angie’s blog

Deflated

There are times in our lives as adoptive parents that we feel completely deflated and depleted because of our children’s extreme behaviors. In the past, we have witnessed a small issue become a large issue in our children’s minds, whereby they chose to destroy their lives and future because of it; so….. we get scared. We get scared when we see our child go downhill quickly because ultimately, it’s up to them to turn it around. Most of the time, however, no matter how bad a situation looks in the moment, we can use it as a teaching moment – an opportunity to use as a lesson.

We have raised a couple of ‘opportunists’- children who continuously look for opportunities to do wrong, illegal and/or immoral things. If we lock the medicine cabinet every day, but forget to lock it one morning until noon, the child will have already noticed as if he checks it every minute of every day. If I bring my purse everywhere I go, but choose one day to leave it hidden in my room, the child will know this even if he wasn’t home when I made the decision and money will be taken. In the same way, we can be opportunists. We can be opportunists of good; and as parents, we can be opportunists of life lessons. Our children do not always have the ability to process the world around them and it’s up to us to spell it out for them. They often lack social skills, people skills, and global skills. In short, they need to be taught everything. I remember as a kid doing and saying some dumb things, because I did not know any better. With a traumatized child from a background of abuse and/or neglect, this can be much worse.

Parents don’t always say or do the right thing when under fire. I come from a long line of people who react. I have to continuously fight that tendency, but the greatest lesson I learned from our neighbor with seven children was:

“you will make mistakes but it’s what you do with them that matters.”

Everything can be a teaching moment.

The other day my 10 year old and our foster puppy broke a large window. My son was amazed that I did not get mad. I told him that I was so happy that no one was hurt that I couldn’t get mad. It spoke volumes to him about the value of stuff compared to the value of human life.

We are a Christian family and unapologetically so. We fear our older teenage son is headed for a life behind bars because he enjoys the quick money, the fast life, gangs, and the thrill of stealing. Yesterday I was furious at him for going through my room and taking the cell phones that I did not want him to have. I felt violated and I was furious at his blatant disrespect. I did what many parents would have done, for good or for bad, and I told him that I wanted them returned to me or I would make his life miserable. The next day after school, they were sitting on the table and he told me the entire truth of when and how he stole it. I stood in amazement. He has never told me the truth before, nor did I ever expect to get them both back – and I knew I had no recourse to do so.

A few minutes later, he asked, “Did you pray?” I said, “Yes.” With wide eyes, he said that every time he went to do the wrong thing that day at school, he got a bloody nose. With wider eyes, he said, “I don’t ever get bloody noses but the first time I figured it was just allergies or something but the second time I knew something was up, so I knew I had to return them to you.” I took this opportunity to remind him that I always pray for him and that we truly care about where he is headed. I said, “You didn’t come this far in life to be mediocre, nor did you come this far in life to sit behind bars or live a life of crime – God has so much more for you.”

I thank God now for stressful situations and situations that normally would look hopeless. I plan to use these times as opportunities for a much needed breakthrough. Don’t let sad times, difficult times or crazy times get you down –

Stand up above the flames, peer through the smoke and look for the opportunities!

Trauma

My kids (all adopted) have seen and felt trauma I cannot imagine.  I grew up with two parents who never divorced.  When I was in my 40’s, my mother died; a committed wife to my father. I had a stable home life with them and they helped me transition to college and then into adulthood.

Each of my 13 children have their own traumatic experiences – beginning with their early childhood trauma.  Their sporadic memories form their perception of life and the world around them.   Some of them have seemingly forgotten past memories and some of them have active memories of the past – but most of them have stuffed their memories and aimed them toward the most unlikely.

Often their anger is aimed at us- the last men standing – the ones who made them feel safe enough to let it all hang out – their adoptive parents.

The lesson learned:  Do not take it personally.

Their verbal bullets aimed at the adoptive parents’ hearts can hurt like nothing else.  Our love begins at the knowledge and dream of adopting.  Their love often ends with a closeness that scares them.  The reason we adopt is usually laced in compassion and love but to have that ignored and attacked is more than one can stomach.

Although the anger is aimed at us, the anger they spew comes from within – deep within.  Adoptive parents make mistakes – some bigger than others – much like biological parents, but, more times than not, we aren’t the real targets.  The goal is to find the root and work with the root of that anger, rather than get bogged down by the hurtful words.  Adoptive parents need to have thick skin, refuse to live in guilt, and know who they are.  DBT therapy, Reality therapy, therapy games, adoption journey books, and loving them through the hard times with firm discipline are some of our tactics to fight their angry bullets.  (These are all mentioned in PHOENIX BOUND.)

Feel free to share what has worked for you or your children.

Sisterhood

I never dreamt I would ever write a book. Now I have written TWO! I am excited to release my second book. I am one of 18 authors who wrote about their journey in life – a particular tragedy or struggle that they have overcome and found themselves triumphant. I pray that you are blessed as you turn the pages of this inspirational multi-authored book.

www.sisterhoodextravaganza.org

Transitions

All transitions, regardless of how big or small, life-changing or minimally life-changing, scary or fun – all transitions bring back our children’s insecurities and uneasy life.  We think a Disney Land trip would be fun but to an adopted child, especially newly adopted, it might be too much for them.  Surprises are often met with fear of the unknown.  The end of a school year and the beginning of summer relaxation and freedom can throw their balance off.  They may meet their first day of summer vacation with anger and behaviors contradictory to the excitement you would expect, even if you had fun things planned.

We were excited about our two children’s first Thanksgiving after being adopted into the USA.  We talked about visiting with relatives, food and fun.  Without us realizing it, they turned our excitement into a fear they felt and hid in their hearts that grew larger and larger until their first Thanksgiving came.  Our 5 year old son was scared that we all were going to eat so much we would die and our 3 year old son was so sick that day, he slept through it all.  We had no idea, until after Thanksgiving the fears they were ‘creating’.  The same children thought that New Years Day represented the end of our lives.

When one of our children we adopted from the U.S. foster care system was finalizing their adoption the following day, we were beside ourselves with excitement.  We knew how much those legal documents meant to his security.  He could never believe we chose to adopt him and we loved him beyond his poor decisions and actions.  The night before his finalization court date, he broke down in tears.  We were confused.  Between tears, he told us he was afraid that the judge would change his mind.  We tried hard to reassure him that all of the work was done and it was merely a formality, but what does a child of 10 years old know about formalities.  He did not fully calm down until after the court date, but his insecurities remained buried deep within him.

Taking the time to explain things on a child’s level can help a great deal.  It may not prevent fears but it can alleviate.  Being aware of this can help build that trust an adoptive parent needs to build with their child.  Don’t take things for granted.  Sometimes, too, being moved from home to home in foster care or being from a third world country, our children do not know things that we assume every child knows.  For example, I asked my 11 year old to open a can of vegetables for dinner one night, and from around the corner I watched him stare at the can and stare at the can-opener in confusion.  We cannot assume.  We cannot embarrass.  We need to teach and prepare.  They need information, plenty of it, and clarity.  They need to be fully prepared.  They need to know how to do things, what is going to happen, why, how long, where they are going, when they will return, what to bring….and so on.

And again, don’t take it personally if your child acts out behaviorally, find out the root of what is bothering them.  There may be confusion and fear at the base.

Is there anything your child, biological or adopted, did not know that you assumed they did?  Feel free to share.

Attitudes and Perceptions

We’ve heard it many times in Hollywood- Celine Dion was the youngest of 14 children and had very little material wealth growing up, but had love. Shania Twain grew up hungry and impoverished.  Jim Carrey dropped out of high school to help the family pay their bills, working as a janitor and security job, only to have the family lose their home and live in a van. (Business Insider)

We have been inundated with stories like these but perhaps we don’t believe them or we do not believe it can happen to us. What’s the difference between these people and us?  Their talent? Their fortitude? Their belief in themselves?  Their faith? We’d have to dig deeper into the stories but I have seen this with my own children. My husband and I have adopted 13 children in our 22 years of marriage and have never reached perfection but we have put our heart and soul, energy and money into raising our children.  We love them for who they are, not who we wish they were- but even with the positives we tried to give our children, some of them choose to see the negative or even twist the positive into negative.  Is this the difference between someone who rises from the ashes to be successful and someone who treads water in life? Our attitude and perception? Upon hearing our story of adoption, many people try to put an easy label on our ‘success’ rate (I’m defining success here as the children who have stayed in touch, have a positive attitude about their adoption experience and have not gone to jail as young adults.) “It must be the age.” Outsiders have always assumed it was the age our children were adopted at-and that would be their potential. Not so. We adopted a 16 year old boy – everyone told us not to – solely based on his age. He has risen from the ashes. He has a stable marriage, 3 children and works for a living. He goes to church when he is not working and he stays in regular touch with us. Based on his many late night talks with us, he seemed to have a perception that his abusers were ‘jerks’ and his mother is too needy to nurture him and makes poor choices in her life. He also realized that we did not have to adopt him, but chose to adopt him and take care of him. On the flip side, two of our children, now adults, view adoption as the worst thing that ever happened to them. The part that makes me want to cry is that they were thrilled to be adopted at age 10, happy growing up, and knew they were loved by us. Somewhere along the line, they decided to label adoption as the root of their problems. Sad. As young children, they were horribly abused by their biological parents. As they grew up in foster care, they never felt the stability they needed to grow up happy and healthy. But as they reached adulthood, they find it hard to put the blame where it needs to be. Their perception, insight, faith, belief in themselves, attitude- is one of the victim role rather than rising from the ashes. They do not feel worthy of love or success. They do not understand what love or happiness is. Is it too late for them? Are they a lost cause? I wouldn’t be adopting if I felt they were a lost cause. I think you can learn to have a different outlook on life if you consciously make an effort to be grateful for what you have and make better choices in life. After all, it doesn’t matter what your beginning was in life, it’s the rest of it that matters-who you become. (Kung Fu Panda)

Tell me your thoughts.

Humour

My little brother was funny! I learned to have a sense of humor in every situation.  I do not always follow through with this but I try. When I had to be firm with him, I’d have to walk around the corner first and giggle, then walk back around and muster up every bit of energy I had and speak firmly to him. He did very few things out of malice but many things impulsively. It’s also important to be able to laugh at oneself. A person who has learned to laugh at themselves is a person who has truly matured. If we take life too seriously, we will have high blood pressure and ulcers. Life isn’t easy nor is it fair, so laugh!

I learned that we are all different. His brain worked differently.  He had ADHD and a lot of it!  He was quick to annoy others such as the principal at his elementary school, but all that got to know him and looked beyond his hyperactivity, loved him. One day, he was standing outside on our front porch steps and for no reason, he bent down, picked up a large rock, and chucked it at my father’s head. He had good aim because it hit him square in the back of his head. My sister and I just stood there in shock, expecting my father to blow. After all, anyone would. It had to have hurt. My father simply turned around in amazement and looked at the source. My little brother’s innocent look put my father at ease, and he said nothing as he walked to the garage.

I learned to love everyone for who they are rather than who I wish they were. When one of my children asked my little brother if he liked it at our house or my sister’s house best, he answered, “I like them both equally. There are things I like about Angie’s house and there are things I like about her sister’s house.”  My heart melted when I heard that and he was right. As much as I secretly wanted to be the more ‘fun’ house, his answer meant more to me than he’ll ever know.

I learned that blood does not matter. My little brother was adopted at a young age into our family after I graduated college. We all loved him dearly. He was our brother. He was my parents’ son. After my little brother was killed, my other brother had gone to work. A co-worker asked him about the death in his family and said, “Yeah, but wasn’t he the adopted one?” Some people think that since they are adopted, they cannot possibly be loved to the same extent. Like Laura Schlessinger always said on her radio show, “Are you related to your spouse?” When they replied, “No.” She answered, “Well then, you can’t possibly love him.” Many adult adoptees grow up angry and bitter about being adopted, and feeling unloved and unlovable. Sadly, some of my older children feel that way. We loved them dearly. When they left our lives, it left a whole in our hearts with their names on it.  I wish they could see how much they were loved. I know at one point they felt it.

I learned that this life can end in an instant.  In an instant, one of us can die. It shouldn’t scare us but make us realize that whatever we believe, we had better believe it whole heartedly because death is inevitable. Mortality is still at a 100% rate. But for as long as I live, I will carry around a piece of all those that I have crossed paths with. People affect you in different ways and sometimes they will never know what they have taught us. It’s important to think about what each person who has hurt us has taught us. It helps us heal. It’s also important to remember what each person we’ve loved and lost has taught us. Now, I can finally smile when I think of my little brother! I look at what I’ve learned from him and I’m thankful for the time I had with him.

For those who have not read, Phoenix Bound yet, my little brother was hit by a car while on a bike ride. He was 9 years old. I was 30.

Being Different

Through the years, I have taught my children that not everyone is going to like them – for whatever reason – and the reasons can be ridiculous sometimes. It is OK to not be liked by everyone. People who need to be liked by everyone tend to make poor decisions. However if it leads a person to closely examine oneself and improve their character and qualities, then it can be beneficial.

Learning to love yourself for who you are, despite the areas where you know you need to change, will prove to be invaluable. Without conceit, can you look in the mirror and appreciate who you are?

“Being an adoptive parent, brings struggles one would not expect. Through the years, I have learned that I am not understood by many people. My peers do not relate to me, nor I to them, but I have learned that being different is OK…..Due to our firmness in parenting, our friends have inadvertently undermined our parenting, thinking they are ‘helping’, which has caused insurmountable repercussion in the decisions of our adoptive children. Regardless of our children’s life decisions, however, we did our best….They may never realize the sacrifices we made for them, but they know we understood and loved them.” Taken from my portion of the book, Empowering Women to Succeed: Turning Tragedy into Triumph, Collaboration by Pat Gillum.

When someone who is fake or toxic for me to be around decides to leave my life, I view it as a ‘gift’ – the gift of goodbye! For example, I have learned through the years that I do not mix well with people who do not mean what they say. I take people at their word and I am left to feel like the idiot. I now recognize it quicker and move on from that relationship. We need people to value us.  We need people in our lives that will build us up, not keep us down. We need people who will tell us the truth, rather than tell us what they think we want to hear. We need to seek people out who make us better people. I am continuously making friends, only to learn that they did not like me as much as I liked them but that’s OK.

Is there a lost relationship that has been especially difficult to see as a ‘gift of goodbye’? What is the main reason you cannot let go?  Pride, anger, embarrassment, insecurity, or simply a strong love for them?  We cannot make someone love us. God Himself, gave us free will to love Him or to leave Him. The most powerful tool we have to change hearts, whether it’s ours that changes or theirs, is Prayer. We might be surprised at what we learn from our prayers.

Have you prayed today?

Room For Improvement

There’s always room for improvement. It’s a perspective that I have. As I’ve mentioned before, I do not live in guilt, shame or discontentment but I do strive to be a better person than I was the day before. It’s our duty to humanity to continue to work on ourselves. As we go through life, with it’s crude hardships, sometimes we can become jaded, hurt, bitter, confused, and angry. With this, we may develop bad habits, bad attitudes or twisted perceptions. For example, our older girls saw things so differently from how we saw things, due to their past traumas, we were often left confused and hurt.

As a way of improvement, some people like to regularly write out goals.  Others write their New Year’s Resolutions. And yet others, do not believe in any of that because they’ve learned it doesn’t do them any good. I am a believer in writing goals but also writing smaller attainable objectives. If I can control the date that something gets done then I will set my mind to get that one thing done within that time frame. Well, recently, due to some difficulties with my past publisher, I decided to leave her services and venture out on my own into unknown waters. I am as clueless as an ant in a bee colony. But I know I did the right thing.

That being said, I am excited to announce my newly released SECOND EDITION of PHOENIX BOUND: An adoptive mom of 13 shares her struggle raising traumatized children. I have added a few specialty pages and I am doubly proud of my accomplishment. I am more excited about the lives PHOENIX BOUND will touch and perhaps even, change. The most noticeable difference between the first and second edition is the cover. I hope you like it as much as I do. I especially like the lighter, brighter background color. Although our lives have not always been light and bright, a dark cover gives PHOENIX BOUND a darker feel. Like I told one of my readers who had a difficult time with reading a specific situation we found ourselves in – our most difficult and dark times, brought us light. The depression, fear and anger of our older son’s behaviors and result of those behaviors, led us to our only newborn son. It brings me to my knees when this realization hits.

There’s always room for improvement. What are you going to improve today?  What have you been working on that needs finalization? What goal do you need to break down into attainable objectives?

Big Brother and Big Sister Program

Before adopting thirteen children, my husband and I volunteered through the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Program. It is a nationwide organization that facilitates matches where you would mentor an inner city child that has a need whether it be poverty, dysfunctional home, loss of a mother or father or foster care.

My little girl was matched at age 6 and my husband and I loved her dearly, but that is another story for another time. It can also be found in my first book, PHOENIX BOUND: An adoptive mom of 13 shares her struggle raising traumatized children.

My husband’s match was a 10 year old boy living in the projects of a nearby city. His mother struggled with depression and his father struggled with a Heroin addiction. This boy needed someone desperately and so, we took on the challenge. We adored him, as well as his little sister, older sisters, mother and father. It wasn’t always easy to keep this boy entertained because he was a city kid and we were country people. He often had difficulty slowing down his pace and enjoying the peace and beauty around him. He enjoyed movies, electronics and being busy. We introduced him to a new life and a new way at looking at life. He rode a horse and go-karts and went swimming. He went to amusement parks, ice skating, basketball camps, zoos, museums, ballgames and made homemade ice cream by rolling it down a hill in a can. I shared my homemade applesauce, strawberry jam, hot peppers, and spaghetti sauce with his family. At one point, we were even prepared to pay for his high school education at a local private school to get him out of the poverty stricken dangerous city school settings.

I am not writing this because I am bragging about all that we have done. In reality, we often struggled to connect and wondered if he was benefiting at all from our time and energies. We did not witness him rising above his situation and going to college. Actually, he struggled with breaking his family’s cycle and his little sister had a baby at age 14. We stayed in touch with them through the years of our parenting thirteen children. We have helped him out here and there when he has called us and he has always been impressed with our willingness to help him so quickly.

The other day, my husband got a phone call. It was the boy, now in his early thirties. He wanted to thank my husband and I for all that we did and to proudly announce that he was finally getting his GED. He told my husband that he and I were the only people in his life that demonstrated what a family looked like. He was the only father he knew that had a stable job, went to work every day, and tried to better himself and his family. We were the only ones who had a bank account and a steady income. We were the only role models that he could look at and want to emulate.

Sometimes when we think what we do is a waste of time or does not make any difference, we are wrong. Everything we do and everything we say makes an impact. It is important to do what we can, to make a positive difference in people’s lives! But we may not know how much of an impact we made and we need to be ok with that until it is unveiled to us. Go and make the world a better place!

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day, like many other holidays can be difficult for some adopted children, or anyone who has had a great loss or trauma in their lives. There are many different ways to show love, understand love, perceive love and receive love. Sometimes people’s pain builds a thick brick wall around their hearts, making it more difficult to handle the concept of love. In many cases, the people that have vowed their love to them, are the same people who have hurt them. My African born son once told me that he does “not trust black people.” This was only a year or so after he arrived from Africa. Our Hispanic daughters balked at the idea of learning their native language; Spanish. The more excited I got about having a personal tutor, the more they refused to speak any of it.

Upon arriving with an enormous amount of pain and trauma, I have allowed each of our children to come to us in their own time, allowing them to first get to know us and then see that they can trust us. It’s the ‘stray cat approach.’

Unfortunately, we have seen the slightest thing ripple this trust and love for us even years later. Valentines Day was among the worst holidays when their hearts were not at peace. And worse yet, we do not always have the kind of friends and family who understand our children. Therefore, they have not pointed them back to us and our love for them.

To help our children know our love for them, I started a ‘Chocolate Bar Tradition.’ Each year, I buy a large package of Hershey Chocolate Bars and measure a blank piece of paper to match the Hershey label that wraps around the candy bar. I then write a personal love note to each person in my house. I do not keep it vague. I get deep into their hearts and minds. I want to grab them out of the muck and mire, reminding them of their purpose in life and the love we have for them. I then wrap it around the Hershey Bar face down so it remains a personal note, sealing it with tape. Each year, the kids are excited to find their chocolate bars either at the breakfast table or on their night stand as the wake up.

One year in particular, it completely changed our daughter’s heart. She was about 15 years old at the time and was so broken and confused and angry by the time Valentines Day came around, I thought I’d get the chocolate bar melted onto my pillow, but my letter was like a healing breeze to her soul. She needed it so badly. She cried in our bedroom doorway as she told us she loved us and needed us and did not want to ever get that deep into her confusion and anger again. (Well, she did…in college….and when people that knew better could have helped her out of it, they helped her dig deeper inside her brokenness and anger. But don’t worry, I pray for her and prayer breaks through the thickest walls. She won’t allow me to send her a Valentines Day message but that’s where God comes in. He breaks through walls.) My point is, sometimes we all need to just know that someone cares. We all tend to dig deep into our own self-pity, self-righteousness, self-absorbed fears, ……  Sometimes, we need some help.

Love can look differently for people in pain. Pain and trauma can be dealt with and overcome but it takes a consistent and persistent drive. Our enemy knows exactly where to aim his daggers and what pushes our buttons and gets us sidetracked in life. Our prayer life needs to be as carefully aimed – directly at those areas he will attempt to break down and destroy. So does our love for one another.

Happy Valentine’s Day !

Make it a special day for someone !

Gifts

My mother made sure to give us a great Christmas – lots of gifts and lots of delicious food – but what made it special is that she put a lot of thought into each gift. She found what we asked for and if she couldn’t, she found something she thought might be comparable. She listened to our wants and she followed through. She enjoyed giving. Not to be left out, my father bought few gifts. He worked overtime during the holiday season, starting in mid-November, going through the end of December at least. He provided the funds for my mother’s extravagant shopping. The few times my father picked out a gift for us is still very special to me and I remember each gift as if it was a diamond ring.

I was brought up with the Spirit of Giving and I have grasped onto that in my own life as an adult. Giving when someone is not expecting it or giving anonymously is especially fun. When we listen to people’s needs or wants is when it means the most. A friend once called me to chat and in the conversation she complained that she was lonely, fat and depressed. Later that day, I brought her a Slim Fast drink, a $5 bill for gas money to visit me, and a hug. It made her laugh and if nothing else, it showed her I was listening and I cared. I stayed for a good hour and chatted which probably meant even more.

Christmas is a time to remind each of us of a special gift that was given to us – a baby named Jesus – who was born to be our Savior.  Non-Christians have traditionally grasped the meaning of giving and celebrate the holidays with joy.  It’s a happy time for all.

Or is it? As an adoptive mom of several traumatized children, Christmas brings up- well, everything. It can cause confusion, anger, depression, random memories and feelings of unworthiness. Holidays are a blatant reminder of what they’ve lost. I’m sure all of us can understand that to some point – especially those of us who have lost a close family member, a spouse, a neighbor,…..  Christmas can be a constant reminder of those people we miss dearly.

As we become aware of how the holidays can affect our adopted children and those around us who have lost someone special, we can be more attentive to their needs and wants. They need to know that we remember those people, we recognize the hardship and we care. Be creative in ways that you might show it. In the texting and emailing day in age, we need to perhaps back off from the technology and show true love in a personal way – a visit, a hug, a smile, holding the door for someone at the store, a phone call, a letter or card in the mail. Our time is the best thing we can give someone to show them we care because they know how much we value our time and how busy we are.

Be careful not to chase the American dream so intensely that you become numb. I had a co-worker whom I tried to befriend but the more I got to know her, the more I saw her running frantically through life, never having time to sit and process what was going on. Much of her ‘work’ was just being busy, not productive and not helpful. Sweeping your feelings under the rug only creates a big lump that becomes a hindrance for everyone else as well as yourself. Feel these feelings. Don’t run from them, using busy-ness as a hide-out. Heal from your own hurts and embrace those around you who need to heal too.

Smile in the long lines at the Post Office, smile in the longer lines at the store, and smile at the sold out concert you planned to attend. Turn to the person behind you and say a kind word. Ask them how their holiday is going? Ask them their favorite part of the holidays? Relieve stress by laughing together about the busy-ness of the season. Be present. Be a gift to someone who may need your smile or banter.

At times, I’ve been known to be a humbug when it comes to holidays because I believe that the Christmas Spirit and kindness should be all year, not just one day a year. Sometimes it’s the only time we hear from the ones we care about. That should not be the case. We need each other in this unpredictable, difficult life. We need each other to cry with us, laugh with us and be with us. I don’t need an emoji. I need you!

What was your best Christmas Ever ?  I would love to hear from you.

P.S. I have learned that the best gift you can give an author is a Review – so feel free to leave a Review of either of my books at the end of this Website and/or Goodreads and/or Amazon. Leave one on each site and you will hold a special place in an author’s heart. (smiley face)

Beyond the Book

I started this blog because I did not want my book to be the end of the conversation nor did I want it to be a one sided conversation.  I welcome reader’s questions, comments, personal experiences, and yes, if you promise not to be too mean about it – your criticisms too.  I hope to make it clear throughout my website that this website in no way takes the place of counseling, therapy or professional help.  I am not a professional – I am experienced…at being a Mom to adoptive children… and most moments, I love it!

My husband and I have adopted 7 children from the foster care system, two children privately, two children from an adoption disruption and two children through an independent international adoption.  That is 13 children altogether but we have only had, at most, 8 children in the home at a time.  The youngest child we have adopted was newborn, and the oldest child was age 16.  (When I use the word ‘adoption’, I am referring to the date they walked through our door, not the date the documents were finalized in court for legalization.)

My Life In A Book

We all have scars from life – some deeper than others – some more visible than others – some unspeakable – we all have obstacles to overcome.  That’s part of what life is all about.  Phoenix Bound is my life in a book.  I can now put it on a shelf.  I don’t have to relive it or obsess over it or remember it.  Obviously, I couldn’t put everything in one book but I certainly tried.  Phoenix Bound concentrates on raising our adopted and traumatized children.

PHOENIX BOUND:  A Phoenix is a mythical bird that is known to be rising from the ashes.  In the same way, my husband and I are rising from the ashes of destruction, condemnation, humiliation, persecution and an unexpected move.  DOUBLE MEANING:  Phoenix also refers to Phoenix, Arizona, where our family found our new home, an environment more conducive to raising a family.  The subtitle explains more of what the book is about:  An Adoptive Mom of 13 Shares Her Struggle Raising Traumatized Children.

A SIDE NOTE:  We had to change our names in the book for privacy and protection.  The rest of the book is truthful, as I see it.  It was written from my point of view, the adoptive mom of 13.

Are you Phoenix Bound?

We are.

An Open Book

I have always been willing to share our struggles, our trials, our triumphs and our dreams with anyone who asks. My husband has more discernment and shuts me down when needed, because unfortunately there are people who will use any information against you. I forget that. I trust people too much. I see the good in people when there isn’t necessarily any good intentions involved.

Regardless of all of this, I know that there is a need out there: A need to hear the truth, from a different perspective – an adoptive parent’s perspective. I’ve always prodded and begged foster and adoptive parents to speak up, but their placements (children in their care) were at risk, their biological children were at risk and their reputations were at risk. I have always prodded and begged foster and adoptive case workers to speak up as well, but their jobs, livelihood, family and reputation were at risk. I do not blame these people for protecting themselves and those they love, but I also saw that the ones ultimately hurt by our silence were the children: the foster and adoptive children in question. This has been my dream – to be there for the ones who cannot speak for themselves and to change things for the better. It has been to my detriment, but I do not regret it.

My life is now an open book – a book that would be interesting to the curious, dramatic for the drama seekers, educational for the neighbors, doctors, professionals and critics of an adoptive family, and helpful to those who desire to or have already, adopted. I would love to see this book become part of a college curriculum for professionals in any human services career. I wish I had read it during my education and most certainly, before I adopted. My life is an open book – not only for the purposes of being a requirement of adoption (a complete dossier and homestudy), but to keep adoptions healthy.

Is your life an open book? How so? Why not? Are there fears preventing you? Have you been the mouthpiece for someone unable to advocate for themselves? If so, how has it worked out for you? If not, what has stopped you?

Phoenix Bound

I have always been more than willing to share our struggles, our trials, our triumphs and our dreams with anyone who asks.  My husband has more discernment and shuts me down when needed, because unfortunately there are people who will use any information against you.  I forget that.  I trust people too much.  I see the good in people when there isn’t necessarily any good intentions involved.

Regardless of all of this, I know that there is a need out there:  A need to hear the truth, from a different perspective – an adoptive parent’s perspective.  I’ve always prodded and begged foster and adoptive parents to speak up, but their placements (children in their care) were at risk, their biological children were at risk and their reputations were at risk.  I have always prodded and begged foster and adoptive case workers to speak up as well, but their jobs, livelihood, family and reputation were at risk.  I do not blame these people for protecting themselves and those they love, but I also saw that the ones ultimately hurt were the children:  the foster and adoptive children in question.

This has been my dream – to be there for the ones who cannot speak for themselves and to change things for the better. It has been to my detriment, but I do not regret it.

My life is now an open book – a book that would be interesting to the curious, dramatic for the drama seekers, educational for the neighbors, doctors, professionals and critics of an adoptive family, and helpful to those who desire to or have already, adopted. I would love to see this book become part of a college curriculum for professionals in any human services career. I wish I had read it during my education.

My life is an open book – not only for the purposes of being a requirement of adoption (a complete dossier and homestudy), but to keep adoptions healthy.

Is your life an open book?  How so?  Why not?

Have you been the mouthpiece for someone unable to advocate for themselves?  If so, how has it worked out for you?  If not, what has stopped you?

Guilt

I meet up with many parents who disclose that their child is a drug addict and as they speak, I can hear their cries of guilt as if they did something wrong. Perhaps that is so, but we can only do the best we can with what we have in each situation. One of our older adoptive daughter’s spews angry hurtful words about my husband and I and her childhood years. Sadly she does not speak of any of the good. We refuse to allow her words and angry heart to hurt us. We put our heart, soul and energy into each of our children, taking the time to understand their hearts and speak life into their young lives.

Psychology Today states “Guilt and its handmaiden, shame, can paralyze us–or catalyze us into action. Appropriate guilt can…spur one to make reparations for wrongs. Excessive rumination about one’s failures, however, is a surefire recipe for resentment and depression.

There is great controversy regarding New Year’s Resolutions because of their usefulness and people’s ability/desire/will to follow through. Therefore, guilt often ensues. Guilt can be a byproduct of not doing what we know or feel we should be doing. Guilt usually brings us down rather than uplifts. The point of New Year’s Resolutions is to give us a fresh start. We can give ourselves a fresh start any time of the year but the New Year is an obvious new beginning. The key to goals is to have smaller, easier to manage, objectives to build up to the goal you want to achieve.

When I was young, my father once told me he wanted me to be a better person than he is. I took that to heart and went to college because he did not have that opportunity. Throughout my life, I have tried to improve upon what he has taught me and showed me by his example. Now, I tell my children that I want them to be better people than I am.

Don’t let guilt hold you down and paralyze you – allow it to catapult you into change !

Happy New Year !

ANGIE K ELLISTON

Angie K Elliston and her husband have been married over 20 years. Together they have adopted from the foster care system, adoption disruption, internationally and privately. Their oldest child at adoption placement was 16 and their youngest was a newborn. They are committed to one another and the challenges of adopting children from an array of backgrounds and trauma.

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