareness of sound and that is what we are getting. She knows that there is now sound in the world and she has preferences too. 

We go to speech therapy, to listening therapy and will start music therapy soon. Life after cochlear implant is busy, but as long a Afua enjoys it, I'm game! 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What Common Core Got Right


My kindergartner brought home her usual homework packet. I was beyond pleased to see this picture on the front cover. The one thing common core materials get consistently right is how children of all ethnicities and children of different abilities are featured. As someone working with students who use crutches and braces and wheelchairs and canes, this made my day. Many students with mobility challenges are academically gifted or right on target with their peers. And why shouldn't they be featured just like all children? Kudos, whoever publishes my daughter's homework packets!!!


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Monday, January 12, 2015

Orphanage

Oh, how I hate the word orphanage.  I hate what they do to children. I often say "children belong in families, not orphanages" and it's more than just a cliche to me.

Raising a child who lived in an institution, an orphanage, lets you in on the devastating truth about what that life does to a child. The effects are long lasting and they are heart breaking. That is why I advocate for children and want orphanages emptied out.

When Afua first joined our family, I could place her in the middle of a large room and she would only move the area equivalent to her crib. She didn't know a world larger  than that existed. She didn't know about toys, music, about tickles or a brother's love. After a short amount of time, she was tired and wanted to be alone.

discovering toys

She wouldn't cry, because in an institution crying does not amount to positive attention, only punishment. Institutionalized children feel little pain, they can shut off their world to block out feelings and they stop experiencing reality. Some rock, some bang their heads, some cause harm to their bodies. That is familiar and that brings comfort. Mother's arms feel scary and unknown. 


It's hard to describe the orphanage experience without exposing what my children went through. And it's just as hard to think other children are living that reality every day.  My children are brave, resilient survivors of a life that no child should endure.

This is why I advocate. Because I went, I saw and I experienced the after effects with my children. I know more children need families. The ones who are hidden in cribs, need voices to share that they exist.Because a picture of a child that is malnourished, neglected, disabled is hard to see. And it's sometimes scary to say "yes" to the unknowns that it brings. But on the other side, a family can be a game changer.


And this can be the result:
experiencing childhood joys