Sunday, November 18, 2012

Anything Goes!

This fall Leta participated in the fall musical at the high school.  She was part of the chorus that sang and danced during the play.  Here are a few pictures.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The After Plan

I have started a different blog related to post adoption specific issues.

The After plan will have anecdotal information regarding things that have worked or not worked for our family or others that I know.

Visit there today for information about supplements we found beneficial. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

An Ethipian Reunion

On the way back from Menominee, we were able to stop in Waterloo, Iowa, to visit a family who adopted a boy from Ethiopia at the same time we adopted Levi and Isaac.  It was a great visit and and opportunity to share stores of our complicated children!

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Visit to Kevin and Julie's House

We spent some time at Scott's brothers are a few pictures.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Empowered to Connect update - 5 months

In February Scott and I went to Dallas for a conference called Empowered to Connect. It was amazingly informative and inspiring. We came back with a handful of new techniques to raise our special kids. We saw positive results after only a day or two.
  I can joyfully report that Isaac is on his way to being bonded solidly with us now. His past will always be part of his future however it no longer controls it. He is learning to trust us and become trustworthy. It is a work in progress, as are all children but especially ones with traumatic pasts.
  Examples of the changes
1) He used to give away gifts or toys that we would give him. An Easter or Christmas gift was easily given to a brother when he was upset as it was a sutle way of showing us that he had no attachment to the things we gave him therefore to us.
   No I am happy to report that he is hording all his toys like a normal boy in a large family!!!
2) He wouldn't be still long enough for us to read a book to him or he would intentionally disrupt us when reading to a sibling.  Now it is not uncommon for him to ask for a snuggle or want to start out in mom's bed at night. He rarely ever denies a snuggle request.
3) He doesn't feel the need to sleep in the same room as Levi now. He actually shares a room with with Ethan and feels safe enough to not feel scared without Levi.

 Isaac is still hyper and goofy, immature for his age. He jumps over the back of the couch instead of walking around. He squats on the chairs instead of sitting. He runs through the house squealing like a two year old. He is so much easier to live with now though. We no longer think about a professional respite provider for him. Or plan a babysitter on the days that I work so Scott can manage all 4 boys and the 2 girls at home alone.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I haven't posted an update about the progress in our Neuro program. We became diverted with Ethan's pain and doctors appointments.
 So we went to Dallas and met with the practitioner who evaluated Zach. He is missing a good deal of his prenatal and 1st year "reflexes" that develop in normal growing children. This is not as we assume he was prenatally exposed and it was a stressful pregnancy. Then he spent the first 18months in a Russian hospital and two different orphanages. Yuck.
  The practitioner, Emily, gave a list of several exercises to do twice a day along with several sensory related tasks. These tasks are things like brushing the skin, spinning around or log rolling, bear hugs and firm pressure, use of a vibrator on the spine. Then there is the crawling and creeping.
  Want to see something a child with neuro issues crawl. Tell them that the only rule is that they keep their belly button to the ground. They can use any part of their body that they want but the belly button has to stay on the ground. I thought no big deal, anyone can do that. Uh Hum ....I was so wrong.
        For the first 10 days or so times Zach tried to crawl he looked as though his legs were paralyzed. It was totally bizarre. He was dragging himself forward with both arms at the same time with his legs stiff as a board. Then the legs went up in a bent position. Now after about 30 days he still hasn't figured out how to move his body to go forward like an infant would. It is much more of an army crawl using only the left arm and right leg. This is apparently "normal" for the abnormal child. Say that three times over. ha ha ha
   The theory is that he missed the "crawling" due to confinement and neglect therefore could not develop the brain pathways that a crawling child would make. In turn he missed learning everything one learns from propelling ones body forward, looking side to side, moving in sync. We are hoping that by recreating these movements he can recreate the neuropathways.
  The other sensory things and "patterns" also recreate what the body missed by being neglected. Being held, sound and vibration from being rocked or spoken to while feeding was taking place.

Is it working??? If I had to say yes or now I would say no not yet. Although it is odd in that we can see he is less able to control his temper on days he doesn't do his program. He is sleeping better. He is able to coordinate left to right better too. It has not touched his impulse control at all. So sad. Well maybe by this time next year we can see growth in that area.

Somethings working with arthritis medication

April showers bring May flowers. Well we hope so. 
We did start Ethan on all the new medications. His eyes have not been affected by the arthritis. He will have a check every 6 months for life apparently. His pain did finally start to decrease and he is only using the stroller on longer trips now. His energy level is increasing but still not ready for full days at school yet. 
We went back to the Rheumatologist in mid April and he is seeing the medication taking hold now. His joints are no longer warm but are cooler to touch and have less swelling. He did however increase the methotrexate in hopes that we can stop the inflammation all together. If the pain is pretty much gone on the next visit in 6 weeks he can start physical therapy and occupational therapy then. Although it saddens me to see some of his joints, although not very painful, limited in full range of motion. The doctor thinks that he will not be disabled but always have some limits in range. So he won't be a baseball star but we never thought that was his lot in life anyway. 

The Kansas City Zoo
                                                         Ride home from Kansas City Zoo!!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What a month...Arthritis

I had not posted it but Ethan, over the past year has become progressively stiffer, had a hand surgery and has become more painful in his joints. After a series of doctor hopping he saw a Pediatric Rheumatologist who within a really shot visit told me Ethan has Polyarticular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis.
       We had seen Ethans Pediatrician, Hand Surgeon, Endocrinologist and was referred to Orthopedics inititally. Ortho declined to see us and referred to Rheumatology. Through the series of visits to the other doctors he has had multiple x rays, a lot of blood work and a bone scan. So by the time we got to the Rheumy other things were ruled out. Dr. H. looked at the way Ethan moved and looked at his joints. Then in no uncertain terms told us what it was. I had a feeling that this was the problem but was hoping I might be an over anxious mom.
      Unfortunately though by the time it was diagnosed Ethan's joints have multiple contractures and limited mobility. This is also the reason he has progressively become less active and fatigued the last 6 months or so.  Apparently it is very common for children not to be diagnosed with JIA for a very long time as Pediatricians are not really trained to pick up on it easily. That reason and there are only about 300 pediatric Rheumatologist in the US. No I am not kidding. 300 of them for 300,000 kids with arthritis.
    So Ethan was started on Naprosin which was not effective at all yet. The pain and fatigue became so bad that he was unable to walk much in the mornings. On rainy days he has a really hard time with all tasks. After the pain and immobility got a little intense Dr. H put him on Prednisone and a chemo drug called Methotrexate. Well Kaboom. The Prednisone worked almost immediately. He feels a bunch better although still in pain it is manageable. He even went to school yesterday afternoon. Which he hadn't done in three weeks. Today he is home with pain but he was super happy to get back to school yesterday. The Methotrexate will kick in about 4 - 6 weeks from starting it. Then we will wean off the Prednisone.
   After the pain and swelling get under control then he can start on physical and occupational therapy.


Monday, February 20, 2012

24 hour miracle

  OK well not that great but since starting to apply certain methods we learned the two boys who always woke at 5am everyday slept until 8am the first day home, 7am today.

   Today when one of the boys became obviously threatened by a misunderstanding of words I was able to resolve it with him. He came back to "the scene of the crime" willingly and redid the offence in a respectful way.  You see he is still learning English after 2 years in America and has not moved out of the easy fight or flight response. He only hears about half of what we say and feels so threatened and unsafe by anyone who cares for him . He takes many things, on a daily basis out of context and then stomps off angry at the world. He is rarely ever able to rejoin the group for a long time as he holds on to the anger and can't let go of the fear.He is the one who is snarky, snotty and disrespectful on a daily basis. I can not remember one day, no exageration, in the past two years in which he hasn't been disrespectful.
Today he was crabby and disrespectful but went back and made it right. This is absolutely amazing. Ok ok I know that we haven't slain the fear demon yet but it felt wonderful to lead him from anger to safety today.

The adoption journey starts when the child comes home.

  I spent half of last night thinking about that statement. Instead of sleeping that is.  I heard it at the ETC conference this past weekend and it was one of the many phrases that made a lot of sense to me.

  The waiting, paperwork, looking at photos and even the travel to meet your child is just a memory when you get your child home. That is where the real journey begins.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Empowered to Connect

First day of a conference in Dallas that we are at. Its called Empowered to Connect.

Wow, wow, wow

The good news is that we are on the right track with our parenting style. We are learning how to tweek and make specific type behavioral changes. Really cool to learn practical tools to use in our everyday life.

I love that I am hearing people in person who have children who "know" what it's like to walk in our shoes. They are walking the same path. To see others using our "voodoo" methods and they are working with deeply hurt kids. I call it voodoo because from the outside, the family with only bio kids and no personal experience of traumatized kids, think our methods are off the wall. I have seen the stares from our fellow church members and our neighbors. Even our family we can see bite their tongues as they want to say, " those kids need some ole school discipline." We have heard from family, " he just needs a good **&^*)) whooping"

 So it felt validating to see professionals and successful adoptive parents telling a huge group of people that the methods we have been using are ones that seem to heal our trauma kids. OK so we are not perfect and have already gained some insights into how to work with our two most challenging children. What we can do differently and how we are making their behavior worse with the current parenting plan.

  I am super excited to share what we have learned. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Neuro options

Our EMDR and Neuro work at home has made some interesting changes Zach. I will write later tonight or tomorrow about the progress.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Isn't this fun!

One boy curls up in a ball in the middle of the trampoline. Then the other three bounce as hard as they can to lift up the ball. I think they call it "dead man". Pretty funny huh


neurological reorganization    Kids, like ours, come from hard places.

 The other day when I was given an article by Zach's therapist. It was called "When Baby Comes Down." It was a scientific article about what we have believed all along. That Zachary's emotional and learning difficulties likely started in the womb and he was "born this way." Growing up in the orphanage for a year and a half only solidified his distrust and anxiety of the world. 
  Great, we have an agreement with a professional, a doctor of psyhology,  that our sweet son is dysregulated and dysfunctional on a neurological and biological level. Ugh, we forgot to talk about a treatment plan besides EMDR. Which is what is used for PTSD. How do we resolve PTSD from the womb or infant stages I ask? 
  So after reading, what seems like hundreds of pages of documents, about how kids get ADHD, attachment disorders, Asbergers I found very little about treatment methods. It was like saying, " my car is broken." Then not finding a way to fix the car. 
  Well on the billionth page of research I found of a treatment called Neuro Reorganization. It goes on the theory that the kids, like Zach, who have these problems are thinking in the most primitive level. A survival mode that causes us to have the flight or fight response. With kids like Zach the response is never ever shut off. Therefore his normal state of mind is what we feel like when we are in a severe state of stress. 
  Think about a time when you were driving down the road and a deer jumped out, or a car pulled out and you came a second from hitting it. What happens chemically is that our bodies go into a flight/fight response with adrenaline, epinepherine, cortisol and a few other crazy sounding chemicals. Our heart beats faster, breathing becomes shallow and rapid. We are unable to think clearly and completely. Study after study shows that orphanage kids, or early kids with early trama, have super high levels of these chemicals ALL the time. They were never able to shut the flight response off. This leads to learning issues, adhd, aggression and violence to name a few. 
  What the therapy does is allows the child's brain to relearn these "normal" responses. The damaged pathways will never heal in Zach's brain but hopefully with this movement therapy it will help Zach's brain find different pathways. It will help his brain work together, left and right, front and back. Right now he only thinks with the midbrain, the part that is needed for survival. 
   We have our first evaluation at the end of Feb. in Tulsa. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sometimes life throws a curve ball

Ok, so Scott and I have had our share of curve balls. We throw some of them ourselves from time to time, just to keep our life interesting.
 Miss Lydia, the one with kidney failure, has continued to seperate from our family. We love her, she loves us but there are some inner issues that she just can't shake. RAD, trama history, drugs, learning disability who knows what the cause to be.
  Most teens seperate a bit when they are in late teens. They grow and want more independence and less parental intervention. Rarely does an 18 year old have the true weight of their life placed upon them making good choices. She was to be a normal teen I suppose. Normal in respect to the life she grew up in. Unfortunatly we, as a family, came to a point where she could no longer live within our boundries and values. So she made the decision to move back to MN where her birth family is from. The place in which she grew up in.
   We miss her laughter and pray that she heals and will welcome her back when the time comes. 

New Year

Gosh, I felt like I needed to write something. It is toward the end of January and we totally missed posting about our Christmas adventures. Actually it was quiet and normal. This has not been the case for the last year or so. This was a nice treat. We woke in the morning, to early as one would expect with younger children. We opened gifts and every child who was sitting by the tree adored their gifts. It wasn't even that they got completely what they asked for but they appreciated the gift that was given.

                                                               This is what Santa left.

                                                        Always happy faces

                                                        Showing off new soft bathrobes