January 20, 2014

Moving.

 

So, as is typical, we have to keep things interesting around here.  We wouldn’t want to go more than six months or so without a major life change – that would be so, you know, normal.

We are moving.  This Saturday.  To be clear: all seven of us are going.

We’ve known for a long time that long term we wanted to be closer to family.  Currently we travel about two weekends out of every six so that our kids get to see all of their grandparents frequently.  We want our kids growing up really knowing their grandparents, so we made it a priority.  Well, Brian finally got a job offer near my hometown, and so we’re going.  We’ll live very near my parents, and it will make traveling to see Brian’s parents much easier and more frequent!”"
We’ve planned this for so long – it was always a future thing – always something we planned for, never something we did.  Well, now we’re doing it.  And it’s so much harder than we anticipated.

God placed us here seven years ago – newlyweds with no kids.  (Yes. Seven short years ago we had no children.  Now we have five.)

In those seven years he has worked in our lives in ways we couldn’t have imagined.  Not only has he blessed us with our children, but he has shown us more grace than we could have asked for.  And as the conductor for the grace he has shown us, he has used the people he has surrounded us with.

Truly we have developed a community here such that it feels like a family.  Through everything we have been through, both good and bad (and there has been a lot…of both) he has brought up around us a chorus of grace as we have watched him intertwine our lives and the lives of others.  We have, quite literally, seen an Acts church lift us, carry us, and sharpen us as iron sharpens iron through valleys and celebrations.

I could not be more grateful for the time he has given us here, and for the people he has given us to love and be loved by.

 

All that to say, it is difficult going.

 

However, God’s grace and his faithfulness is not dependent on our location, and we are also looking forward to seeing how he will choose to use us somewhere else.  We are looking forward to living near family, we are looking forward to where he takes us from here, we are looking forward to visits from our dear friends from here (ahem.). 

 

More on the logistics…

Brian interviewed (for three months) and was (finally) offered a job at the Build a Bear Workshop Corporate Headquarters!  I know, right?  How could there be a more fitting job for a guy with five little girls, eh?  And his offer letter?  ….it came like this:

 

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Yes.  Really.

 

On the adoption – no, it’s not been finalized.  We pursued this job opportunity because as recently as September they told us it would be finalized in December.  But, clearly that didn’t happen.  Actually, as of the new year they hadn’t even sent someone to our house to do our homestudy.  So.
We are moving with the girls as a pre-adoptive placement, and they will complete the adoption via ICPC.  It might take a little longer that way – but then again, at the pace they were moving anyway, maybe not.

 

SO.  Lots of change here.  I need to go so that I can pack.  Here’s to moving and trying to sell a house with five children ages six and under.  Prayers appreciated.

January 3, 2014

The miracle of nurture.

 

In his book “Parenting From The Inside Out”  Dr. Daniel Siegel discusses how, in some ways, adoptive parents become their children’s biological parents by way of nurture.  Our experiences form our perceptions, our perceptions form our experiences – all changing the mapping of our brain. 

Nurture changes the very shape, the very inner workings, of our brain.

The question is not nurture vs. nature.  Because the answer is both – they cannot be separated – they are all one in the same.  A beautiful fingerprint in our creation – we are created for relationship.

 

family

 

Last May we had Tootaw assessed by the school district because we, her therapist, and the doctor had serious concerns regarding her development and cognitive abilities.  We know that both FAS and sensory processing disorder play a role in what we have seen – and we were really concerned. 

The assessment returned with global concerns.  She was given a formal testing to assess where she was and what services to put into place.  At that time she scored a 33% on the cognitive exam, 35% on social, and 40% on adaptive.  So, services started.

 

The services that the school district provided were nothing spectacular.  We’ve seen the occupational therapist a whopping two times since we started, and the teachers didn’t do anything we weren’t already doing at home.  But, I stepped it up at home and got a lot more intentional with our time.  We ramped up the nurture.  I started making sure that we had significantly more sensory activities daily.  And, most significantly, I started a homeschool preschool program with the girls starting in August.

Sometime in September, the teachers that we were seeing began talking about what a difference they were seeing in her – and we were seeing it too!

Recalling information she had learned – even letters and letter sounds!

Being able to follow three step requests.

Understanding cause and effect.

Things that did. not. happen. before.

So in November we decided to re-evaluate her to see where she was.

 

It was amazing.

77% cognitive.

75% social.

90% adaptive.

Incredible.  So much healing.

Healing that came from felt safety and nurture.  Changing the mapping of the brain.

 

Are there still issues?  Yes.  We deal with sensory processing issues every day.  But we are learning to work with them.  Are there still things that will be difficult?  Yes. 

But what amazing provision God gives in the miracle of nurture.

And only more evidence that we are created to need each other.  To love each other and sharpen each other to our full potential for his glory.

December 8, 2013

Popps….postponed.

 

Well, last week, on Thursday to be exact, Bella and Tootaw were supposed to become Popps.  Way back in May at the TPR trial, the judge set a hearing for December 5th stating that should give the agency plenty of time to complete the adoption.  (Especially since TPR had already been handled and they didn’t have to do a best interest staffing.)

But, here we are.

Not only did we not get to finalize the adoption last week, but the agency has not even started our homestudy.  We’re on our third set of caseworkers since July.  In July, the state switched the agency that is carrying the girls case and we’ve been less than impressed and frankly pretty underwhelmed at their competency.

Needless to say, I’m frustrated.  Annoyed.  If I knew who I could be calling (who seemed to care or have any control over the situation), I’d be on the phone.

 

…This is nothing that any of you who have fostered or fostered to adopt don’t understand.  The reality of working as part of a system that is utterly broken.

 

 

BUT…

Someday soon it will be official.

Someday soon we will walk out of a court building holding hands and imagining our forever future together.

Someday soon.  Just postponed.

 

As Bella said to me the other night,

“Mommy, I wonder what it will feel like when we really are here forever?”

I don’t have to wonder long sweet girl.  It will be one of the very best days of my life.

December 2, 2013

‘Tis the Season.

 

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  It happens every year, so I’m not sure why I let it surprise me.

The stores start playing Christmas music.

We put up our Christmas tree.

Lights are on the houses all around us (but not ours, because seriously, where do people find the time!?!).

And it’s like a cue is given, it’s like a switch is flipped, and our sweet girls and their broken hearts start to bleed again.  With the music, with the lights, with the tree, and with the traditions, it’s like their scabs are peeled back, exposing the hurt again.

So every year, as we usher in the holidays, we also usher in dis-regulation and regression.

 

Every Christmas is hard for our girls.  They are clearly confused by their feelings and revert back to an instant fear response.

BUT, I can also see growth each year.  As they look to us with increasing confidence for their comfort, and as our trust and love grows stronger – their hurt does not diminish, but now we can be their safe place.  We are praising God for growth.

This year we see the regression.

But this year we also see trust.  We see the girls looking forward with excitement to our family Christmas.  Their family Christmas.

It will always be hard. We are not their first family, we are not their only family, but it is clear in the joy in their eyes, that we are their family.

With that in mind, I am looking forward to this Christmas season.  Dis-regulation and all.

November 22, 2013

always there.

 

My kids love listening to Adele.  That’s normal for four year olds, right?

The other day, Bella asked me to put on Adele 21.

“Mommy, can you play that song, the remembering song?  The first one?”

Not at all sure what she was talking about, I put the cd in.  I put the cd in and started playing the first track.

“Mommy, this song is like adoption, isn’t it.  I think this song is about adoption.”

The song started, and I was caught off guard.  Immediately tears welled in my eyes.  The kind of hurt sprung in my heart that is so strong your not sure how to hold it in.  The kind of hurt that feels like your heart is about to explode with the rising of confusing pain.  How do I process this feeling in time to turn it around and help my daughter process what must feel even worse – her every day grief.

 

When will I see you again?
You left with no goodbye,
Not a single word was said,
No final kiss to seal any sins,
I had no idea of the state we were in,
I know I have a fickle heart and a bitterness,
And a wandering eye, and heaviness in my head,
But don't you remember?
Don't you remember?
The reason you loved me before,
Please remember me once more,
When was the last time you thought of me?
Or have you completely erased me from your memory?
I often think about where I went wrong,
The more I do, the less I know,
But I know I have a fickle heart and a bitterness,
And a wandering eye, and a heaviness in my head,
But don't you remember?
Don't you remember?
The reason you loved me before,
Baby, please remember me once more,
Gave you the space so you could breathe,
I kept my distance so you would be free,
And hoped that you'd find the missing piece,
To bring you back to me,
Why don't you remember?
Don't you remember?
The reason you loved me before,
Baby, please remember me once more,

When will I see you again?

 

Adoption is beautiful, and Jesus orchestrates families through it.  But let’s not forget that every adoption begins with loss.  That our children have a grief so deep that as an adult it feels impossible even for me to carry.  There is no adoption without loss.  Let’s meet our children where they are, where they are coming from.  Let’s meet them in their loss, and if we need to, lets dwell there for a bit.

November 21, 2013

Around.

 

 

It’s been a while since I’ve been around here.

I think I just needed a break.  Mostly, I think I just needed to step away long enough as to give myself permission for this not to be a priority.  I was letting it stress me out when I couldn’t stay updated on everything, or when I couldn’t answer every e-mail that came in – so, I’m back-ish, but maybe not as consistently.

I do wholeheartedly appreciate the comments and the e-mails making sure that everything was alright and saying you were still checking just in case.  It really did bless my heart.

So, a very abbreviated update of what is going on around the Popp house:

 

adoption.

  We are working forward on the adoption.  At least that’s what they are telling us.  We had two caseworkers in a row that didn’t do a single. thing. on the adoption while they were on the case.  Essentially we are still at square one, when we were supposed to be finalizing in December.  I’m irked.  Two and a half years.  That’s how long my babies have been in the system.  Let’s get it together DCFS.  Once the adoption is completed there will be no shortage of ‘constructive criticism’ directed toward the agency in charge.  State, consider yourself warned.

 

homeschooling.

  I started homeschooling this year.  I can’t homeschool Bella yet, because in our state you cannot homeschool children that are in the state’s custody.  The plan is for her to start staying home after the adoption.  So, right now I’m doing preschool with Tootaw and Sylvia, with a very eager Naomi at their heels and a very curious Vi pulling everything out of every drawer she can find while we work.  It’s busy, but it is so fun. 

 

extra services.

  Tootaw still has the early childhood special ed teachers coming to the house twice a week – but after coming out to our house for seven months they have basically concluded that they aren’t doing anything that we aren’t already doing at home.  So, I think they’ll be ending services soon – which is actually a little bit of a relief. 
  Homeschooling seems to be the route for Tootaw for sure – we have seen SO MUCH progress just in the last three months.  SO MUCH.  She’s doing great, and as I continue to learn more and more how to cater to her sensory needs it will be even better.  Praise Jesus.  Progress we weren’t sure we’d ever see.

 

empowered to connect.

  This summer we were trained to be Empowered to Connect trainers.  We didn’t waste any time, and we’re actually already finishing up our first class.  It has been such a blessing to share this curriculum.  We can’t wait to see where God takes it, and how he is going to use us in this amazing ministry.
  Brian and I are also co-developing a foster and adoption care ministry at our church.  Still in the grass roots stages – but so excited for where it’s headed!

 

kiddos.

  They’re all getting so big.  Now I can say we have five kids ages 6 and under, which gets a lot fewer crazy faces than five ages 5 and under.  Of course, we’re always anticipating DCFS calling us with the girls’ baby sister.  I think about her all the time.

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Vi.  So big.

 

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Sylvie at her fourth birthday breakfast.

 

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Naomi, very quick to remind you that she is two and a half.

 

…I can’t wait to get to share pictures of Tootaw and Bella.  Soon.  So soon.

 

Until next time.

July 12, 2013

SPD, FAS, and more!

 

Well, I’m still working on a post from Disney.  That’s a lot of pixelating.

In the mean time, I’m not sure I ever posted an update on Tootaw’s assessment and services.

In her assessment with the school district, they essentially decided that she had global delays.  They decided to send the early childhood special education teacher out to our house twice a week.   Initially I thought, wow, they see the same things that I do and we’re actually getting services!

After two months of them coming out I’m thinking, wow, I hope I can get out of this in the fall!

Mostly they’re doing some interactive play with her – but it’s nothing that we don’t already do at home on a regular basis.  I’m not seeing the benefit.  I think that in general, they’re a little off target on what the real issues are.

After a lot more research, most of what Tootaw displays looks like sensory processing disorder.  I don’t know if it is just straight up sensory processing, if it is the fetal alcohol syndrome displaying that way, or both, but either way, we address it in the same way. 

We also have cognitive hurdles to jump and a lot of retention issues still, which I can only assume is part of the FAS.

I think we’re going to go forward with getting an assessment done by a child development team at the university hospital close by.  They have a specialized team that I think will be more helpful in possibly getting some occupational therapy that is better aimed at the issues at hand.  The only thing that makes me a little nervous about this route, is that it’s possible it will require a diagnosis for services. 

There is not a question in my mind that she has sensory processing disorder.  We’ve been told as much by three different professionals that she has FAS (without a formal diagnosis).  I’m just not sure I want a formal diagnosis.  What if we can overcome most of this and she can move forward without ever remembering?  What if we can get to a point where it doesn’t matter that she or anyone else knows about these issues?  If we can, I don’t want a diagnosis following her forever, or her feeling like a diagnosis is at all who she is.

So, we’ll see.  If I think they’re going to have to do a formal diagnosis, I may back off.  Or maybe not. 

Through a training that we’re in the middle of (more on that later), we have learned a lot about sensory processing disorder, and I actually feel pretty empowered to work with it at home.  But, I’d feel better if I had someone outside of us deciphering if she’s making progress.

Speaking of progress, though, she has made quite a bit.  We’ve seen lots of changes, even in cognition, in just the last few months.  That gives us so much hope.

I think that when it comes to schooling, we’ll have some difficulty.  I’ve actually decided to homeschool (more on that later too.), and this is one of the big reasons.  I can go at her pace, repeat things as needed, and she can be upside down while I’m teaching her if she wants to be.  I think otherwise school would just frustrate her, and I don’t want that. 

Anyway, that’s a very short and somewhat jumbled summation of what is going on in that arena.  I know that there were a few of you who were interested in the route we were taking for getting her needs addressed because you see some of the same needs in your kids, so I wanted to do an update. 

We’ll just keep at it. 

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