Monday, April 26, 2010

3 Weeks Left!

There are only 3 weeks of school left. Then I will have completed my first year of grad school. It has been a long year. I haven't had time to spend with my children like I would like. I only saw them about 2 days a month when we didn't have school or work. Yet, we made it. I have decided that I will attend school part-time for the next 2 years for many reasons. Number one is to give me a chance to spend more time with the kids.

I have been asked many times how I have managed to get everything done this year. The truth is I haven't. I made time with my kids my priority and let everything else slide. Unless it had to be done, it waited until my kids were either asleep or not with me. I hired someone to clean my house every week so I didn't have to do it. We ate more fast food than was probably healthy but I tried not to worry about it. I did cook on evenings when we were home but didn't let myself worry about other nights. I called on my family and friends whenever I needed help. Sometimes it was just to let my dogs in or out of the house or to buy something we needed and leave it at my house. Other times it was to watch the kids when the babysitter was busy or when I needed to get an assignment done.

The kids have been great too. There were a few mornings that I laid in bed working on small assignments while they played quietly in the other room. They sacrificed time with me but hopefully learned that school is important. Jacob would complain that he wanted to stay with me but he also pretended to do his own homework. He realized early on that I really liked my internship and would often ask me if I was going to the job I liked. He still likes telling people that his mom is a police officer but he also knows that I really like my "other job."

This year has had it's sacrifices. It also is a year that my children and I will remember for the positive things. I proved to myself and everyone else that I can be a mom, work full-time and attend graduate school. I hope my children learned that the way to accomplish your goals is to work hard and that everything I do is for them. Graduate school and my career change is to make things better for us. No, I won't make more money. But I will have a career I enjoy and a schedule that matches our family's needs better.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

First Brewers/Cubs Game

Jacob and I went to a Brewers/Cubs baseball game. If you have never been to these games before, they are fun. The park was about half Brewer fans and half Cubs fans. In our house, we cheer for the Brewers and the Cubs. It is always difficult to choose one over the other but I usually cheer for the Cubs if they play each other. The rest of our family are Brewers fans all the time.

Jacob couldn't decide who to cheer for. He wore a Cubs jersey and asked me to buy him a Brewers flag at the game. We sat in the family section so the crowd was fun and sober near us. People had a great time cheering with him no matter who they wanted to win. The lady sitting next to us told Jacob to ignore the people telling him both teams couldn't win and to just cheer for both. He did.

At one point during the game, a lady asked Jacob if he played baseball. He proudly told her he was 4 years old so he can play t-ball. She asked him if he was good. He replied, "I'm VERY good." Now that's confidence.

The game was pretty lopsided and the fans were not as enthusiastic as they are at some games. The Cubs won 12-2 so Jacob and I were both happy. The Cub fans continued to cheer although maybe not quite as loudly as if the game was close. The Brewer fans left early (well many of them). I ate way too much junk food and Jacob drank Gatorade. He introduced himself to a police sergeant who remembered his name a few innings later and waved to him while we were leaving the stadium.

I am pretty sure Jacob and I will both have many memories from today. All of them good. Jacob also taught the adults around us and me that you can cheer for both teams and have fun no matter who wins the game. It's more important to enjoy the people around you and the game itself than worry about the score.


I met a woman this year who has to be the strongest woman I have ever met. Her story will be airing on the Discovery Channel on May 3 at 8 PM. She suffered extreme abuse as a child and developed Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly Multi-personality disorder) as a result. I am not an expert in this disorder but do understand that it is a survival mechanism for young children who experience severe physical, sexual and emotional abuse. The children cannot escape the abuse physically so they escape emotionally by becoming someone else or leaving mentally. The disorder can continue to effect them as throughout life but they can recover with help from professionals.

Just the thought of children surviving such horrific situations that these people go through is amazing. I listened to her talk yesterday and thought about other children I know. There strength and resilience is amazing and something I only wish I had. The next time you meet a child who as foster or former foster labels attached to them, remember how much these children have come through. Some of them have more behavioral or mental health effects than others but they are all extremely brave and strong to just survive what they have experienced. My prayers go out to all of them and the caring adults trying to love and help these children heal.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Almost Done

All of the activities and events that have kept my family so busy the past nine months are almost done. Jacob and M are both doing great at their new school. M got in a little trouble last month but has been doing much better. I think he was testing the teachers and administrators to see how far he could go. He found out they weren't as tolerant as he hoped and has been doing much better since then.

Jacob absolutely loves his teachers and friends. He is going through a stage where he thinks that if a kid doesn't play with him only they aren't his friend. I watch the other kids flock to him in the classroom and on the playground. I almost always hear "Jacob!" when we get to school and other kids are there already. His teachers post pictures of various activities during the day and Jacob is almost always shown interacting with other kids. He was even reading letters to the class and pointing to them on a board the other day!

I have three weeks and only two major assignments left this school year. It will be so nice to be able to relax and have more time with the boys. That is after I get caught up on laundry and cleaning, get the garden planted, lawn cleaned up and all the other things that I have been neglecting since school started.

The next few months are looking exciting. I have high expectations and hopes for them. My latest home study will be done and I will just need to wait for the court process. Then M will no longer be a foster kid and we will only be doing respites. I plan to continue to hold off on any new placements until the boys are older and I see where I get a child welfare job. If I get a job in the county I live in, I won't be able to be a foster parent. Eventually we will either move or I will do straight adoption off the state list or international adoption. That won't happen for a couple more years at least though.

Jacob is enjoying t-ball and has practice again this weekend. I saw a picture of him at his school leading his class around the base path at the park. He had a huge smile on his face. He is also attending his first major league baseball game this weekend. I need to find a Cubs hat in his size before Sunday. He seems to really be enjoying baseball so far and thinks it's not fair the big kids get to start their games before him.

The other day we were at the park and saw a little boy, N, from M's daycare class. The little boy is not quite 3 years old. N was playing with Jacob and I heard the following conversation.

N: Is M your brother?
Jacob: Yes.
N: Why?
Jacob: Because my mom adopted us so that's why we are brothers.

I don't think I could have thought of a better answer. Kids have such a great way of saying things simply and straight to the point. Adults just boggle up the answer with extra details and explanations. Jacob is right. It doesn't matter where in the adoption process we are or what anyone's legal status is. In our hearts, Jacob and M are both adopted and are brothers. I just hope the courts and legal system recognize it soon.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Baseball Review and Team Uniforms

So I actually spoke to Jacob last night about baseball. He was very excited to tell me all about it. I think he's still a little nervous and seems to think that telling me he is scared (of just about anything) is a good way to get attention. The truth is he had fun and kept telling me about his three coaches (2 are actually parent helpers) and hitting the ball off the tee. He said his coaches taught him how to run the bases but now he wants to practice throwing the baseball and playing catch with me. We will probably work on that his afternoon.

I am still searching for the lost backpack. I emailed his coach and am hoping someone on the team picked it up. I haven't heard back from the coach yet. Jacob has another practice coming up soon so I am hoping someone will have it there for us.

Jacob got his uniform. He is excited but I am a little upset about it. The team is comprised of four and five year olds. The coach stated he didn't really look at the shirts when they gave them to him. The shirts were all adult larges. They fit me. It goes down to just a few inches above Jacob's ankles and the neckline goes halfway down his chest. I'm not sure how he is going to be able to play in it. The coach suggested drying it on high but that didn't work. Even if it did, I don't see how you get an adult large to shrink enough to fit preschoolers. We paid a lot of money for this team and it is disturbing that they can't get us a uniform t-shirt in the right size.

I am hoping some parents complain and they decide to get us different shirts. I have chosen not to say anything because I don't want to be "one of those parents." Jacob loves his shirt and that is what is really important. He was a little bothered by how much the adults were laughing at him last night but I am sure he will get over it soon.

The season starts in three weeks. I hope he has fun.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Baseball Season Begins

Baseball season has begun. Jacob had his first practice today. He has been very excited but the nerves set in last night. Jacob does not always do well when he gets scared or overwhelmed so I was really worried about it. I had to work this morning so my dad agreed to take Jacob to practice. The following summary is what I heard from Dad.

Today is cooler and very windy. Not a great day to be outside. I sent Jacob to the babysitter's house with a backpack and ball glove. The backpack was for him to put his schedule and uniform shirt in so that it wouldn't get lost. Jacob was nervous when he got there and didn't want to participate. The coach did a good job of encouraging him and by the end of practice he was having fun. They got to practice batting and running the bases. Jacob did well and was rewarded with a trip to the playground afterwards.

I got a message that the backpack is gone. Somehow my plan of having Jacob take a backpack so his schedule, uniform and glove wouldn't get lost didn't work. He still has the glove, uniform and schedule but the backpack is gone. I will admit I can see the humor in it. We have other backpacks so I'm not concerned. I'm just a little in awe that we have everything that was suppose to be inside the bag but not the bag itself.

Next week is another practice and I hope the weather cooperates. I really want Jacob to enjoy baseball. I think he will once he learns the game and gets over his nerves. I have fond memories of playing and watching games growing up. I want Jacob to have the same types of memories. I also realize I can't force him to enjoy something and trying to force him to have fun will only backfire. Maybe juice and a treat after practices and games will help him enjoy it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

We Are The Truth

It just over three years ago, March 10, 2007, that I met my son for the first time. I had dreamed of becoming a mother since I was a very young child and the day had finally arrived. My son was being held in his nanny's arms in an orphanage in Ethiopia. He was quiet and calm watching as the nanny told him that I was his mommy. I remember being concerned that he may have anxiety being picked up by a stranger but he showed very little. I took him to a quiet place where we could sit and watch the other children. It took over an hour before he was willing to leave my lap and even longer before he would take his hand off my leg. When a nanny came over to pick him up, he kept looking at me to make sure I wouldn't disappear.

I didn't take physical custody of Jacob for 3 more days. During our visits together he was getting increasingly attached and would have more difficulty separating from me at the end of the day. It was heart wrenching to hear his cries as I would leave him with his wonderful and loving nannies. He was ready to have a family and didn't want to leave my side.

I will never forget the first night Jacob and I spent together. He was tired after a very full day and easily went to sleep. He slept peacefully throughout the night barely stirring when I changed his diaper. He woke up bright and early the next morning and slowly lifted his head up. He looked at my parents (his grandparents) and then over at me. We locked eyes and he smiled a grin that went from ear to ear. Three years later he still remembers that moment also. He tells me he was smiling because he was happy that I was still there.

A lot of things have changed in the past three years. Jacob continues to deal with the effects of being an orphan for almost a year. He occassionaly becomes angry that I did not come to get him sooner. He isn't old enough to understand that I came as soon as the government and courts would allow me to. He still has fears that something will happen to me and he will be an orphan. We talk about where he will live if I were to die and I promise I will be careful to live until he and I are both old. Those fears are still there but Jacob has learned that they are just fears. He has nothing to worry about and most of the time doesn't.

Today Jacob's days are filled with normal four year old fun. He attends preschool where he is learning to recognize letters and write. He has many friends that he adores including three "best friends" who are all girls. He is a great big brother to my foster son and proudly tells everyone about M's upcoming adoption. He has become a good swimmer and is excited to start playing baseball.

Jacob is well-adjusted and a happy child. He is very securely attached to me as well as to his grandparents, brother and uncle. He is proud to tell people he was born in Ethiopia and adopted by me. He wants to return to Ethiopia to visit but only for a visit. Someday we will do that.

For now, Jacob, M and I are a family. My children came to me through adoption. Adoption works. It is a miracle. God gave me children who needed families and my dreams of motherhood came true. If you don't believe me, look at the pictures. The following link will allow you to see photo montages completed during the past three years. Adoption works. We are living proof.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Please Join Us Tomorrow

Tomorrow is the day designated to send a message to Russia to keep adoptions open. The world needs to hear positive adoption stories. The media is quick to cover all of the horrifying stories and last week's story of the seven year old boy was no different. What the media doesn't cover is the hundereds of thousands of positive adoption stories. The ones we all know and many of us live. Tommorrow is the day to make the world see those stories. I will be posing mine and I hope you will post yours. Post on your blogs, twitter accounts and facebook. Let the world see that adoption is a miracle that brings families together. I have exprienced adoption first hand. It has been a miracle. I love my son and look forward to adopting my foster son soon. Nothing could change the way I feel about them. It would not be possible to love them more if I had given birth. They are my sons and my life.

Monday, April 12, 2010


I knew being a single parent would be difficult some days. Just being a parent can be difficult. I just didn't realize how frustrating trying to juggle work and my kids could be.

I have a job that requires me to work three weekends a month. When Jacob was younger, it didn't really matter. Weekend childcare is more expensive and not included in our normal full-time rate but it is a small price to pay to put food on our table and have enough money to pay the bills. The problems is that as the boys get older it gets to be more difficult to be away from them on weekends. I can still find childcare but now Jacob is being forced to sacrifice his activities for my work schedule.

It just frustrates me to see my children miss out on activities because I can't get a job without weekends or at least get my time off requests approved to take him to weekend activities. Today's frustration is with t-ball. Jacob has wanted to play baseball since he was 2 years old. We watch it together on TV and he has been patiently waiting to be old enough. He is finally old enough and I managed to find someone to take him to all of the games I am working during. I just can't seem to get him to practice. None of them. I feel horrible and he is very disappointed. Yet I still have to work.

I am really hoping that this is the last summer I am at my current job. I received my social worker training certificate last week and can start applying for jobs. I will qualify for the regular certificate after May and plan to get it as soon as I can. Working weekends is going to get tougher as Jacob gets older so I hope I can find a job with fewer weekend hours before then. I have just over a year to figure it out.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Jacob's Stressed Out

Jacob wanted to watch a movie tonight. I told him he needed to wait until my show is over. He began crying (very fake) and pouting. I told him if he couldn't be nice, he wouldn't be able to watch the movie at all tonight. He responded, "I'm angry because I'm stressed out. I'm sorry but I'm stressed out. Mom, what does stressed out mean?" Can you tell it's the middle of a very busy school semester?

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Very Good Good Friday

It is Good Friday. The day that Jesus Christ died for our sins. It is a day that I reflect on my many blessings and also on the sacrifices that God calls on all of us to make. Most of my time lately has been devoted to school and work. I haven't had the time to spend with my children or on myself that I would like. At times I am not even sure we all get the time that we need. Yet I carry on and continue to work hard.

Why am I doing this? Because I know deep down inside that God is calling me to a new career helping children and their families stop abuse and have better relationships and stronger families. I have known for a very long time that God is calling me to help others and serve. The money isn't important or the prestige (there isn't much of either in child welfare) but the knowledge that I am able to help children and do God's work is.

The kids school was closed today and I was off work. It was a rare day where I don't have to be at school, work or my internship. I asked Jacob about a week ago what he would like to do today. He stated he wanted to go to a water park. I remembered that I had won passes to Great Wolf Lodge in Wisconsin Dells last fall so I agreed we could go there. Great Wolf Lodge often donates free passes to Big Brothers/ Big Sisters, foster families and other charities so I was delighted to use some of those passes and also support them.

I took Jacob, M and our teenage friends, Brooke and Jasmine, to the park for the day. It was wonderful. It was a much needed opportunity to spend time together as a family just having fun and relaxing. The boys had a great time and really loved the water slides and swimming. I enjoyed watching them have so much fun and just being away from all of the stresses of our normal life.

While I missed yet another Good Friday ceremony at church, I took time to remember what it is God wants of all of his children. For us to spend time together helping each other and strengthening our relationships among ourselves and with him.